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7:46 PM on 10.13.2011

Abnormal Psychological Manifestations w/regard to Video Game Dependency Disorder

********I know this is a wall of text, but this is a research paper after all. Thought it could be interesting to some of you.*********


The goal of this research is to inform the reader about an abnormal psychological condition called video game dependency. Though it is not currently rated as a psychological disorder by the primary diagnostic medium of psychiatrists known as the DSM-IV-TR, it will be my goal to argue why it should be classified as one. In order to do this I will compare video game dependency to similar disorders which are already classified in the DSM-IV-TR, inform the reader of symptoms associated with video game dependency, illustrate how they hinder a normal lifestyle, and mention risk factors for the disorder.

In recent years games have become more interactive, and more realistic then they have ever been before. All of the modern game consoles, and of course PC’s are able to get online, and with advances in high speed internet: communication with other players, uploading of complex graphics, and catchy in game music becomes immediately accessible. “[R]ealism can impact one’s internal state because the unrealistic video games may appear ‘‘cartoonish’’ to players, because the events could never really happen. The impact of perceived realism has been shown to moderate the effect between exposure to violence in children’s media and aggressive behavior.” (Barlett 215)

What constitutes normal from abnormal behavior are four factors. The first of these four factors is called deviance. Deviance is measured with regard to norms, which are society’s rules for proper conduct. The second is distress. Is the behavior causing a physiological change such as elevated heart rate, mania, panic, or shaking? The third is dysfunction. Does the afflicted person obsess? Are they distracted from work, and other important daily functioning such as school or hygiene? The most prevalent of the four is danger. Is the abnormal functioning causing poor diet, anger, thoughts of suicide or murder? A person with video game dependency will shows signs of risk factors in all four places to look for abnormal functioning. “VGD is accompanied by increased levels of psychological and social stress in the form of lower school achievement, increased truancy, reduced sleep time, limited leisure activities, and increased thoughts of committing suicide.” (Thomas 269)

The difference between someone who uses video games as a coping mechanism by means of escapism versus someone who is dependent on playing video games is quite different. A dependant player is one who will disregard responsibilities, and/or relationships to play a game, and will often obsess about playing and lie about how often they actually are playing, where video game play used as a coping mechanism can be merely for the purpose of a temporary escape, which can be more adaptive than other negative forms of coping.

Unfortunately once a person learns how to maladaptively cope with their problems by playing video games; it is easy for it to become habitual, as is any other form of coping because it is easier oftentimes to mask our pain then to deal with it directly. Behavioral psychologists would argue that because players are getting rewarded for playing video games that they would seek to continually perpetuate the reward, which would lead to more game play especially in times of increased stress.

There may be other underlying problems in a person who chooses to escape from their problems by playing video games. Using harmful coping mechanisms such as avoidance of real life problems by escaping into the world of video games over time can prove to be more and more harmful over time. Medication may not be necessary from a psychodynamic point of view but a person might be originally drawn to video games as a means from escaping reality, and thusly represses the harmful thoughts and feelings that drew them into the game to begin with. These repressed thoughts and feelings could be building up inside of them, and could lead to psychological disorders such as video game disorder in the future while they are running from reality.
“Video games can satisfy a wide number of individual psychological needs and, because of their interactive structures, give rise to an intense experience of gratification in the user.” (Thomas 269) Maladaptive coping, however, occurs when a gamer uses the immense freedom in a video game as means of escape from aspects of their real life, or their personality which they are not happy with; and when you can hide the traits about yourself which you do not like by creating a character who is strong, versus actually being weak, dependant, or unattractive person; it is easy to see the appeal of throwing away an identity you perceive as being less interesting, in lieu of becoming a hero who saves the world, and always gets the girl.

“[I]t is logical to suggest that one reason some individuals spend more time playing the game is to avoid face-to-face social situations in which they may lack the proper skills to foster good relationships. Furthermore, if the individual were rejected in these situations, it would likely cause them distress … the individuals may seek social connections in a safer environment: the environment of MMORPG guilds. This is evident when players become better friends with their online guild mates than with their “real-life” friends.” (Peters 482)
MMORPG’s are an especially high risk type of video game play. The world’s most popular MMORPG is called World of Warcraft, often referred to as WOW. “World of Warcraft is an extremely popular MMORPG with over 9 million players worldwide at the time of this writing … guild members typically are required by their guild leaders to spend at minimum of 20 hours a week playing the game.” (Peters 481)

To be classified as video game dependant a gamer must play on average of four or more hours per day, and having a minimum of 20 hours of game play per week certainly brings this population close to that number. There are even help based communities online such as www.wowdetox.com where there are over fifty-thousand testimonials of ex-players of the game about how it was negatively affecting their life. Another popular community is called www.gamerwidow.com which seeks to help couples through the jaws of video game dependency. “[U]sers of role-playing games were significantly more addicted than users of other games [7], that MMORPG users had a tendency to spend much more time playing than non-MMORPG players [4], and that there was a positive correlation between the amount of time spent playing an MMORPG game and the likelihood of problematic usage of the game [6].” (Pauline 121)

“What separates RPGs from other character-driven entertainment media is this internalization and psychological merging of a player’s and a character’s mind” (Lewis 515) In MMORPGs “the player must decide a character’s race, its species, history, heritage, and philosophy.” (Young 357) Psychologically, whether the player is aware of it or not, at the very beginning, they are creating an avatar which will more prominently bring out perceived positive aspects of their personality, while simultaneously hiding negative parts of their personality.

“[T]he relevance of interactive entertainment media as leisure time activity has grown considerably both for youths and adults … computer ownership among adolescents’ ages 12 to 19 increased from 35% to 71% from 1998 to 2008, and ownership of gaming consoles increased from 23% to 45%.” (Thomas 269) “2.8% are classified as being at risk and 1.7% as being dependent on video games. Mainly boys are affected: 4.7% of them are at risk and 3% are dependent. (Thomas 272)

Video game dependency is very similar to a DSM-IV-TR disorder underneath the heading of impulse control disorders known as pathological gambling. “[V]ideo games in their very conception show a structural similarity to gambling and, as a consequence, are suspected of bearing a similar psychotropic dependency risk for some people.” (Thomas 269) Because these two disorders are so similar with regard to their symptoms, it seems as though video game dependency should be more heavily researched with regard to putting it into the DSM-IV-TR. “People with this disorder cannot walk away from a bet, and are restless and irritable if gambling is denied them … and the gambling continues even in the face of financial, social, and health problems.” (Comer 520)

People affected by pathological dependencies like video game dependency and gambling typically demonstrate several behaviors which progressively get worse with time as dependency reaches its peak. “People with these impulse-control disorders (such as pathological gambling) fail to resist an impulse, drive, or temptation to perform acts.” (Comer 520) First the afflicted person will show problems limiting their use; the usage will then become compulsive and in a worst case scenario will result in life-damaging consequences, such as the loss of a relationship or a job due to the inability of the afflicted person having no motivation to do anything other than play video games.

“[P]laying video games activates the basal ganglia portion of the brain, the region that releases dopamine … The problem is that release means there is less dopamine available when the child needs to perform other, less enjoyable tasks, such as homework.” (Costa 55) Video game dependants are repeatedly triggering a dopamine release when playing games, and over long periods of time they are conditioning themselves to only have this release while playing games, which leads to lower levels of production of dopamine during times when they need it in other aspects of their life.

This accounts for their obsessive desire to play the games, and difficulty focusing on other tasks such as school and work, allowing them to only be happy when they return to play the game again and again. “People no longer judge their behavior against acceptable personal or social standards for “normal” amounts of game play and no longer apply self-reactive influences, such as self-administered rewards for moderating consumption or indulging feelings of guilt for excessive play.” (Lee 634)

Video games can also be an expensive hobby, and just like other forms of dependency all sense of reason goes out the window when the newest, greatest, and latest game or expansion to a current game is released. For example, those who play WOW pay $15 per month to keep their account active, and those who have been with the game since the beginning have paid up to $40 for their original software, not to mention the expansions, strategy guides, and gaming accessories associated with the game, and this is only one game for the pc. Think of the multiple consoles with exclusive software, the controllers, cooling systems, and expanded hard drives. Video game dependents are going to find any way financially to keep their MMORPG accounts active, and the newest games off the shelf and in their hands, letting more important expenditures fall to the wayside.

Maladaptive forms of thinking self justify that this new game will be able to take you back to the “best” gaming experience you had, and because of this underlying thought you may decide that even though it isn’t particularly economical to spend $60 on a new video game, your conscious thought process is overridden by the underlying unconscious thought pattern which seeks it. “[T]heir self-regulation becomes deficient and self-regulatory functions of judgment process and self-reactive influence cease to moderate their gaming behavior.” (Lee 634)

Gamers are forever seeking the first high they had with the medium that submersed their consciousness into a fantasy world that overrode their sense of worry or anxiety about the real world. Interestingly enough a whole different subset of senses of worry and anxiety can occur when one becomes highly involved in a world of gaming as well. With regard to violent video game play several studies have been done to attempt to determine if such play increases aggression in the user.

An author of one such article suggests “[i]t is possible, for example that the correlation between game-play and behavior reflects backwards causation; aggressive people may be attracted to computer games.” (Chumbley 309) I do not agree with this information, as there are higher sample size studies with regard to the study of elevated levels of aggression while playing violent video games; however this study only uses 33 participants, which is barely statistically relevant, as N (population) must be <=31 to be considered so.
A larger sample study of 295 suggests “exposure to violent games increased the acceptance of physical aggression as a conflict-solving strategy as reflected in the normative beliefs measure.” (Moller and Krahe 86) Being a video game player myself, I can definitely attest to higher levels of frustration, and physiological response (increased heart rate, perspiration) while playing violent or non-violent video games…especially if I am not achieving the goals I set out to accomplish, or am losing badly to an online opponent. Anyone who has heard voice chat over Halo can attest to this as well.

A new layer of psychological disorders originating from media over usage in the DSM-IV needs to be developed. “Like other forms of potentially addictive computer use, VGD has not been clinically accepted so far. In 2007, the application to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association was still assessed negatively with the note that the database for such a step was not yet sufficiently secured.” (Thomas 270)

Once finalized criteria by which the disorder can be diagnosed have been agreed upon research and funding would increase in order to find a cure. Some interesting research that has been made to attempt to qualify terminology by means of creating a diagnosis is as follows: “[P]roblem video game use could be distinguished on the basis of (i) preoccupation with and craving for playing video games, negative emotional reactions to the abstinence from playing, and loss of control over playing; and (ii) various detrimental consequences of playing video games.” (Pauline 121)

Unfortunately there are no current ways to diagnose a media derived psychological problem such as video game dependency at this current point in time, but the first step in the battle to help gamers get off the proverbial sauce is to establish some grounds by which their psychological problems can be identified, and to create methods of therapy to help dependant gamers whether that be by dealing with the psychological issues which drove them to using video games as a coping mechanism, or perhaps a biological chemical imbalance which requires medication to moderate.

In conclusion, video games are now a source of entertainment for people of all ages and backgrounds, and compromise a huge percentage of our society. It is important for us to research their affect on human psychology in more depth. By classifying video game dependency as a legitimate disorder in the DSM-IV-TR psychologists would be more encouraged to study these effects, and create meaningful therapy to help combat the disorder / prevent it from occurring.

Works Cited

Barlett, Christopher P., and Christopher Rodeheffer. "Effects of realism on extended violent and nonviolent video game play on aggressive thoughts, feelings, and physiological arousal." Aggressive Behavior 35.3 (2009): 213-224. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Chumbley, Justin, and Mark Griffiths. "Affect and the Computer Game Player: The Effect of Gender, Personality, and Game Reinforcement Structure on Affective Responses to Computer Game-Play." CyberPsychology & Behavior 9.3 (2006): 308-316. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 28 Feb. 2011.

Comer, Ronald J. Abnormal Psychology. 7th ed. New York: Worth, 2010. Print.

Costa, Dan. "Turn It Off, Kids!" PC Magazine 24 Apr. 2007: 55. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 11 Apr. 2011.

Lee, Doohwang, and Robert LaRose. "A Socio-Cognitive Model of Video Game Usage." Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 51.4 (2007): 632-650. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Lewis, Melissa L., René Weber, and Nicholas David Bowman. "“They May Be Pixels, But They're MY Pixels:” Developing a Metric of Character Attachment in Role-Playing Video Games." CyberPsychology & Behavior 11.4 (2008): 515-518. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Möller, Ingrid, and Barbara Krahé. "Exposure to violent video games and aggression in German adolescents: a longitudinal analysis." Aggressive Behavior 35.1 (2009): 75-89. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 2 May 2011.

Pauline Fenech, et al. "Recognizing problem video game use." Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 44.2 (2010): 120-128. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Peters, Christopher S., and L. Alvin Malesky Jr. "Problematic Usage Among Highly-Engaged Players of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games." CyberPsychology & Behavior 11.4 (2008): 481-484. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Thomas M, et al. "Prevalence and Risk Factors of Video Game Dependency in Adolescence: Results of a German Nationwide Survey." CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking 13.3 (2010): 269-277. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Young, Kimberly. "Understanding Online Gaming Addiction and Treatment Issues for Adolescents." American Journal of Family Therapy 37.5 (2009): 355-372. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.   read


7:11 PM on 12.13.2010

The Inner Sanctum: Not Video Game Related

*The next time I play a video game though, I am looking for an interesting plot. Here is a work of fiction that could be equivalent of perhaps some internal dialogue of a main character? Anyways...

Chapter One: The Inner Sanctum



I wish I could tell you that this was eventually going to get easier, but as you know the memories of other pain that you have carried with you are still present. My biggest regret is the tightness you feel in your chest every single time you take a breath. I know how much you love to run, but that subtle something has been keeping you from being able to do your best.



I used to think that you didn't have a soul, because I have seen how hard you have tried to kill any form of empathy for those you feel are trodden upon. I know that this is only because the weight you carry around is often times too heavy to carry by yourself. Yet you continue to do so anyway; perhaps it makes you feel as though you are a martyr? I wonder if this is somehow a mechanism by which you punish yourself?



I have been wrong a lot in this relationship that we have had over the years. I have felt the darkness seeping through the cracks, as light does from an illuminated room one would glance at while in a dark hallway. Through the years I have seen you take on many a persona; wearing masks only you could wear so well. Perhaps that is why you see through people so easily, and I know it to be so that your thoughts on this matter are firmly held in place to keep people at a distance.



You have done nothing but focus on the past. Yet somehow I have seen you move forward from everything that has happened, as though it doesn't bother you a single bit. Of course anyone who has been let into your interconnected web of deceit, sees right through one mask and into another. It is why you prefer contact with people in the manner that you carry yourself; one on one.



There is a light at the end of this weary tunnel though, and I have seen that glimpse of happiness dance in your eyes. As though you knew something all along that you have even left me unaware of. I suppose that is the price one has to pay once they have been bestowed upon the curse of being ones own puppeteer. A dismal fool with no attachment to anything at all, not even ones own body. Perhaps that is why you never sleep?



I can see you there sitting across the room, looking deeply into nothingness; having a conversation with the spirits in the room. Whispering your lament into the world, haunted by what you have become in order to fulfill some kind of mysterious vendetta. Some would say that you are self destructive, but I know in fact the very opposite to be true. You are the master of what you convey, and there is never even the slightest of deviations in your actions.



Plotting to sever all ties with anything that has any form of ability to hurt your frightened inner child. I know that if I had the ability to look into your mind I would see him sitting there. His red eyes aglow, looking absolutely vulnerable with an enticed desire lurking just beneath the surface. You have coddled this child, and made him akin to everything he could have ever wanted, and unfortunately he has grown spoiled. He rejects the very fabric of any space time that could lead him into any form of conclusion or consequence.



This is the true you. The you who is waiting in darkness for a glimpse of happiness, and when that feeling goes away, there is nothing left but time to grow impatient. The need for one more illusion from your logical self, one without absolute judgement, the kind of judgement that comes from within; internalized by some form of logical code of morality which is absent from true justice.



I have seen you walk a very fine line between insanity, and sanity, and I have seen you make the same decision an innumerable amount of times; to stay in control. It is that hard edged underlying fact that makes you the predictable venomous creature you have become. Satiated only by this internalization, this slow replay of memories on your own private slide projector, injesting and injecting the memories of only the good. Yet inside of that beast lives another, which feeds only on the direct opposite emotions that your inner child has grown to feed off of.



The entity that lives inside of him craves only destruction and despair, which is the consequence of his naivety. That naivety of course being directly correlated to the content of the material which has sustained him. These supposed people in your past who have eventually surpassed how much you hate yourself with some form of love that has been created. A love that bursts freely from those that care about you and still do, one that has learned to be rejected. For I fear that the very darkness in humanity lies in this convoluted pandora's box of emotional torture. Once attained this insanity seeks out something more, what can I have that is better now that I think I have had the very best?



Why is it that your inner child has been corrupted by that which you thought would become the only thing that could save him? As I have just explained to you, beknownst to your ability to block out anything that could potentially stop the cycle of distance, and hatred that you have inflicted upon yourself, there is only one true way to end this.



It is not by becoming the dark desire in the heart of the child that lies within your subconcious. Even though you have nothing but that thought consume you at any given moment. That little itch in the back of your skull which has been burried so deeply that not even I can go there to let him free.



No, this is not a mistake which can be cured by the letting of blood. It is time to go back to that haunted place in your past. It is time to let your inner child understand that what has been done to him cannot be explained. Not everything happens for a reason. Perhaps then, such a glimpse of who he would have become should he have not been locked away for all that time in his own amusement park of masochism.



All you need is the key. It has been placed nearby on the table in the same room where you look at yourself with nothing but hate and contempt. Yes, right there in the music box. The temptation of what could have been is too strong to resist, and I know you cannot deny that.



Maybe that is why you have made this final decision. One that I have been trying to stop you from doing ever since that child has seen nothing but forced imagery of fluffy bunnies underneath a magic rainbow. One that you can only make yourself.



It is time. I am going to relinquish this control over you, I will not udder another sound, another manipulative projection of myself onto you. I am merely showing you what it is that you must do if you wish to escape.




The consequences of this action of course though will only be able to be inflicted upon the new self. The self that you perhaps have wished to become. Or perhaps a monster lying in wait to destroy everything that self could have been. This is the true secret you hid the key from your true conciousness. Those two hearts that beat within you, the one of light, and the one of darkness. Which will succeed in taking over?



No matter. It has already been done, and a new voice is starting to manifest itself. Goodbye, I have done everything I could for the old you. Now you are left with only me.   read


7:34 AM on 12.01.2010

Video Games: The Ultimate Escape



Disclaimer: This blog is NOT video game related so much as a story of my life, and how video games got me through the toughest times in it. Its kind of long, so for your listening pleasure while you read:

[embed]188746:34507[/embed]

Most of you do not know me, and probably never will so I feel that I can be a little bit more honest in this outlet, then more accountable forms of social networking, you know, the ones that have a big fat picture of yourself on the frontpage, and your long lost 3rd cousin comments on everything you post for no reason? I have been going through a lot of trials and tribulations in my life recently, and as always video games have been my way to escape, a coping mechanism that gets me through lifes hard times.



I recently brought about my own demise at a job I hated at a Fortune 100 Insurance Company. I made a fairly good amount of money, and was more than able to support myself, but the stress was quite literally eating me alive. Selling property and casualty insurance (Home, Auto, Personal Umbrella, Boat, etc) was a very demanding and lucrative job, that I grew to hate, and thusly I decided to break one of the company policies on purpose until I eventually found myself in the unemployment line.



Why did I do this you ask?

Firstly, to cope with the stressful quota of how many sales I needed to produce, and the plethora of assholes I had to deal with in 36 different states, I started needing a high level of "Me" time. So much so that it was interfering with my real life. In order to escape from a job I hated, I would get home from work, and immediately fire up the PS3, and start playing games. Because I made a pretty reasonable amount of money, over the years it is safe to say that I have roughly spent over 10k on video games. I am not turning this into bragging rights, I am simply informing you of this so you have an idea of how much I love video games, and how much time they consume.

My name is Dan and I am a gay 25 year old male, who has a life partner, and after seven years in sales jobs of many kinds, all at good companies, and making more money and getting more recognition than most people get in a lifetime, I decided no more. I have no formal education to speak of other than what I learned in High School, which I was convinced was a complete waste of my time. As a child my teachers wanted to pull me out of primary school and have me immediately start taking college level courses. Being in third grade, and after having read several books on the psychological ramifications of what happens to the social lives of those who decide to make those kinds of decisions, I decided that I would stay with my peers in order to have a more normal life.

From left to right. Josh (my fiancee, myself, and some girl we met in Cancun)


Unfortunately my life was anything but. As a child my parents fought constantly. I was a mediator in a world of chaos that my pre adolescent mind could not absorb, and thusly many of my talents have gone to waste. Everything I have done in my life has been about running away from my past, and the biggest reason I let myself fail at my current job was in order to stop the cycle of hiding from what could potentially be a successful career in a field where I can actually help people.

My father was an abusive man, who indulged in many illegal activities. His father was never in his life: The moment his father found out he had become one, he ran. My dad never so much as recieved a birthday card from that man. My father's mother was tired of raising children by herself, and started to focus on her own life, and her new boyfriend which would ultimately eventually become her husband. Together they decided that my fathers psychological problems were too inconvienient, and they placed him in a Psychiatric facility from the time he was 14 until he was 18 years old. When he got out, he had no education, and no realistic understanding of society.

This is the only picture of my dad I could find, there are literally no pictures of us together that I can find.


He committed petty crimes, and was eventually sent to prison until he was 24. When he got out he married my mother, and one year after their marriage, I became the first born into a terrible situation. My father drank heavily to cope with the stress of his job that he hated, and could not overcome the terrible things that happened to him while institutionalized. Frankly, I never understood why my mother married him, as she had come from a very well to do family. My mother told me that he would lock himself alone in his room for days and not talk to her.

When I was 18 I came out as a homosexual, and my father started focusing his abusive behaivor from my mother to myself. I tried to continue living at home, but the stress of wondering if my father was going to kill me in my sleep, which he often threatened, lead me down a very dark path. So I lived on and off with my boyfriend, friends, and family members to avoid coming home as much as possible. I was suicidal, and to get away from my insane family I worked full time while attending a local community college. On top of all of this madness, I happen to have severe asthma, and as anyone who has that knows, adding insane amounts of stress caused from family problems, having to work to support yourself at the age of 18, and attempting to go to college simultaniously does not lead to a healthy combination.

My mom:


Eventually I started getting sick all the time. I failed a semester of college, I lost both of my jobs, and having no medical insurance because my father cut me off the moment he found out I was gay, I racked up quite a bit of debt. After six months of having major complications that almost killed me, I decided I couldn't "have it all." I decided that the responsible thing to do was work my ass off and pay back the money I owed to various hospitals, and doctors. This unfortunately meant I would no longer attend college, and for my own sanity, I decided to move out of my parents house permanently, which was a huge defeat to myself as I felt I was the only person protecting my mother from my father.

Being raised in the manner I was, I never realized what a normal childhood was, and I felt extremely guilty moving away and getting a real job. I worked my way to the top of every job I had very quickly, and the moment I had an obsticle I would find a better job that paid more money. After living on my own for a year I was promoted to a manager at a retail company, and was asked to move to Michigan to run a new store that was being built. To cope with the guilt of leaving my family I would occasionally drink, but since my father was an alcoholic and most of his rage in my opinion stemmed from that fact, I decided to focus my free time in a more constructive manner.

Brandon: A kid I used to mentor in Big Brothers, Big Sisters After School Program


Having moved away from everyone I knew, I played a lot of video games to kill my free time, as well as spending lots of time with my Siberian Husky, and dating, and working. My health improved drastically. Honestly as I look back on how insane my life has been there has always been one constant, video games. From the moment I had conciousness I was playing Atari. For my fifth birthday I got a Nintendo, which practically raised me. Nintendo lead to Super Nintendo, Sega, Playstation, Playstation 2, PSP, Computer Games, and Playstation 3. My games of choice being RPG's, particularly JRPG's where the characters rose above difficult situations and eventually toppled the corrupt governments that controlled their fragile existance and saved the world.

I consider myself very lucky that I never used drugs or other means to escape from my cruel reality.

In March of 2009 my father passed away. The recession was in full swing and I left a very profitable operation that I was running in Michigan to move back home and support my Mother, and help put her life back together after 25 years of marriage to my father that made her a codependant mess. I took the first job I could find, and for the first time in my life I worked at a job where no matter what I did, I could not make the profit books balance, and after only 3 months, I was fired. Which is why you should NEVER ever work for a failing jewelry store in a fledgling economy.

My dog Kiba


While I was unemployed I wrote a 250 page book entitled "The Missing Piece" about my experiences with my father, which I have yet to look into publishing. I will most likely not do anything with it until my Mother passes away, as she harbors many delusions. Having no viable source of income other than 350$ / week that I got from unemployment, and having recently moved back to Chicago I could not sustain my independent existance any longer. While I was in Michigan I dated a great guy that I fell in love with, and after only being with me for six months he made the difficult decision to uproot his life and move to Chicago with me. We both currently live with my mother and her boyfriend at this point in time.

After being unemployed for 3 months I found the job that I mentioned at the beginning, and worked there for a year. All that time due to economic circumstances I decided not to move out, just incase there was a double dip in the recession that could have left me jobless again, and having no source of income and a lease in Chicago is a death warrant for your credit. Having worked there for a year, I came to the relevation that I hated all the jobs I had ever done, because the only reason I ever did them was out of necessity. My Mom told me that I could quit my job, and that she would help pay for school with some of the money she got when my father passed away. So as of last month my evil plan of getting fired at my job succeeded, and am in limbo waiting for Unemployment to notify me if my benefits have been approved.

Just incase you ran out of music:
[embed]188746:34508[/embed]

I plan on getting a part time job, and collecting my unemployment benefits until they expire. I quit college with only needing 20 more credit hours to attain my associates in Science. On Jan 10th, 2010 I will be back to attending school full time, and with the 15 credit hours I am taking this semester, and one or two summer courses I will be transfering my Associates degree to a four year institution and will be finishing what I started when I was 18 years old. At this current point in time I plan on going into Pre-Medicine.

This is the second time in my life that I have had a substancial block of free time, as I was solely responsible for taking care of myself up until this point, thusly giving me more free time to write and play video games, and though I originally started playing games to run away from my life, they now serve as a healthy use of my time in conjunction with working, school, writing, volunteering, and my very fulfilling relationship with my soon to be husband (if all goes well Civil Unions for same sex marriages will be legal in IL in July of 2011) and my dog Kiba, both who have gotten me through an equal number of hardships.

From left to right
Cousin Mike, Fiancee Josh, Me, Brother Jake, and Brother Pat


...and this time, they are not merely an escape mechanism to avoid how terrible my life is. They have evolved into what I consider a constructive use of my time as I don't really watch television - at least it is slightly more engaging.

In conclusion the purpose of this particular piece of writing is to say goodbye to my old self, the one who worked at jobs he hated because he had to, and get a little bit more personal and involved with the Destructoid community.

Wish me luck!   read


9:05 PM on 11.29.2010

Hype: FF vs XIII. (Not to be confused with FFXIII)



Final Fantasy Vs XIII is part of a 3 game series of which the games pretty much have nothing to do with one another. Of this 3 part series included in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series is the already released FFXIII, FF Vs XIII (the topic of todays discussion) and FF Agito XIII (psp). The game was originally planned to be utilized on the PS2 medium, but was later scrapped to instead release it on PS3 due to the fact that the visual effects would not have achieved the desired effect on an older medium. Which is part of the reason this game has been hyped so much (the project was supposedly started in 2006), and why we have yet to see it.



As most of you already know this game is supposed to have extreme action elements and the programming for the fighting sequences is being handled by the department that did Kingdom Hearts. There has also been whispering that some 3rd party shooting will be implemented into the battle system as well. My guess is that they are first testing the marketing for their new programming regarding the "shooter" aspect of RPG style in The 3rd Birthday. (of which I have also done a hype article on, since that game is almost completed and it seems is in the marketing / sales part of development slated for release most likely late Q1 of 2011.) Below is a really crappy 33 second video of some leaked gameplay, apparantly they are keeping the lid shut tight on this one!

[embed]188656:34451[/embed]

Beyond what I have mentioned above, Square-Enix has been very hush hush regarding the battle system, though numerous trailers detailing the plot have definitely been released on YouTube. One thing that I have particularly noticed, and something that I have been screaming for is a darker themed plot. Director Tetsuya Nomura wants to create CGI battles that have the level of EPIC that is found in FF VII: Advent Children. He has also said (another thing I love if you read my rant on why modern RPG's suck balls) is that there is going to be a real transversable world map. Goodbye to the linearity of FF XIII, thank god. If I had one more piece of garbage (which I would have to say is every FF game from X on to XIII) I was going to drop Square-Enix like a hot potato. Considering they completely ruined one of my favorite series (Star Ocean: The Last Hope) If you have played that game then you know what I am talking about with regard for the first 3 games in the series which were all masterpieces in my opinion.



I have also heard that the world map is going to be HUGE. How huge can only be speculated, but at least you will not be traveling on foot as vechicles will be included for your transportation needs. Expect Airships, Chocobos, Cars, etc. I think this is an important advancement to the game, it removes the linearity of XIII, which most people criticized (especially me, just read my review on XIII) I for one can't wait to have a world as big as Oblivion, that isn't so annoying because you have the ability to travel quickly. At least in my head that is how this game is going to turn out.



Apparantly the game is also going to be seamless with little loading, so I am guessing this is going to be a "must-install" title. Which I definitely have no problem with. The world map is apparantly going to have enemies that are on screen which you can avoid, and will combine that feature with a random battle sequence, so expect to be ambused, while avoiding enemies. This sounds like an interesting combination that I have never heard of before, so hopefully it turns out good, and not too annoying with fighting every 3 damn seconds. They are reimplementing "cutscenes on delivery" basically meaning that while walking around, your cutscenes are going to seamlessly cut in while you are traveling. Hopefully they do a better job of this, then they did with FF XIII. That game had WAY too many story breaks, to reveal non relevant aspects of the story to you, when you simply don't care. I myself literally skipped most of the scenes in that game. Hope was a baby, Snow was a douche bag on a never ending quest to save his girlfriend, and Lightning was basically Cloud as a woman, with no personality, and a mega bitch... Sorry, I got a little off topic there.



From what I have heard director Tetsuya Nomura say so far, the object is to make everything as realistic as possible. The main focus seems to be on the two main characters Noctis and Stella. The plotline is seemingly going to be a "Romeo and Juliet" situation from what I have seen and heard. A fun fact is that Noctis will apparantly have eye color changes which are significant to his personality. I am hoping for Limit Breaks people!!! One could only dare to dream the return of some materia like magic / summon system. If the summons resemble anything like FFX to their more current titles I may just have to jump off a cliff as those summons have ALL been useless.



Noctis is apparantly not going to be just another "Silent Protagonist" to which I must reply THANK GOD. The silent protagonist only works in games where you "choose your own adventure" and by that I mean you choose to be good or bad, and your ending in the game is reliant upon the choices you make. In my opinion there has not been a strong personality main character since FFVII with Cloud, Tifa, and Aeris, and their love triangle. So it is nice to see that they are pulling from previous unadulterated proven success, rather than try and create another concept game that is likely to fall flat on its face with regard to staying power. I have a good feeling that this game is going to be a cult hit that surpasses or is second only to FFVII. I would also like to point out that as far as other characters are concerned there has been little information out on them, but I am guessing the blonde one with the gun is going to be named Cid, just a hunch.



Plot wise Noctis is said to be heir (I have heard him called a King, and a Prince) to a dynasty which is the sole protector of the Crystals. Noctis will be able to utilize his powers from the crystal to teleport, use telekenesis, move at quick speeds, and utilize mayn different kinds of weaponry. (This is another plus to me, as it becomes boring that certain characters are only proficient with one kind of weapon, this intrigues me greatly) Noctis's character / plot inspiration have been directly derived from Japans modern day mafia. So again, expect a darker plot line, and expect some not so easily drawn lines between good and evil.



The other main character's name is Stella. From what I have seen so far Noctis and Stella are enemies, but it is my deeply held suspicion that this is going to be a Romeo and Juliet derivation where they eventually fall in love. Director Tetsuya Nomura has also mentioned that her character is going to be "the first of her kind" in any FF game. This makes me curious to think that perhaps she will be a lesbian, or a long lost sister, or that maybe there will be no Romeo and Juliet type story, I am of course just speculating. From what I have seen so far I am expecting the unexpected, so hopefully my thesis will be proven wrong. Below is the english translation of why I think this is going the route of Romeo and Juliet, along with the extended trailer. Obviously the visuals and music are great so far, hopefully they can be consistant with the rest of the game.

[embed]188656:34462[/embed]

As of right now this game is exclusive to the PS3, but talks of porting to the 360 have been in play. I assume it will be released for PS3 solely, and ported later if the game sells well enough. Also according to Square-Enix the game has no 2011 date set, though I am fairly certain that it will be a Q1 2012 release. I don't know about you but I am extremely excited for this game, and if you find any new information please let me know!!! The basic plot synopsis from the video above is that Noctis and Stella are the only two capable of utilizing the crystals power, hence the runes that appear behind them when they are about to do battle. They are the only two people to have seen the "light' which makes me think they could somehow be related. Though there is apparantly a third Unknown person who may have this power as well. An official meeting regarding the development of the games will be held by Square-Enix on Jan 11, 2011 so there should be some more news regarding this topis soon.

Sources: IGN
Wikipedia
RPGamer
Square-Enix   read


10:50 PM on 11.26.2010

Hype: The 3rd Birthday (aka Parasite Eve 3)




If you are bored while you are reading this review, go ahead and listen to this song, as it is apparantly going to be the headlining song in the game (fast forward the first 20 seconds, as they are silent for whatever unholy reason):


[embed]188517:34402[/embed]


Alright, I know it is way too early to be tackling this particular topic. But unfortunately I have seen one too many juicy screenshots, and trailers for this PSP game which currently doesn't have a release date. According to Square-Enix as of Sept 27th 2010, the game is 80-90% complete. So I have taken it upon myself to find out as much information as I possibly can, and try to sort out the lies from the truth. Here is the official trailer:


[embed]188517:34396[/embed]


I am just happy that it has now been offically put onto Square's website. With development being so close to completion, I am hoping to see this game by March of 2011. This is probably not realistic, but I have been hearing rumors going through the grapevine about this game for years. Though I must admit most of them were just made up by me, because I loved the first two games on Playstation.





Before I dive headfirst into the new game, I will be giving you some information about the first two games, just incase you haven't heard anything about them. Keep in mind that these games were inspired from a book written in Japan which was later made into a movie also.

Also because I use the word Mitochondria several times in this article, I have decided to describe exactly what that is. It is a cellular organism that is usually described as "the power plant of the cell" because it generates ATP. I could go further into depth, but if you have had basic Biology classes you should know what that means. Furthermore Mitochondria is also responsible for cell signaling, cellular differentiation, cell death, as well as the control of the cell cycle and cell growth. Which explains why Aya Brea doesn't age much, and has superhuman abilities since her body has control over the actions of her own Mitochondria. In the 3rd birthday she will technically be 39 years old, making her a cougar!


Parasite Eve: Released on 9.10.1998 for Playstation. (This portion contains spoilers)





I remember when I first purchased the game. Not many people I knew at the time had heard anything about it, but it was the first game by Square that looked to be in direct competition with Resident Evil. The best way I can describe the first game is that it was Resident Evil with gun customization and RPG elements. The main character Aya Brea, who was 25 in the first game, awakened to her mitochondrial supremacy due to a kidney transplant she recieved from her twin sister when she was a child. While on a date in NYC she encounters a woman who is able to control mitochondria in other people, and causes them to spontaneously combust at Carnegie Hall. Having awakened to her powers due to the incident Aya now posesses a wide range of biological powers which allow her to heal herself, move more quickly, and light opponents on fire, as well as complete surrrender to her ultimate self which transforms her into a furious psychopath that can decimate a room in mere seconds.

Due also to the mitochondrial manipulation of her surroundings, insects and animals evolve spontaniously as well and become mindless murderers that are the puppets of Eve. The other recipient of Maya's (Aya's sister) organs Melissa is the oprah singer that Aya has come to see at Carnegie. Maya was thought to have died, but appears in the ex-game as an opponent which must be destroyed. Here is an example of Melissa (Eve once liberated from her human form) using living tissue from people she has murdered by melting their bodies with the energy released from their mitochondria, and using it to bring inanimate objects to life:


[embed]188517:34397[/embed]


Parasite Eve II: Released on 09.12.2000 for Playstation (*more spoilers)

Eve from the first game has been destroyed. Aya now takes a government job cleaning up the remnants of the mitochondria influenced creatures that have apparantly started breeding and spreading in the years following the incident at NYC. She now responds to the threats of these creatures with hopes to destroy them. Unfortunately as people who abuse science always do, they created a shelter for these creatures and did various experiements on them, which lead to the start of these mitochondrian creatures taking human form as well in an attempt to forcibly evolve humanity. It was also one of the first games I had seen with a naughty shower scene depicted below.


[embed]188517:34398[/embed]


Attempting to recreate Aya's dna, they create a daughter verson of her also named Eve, who eventually becomes an evil winged spawn of Satan that you must destroy to bring back to sanity. Depending on actions you take throughout the game you could achieve one of several endings. In the end Aya raises Eve as her sister since she had grown up quite fast due to the nature of rapid growth those exposed to the mitochondria dna. In the end the government covers up the existance of the insanity that happened due to the wake of the NYC incident in the first game, and you don't really learn to much about what has happened.


The 3rd Birthday: (* again spoilers)

So far I have only learned several interesting things about the game. One of those being that you can apparantly unlock a Lightning costume from FFXIII, here is some crappy fan art:





The action (see trailer above) in battle has now been evolved for Aya to use an ability which allows her mitochondria to take over another body temporairly which is useful for sucessful vantage points in battle, and I am guessing to exploit weaknesses. Looking at the trailer the bosses are going to be bigger, badder, and the action in the game is going to be more seamless / smooth with the ability to change bodies. As with the other games there will be a variety of weapons (handguns, assult rifles, etc) and it appear, this ability is called overdrive. She will retain her ability called Liberate from the first game as well, though it has not been mentioned if there is any transformation associated with this ability.

There is also going to be the addition of vechicles. (Tank, Helicopter) It is also interesting to see that the storyline is going to be kept alive, as this was one of the most interesting aspects about the game. Battle is not dissimilar to the previous games, but as you can imagine the first two games played similarly to the first Resident Evil games, with this one looking like it is going to play more like RE5 just with mitochondrial powers. The game also will be taking place back in NYC like the first game. Interestingly enough in battle Aya's clothes are apparantly ripped off as she takes damage. Its ok because she is sexy. Below is a shorter version of the same trailer in english. Hopefully that can answer a few of your questions that I couldn't.


[embed]188517:34401[/embed]


I saw that apparantly Aya is in a wedding dress in the trailer, and it makes me wonder if she is going to marry Kyle Madigan who saved her life in the 2nd game:





A few screenshots for your pleasure:









And of course the CGI clips:












Sources:

Wikipedia.com
Square-Enix.com
RPGamer.com

BTW: If you find any new information please let me know, as I am a die hard fan of the series!!!   read


12:43 AM on 11.25.2010

Review: Castlevania Lords of Shadow

* May contain spoilers.

Firstly I would like to say that I have not played any other Castlevania game in a very long time. Though I must say despite the few things wrong with this game, there is very much to be said about what has been done right.



Plot Synopsis:
Gabriel the main character is a tormented soul on a quest to bring back a dead loved one. To do so he needs to assemble three pieces of the God Mask. Each piece of the mask is guarded by a Lord of Shadow. These Lords of Shadow include the king of Lycans, the Queen of Vampires, and Death himself. Along with the destruction of these bastards, you receive relics which help you on your quest. The weaponry, magic, sub weapons, and upgrades are all very interesting to me, and in any other genre of game I have not found anything this interesting / refreshing as of late. Each chapter takes you across Europe, and across many stunning visuals in places that look so real, you wish you could schedule a vacation to the middle ages. Before each level there is a description of what Gabriel is going through, what he must do next, and most importantly WHY. Without ruining too much of the plot, I happily must say this is a game made for the older generation with its darker plot (bringing the dead back to life, a corrupt brotherhood of god following warriors, etc)



Weaponry / Relics:
Part of what makes this game so great is the innovative weapon the Combat Cross which is basically a retractable chain whip for which you will find many enhancements. You will have the ability to get a spiked chain whip, over the basic version in order to help saw down some of your obstacles. You will also get a hook shot type component where you will be able to do some difficult jumps, as well as a vampire stake hidden in the bottom of the Combat Cross, which also helps you navigate through the game.



You get both Light Magic, and Dark Magic. Light Magic, quite simply acts as a Life Siphon. It does not enhance the damage of your weapon, but heals a portion of your life for every hit of the whip you cause to someone else. Dark Magic basically just enhances the damage capability of the weapon.

The sub weapons you will come across are as follows:

Silver Daggers: Good for those pesky Lycans
Holy Water: No better way to destroy Vampires, or Undead creatures
Fairies: Good for confusing your opponents
Dark Crystal: Summons an evil naked she bitch whirlwind of destruction that kills / heavily damages

[embed]188448:34365[/embed]

All of this in combination with the following relics:

Dark Gauntlet: Moves obsticles / causes heavy damage with uppercuts, tremors, and combos
Greaves: Run faster to jump bigger distances
Wings: Double Jump.

All of the relics and sub weapons can be combined with Magic to create a seemingly endless supply of battle tactics, and combo moves which are learned with experience, which makes the battle more fun. It also allows you to try many different ways to kill your opponents the best, which you will need on the higher difficulties / to beat challenges / and if you are just plain bored of the same hack and slash routine. There are also several different enemies you can ride (Huge Spider, Troll etc) to get past certain barricades.



Level Progression:

There are several levels within a chapter, and each of these levels has some form of goal. Some are to just get from point a to point b, while others require a bit of strategy. Others still will have puzzles (not so annoying that you can't eventually figure out) and interesting mini games. All in all it mixes up mini games, battle, plot, and satisfying different schemes of environments, and obstacles. Some levels will require you to climb dizzying heights, while others focus on killing bosses. The great thing about the bosses is that you can't simply use the same tactics to kill them. They require button presses to strip off their armor, destroy their magic seals, throw their projectiles back at them, or just plain ride on their back into weak looking walls.



Art / Music:

Few games deserve recognition in this area, but the music fits the theme of the game. The landscapes look real, and don't replay themselves. You are going to be in the deepest darkest winter, eerie castles, lush forests, abstract demonized hell holes, deserts with sinking mud, mountainous regions, and many other interesting locales. You just have to see it to understand.

Everything I listed above, is what I consider to be the pro's of this game, following this point will be considered areas of improvement. Below is some of the music I enjoyed taken directly from the game.

[embed]188448:34366[/embed]

Camera:

You have no control over the camera angle, which I suspect is because of the beautiful landscapes, and the detail they possess. You either get linear and perfect camera angles, or non-linear and terrible camera angles with art this good, and while the camera can be a challenge at times, it always knows to focus on your enemies, but sometimes if you don't know what to look for you can easily get lost in a level and not know where to go.



Glitches:

Once you get the ability to double jump, and run I have noticed in earlier levels where you originally did not have this capability you can sometimes get stuck in parts of the floor near areas where you need to jump, or though the sky looks limitless, you are hitting your head on nothing, or though the areas with water look limitless, you can only go so far. They definitely take something away from the experience.



Chupacabras:

These little assholes steal all your upgrades, relics, and capability of using magic to play hide and seek with you. They anger me to no end. Luckily they only appear a few times.

If you can get around the sometimes frustrating camera, and glitches that occur with this game, and your desire to throw your controller through your flat screen when a Chupacabra steals your mother trucking Mojo, then I have to say this is a fantastic game with much to offer.

Gameplay: 8 (several glitches)
Music: 9 (sometimes gets repetitive)
Visuals: 9 (looks kind of choppy with an HDMI cable)
Combat: 10 (excellent variety, multiple difficulties, challenges, and bosses await you)
Story: 9 (dark adult themed religious morality driven plot line)

All in all I would have to give it an 8.5 / 10. It is a solid game with a couple of problems. I wish it had more interactivity though, like the kind found in inFamous (you could choose your moral compass) or some form of online play. (the chess game would be fun) or perhaps a duel system, or any upgrades to the game of any kind (costumes) on PSN, which is where I am forcibly removing a half point from the above scoring structure. Below is a video of one of the final battle.

[embed]188448:34368[/embed]

I hope you enjoy it, and if you were on the fence let me know why and perhaps I can help you make up your mind one way or the other based on what you are looking for in a game / your perceptions of what you think it is. Because there are definitely lots of cliffsides to climb, many puzzles to solve, many bosses to fight, many buttons to mash, and many battles / bosses to destroy which all have weaknesses, and require tact, and strategy (unless you are playing on easy, or are opting out of the puzzles, which you very well can do, but if you are a trophy collector like me, then you will be horrified to find the difficulty level get exponentially harder, and the challenges become progressively more hair pullingly annoying. At least you can always reload from your last checkpoint which will save you hours)   read


11:37 PM on 11.23.2010

The severe lack of "Good RPG games" has Depressed me severely.

***Warning, this is pretty much a rant of why I think the latest RPG games have been unsatisfactory to say the least when compared to many retro games. Don't waste your time if you don't have much experience with either***

Perhaps I am too old school for my own good. This is not to say that I have not been playing any other genre as of late. I have purchased and played or have beaten Force Unleashed II, Castlevania LOS, Dead Rising 2, Dead to Rights, and many others. I have never been a huge fan of the Call of Duty, or Halo series, and I couldn't really say why.

I have played Fallout 3, and got bored with repetition, same goes for Oblivion. I have Demons Souls, but have yet to get too far into it, I suppose I am scared by the stigma of how hard is supposedly is. I will of course get there soon.

This is not to say that there have been no retro type RPG games, but they are few and far between, and I fear that action based RPG's are becoming the norm, and it only took me 3 days to beat 3D Dot Heroes because I gobbled it up. The only strategy based RPG I have played recently for the PS3 is Valkyria Chronicles, but it left me wanting more. I will most likely eventually pick up its sequel on PSP.

I am still pretty prone to picking up my old RPG's on PS2 and PS1. If you look at my video game collection which is in my profile, you will know what kinds of games I tend to play. I am afraid to pick up the new Kingdom Hearts game, because I have heard extremely mixed reviews.

The only game I have played as of late that I particularly enjoyed was Resonance of Fate. It had a good mixture of side quests which could involve fetching things for other people, and battles. There was a battle arena with tons of challenges. Multiple difficulties. Very interesting religious / socioeconomic plot. A map system I have never seen before. Battle system which is unlike any I have seen, and dungeons which are fairly easy to navigate.

Before I lament much further I must let you all know that I am a PS3 owner. I do not have an Xbox360 because when it came to selection of RPG's Playstation seemed to be where it was at. I have played and beaten FFXIII, which I thought was garbage compared to what it could have been. Its biggest downfall was its level progression, uninteresting magic and summon usage, terrible plot, and linear dungeons. Tried my hand at Dragon Ages, which I found very boring as you could only control one character, and the level progression was annoying due to a lack of good areas to fight, and I am all for customization, but sometimes there is just too much.

Perhaps that is my biggest fault. I am one of those people who like to have a certain amount of boundaries. If I was interested in limitless gameplay I would be more interested in MMORPGs. But unfortunately those have never struck a chord with me either.

I am not saying I am looking for a solely turn based game, but what I am looking for would perhaps be a nod to predecessors that had a winning combination of features / music / battle system / gameplay etc such as the following. Final Fantasy VII, Star Ocean 1-3, Final Fantasy Tactics, Wild Arms 1-2, Grandia 1-2, Xenogears, Shin Megami Persona series, Digital Devil Saga, and Nocturne etc etc.

What I have found over the years is that boundaries make a game more enjoyable. There should be lots of places to go, but not so many that it is hard to find any form of linear progression. It should not take a considerable period of time to walk from one village / dungeon to the next place, but perhaps there is a side event or two. I am also uninterested in games that make side progress work. There should be mini-games that take your mind of the repetition of battles, towns, world map, etc. Few games are capable of creating this balance.

I think that one of the most disappointing facts as of late is that the games that are coming out have no plot whatsoever, or if they do there is no character development. This is a delicate ying and yang mixture for a person like me. I need a game that focuses enough on the characters that you actually get to know them, and find reasons to relate with them. This development should obviously tie in with the plot, and enhance the flow of the game. I haven't seen too much of this lately in any genre of gaming. I am the kind of person who gets lost in a story, not just the graphics. Which are obviously great at this current point in time compared to how they used to be.

It seems a lot of the good conceptual RPGs are coming out on Nintendo DS, and PSP. But I am bored with replaying the classics. I have conquered the Lufia series, the FF series, the Chrono series, the Earthbound series, etc etc etc.

By the way I have also played the newest Star Ocean, and I can safely say I was unimpressed with that game as well. No plot, annoying characters, etc, the only thing they did right was the battle system, and even that could have been improved upon with variations of their old battle systems.

I would also have to say that for me the Battle System should be top notch as well. There needs to be leveling, optional dungeons for people who want more of a challenge, spells, summons, and weapons of all kinds, a variety of specialties. Free range combat (Star Ocean, Kingdom Hearts) / turn based (Final Fantasy, Wild Arms, Breath of Fire) / strategy based (Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea, Valkyria Chronicles) / hack and slash games (Zelda) are all interesting to me.

Perhaps there are a few gems out there that have eluded me, and please let me know what those are if you have any good suggestions.

I think what has happened is that we are more interested in US RPGs because many of the high profile franchise JP RPGs have been poorly done. Unfortunately I just can't get into first person, do a ton of mini quests, lack of a plot, no linear correlation, or too much linear correlation type games that have been force fed to me over the last few years.

I of course have been looking into future games that will be coming out eventually and have to say I am very impressed with FF vs XIII, The 3rd Birthday (Parasite Eve 3), FF Agito XIII, and the port of Persona 2 to PSP (never could find that for a reasonable price on eBay) but only time can tell.

If only Enix still existed on its own. Sigh.

In my opinion it all went wrong with FFX, the merging of Square with Enix, and the over conceptualization, or over simplification of any of the important structures a game is supposed to possess (plot, battle, world map, dungeons, etc) This is not to say I want a repeat, but as Coca Cola, and McDonald's very well know, to deviate from a formula that works, is to cut off both hands. There have got to be some better ideas out there, and I fear that if nothing noteworthy comes out soon, that I may have to find a different hobby. I equate my gaming experience of late to an overweight ugly creeper that sits at the bar hitting on women getting rejected time and time again. Though this person may eventually get laid (and I may eventually find a game to play that doesn't feel like work, or that fits any of the criteria of a good RPG that I have listed beforehand) the effort I am putting forth isn't worth the result (enjoyment) that I am looking for.   read


1:12 AM on 04.01.2010

Final Fantasy XIII (Spoilers, don't read if you actually liked game)

How to sum up a game that could have been good in one word: Disappointing!

First of all. Every dungeon in the entire game gives you a map, and for what purpose I am still unclear because every dungeon in the ENTIRE GAME except for Gran Pulse (which is annoyingly large and completely unnecessary in order to complete the game) is linear. Meaning that all you have to do is walk in a straight line.

There are very few hidden items; as it is almost impossible to miss most items as they are contained in floating orbs that are blatantly obvious. There are very few that are "out of the way" and most of the ones that are, have nothing in there worth wasting your time over.

The story is pathetic. The characters are one dimensional. Summoning is disappointing and mostly useless unless you want to knock down an Adamantoise quickly to farm for money and Trapezhedrons in order to make ultimate weapons which you do not need.

Awful voice acting makes this game annoying at most times. I would have prefered it be in Japanese with subtitles.

All in all I must say that the game had amazing graphics, and was seamless with loading in the PS3 version. Great fight scenes, and a very addictive ATB (battle) format.

If you are debating on whether or not you should buy this I would say no unless you are a hardcore fan. The entire game offers little to no challenge unless you plan on running around Gran Pulse doing missions which are annoying, and tedious.

Character Synopsis:

Lightning: (Actual name Claire)

I identified with this character the most. Seemed to be the only one with an agenda, but never really felt like she was the leader as the game forcefully made you have a certain group of party members nearly the whole game. Also didn't let you choose which Jobs you would like to have until nearly the end of the game as well.

I liked it when she punched Snow, because I am convinced he is a douche bag. Is the best character in the game battle wise, until Fang eventually surpasses her in strength, and makes her turn into a well balanced support character. Pretty much the strong silent type. Seemed annoyed with everyone in general which seemed to be a good outlook as most of the other characters offered little to the plot and were annoying.

Snow:

If I have to hear the word "Hero" I would prefer it be done by someone with a moral agenda, or someone who is actually interesting. This guy basically runs from himself the entire game with an overwhelmingly annoying sense of "heroic" ideal which doesn't translate to the plot in any way. Tries to pull his crystalized fiance out of the ground with a metal stick and is captured by an even bigger douche bag, rendering him gone for the first half of the game, which was fine by me. Rarely had to use him, which made me happy. Shiva is not two people btw, this made me want to puke.

Sazh:

Can't pronounce his name, or his child's. Basically followed Lightning for no good reason. Then attempted to flee with Vanille, got caught and eventually decided to save the world. Bird in his nappy weave annoyed the shit out of me. Battle wise was completely useless and you were forced to use him often. His son was manipulated by the hot girl with glasses that was murdered by Bart (fal'cie)

Serah:

Would have liked to see her as a playable character, coulda pulled the whole Aeris and had her die later, thusly creating some kind of connection to this person. Basically I was curious why she was even included at all if she was going to "die" right off the bat. Anyone stupid enough to fall for Snow deserves to sleep for eternity in crystal.

Hope:

Annoying child, hated his personality and only used him for his magic stat. His momma died right off the bat, and what they were doing without the father made no sense to me. Why the mother picked up a gun was also pretty retarded. His hatred towards Snow made no sense but amused me because Snow is a douche. Liked seeing him try to kill Snow, which was his only redeeming quality.

Vanille:

Interesting back story as she was the girl from Pulse with powers before Anima bestowed them on the fated group. Annoyingly happy all the fucking time. Useless in battle except for her Death skill which is only used to farm Adamantoise.

Fang:

Rarely speaks, not much of a plot thickener which made me dislike using her in battle, but her high Strength Stat was good for toppling assholes. Just wish she was more effective as a Ravager. Basically played second fiddle to Vanille's controversy.


Plot Synopsis:

Pulse l'Cie (stupid name) are bestowed magic powers by Fal'Cie (god like thingies) that the general public are afraid of. The reason for this fear is never explained very well, it just alludes to a war in the past. They are basically manipulated into killing Orphan which is a god like creature that holds the world of Cocoon together. Mysteriously when they kill Orphan, which they swear not to do, does not destroy the world because somehow Fang and Vanille make a crystal pillar to hold the world up before it falls to Pulse and is destroyed, which would have supposedly summoned "the Maker" to recreate existance.

There are no strong characters, and the motives for doing what they are doing are not very clear either. None of the boss battles are challenging. The battle system was amazingly fun and addicting until about half way through the game when you needed to stagger practically every single enemy in order to kill it.

Pro List

Fun battle system
Seamless loading
Wonderful music
Fantastic graphics
amazing environments
creative and detailed enemies

Con List

Game interrupted constantly, I swear every time you take a footstep its time for a conversation
Summons are useless, unless you want to take down adamantoise, which is not necessary
very little customization. I beat the game with the weapons I started the game with
Crystarium is basically a rip off of FFX but with less customization

You can't choose jobs until end of game, and when you get control you can't really make your characters do what you want to do as efficiently as others. Some are better at certain jobs than others.

You don't get control of who you want your party until the end of the fucking game, and many of the characters suck and are annoying.
Very little character development
Awful plot with annoying terms that confuse you half the game
not much to offer on the difficulty range
staggering enemies is necessary to kill most regular encounters, which wastes time
getting money is a pain in the ass
linear levels are painfully boring, and easy as an arrow constantly points you in the right direction, and is laughable because the LEVELS ARE ALL A STRAIGHT LINE

Basically I was disapointed. The only thing that seemed to be highly glossed up was the battle system, and even that had its flaws, and offered little difficulty.

"Auto Battle" basically you mash X the whole game, and the game chooses the best actions based on the fight you are in by using previously aquired data that automatically saves itself as you kill enemies.

Annoying "kiddie" characters, nothing dark, or deep, in the plot line, which is where most other games that are good are delving into.

Square really needs to stop the over glamorization and conceptualization of its games, and get back to its roots. I also missed Towns and World Maps, and Side quests ( in ffxiii they are only available after you beat the game) The last games they made that were great were FFVII, and FF Tactics. I thought for sure Enix would offer some interesting ideas, but I fear it was merely just a buyout of a competitor.

-Dan   read


2:41 AM on 08.21.2009

Bad News... Apparantly Games Can Cause Depression?

http://videogames.yahoo.com/events/plugged-in/study-games-are-depressing-or-are-they-/1346074

Anyway,

Firstly I will say I am fairly unimpressed with the study, as it was completely vague and had no statistics, or any real information of any kind, and I couldn't find any links to the findings, the test group / interview of, or anything that held any validity of any kind.

First Paragraph:

"The average gamer is 35, overweight, and more likely to be depressed, says a new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention."

I was fairly shocked by this "diagnosis" of who the average gamer is. Honestly I am kind of suprised to see that the average gaming age is so high. If I had been asked that question off the cuff I would have guessed 18-25. Which leads me to wonder exactly "who," this survey was targeted at....

Second Paragraph:

The study, which was carried out in the Seattle-Tacoma area, found that gamers reported "lower extraversion, consistent with research on adolescents that linked video-game playing to a sedentary lifestyle and overweight status, and to mental-health concerns."

I honestly don't have a lot of video game playing friends, and usually do the activity in question by myself as the friends I do have often don't really present much of a challenge for me, and I have never really been interested in Online Gaming. Thats just me though, I am not knocking it by any means, my ass should be embracing it instead of running away from it, but I know how I get when I get absorbed in those kinds of games as well.

I can honestly see how some of these things could possibly be correlated, but personally I can only see this as a worst case scenario. I don't see how someone could get up, go to work, spend time with their wife and kids... and I only say these things because the target age is 35 for crying out loud, and still find time to immerse their lives in a "sedentary lifestyle." The article goes on to say....

Third Paragraph:

It also indicated a curious difference between male and female gamers: the former proved more overweight and reported more Internet usage than non-gamer men, while female gamers reported more depression and lower general health than non-gamer women.

I was interested to see that they went on to "classify," the difference between Male, and Female gamers, and that supposedly Male Gamers spend more time online, and prove to be more overweight than their non-gamer counterparts. Also that women reported more depression and lower general heath than their non gamer counterparts. But of course this is in the Seattle-Tacoma area, and I really must say that I have never been there, or done any research on the place. But I am willing to bet that gamers in more Metropolitan areas such as Chicago, San Francisco, New York, etc etc would have slightly different findings as well.

Fourth Paragraph:

"But which comes first, the games or the poor health? The researchers hypothesized that depressed individuals might be turning to games as a means of self-medication, immersing themselves in a game's world as a way of forgetting about real-life troubles."

I agree a bit with this statement, especially as I am unemployed right now, thusly giving me a large amount of free time. But I also Volunteer with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I attend College. I work out 5 times a week, and am definitely not one of the "fit the profile" type people they described above. I have a good BMI (body mass index) and I keep myself busy. I can definitely play me some video games all day when I have the opportunity, but I most certainly don't do this every day. I just find such a blanket statement completely unfounded without further research. I honestly wouldn't even be concerned if I didn't see this pop up as the headline on my Yahoo.com homepage.

Fifth Paragraph:

"Habitual use of video games as a coping response may [provide] a genesis for obsessive-compulsive video-game playing, if not video-game addiction," one researcher told MSNBC. The study calls for "further research among adults to clarify how to use digital opportunities more effectively to promote health and prevent disease."

I agree they need further research, but again, how many people actually read an article that pops up on their computer? I find that there are some people out there, at least in my opinion, that immediately accept a headline for what it is, without reading the article at all, and apply it in general conversation in order to will their unknowledgeable factoid on the general masses, who usually accept whatever it is they are told by said person.

I can't lie about the fact that I play video games as a coping mechanism. I do, its a safe haven from reality, its a sense of accomplishment, a sense of entertainment, a way to kill boredom, a great way to interact with other people. It is a hobby for a lot of people out there. I never walk into a gamestop that is empty in fact. I am sure that there are people out there that may be "compulsive, or dependant, or even addicted" to video games, as I have had my phases of Video Game Addiction. But fuck, at least its not METH, or CRACK, come on people! Lets try and focus on drug dealers, and suburban meth labs, and gang wars than some "overweight, 35 year old" who happens to have a hobby. At least he isn't raping children, or shooting up the local shopping mall.

Sixth Paragraph:

As luck would have it, a study at East Carolina University funded by Bejeweled maker Popcap Games is also investigating the possible mental health benefits of game playing. Having already discovered that Bejeweled can improve mood and heart rhythms, the Carolina group is about to embark on an investigation in an attempt to determine whether games like Bejeweled can also deliver clinically significant improvements to depression sufferers.

This part just confuses me, do video games, prevent depression, or cause it? I think someone who plays video games to escape from reality, is much healthier than someone who gets drunk off their ass every night. Every part of culture, and sub-culture have its acceptable, and unacceptable characteristics. Some people don't fit in with mainstream society, and I feel I am one of them. I am not a shallow, dehumanising person who thinks that the only things that are important are alcohol, sex, and glory. I hate how that image has been projected upon just about everyone, and I completely understand that some people want to get away from being treated like garbage, when they can pop in a video game and take on the persona of a warrior, or mage, or whatever it is that they do, and get their mind off of it.

In my opinion, and from my own personal experience, Video Gaming has prevented me from losing my mind, and helped me maintain my cool. Much better to take out aggression on Fighting Games, or GTA, RE, etc etc, than on your local neighborhood school. I think that what these studies are suggesting is the EXCEPTION, not the RULE. Video games don't make you fat, eating shitty food, and not exercising do, that is a matter of motivation, and everyone's is different. I am the person I am, but I can't say that someone else is "right or wrong," for playing a little bit more video games than I do, or not exercising. Everyone has their own priorities, and goals.

Final Paragraph:

"The research is part of a broad array of unconventional efforts that video game companies are devising to find new markets for their products," says Shankar Vedantam, writing this week for the Washington Post. "Many of these steps are based on the idea that depression and other disorders -- as well as everyday stress and worry -- involve systematic patterns of thought and self-doubt, and that games can distract people and put them in a different mental zone

Everything ends off on a positive note, that "unconventional efforts are being made to show that game can distract people and put them in a different mental zone," But I guess you can interpret this article either way as it is very vague, and holds absolutely no merit in my opinion. I have heard studies say that video games increase self esteem, make for better reflexes, and decrease the chances of your eyes going bad. It really all depends on the classifications.

In my opinion in order to make a "good" more effective study they would have needed to isolate different target groups.

Obviously Geographical location should be one of them.
Age ranges should be another one. A lot of kids get started on games, and then stop later in life, and a lot of older people didn't have the games we do today and get started later in life. Also what kinds of games are there out there, which genre's of games do these people play?

I am willing to guess that these "35 year old overweight" gamers are probably the buyers, more than the actual players, and their children are the more heavy reciepients of what this study should be focusing on. But maybe im wrong, who knows this is merely my opinion and as I said I didn't do any further research on the matter.

If anyone has any other articles with more merit they could direct me to, I would greatly appreciate it.

-Dan   read


3:37 AM on 08.19.2009

Final Fantasy VII

*Spoiler Alert.

Alright, I have been putting off creating a post such as this for awhile, due to the extreme amount of speculation that can be brought to this table. But nonetheless I am really doing this for two reasons, firstly to see what others opinions are on my personal favories, and secondly to try and see if anyone can push a couple more really great RPG's into my focus.

I suppose it will be necessary to come up with some rules on how I will judge this, because obviously this isn't really a matter I take too lightly. Unfortunately I haven't yet gotten ahold of any next gen RPG's but at the same time, I have heard that this really isn't the most awful curse one could have thrown at them. I am also pretty JRPG focused, and very old school.

If you have any additions, / speculations I welcome them with open arms. My personal rule is that I never use "help" the first time I play a game "gamefaqs.com / guidebooks" and I also will try to keep to my opinion the first time I played the game, not the 100th.

My first judging factor will be Playability. What is most important to me with regard to this factor is how easy is it to just pick up and play. Simple enough right? This doesn't mean difficulty, this just means to me, how easy is it to get absorbed into. Obviously this is one of my most speculative rules.

My second judging factor will be Difficulty. I don't like games that are too easy, but with regard to the above statement, I hate games that take too long to get the hang of as well.

Third is going to have to be Battle Operations. A lot of things go into this, especially the first two classifications, but I am going to be focusing more on originality of the system, and how much fun it is. Nothing is worse than a monotonous fighting structure.

Fourth will be customization. This includes spells / skills you learn as you level up. Combo attacks, battle tactics, and such. I love the ability to customize the game to the players fit, such as focusing on taking a more magical or a more physical route with characters, etc.

Fifth is going to be Plot, keep in mind these judging criteria are not in order of importance. Twists, Character Development, that kind of thing.

Lastly will be Replay Value, the ability to actually place this game more than once.

I will analyze a few of my favorites based on these criteria, and will give an award in each of the categories to the games I choose. Let me know if you think my criteria, game chosen, etc should be tweaked for future blogging. I will also not be judging the games on what I think are #1 - whatever, these will be in no particular order as well. I will let you choose if you think these games / criteria / whatever deserve to be on here. Forgive me if I jump around a bit. I will give each factor a 1-10 rating, but the cumulative score isn't necessairly going to mean its my favorite one.

With regard to that I will start with probably one of the most recognizable games FFVII, I will add this same forewarnment to any future games I choose to do as well. For now I will just stick with this one since this blog is already longer than I anticipated, maybe I will do a top ten later.

Final Fantasy 7

Playability: Right away when you pop in the game, you go through a cut scene, and have a little bit of time to interact on the field, to get familiar with your environment. You do get to have a little bit of customization at first, but nothing that is going to really affect this factor. Obviously once Materia is introduced you will be getting a lot more Customization, and for a newbie to RPG's this can definitely be a factor. I can say that this was the first RPG I really played with any kind of consistancy, hence my reason for choosing it, that and the fact that I have beaten it dozens of times. As a first time gamer, putting this game in got me hooked very quickly, the beginning draws you right into the world with little difficulty, and keeps you hooked through most of the game in my opinion.

I found that there are few factors that made me really want to turn this game off. Levelling up is fairly easy, just playing through the game doesn't require much if any level grinding. If you don't know where to look for special easter egg's (ultimate weapons, summons, etc etc) you can still finish the game, and enjoy it. Of course I highly recommend Chocobo Racing, and Knights of the Round Quest. etc etc. It has a fairly good balance of plot, then fighting, then mini games, it mixes it up enough to keep it interesting through the end of the game, and there are tons of things to do on the side. I must say that Yuffie stealing all your materia did make me want to throw my controller at the tv, but you didn't have to recruit that bitch anyway. I would say the playability is about a 6 for my first time through, I would get caught up by some of the side quests, and get a little lost, and the high degree of customization also made things difficult at some points too. I actually did turn this game off and start over because I got stuck in Wutai, my second time I did not recruit Yuffie (what a noob i was lol) Subdiving for the Ancient key was kinda stupid too. Bone City digging was gay as well. If you don't use a guide, because a lot of the easter eggs can only be done on certain disks, at certain times, it can be frustrating to miss limits for Aeris / Vincent, and things like that as well. For the most part the plot leads you in the right direction though. The playability is a 9 once you figure everything out ( a few annoying parts) but I believe that if you don't cheat and use guides a 6 is appropriate. (I factor this because you can't find everything / may miss characters / and since I used Aeris as a Permanent member of the party the first time losing her made it especially annoying.)

Difficulty: Honestly I found nothing too difficult about this entire game except for a few of the hidden bosses, which can easily be destroyed with the correct preperation. But at the same time it wasn't too easy either. My first time playing I didn't just breeze through the way I can now after a multitude of playthroughs, and it is hard for me to imagine the first time I went through this beast back when I was in Middle School. But I can safely say that I did have trouble spots where I needed to go back, and level up, and adjust strategies, buy new materia etc. But one of my big Rules about RPGS that I hold myself personally accountable for is to never use a game guide on the first time I play through a game. On a scale of 1-10 I would say the difficulty is a 7 more for the sake of "first time plays" customization, playability, etc. Also for the fact you were probably not going to tackle the hidden bosses, or find everything unless you used a guide. I would reduce this to a 3 if your a veteran in the RPG business due to how much customization you get. Its one of those funny things that make it a bit hard the first time, but easier as you figure it out. (Shin Megami series is a LOT harder, Wild Arms requires more Strategy)

Battle Operations: Even though this battle structure is a fairly overused one, it was new to me at the time. I like that you can customize the ATB speed, because there is nothing more annoying than waiting 5 mins to attack, of course speeding it up makes you have to think a little bit faster obviously. A lot of customization goes into this factor because of Materia. Really there were not a lot of "physical" materia, and I would have liked to see more of that, kind of like how it was used in Crisis Core. I always stuck to pretty heavy magic loading, with the exception of limit breaks, never cared for the more "magical" ones. I liked Cloud, Barrett, and Cid, for their multi hit physical final attack limit breaks. Didn't care for Vincents transform then berserk bs. Most of Aeris's were pretty dumb, and you couldnt get them all unless you wasted a lot of time on her, and watched her Die shortly thereafter. Cait Sith... really... was just useless, never once used him. Yuffie was kinda a douche bag, her annoying steal your materia shit was never worth picking her up in my opinion. Her last limit is useless, unless you want to power up her base stats for a multi hit physical limit 3, I thought she left a lot to be desired. Tifa was a bit random for my tastes, and Red XIII is a talking dog thing and if Hojo killed him before I got there, I wouldn't have minded his last one is like Yuffies one hit for 9999 only.

Sorry, got a little bit into plot there, but those are really just more my preferences on battle usage. Plus the Power Up's for Ultimate Weapons for Cloud, Barrett, and Cid were pretty easy to deal with too. For my first playthrough it was fairly easy to test the waters with each character, and decide what I liked by myself, I actually did end up finding all the characters on my own as well. (Yuffie / Vincent are optional) I didn't find all the ultimate weapons / limits my first try, but for the sake of the Operations part I thought it was necessary. I never found battle to be "too slow" or "too fast," and it is still pretty innovative, and straight forward if you ask me. I would give this an 8. Loses points for Originality, pretty cut and dry if you ask me.


Customization. FFVII is one of the few games I can honestly say had it all. If you seek a high degree of customization, or choose to simply buy your materia and play with it, you could get through the game either way. You had Yellow Materia "command" to steal, manipulate, attack, item, magic, w-item / magic (2x in one turn) and many more. Red "summon" and plenty of beasts to choose from. Green "magic" every elemental flavor except holy and dark really, that was pretty much exclusive to Alexander and Hades. You can count cure on Undead too I suppose. Blue "support" all, final attack, etc etc. You could make any character into anything you wanted, but didn't have to. There were many ways to kill enemies (which made me knock off some points for difficulty) Might have been cool to see some other spells, but there were definitely enough. Shoot it got a little time consuming in the menu choosing which materia were worth leveling, and which were not. Tons of Armor, and Weapons, and effects to go with those. Accessories left a little to be desired.... I would have loved a 3rd Ribbon.....Not to mention Limits, explained in the battle section. Very well rounded if you ask me. I would say a 9 I say, there are a few other more Customizable games in my opinion. (Dark Cloud with towns, Shin Megami with demons / personas / mantra etc, any tactical RPG's with classes) but still very good.

Plot: You could miss some elements of the Plot via easter eggs, but not enough for me to say I would really dock the points system on this all that much. The Plot kept me really hooked throughout the game because it was multifaceted. It wasn't about saving the world at first, as much as it was a rag tag group of rebel environmentalists, with a hired "jack of all trades" who happened to have a personality complex. It has a Love Triangle between Aeris, Tifa, and Cloud. I liked the Character Development of Cloud, but as many RPG's go, the rest of the characters usually fall short. Barrett, Marlene and his hometown / Dyne, Cid and the Space program. Tifa, her hometown, and the Bar / Love triangle. Aeris adopted, real mom is Ancient. Vincent is Hojo's son / Shinra involvement (never played Dirge of Cerberus, heard it sucked) Cloud and Sephiroths duality / mental breakdown, I personally loved the psychology between these two conflicting forces. Yuffie and the war for materia. Red XIII awww he's all alone.... boo hoo GRANDPA nooooo!. Cait Sith spy becomes reformed. Sephiroths mental breakdown from being experimented on, his apathy towards other people, arrogance of skill, finding out the truth of his origin, belief that he was superior, etc etc. Just didn't like that Sephiroth was actually in the crator the whole time but it does explain why he didn't kill our heroes, because he could have at any time otherwise, and it was his crazy clones dropping off random jenova parts.

Replay Value. One of the best for any game I played, but maybe its because it was my first RPG that I feel so biased towards it. That and the fact that if you play it without guidebooks you can find something new everytime and using the guide book helps you to uncover even more you will grow to love about this game. The plot is worth reliving. Minimal interferance from Playability. Difficulty isn't so annoying that you don't want to play it again, but not so easy that you don't have a few challenges / excuses to level up. Good customization and Battle Operations. I would say I don't know anyone that hasn't played through the whole thing that didn't do it a few times. Wouldn't put it up there with Parasite Eve or Resident Evil games though because of the length, but its still good. I would say 9.

-Dan

I hope to do one on Parasite Eve, WIld Arms, Xenogears, Grandia, Shin Megami series, and a few others im kind of on a quest to replay a few of my faves. Let me know if you liked my first installment, if not maybe I won't waste my time   read


2:31 AM on 04.01.2009

Psychological Connections with Persona series

Warning: If you read any of this, most of it contains spoilers, so if you want to play the game, and haven’t yet, then don’t read this.

The definition of Persona with regard to psychology is: The mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment and not representing the inner personality of the individual; the public personality

An interesting side note is that the actual personality is called the Anima.
The definition of this is the inner personality that is turned toward the unconscious of the individual.

With regard to Persona 3 and 4, obviously the Anima life of the characters would be the social links, and school events that take place outside of the TV in Persona 4, and the Dark Hour (the time in between 11:59, and Midnight) in Persona 3.

I find it very interesting all of the psychological principals that exist in this game.
Everyone but the main character of the game has one set persona that they can invoke in the “other” worlds in order to overcome the situations that have created these other worlds. In Persona 3 the basic premise is that the “other” world in which you can use your persona is always changing, and a huge dungeon takes the place of your school during the “Dark Hour” in Persona 4 the world inside the TV is actually the thoughts of the cumulative population, and only those with the power of Persona can enter the TV. In Persona 3 non-persona users are actually in coffins during this time. A process called in-game as Transmogrification. (The change of something ordinary into something fantastic or strange)

I find this interesting as well because access is restricted to non-persona users to the other world.
Now if you think about the idea of Multiple Personae, this is a gift bestowed upon ONLY the main character. Which you name at the beginning and all the dialogue that takes place is chosen by you the player. The multiple personae are “fused” in the Velvet Room, which only the Main Character can see, and enter.
As you level up, and gain experience you are able to hold more and more Personae in your head. These Personae can hold up to 8 abilities, and have different strengths and weaknesses. The Personae also are based mostly off of religious and demonic figures, with lower level personae representing vague demons, and higher level personae representing those with more history.

Now back to the psychological aspect. It is interesting to me that a non-talking character (which is obviously made so that you in effect ARE the main character, you can’t customize his appearance, but if you could, that would be the last straw at making him 100% in control of your customization) I think the reason the main character / you, are the only one that can change your said personae, and fuse new ones, is because only YOU, the player of the game / main character in the story has the ability to change your perception with regard to the situations at hand, which ties into the definitions I mentioned previously.

One interesting change from Persona 3 to Persona 4 is that, in Persona 3, the only person you could give commands to was the Main Character. This made boss fights more difficult and frustrating, because AI controlled your other 3 party members. Though the AI is pretty good about not using skills that are not in your favor, it is still cumbersome, because in order to figure out that an enemy is not affected by fire, your controlled characters will first use whatever their designated elemental skill is, and it may not be effective. They will stop using it if it is not effective, but most of the time after an analysis, you know which will, and will not work, and this doesn’t seem to carry over to other battles, as the AI only remembers so much.

The much needed ability to directly control the other characters in Persona 4 is much smoother. But I also think it takes away from the premise, that YOU are the main character and can only pull your own strings, and not the strings of your allies.

They do have an in-game explanation for this in Persona 4, and that is that you are directly telling them what to do in battle based off of their skills, but if an enemy overheard your main character telling you to blast some demon with a fire spell, obviously they might be ready for it and dodge. SO I feel this leaves something to be desired with regard to a proper explanation.

I hate to be so analytical of these two games, but it is part of my psychological analysis, and these games looked at separately or together in my opinion are some of the best RPG’s of all time that I have played. I do think they could have made Persona 4 a little bit fresher though, because unfortunately it’s basically the exact same thing, with a slightly different story.

My favorite thing to note is that the real world and the other world are mutually exclusive, except for the fact that you must have a persona to be aware of, or enter the other world. Persona can only be invoked in the “other-world” which is different from Persona 2, where there is no “other world” only the real world, and Persona can be invoked anywhere at any time, and people also use Persona for real life advantages, but not everyone possesses one.

The unifying messages of the Persona series is definitely of Friendship, and finding the Truth. With regard to the Friendship aspect, it is only with the power of those that you believe in, and believe in you, that you are able to kill the final bosses in both of these games. I am not yet sure about persona 2 because I haven’t completed it, and I am anxiously awaiting Persona 1 on PSP.

I also really like the difference in P4 and P3 with regard to getting your Persona. In both of the games the Main Character has it without undergoing any seemingly obvious change, as though it was fate, which ties in with the contract and the Velvet Room as well. There is no explanation for why the main in P3 has it, but in P4, the power was actually bestowed upon him by a celestial being posing as a human, experimenting on what could happen when said power is bestowed.

In P3, people are found with “the potential” they are discovered because they are conscious during the Dark Hour while the other persona users are active. In P4 (which I like the premise for this a lot more) because it ties in more with my psychology theme, people awaken to their persona during their experience on the other side, (which they are not supposed to be able to get there by conventional means, a persona user has to throw them in) they face the side of themselves they have been suppressing, and because they do this they gain power later, instead of having it bestowed. Which makes me kind of think the main character isn’t really deserving of the power, it was just given, instead of earned.

I also think that the whole “Social Links” in both games tie in very well too, because the Anima of real life and the relationships of the people to the Main Character become his power in the other world to fuse stronger and better personas with more versatile skills in order to overcome the Shadows in the other world.
I would also have to note that the presence of Shadows (which are your enemies in these games) is a psychological term as well. The psychological definition for this is: part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts, which in the game that is exactly what they are. The cumulative weakness of all people is basically what the shadows are in P4. But in P3 it has a different explanation for why they are there, basically a science experiment gone awry. Facing the shadow of yourself in the other world in P4 bestows upon you a persona, and maxing out a social link with a playable character basically “promotes” that persona (it has the same battle skills, just more defenses) So finding yourself by facing your shadow invokes persona, and clearing up the rest of the doubt of yourself makes persona even stronger.

Another interesting thing to note, is that all of the Personae, are actually broken down into categories of Major Arcana tarot cards. Which are loosely based on psychological profiles which can be generally applied for tarot card readings, which here is an odd fact about myself, but I used to be a tarot card reader. Never made money off it or anything, but I had a deck, and practiced doing it. Also the people based off of these general psychological profiles for the social links all hit the nail on the head with regard to the major arcana tarot cards they represent.

For instance Chie from P4 was the Chariot Social Link. Chariot represents physical strength, and the majority of the time Chie and MC (Main Character) are training physically to stop bullies. Becoming a better friend with her, unlocks personas with physical attack skills as the prevalent ability.

I could go on and on, but I suggest you look up the individual meanings yourself, and see how they apply to each individual character that you are curious about.

I know I might be wrong about a few of the Plot elements as I have not played P3 in awhile, so if you have any other information just go ahead and give it to me.

I would like to end with this. Teddie is my favorite character, because he is the only playable character which is a shadow, who brainwashes himself into forgetting he is a shadow, which transforms him into something else completely, and when he faces the shadow of who he is by hiding, he actually turns into a real person, and gains a persona. He is of the Star Arcana, and not only is he adorable and charming, and his Social Link is automatic, but he is also the best representation of the entire blog I just laid out with regard to the 3 phases I mentioned (Anima, Shadow and Persona) As Teddie lives his life, in and outside of the "other world'

If you don’t already have it, definitely give them a try, or pick up ANYTHING in the Shin Megami series, steal persona 1 and 2 online if you have to (not as good in my opinion so far of what I have played of P2.) but if you like those, P3 and 4 are better.

-Dan   read


10:42 PM on 03.31.2009

New Guy.... This is who I am

First and foremost, if the title threw you, this is obviously not a post that is going to contain much about video games, so if you are only interested in that, don't waste your time reading this.

***Rant first, Who I am, later.***

I am merely taking some of the heed and suggestion that I have been offered in ways that are malicious, or not, and am going to post a blog based on who I am. If it appears I am ranting, I am, and if it invokes an emotional response than do what the emo kids do, and cut yourself, keep your disenfranchising thoughts to yourself, they will either be mocked or ignored.

The most important thing to note is that I am definitely a "do something first, ask questions later" kind of guy. I have already been chasticised for this in my previous blogs. I posted a few quick blogs on my first day here, one with a picture of myself, one with my top 10 favorite hard RPG battles, one with a spoof on a movie that I thought was funny, and one with a pretty off the wall bad idea for a video game.

I have read the rules and regulations, and found out a few more of the "unposted" ones from other members on here. I was listening to all of the thoughts and comments I had recieved, and if it is found later that I am not obliging someone because they "deserve" it for being a member of this site longer than I, than I must say I simply couldn't care less. I am more concerned with myself, my hobbies, and my actions, than I am of those around me. If you think your going to faze me with useless commentary that is negative in a fruitless attempt to get me to change you are wrong. Any change that happens on my part is by choice, not initiated by anyone else. Also if you find a typo, and want to razz me over it, then use that talent and go be an editor somewhere it matters. Your talents of finding grammatical errors are only going to be useful to you if you are an english teacher or the aforementioned. Keep it to yourself. I write for enjoyment, not because I have any thoughts of publishing my blogs, and making it big. Delusional thoughts such as those are meant for people with their head in the clouds, unless they are actually pursuing it through the proper channels, my guess is that this is not one of them, unless they are using it to showcase noteworthy articles that have already been accredited.

I know this is me ranting a little bit about the way I have been treated thus far, but these rants are simply my way of telling the people that already dislike me, to buzz off. Find something else to do, I mean seriously, waxing religious regarding a gaming website, is a bit disorienting. If you have that much time, please get a life, I beg of you, being connected to this website 24/7 is not "cool," and is most likely interfering with your life. Go do charity, pick up a second job, whatever, your not my social case, and I refuse to deal with you.

***End Rant***

Now I will get to a more tranquil place and go ahead and do that I came here to do, and that is to divulge some information about myself. This is merely my attempt to seperate the people that are going to like me from the ones that are not. I could definitely use some friends to talk about video games with, as my current lifestyle is not allowing that right now.

So I guess I will jump into that first.

I work 44 hours a week as a Store manger of a shoe store. I am gay, and with regard to the picture I posted that is not my girlfriend. Gay bashing is for weak minded fools, and if you wish to do that, I will make certain that those comments are directed to someone capable of interfering with your ability to post, per the "rules and regulations" I was told to read multiple times.

Anyways. I am 23 years old, and I live in Davison, Michigan. I am a very strong minded, athletic person. I have a high amount of energy, and the way I choose to spend it is by working hard, working out 2 - 3 times a week for a period of 1-3 hours per visit to the gym, and I have a dog "Kiba" (who is a girl) and pretty much the only girl for me. She likes to run, and is most likely the cutest dog you will ever see

I am currently dating a wonderful guy who practically lives with me. His name is Josh, and he is 20 years old. I have known him for 6 months, and have been dating him for 2. In a few months when my lease expires I am going to be moving in with him. I am hoping to snag a cheap house since the economy sucks so bad right now.

Anyways, I am originally from Chicago, and as I was a Traveling Training Manager for my company I have worked all across the Midwest. I worked in Cincinnati and Cleveland Ohio, I worked in Aurora, Naperville, Schaumburg, Chicago, and a few other places in Illinois, and I worked in Pleasant Prairie WIsconsin, and also Rochester Hills, and Birch Run Michigan.

I love to travel, and I am the most fleighty person you will ever meet. I change my mind like I change T-Shirts, some of my opinions are set in store, and a lot of other ones are up in the air. I do not chastise people for being however they want to be, even if I find it distasteful. To each his own. It may seem as though I am being a bit "contra"dictory if you read my rant. But those who know me know, and this is the first step, so don't think you have all the answers quite yet. Idiosyncratic things such as "rape" will be ignored, oh did I mention I am random, and slightly bitter? lol

Which I am sure will now be my staple response to those that annoy me, as it seems to be the fitting one for "unsavory" blogs

Anyways, the most important thing to note is that my friends are everything to me. I also find that one can divulge a lot about a person based on who their friends are.

My best friends most of which I have known pretty much forever are extremely varied.

Mark Murray, He used to be in the Army, and fought for this country in the Iraq war, and his efforts should be applauded. He is my best video game buddy, but as I can't sit still and live in the same place for long periods of time because I love to meet new people and travel, I only get to see him about once a year. He is married and has one kid. He is just as into RPG's as me, and we used to stay up late in 8th grade and beat final fantasy 7 over and over again, we also constructed multitudes of lego armies. And had pretend RPG style fights with them.

Jenna Crismon. She is a school teacher, and one of the few girls I get along with. I don't like overly emotional people, I think its a weakness to constantly be annoyed / perplexed / overly happy and optimistic about something all the time. LIFE IS NOT THAT COMPLICATED, and neither is she. She is just as bitter and sarcastic as I am, and is with her long time boyfriend Mario who she is absolutely in love with. She is my role model with regards to her continuing education, as I am unable to sit still for long periods of time, unless it is to play video games or read dorky vampire love novels like Twilight. I wish I had finished College, but I still have no idea what I want to do. Maybe someday I will write a book, if I can keep myself in a chair for that long.

Kelly Hermanson. He is my best gay friend, we were on and off for the longest time. But now are just friends. He is my thinking friend, he is the one who questions me on everything I do, which makes me question myself, he keeps me real, and focused, and down to earth, even though I want to move to a new state every other weekend, and quit jobs for no apparant reason. He is into games too, just computer games, like wow, and such i play mine on the console, except my roms obviously

Anyways, I am a classic RPG lover, and that is what I do, when I am not spending time with my friends, or boyfriend, or traveling, or working out, or just plain working. I don't play as much as I used to, its depressing but it took me until a few days ago to beat Persona 4, and I had been playing it an hour here and there since I bought it on the day it came out.

Because I am saving up for a house, and just bought a new car VW 08 Rabbit, (im gay what did you expect)

I have been putting off buying a next gen system, because I feel that if I don't buy a new flatscreen to go along with it, then its not really next gen, so when I get my tax return, (which I still havent done, I always put that off to the last minute as I am a procrastinator) that is what I will do.

Anyways, I figure this covers most of the bases. If you are curious what kind of games I like, just look at my synopsis on my blog header, it has most of my collection listed there, along with a list of games I want to buy that I don't yet have.

If you have any productive questions (which my definiton means, questions without wasteful hostility) I will answer them as soon as I can. I plan to make this part of my routine of websites that I check daily, and hope I will have a different form of welcome than the one I had recieved in my other blogs.

I welcome opinions, and criticism of any kind, except for those outlined in ways I have already described.
Hope I make a few friends, and waste a little bit of time (oh yeah I only sleep like 4-6 hours max)
Ask me questions, and tell me stories.

Have a great night

-Dan   read


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