I LOVE college. I'm a fiend for fried rice and rhythm games. I have dreams about Tekken and lately, Modern Warfare 2 these dreams involve being on the *wrong* side of the "No Russian" mission. Metal Gear Solid 4 made me laugh, cry and pee. I also consider it the greatest game I've ever played. I'll understand if you don't agree with that. Go DUKES!
In the wake of Valentine’s Day (it’s different for me this year – I’ll get to that later) I think it would be a good time to express one’s love for videogame characters. I realize that recently some people have taken their love to astronomical levels, but I think I can openly express their feelings for a character without bending the law and/or the foundation of marriage.
Let me start of by saying: I love Metal Gear Solid. I’ve played the series since I was eight years old and ever since I’ve been hooked. Apart from the numerous t-shirts to the 10 hour Metal Gear Solid 4 session, there is something in my lifelong fandom that I have to say is my craziest form of fandom: my crush on the infamous Solid Snake. Yes, if you must call me crazy, you have the right to, but as a teenager with raging hormones and a Playstation 2, I feel as if I need to really understand and explain this strange but apparent crush.
The original Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation 1 did nothing for me; everyone was blocky and pixilated, the characters shook their heads to speak, and as a 10 year old with an affinity for any female videogame character, I couldn’t help but feel for Meryl more so than Solid Snake. This is not to say that Metal Gear Solid wasn’t engaging because it really was… however I’d like to think I hadn’t quite met the “conditions” to fall in love with anyone at the time.
It wasn’t until Metal Gear Solid 2 that something kind of clicked. For one, the improved graphics gave me a better look of the man I was crushing on. As a female who had yet to be exposed to medicated progesterone, I was instantly attracted to the gruff, but professional look of the updated Snake. When ever he talked down to Raiden, it was almost a turn on. I also partially blame the lack of Solid Snake mostly for the beginnings of my crush. The lack of a real romance between him and a female character was also a huge proponent of this crush. Sure, you could get that Easter Egg where Snake contemplates his fondness for Emma, but that didn’t help – see, as a 13 year old with thick glasses, chopsticks in her hair and a hobby of programming her TI-83 Plus during Algebra I… that tidbit had the opposite effect on me. To me, it was more encouragement to love the legend.
Better~! (Although now he kind of looks like a mouthbreathing ape. But I disgress.)
By the time his next game came out, Metal Gear Solid 4(I don’t mention Metal Gear Solid 3 since I felt no emotion for Big Boss), I was 17 years old, dating here and there, and had ran out of the love I had for the character. It wasn’t until I was 18 years old and had my hands on a Playstation 3 that the weird fangirl crush I once had returned. Witnessing Snake’s struggle with the Patriots, Liquid Ocelot and the ever growing stress from his rapid aging. While the ending brought a degree of closure to my ongoing crush for this solider, I still question to this day the integrity of it all. How does all of this really happen?
What you didn’t see: we smooshed later that night. Okay, we didn't. I don't even like Big Boss that much.
The crush could be comparable to an English major falling head over heels for Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights or Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. These people, male or female, find validity in believing that they could be involved in a romance that no other fan could remotely expect from these characters. Many gamers I know believe Snake could never hold a relationship with another human being after the events of Shadow Moses, yet the idea of achieving was a real boost to my teenage girl self-esteem.
Today, I’m in a loving relationship and my lonely teenage crushes are beyond me, yet I still ponder my blind love for this martyr of Foxhound. So I guess what I’m constantly asking myself is: is this crush truly wrong? I make fun of girls who think Edward Cullen is the Morons’ greatest contribution to this Earth, yet I find myself swooning over a gentleman who only exists through videogames. Sure, it’s a bit more interactive than a book, but is having a crush on a virtual character right?
There is some irony in this post, however: I’m writing it in my boyfriend’s bedroom in my Metal Gear Solid 4 t-shirt. I got the 21-year-old college senior into Metal Gear last semester. We’re spending this coming Valentine’s Day finishing up the series in a day we’re calling “Metal Gear Day”.
Eh, I’m blabbering on now. My question to the readers now is: have any of you fellow bloggers had a real in-depth crush with a videogame character? Not just “LOLZ YUNA/DANTE/LEON IS SO HOT I WANT TO BANG HER/HIM!!!”.
Christ, I can't believe I'm actually doing this... but hey, what's wrong with letting out a little emotion, right?
Let me start off by saying: I'm really not keen on that whole “girl gamers” argument. It's a bit tiring. As someone who has to defend my ethnicity constantly, I am tired of arguing about the state of minorities in certain industries. While I'm open to fighting for civil rights and such, I'll only do it if it really matters. Asking for tits on a gaming site... well... I don't have energy to fight against that, quite frankly. In fact, I sometimes find myself laughing down at said rants and arguments. Moving on...
I'm currently in college. If you've looked around at my blog, you can see my pride for my school is so great that it's almost annoying. There's only one problem with this school however... it's not very welcoming to gamers. Sure, I've already explained how we have our Dance Dance Revolution machines and our little tight-knit community, but other than that there's nothing. In case you're unfamiliar with JMU, we're a pretty good school but also notorious for our parties and preppy student body. We're appealing to the women in Ugg boots and North Face jackets who love going out on a Friday night to party... not to play games. That being said, the chances of getting a room mate I can relate to are slim to none.
I was fortunate to get my roommate I had this semester. Although we had nothing in common, she was one of the kindest people I've ever met. Recently, her best friend who lives down the hallway lost her roommate and didn't want to stay alone. My roommate took this opportunity to fulfill her “best friend” duties, and long story short... I'm alone in my dorm again... and patiently waiting for the school to give me a new roommate.
This is where the meat of this blog comes in. When I was alone I looked at my Liberty City Underground map, analyzing it's locations and details, I realized that nothing would make me happier than to see my next roommate walk in and be able to find the Triangle Club on that map. I also took that alone time to play TF2 and make some War Contributions. Nothing would please me more than to have a roommate who would bitch at me for supporting Demoman. I would absolutely love for someone to help contribute to my Hideo Kojima/Solid Snake shrine. That's when it really hit me: am I really wanting... I don't want to say it... am I desiring... oh god I have to say it... do I want a... “girl gamer?”
STICKYBOMBS ARE FOR ASSHOLES
I used to look down at guys who were like, “I just want a woman who plays video games.” Granted, we're in completely different situations, I can finally see where they're coming from. Sure, it's one quality they demand and it's not hard to fulfill it, but to them, and recently myself... it means so much. Gaming is something that while may seem small, can open up to a whole new world of friendship and possibility. With this revelation, I'm finding myself blindly hoping for the possibility of my new roommate walking in and telling me, “I hope you don't mind me putting my Xbox360 near your new fish tank.” Guuuuuuuuuuurl, do I!??!
Maybe I'm living in a fantasy world... maybe I'm getting my hopes way too high, I don't know. I still really don't care about the whole female gamer argument. Hell, I wouldn't even be making this whole post if these dorms were Co-Ed. I guess it's up to the Office of Residential Living at this point.
I'll end this post with one more note: if any of you people who happen to be female are transferring to JMU next semester and would like to live in a dorm, sweet Jesus on a chicken-in-a-biscuit, PM me or something. You would make my semester.
PS: Yeah... Kings of Leon's “Use Somebody” just came on as I finished this blog... I'm going to tear up now =P
EDIT/CLARIFICATION: For the record, I'm a female in an all-female dorm at JMU who is looking for a new roommate. I don't want some "hot girlfriend" here. I'm not gay. Hell, I'm not even single. I was just expressing my need for a gamer roommate and I just so happen to have a sensational title that implies that I want a girlfriend or something.
This year, life events and videogames have brought so much joy to me this year. While I spare the cliché thanks to family, Jesus and food to well... family and Jesus, I'd like to express my graditiude everything else in a nice D-Toid blog for all to enjoy.
Without further ado... this year I'm thankful for...
Modded Dance Dance Revolution machines:
As I've stated before, there's a DDR machine modded with Stepmania has brought a sense of community to the gamers at JMU. For me personally, it's brought a lot of positive things to my life. For one, I went from confused lonely socially-awkward college freshman to assured, socially-accepted, socially awkward freshman. Apart from gaining friends and a wonderful boyfriend, the machine also showed the innerworkings of an arcade cabinet and helped prevent a freshman fifteen.
The DJ Hero Soundtrack
Without a good soundtrack, a rhythm game is nothing. DJ Hero is no exception and it's 93 tracks delivers. With a combination of hip-hop, pop, techno, rock and more, DJ Hero's soundtrack manages to blend these tracks to create a mash-up euphoria that all types of people enjoy. From Tiesto to Gwen Stefani to LL Cool J to David Bowie... I was never disappointed with this album. Although the DLC is a bit disappointing (and this is coming from a David Guetta fan), I expect a large, fantastic setlist to scratch to in the future.
Hideo Kojima and Solid Snake
Metal Gear Solid 4 came out in the summer of 2008. I didn't get access to Playstation 3 until September 2009. Nevertheless, MGS4 was a fantastic game that was worth all the wait. I really enjoyed the more open-ended gameplay chalk full of secrets and options for me to find in the quest to stop Liquid-Ocelot. The story, while a bit convoluted and at times seemed like a big fan-service, was an excellent farwell to Solid Snake and the series Kojima has made us know and love. The microwave scene made me shed tears. Seeing Johnny with Meryl made me laugh. Seeing Psycho Mantis's reunion with Snake made me shit my pants. Seeing Kojima using the credits to tell the me that Big Boss was still alive made me confused...
WHO THE FUCK IS RICHARD DOYLE?
Also: Snake... you're still a sexy bitch. And I thank you.
Jon St. John and Renard
They're both going out of their way and attending MAGfest. I'm sure Mr. John is pretty self explantory from the video... having Duke Nukem in your prescene is pretty damn exciting. Renard, while not as widely known in the gaming world, has made an impact on the rhythm game world. Thanks to him and his creation, Mungyodance, artists like The Flashbulb have a new medium on StepMania step charts. Renard is the reason I've been introduced to so many great artists, which is why I'm giving my thanks to him now and in January.
Destructoid! (who didn't see this coming)
I was a bit reclutant to return to the community, seeing as my writing skills aren't as fantastic as many of the bloggers on here, but swallowing my fears and rejoining the crew proved to be worth it. From the numerous posts about Snake doing the wrongthing, to talking to Colette about Silent Hill (something I've been dying to do for awhile now), to seeing the hilarous C-Blog recaps which take short commentary to the next level, I once again enjoy seeing that robot mascot. Hope to see some of you at MAGfest! And Happy Thanksgiving!
Eternal Darkness, a sleeper hit by Silicon Knights, was famous for both it's novelty sanity effects that broke the fourth wall, and it's deep chronological storyline that was based off inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's psychological horror novels. In the game, there are moments in the story where, despite being the heroic protagonist, characters found themselves in various situations that made them the source of the problem. Made them do the wrong thing.
In the beginning, you're Pious Augustus, an honorable Centurion whose objective is to explore a local tomb and retrieve an artifact for the Roman empire. At first, it seems like the typical conquest mission, however, the further you go into the tomb, the stranger this mission gets. Battling through zombies is a relatively simple but weird chore with puzzles in between. You then reach the end of the tomb and are given a choice of three distinctly colored (Red, Blue or Green) artifacts. At the time, the choice seems quite simple... what harm could picking a color do? Upon choosing however, your handsome centurion transforms into a zombie-like slave for the God you choose.
Congratulations. You've caused a great cataclysm between ancients that will cause destruction in the universe for the next few centuries. You've also created the antagonist for the rest of the game. The rest of the game you play as numerous characters, using the power of Mantorok, an ancient who is weak, and an ancient stronger than Augustus's ancient to fight this antagonist and destory his chosen god.
Later on in the game, you take the role of Maximilian Roivas, the ancestor of the two protagonists Alex and Edward. He has recently inherited a mansion from his dead father... it just so happens this mansion in Rhode Island is the breeding ground for the ancients. With this not so subtle location, you slowly see your servants become possessed by creatures serving the ancients under your home... and these creatures are not be fucked with. With more servants roaming around your mansion becoming possessed, you're given a choice: will you kill your servants ensuring your safety? Or will you spare them, risking your life as well as the universe itself? According to the story, you choose the first. In doing so, you sometimes yield success, but other times, your killings yield no result and you just killed an innocent person caught in an unfortunate event. Was it for the greater good? Maybe, but despite his best efforts at defeating the darkness, Max Rovias is sent to an insane asylum for his massacre of his (not so) innocent cleaning crew.
While these examples are good, both of them are not as definitive of doing the wrong thing as this final one. If you're truly dedicated to Eternal Darkness and the Rovias' goal, you can play through the game three times with Augustus picking a different ancient each time. In doing so, three alternative time dimensions are created, each with an ancient defeating the other in what seems to be a large scale game of rock-paper-scissors. You've defeated the three ancients of destruction and darkness and have achieved peace for the universe with Mantorok right?
Not exactly. Because of your actions, Mantorok, the true eternal darkness, is no longer opposed by Chattur'gua, Xel'lotah or Ulyaoth, the original three ancients that enslaved Augustus. While you were fighting against Augustus, a slave for the ancients, you in turn became a slave of the most evil ancient. And now it's plotting it's own destruction of the universe unopposed. Once again, congratulations :D
That's a pretty serious and dark ending. Eternal Darkness is a pretty dark game. While it is kind of a bummer to see how the events in the game unfold, the twists and turns that cause such events are a refreshing and another reason why Eternal Darkness is an unforgettable classic.
In this issue of DtWT, I wanted to explore a less evil decision that lies more on the side of selfishness. One that involves the unwilling sacrifice of another for the world, your survival and... your saved game.
I was Solid Snake, the morally neutral, but obligated protagonist of Metal Gear Solid. Snake has had no real connection with the outside world since the operation on Zanibar. No family. No friends. Just huskies.
Around the beginning part of my struggles through Shadow Moses, I encountered Meryl Silverburgh, the naïve but loyal soldier who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nevertheless, she plans to fight as hard as I have against the terrorists who overran FoxHound and the nuclear facility, even if it means being a complete bitch to me at the beginning.
Through some hardships and troubles, I reconnect with her once again in order to get closer to Liquid and disabling Metal Gear. During this time, I found out more about Meryl's past. How her blind admiration for me and her father led her to become a soldier. How she is a rookie who thought she understood war, but was only recently facing the harsh reality. How, despite the fact that she's a rookie, she'll do anything to make sure I succeeded, even going as far as to say “you can shoot me.” if she even slows me down in the slightest. Her humbleness and selflessness shows what her character is: a hard-ass with compassion. I could not help but feel sympathy for her, her nativity and her misfortunate.
Despite this emotional connection blossoming, the mission had to go on. We fought Psycho Mantis together, and while I almost thought I lost her, a few stun grenades and FAMAS bullets helped me pull through as the victor. After a little encounter with some wolves, who by the way loved Meryl, we trekked on expecting a tag team strong enough to take down the greatest of foes.
Then, the unexpected happened...
Bullet after bullet went through her like butter. I was in disbelief: why did they made me so connected with this character if this was going to happen to her? How could Kojima take this away from me? The only chance I had of saving her was backtracking to get a weapon powerful enough to fight Sniper Wolf. Despite getting to the armory and obtain the PSG-1 as fast as possible, I returned to area to see Meryl gone, and Sniper Wolf still being a Cunty McBitch.
After a hectic, but satisfying battle, my next priority was to find Meryl. Being stupid enough not to save for a while and just running ahead, I put myself in quite a compromising position. Captured by the enemy, they could do anything to me. And they did. I was left with a decision...
...fight for my life or ensure my survival and sacrifice Meryl.
The rules of this “game” were cut-and-dry. Survive torture or die. If I couldn't hold my strength and got myself killed, there were no continues. Literally. And my last saved give was a long ways back. Were they really going to kill her if I gave up? It was a question that I kept asking myself. Young girls shouldn't be faced with a dilemma like that ><
Not taking any chance, I tried to endure the torture. At the time, it was harder than I thought. Watching my health dwindle farther and farther had me panicking like no one's business. Thinking about all the backtracking I had to do didn't help either. Knowing that there was absolutely NO way I could possibly get through this, a tick of selfishness kicked in.
I mean, the woman did say if I slowed her down, I could shoot her. How could this be any different? Was I really being evil or was I just being efficient? She knew what she was getting herself into when she signed up for this. Hmm... maybe she didn't. These questions were ones I kept asking myself when deciding whether to submit or endure death and massive repeating. Time was running out.
As my health bar dwindled to bits, I finally choked. Fuck that bitch. I pressed the Select button and saved my own life at the expense of another. I've got a mission to do and I didn't want any thing to get in my way, no matter how much it meant to me. Sure, I probably cut the only human connection my character has had for years, but even he looked like he didn't want to endure anymore pain. It was selfish. It was somewhat immoral, but fuck it... I wanted to live.
The consequences for this action aren't truly felt until the end of the game, when I realized that Snake was fighting not for the world anymore, but for Meryl, which was in vain, as Liquid and Ocelot ended her life before I could even see her again. It was depressing yes, but I knew what I choose and what it might lead to. I also made me realize the how the effect of one intense moment can completely change consequences in the future, no matter how simple the decision might be.
I'm not gonna lie – this might be the least morally ambiguous game in this Monthly Musing's, but for me, this moment was the first encounter with a real moral decision in a video game. It made the emotion transcend from the game and into the gamer who struggled to press Circle, but was too weak and gave up. Although we learned that she survived the Shadow's Moses incident, at the time, the consequences will left somewhat unknown. By breaking the action hero into a human, who is forced to make a human decision with human consequences, Kojima once again displays the genius of his storytelling and the emotions it can provoke. While the franchise has taken in turn for the crazy and hasn't made gamers make such decisions again, the one choice during the torture scene is an unforgettable moment among many that have made MGS the classic it is today.
I ask myself that question every time I see a "[insert survival horror series]'s New Horrific Transition to the Next-Gen!" The reason I figure we get excited such things is because we expect the same thrills that scared us in the past to reoccur with more realism, more immersion, and most of all, more stained pants. However, despite having a huge technical advantages over their predecessors, such games have yet to have the same effect, leaving gamers disappointed, and me to examine why.
One could start by blaming the overall direction that has been taken by the more famous survival horror series in the past few years. The most famous transition was Resident Evil. Capcom decided to replace the cheesy but suspenseful horror for the past few games and focused on a mainstream action approach. This change began in Resident Evil 4 -- so did the numerous critics complaining that the game "wasn't scary enough". By the time Resident Evil 5 was released, gamers realized that this game was not meant to make us soil ourselves. Although they still retain their zombie-based plot through rail-shooters, the series has still failed to bring us moments like "The First Zombie", "The Dog" and the Nemesis walking through that damn door. And sure, the gameplay for the series has made vast improvements since the days of fixed-camera angles, but was that radical change really worth the novelty fears the original games provided?
A similar, more significant transition for a survival horror series happened to Silent Hill. Given the Japanese series to them by Konami, The Collective, an American developer, compromised the disturbing ambiguity, isolation and symbolism for a more direct, action-oriented game. In an attempt to be more appealing, or dare I say it? Westernized, the game removed everything that made characters like Pyramid Head and zombie nurses so damn scary.
This may be somewhat of a stretch here, but maybe current-gen games aren't that scary because well... we do not get so scared anymore. Being a kid playing Resident Evil was a novelty experience -- having that childish suspension of disbelief made even the most subtle of moments scary. As time and people grow, this novelty wears out. I can't say that the Resident Evil 5 put jeers in me, but seeing the area I grew up in get bombed really brought some nightmares.
Maybe this problem is a combination of all problems listed. Although it's coming out on the Wii, maybe Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Fatal Frame IV (if it's released in the US) will change this pattern. I'm not completely sure, but I do know one thing: my pants are way too clean right now.