I have played "Animal Crossing" on the Wii. And I traded it in. Now it came back. Via my 2DS it is sucking and tugging at my soul. I completely forgot about all that sucking and tugging. The great Animal Crossing Angst.
"Animal Crossing" is a game about imprinting its players on socially as well as economically conformist behaviour.
You are getting trained in the predatory exploitation of nature and abundant consumerism. An Astro TV is equal in value to ten crucian carps and two sea stars. An Astro TV gives you personal satisfaction and ensures admiration by the so called community, temporarily at least. Hence it is okay to kill twelve living beings and destroy the ecological balance.
Hey, it is an ASTRO-TV.
You learn that personal property is equivalent to personal value. You learn that self-abandonment and being an emotional wastebin for everybody else is the only way to friendship. You learn that friendship is a superficial, inconsistant thing.
L'enfer, c'est les autres.
You are getting used to live a life in debt, in order to finance your emotional and material well-being. You accept that you will die alone in your two-story Xanadu, surrounded only by your exotic furniture set and a flickering Asto-TV.
The fact that "Animal Crossing" is essentially all about conditioning the player to become well adjusted for neoliberal reality is generally accepted.
Yet, my current Animal Crossing Angst is following a different tack nowadays. Yesterday i saw Robin Hardy's "Wicker Man" (1973 UK) again. And i noticed things.
In "Wicker Man" the police sergeant Howie is sent to the obscure Scottish island "Summerisle" in search for a missing girl. "Summerisle" is famous for its crops, which can be harvested all-year due to certain climatic conditions (Gulf stream or whatever). The community is led by shady Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee)
Howie soon realizes that the locals are pagans, practicing arcane rituals, in one of which he will partake (he is burnt in the eponymic Wicker Man). Christopher Lee (as Lord Summerisle) wears a wig at some point. And there is a remake. With bees and Nicolas Cage.
You arrive in small, tight-knit community, filling in for a formerly vacant public office. As poor Howie performed the executive function in Wickerman, you are legislative as well as judicative agent in "Animal Crossing" - a pseudo-authoritarian figure who is not democratically appointed but seemingly chosen by fate (by arrival).
As "Summerisle" is economically dependant on the export of crops, so is your standard Animal Crossing village.
You are confronted by people impersonating animal avatars, displaying peculiar social, cultural and sexual behaviour. These people are celebrating strange holidays in order to honour nature (Earth Day, Weeding Day, Burn-A-Cop Day) and constantly singing songs (Kapp'n, K.K. Slider) to praise their gods and focus their exuberant sexual energies. Archaic fetishes are everywhere, you cannot move without falling over Gyroids, which are buried in the ground for some reason...
Other than that I am very dissapointed with my copy of "Silent Bomber" for the Psone.
At a certain point in the game everything goes black, which makes it impossible for me to finish it. Somebody should do something about this. It makes me sad and ruins an otherwise very enjoyable game.
I went to a gaming convention. The last time I made this kind of experience, the event took place in a concrete monstrosity somewhere in the outskirts of Vienna. Videogames had to compete with hifi-systems and tv-sets. The only hand-helds there were actually blenders. The only game worth playing was Raystorm for the PSone.
In 2013 I went to Game City Vienna. I have to say in advance, that I am not made for this. I get all excited for the games the day before but freeze at the sight of all those people lining up in front of the screens.
I ended up wandering around, somewhat aimlessly. I guess there is something like being too informed - makes everything kind of stale.
As I mentioned in the preceding blog-entry this whole event takes place in the townhall of Vienna, which is amazing in itself and contrastive considering the nature of the event.
I guess that the building comes with a lot of restrictions concerning the architecture of any convention taking place there (monument protection and regulatory requirements and stuff) - so the stands look a little lost within the huge halls.
I'd like to think the two of us had a moment there
When I got there late in the morning, hordes of pupils had already infested the building – pestering older visitors with uncharming attempts of trading these little strings of plastic you had to wear if you wanted to gain entrance to the 16- or 18-plus-section.
going in for the kill
Supposedly cosplayers had been hidden somewhere on the premise. I have not seen any trace of these flamboyent creatures -just this one guy, dressed up as a Disney-slave-labourer.
"We've been outside! There's another world outside! We've seen it!
I really wanted to try out Wonderful 101, but the booth-guy was like really far into the game and I did not want to disrupt the flow. I hope he felt the hate.
So instead I played a litte Mario 3D World, some kind of mini-game, which looked pretty enough but left a stale taste. I had to team up with another guest. I think she had some kind of personality disorder. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze was fun. I played it solo...thank God.
Don't try and play this game with crazy people
You also had the chance to compete in Killer Instinct. Because there was almost no waiting in front of the two screens. And the slots didn't have to be rationised. People tended to stop playing in between matches. Muttering or even laughing.
Leaving prematurly - by instinct.
The big herding of the nerds took place elsewhere, in front of the Battlefield4-Box of course.
nom nom nom
(I passed that one). And went right to the Bungie-cube outdoors: a lot of people waiting in a queue, wondering about how to fit so many screens in this cleverly designed but also really small box. Oh boy, were they surprised to find out that they were going to watch a pseudo-gameplay-video in there, telling you how to have a really good time with the game. I wish I could forget the unnatural bits of dialogue I heard.
The game looks interesting though.
Indie-developers had to huddle up against a staircase. I only remember Senoi, a kind of outdoor-role-playing game for your cell-phone, utilising GPS and geographical data of Vienna. One of the very friendly developers showed me his golden box.
As always Panza is thinking outside the box
The F.R.O.G. (no idea) -symposium's lectures would have been interesting too. Jasper Juul and people were speaking. But you would have had to dish out 125€ for 3 days in order to participate. I wonder how many people did actually do this. Strange.
Beyond Two Souls' could be played inside a truck. I don't know exactly why.
You could also play it in a more comfortable position in the official Sony lounge. I wondered a bit about the huge presence the console-version of Diablo 3. I went home and started my nightmare-playthrough. No, before that I had a coffee.
Game City Vienna is an annual event, dedicated to electronic games. It is taking place in the beautiful townhall of Austria's capital. This year I am going to attack like the giant, knife-wielding robot that I am.
Is it already that time of the year?
Game City is going to happen this weekend. The one and only game-related event in a country lying beyond the seven mountains and deep down in the forest in that respect.
Happy Happy! Joy! Joy!
Besides the usual suspects there will be a presentation of BEYOND: Two Souls.
And if I am not hugely mistaken by Guillaume de Fondaumièr himself.
Definitely looking forward to that, I have to admit.
Anyone's avatar in dire need of vacation?
To the birthplace of Mozart and myself?
Tell me, I’ll give you a lift.
Also PM me a quote you deem quoteworthy of yourself or any other honored member of C-Blogs. I will use it as caption for whatever I am coming across at Game City.
I think I mentioned it before - this problem I have. I don't finish my games. I can't claim that I never do, because sometimes I do. But mostly I don't. It is not a matter of increasingly limited time, it's more of a general attitude. During an extremely painful process of self-analysis I established three categories: the Good the Bad and the Ugly.
You need categories.
That moment I dread
The Good Whenever I really like a game, especially if it has an elaborated narrative structure I reach a point in that game (usually towards its grand finale) at which I quit playing it. As if I was afraid of all the good things to come to a sudden end. Which they do, since I stop playing the game. I am afraid it is not a very logical approach. When I was just a sapling I used to get me every JRPG there was. I only finished Suikoden. The first one. Until this day (and Breath of Fire 3 to be honest). At a certain point people actually started to make fun of me.
My last Fallout 3 save file is embarrassingly old and it took me about 4 years to finish Red Dead Redemption. I just picked up Metal Gear Solid 4 again. After several years of hibernation I eventually started to miss Snake's steel-buns, forged in heaven.
It's not because I grow bored with these games or due to the constant stream of exciting new entries into an increasingly intimidating backlog-queue. Far from it. I was really into Demon's Souls for example but after beating up a GIANT CRYSTAL DRAGON I danced this little dance of joy, turned off my system and never took it up again since then.
What is wrong with me?
The Bad Skyrim is a good game, no doubt about it. But if you have to reckon with your system to freeze the moment you leave a town or jump into water or attack a dryad or open your inventory...you know what I mean. I also had a lot of fun with Legasista which turns my screen into a black void after I complete a certain dungeon. Game-breaking-bugs!
As mentioned before I regularly take breaks from my games - long breaks. These breaks in combination with complex design or convoluted control schemes usually mean the death-blow for games in my library. Bayonetta, which I really admire, makes it difficult for me to pick it up again. I gave up the recent Batman-series entirely for that matter. Who can remember all that gimmickry? I depend on calendars and notebooks for survival in RL - if I need one of those for playing a game I thinks it is time to run for the hills.
Insert Triple-Baterangs here
I also notice very soon if I like a game or not. The time-slot for that decision-making process is a veeery narrow one. Enslaved lasted about an hour until I got sick with the game's fighting system. The last iteration of Tomb Raider left my PS3 after approximately 10 minutes. I can't stand that spoiled brat.
The Ugly I also stop playing whenever I lose myself in a more or less secondary aspect of a game. So very often this aspect involves excessive looting and/or grinding. I like to follow the yellow brick road. Preparing for the next major encounter with the ultimate fiend I get stuck with all the preparing - mistaking repetitious labor for a big fun-time - often to an extent where I am appalled by the game that tricks me in such a devious way and by my obsession with it.
At a time when I still used to smoke and play games with a stoned grin on my face, I had a moment of clarity and disenchantment once - with Dynasty Warriors 3 for the PS2.
After having spent days and weeks with leveling up my favourite officers I noticed the game's messages to me for what seemed to be the first time ever: the constant affirmative background noise, computer voices telling me how well I am doing and what a swell warrior I was. I felt brainwashed that moment and abjured the ghastly time vampire (until Warriors Orochi came along that is).
Pang Tong told me to do it
Monster Hunter for the WiiU is a textbook example of course. After 120 hours I just can't cope with the treadmill again. I feel a physical resistance within me to pick up the gamepad. I might never hunt again.
Follow the yellow brick road
The same happened with Ni No Kuni. Not such a revelation to begin with, I spent hour after hour with hunting the infamous Toko for the massive amount of experience points they shed when getting killed. These battle-critters don't evolve by themselves, you know. And I got to see those final transformations.
It was a massacre. I felt dirty.
Kawai this, Kawai that
I was about 50 hours in the game when I finally quit. It rests on my "play-it-again-some-time-soon-pile" though, slowly gathering dust. All in all I still don't know why I turn around and leave just before the finishing line but I definitely feel much better now.
Games by Austrian developers are a rare and delicate breed and yet there is some movement beneath that thick eggshell. I am from Austria (wisecrack) and I usually don't care. But when it comes to games the corneal on my thumbs flashes red-white-red (in a sickly unsettling fashion...ew, gross). Data Dealer, a browser game by a very very very small developer indeed is such an Austrian game and might prove to be an (if not the) Age of Wushu-killer.
I usually don't play browser-games (it's not that I hate them, they just don't interest me) and I know that Data Dealer won't be a game that I will invest 50+ hours in but I can't deny that I like the project.
Data Dealer is mimicking smash hits like Farmville (never played it, I swear) or other Zynga-abominations. At its core it plays similar to those games (which I never played) - a constant struggle for the optimization of ressources and time - with a twist though: you deal with data. You are the anonymous behemoth who collects all of this precious bits of information floating around and you sell it to the corporate ringleaders. You do this by bribing your sources and organizing the usual internet-shenanigans like psycho-tests and sweepstakes.
I tried the demo-version and it's mostly moving things from A to B, which feels satisfying enough. Some meters to observe (like bribe-money, stolen profiles and such) and a lot to read and to compare. Actually I enjoyed the reading the most. It's evident that the developers really want to communicate their ideas about privacy and data safety to their audience. When I think about all those insane juveniles on facebook I wished for games like this one to be integral part of informatics-classes at schools.
It's an entertaining read as well, satire-heavy and a little silly from time to time. The fact that Data Dealer makes fun of quite a few public figures of Austrian society/politics might not translate too well if the developers release the English version eventually - beefcake-governers and stratosphere-suicide-commandos aside. Allusions to a former finance minister are going to be overlooked but I think an opportunistic puke is a staple which is intelligible globally. The Southparkesque art direction helps of course.
I believe I would have completely overlooked this one, if it wasn't for its socio-political aspiration. Data Dealer is a game that wants something. It wants you to be aware of your actions. It doesn't resort to pedagogical banalities but lets you switch sides and be an accomplice of evil deeds. I think that deserves a hug.
Ah ja, and it's all free and open source and fluffy and whatnot.
I like "Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate". It's the first Monster Hunter I have ever tried and I like it. It appeals to my obsessive predisposition in many aspects. It is a complex and at the same time condensed gaming experience. I struggle a bit with the online gaming but so far I experienced no extremely sociopathic behaviour.
Last night the strangest thing happened.
I entered a novice-lobby in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and chose a room.
It said something like "love to use the chat-function" in the description.
This should have been a flaming red warning sign.
A young woman and a guy and yet another guy were still on a quest when I arrived, I heard them talking. All the time. Talking.
At least two of them were talking, the third remained silent.
When they returned to the hub, this Third Man immediately left. Another warning sign. Then they started to comment on armors, making a little fashion show out of it, changing their gear constantly, commenting constantly. Since I had already wasted a good amount of time waiting for them I did not want to leave yet. When a fourth player arrived we finally set off.
We made a low-rank quest, the one with the magical spinning goat. Duraborso, Durmabosos, whatever its called. And they talked. I figured it was all part of a bizzare pair-grooming process... all that yackety-yack. Yuck.
After that, player number 4 left immediately. His pain treshold was significantly lower than mine
No other players arrived (I think my predecessors must have spread the word), the next quest was chosen, my craving for carving prevailed and I decided to stay.
During the quest the male player started to patronize the female player in a way that was utterly peculiar, as I deemed. This was neither the usual online-show-off of the more experienced player nor swaggering in the face of the desired female gamer.
It was something else...
It was passive-aggressive, it was rude, it was the sediment of communication.
They had a relationship!
Suddenly they started to comment on food they were sharing. It downed on me, they were situated in the exact same physical space!
Playing on two WiiUs or practicing cross-play via 3DS or whatever.
Whispering sweet nothings and fighting over a Granola-Bar.
A GRANOLA BAR! Fondling each other on the couch.
It was eerie.
When the monster fell under our attacks, the tone of conversation between the two of them changed. In ways that were not so good.
I heard lust in his voice. Hot and sultry passion.
Several times she said: "Don't touch that!" and "Stop, that feels weird!"
I did not experience voyeuristic pleasure but fear and terror
(trying to gut the dead beast for ressources withouth throwing up - not because of all that gutting mind you!)).
"Stop. It feels weird."
Exactly my thoughts.
Actually that was the last I heard from them.
The quest ended, I was transported to the hub and my WiiU froze. It collapsed.
As if it wanted to spare me further pain, it ended this self-flagellation. It made an enervating sound, a high-pitched wheezing, like crying out in pain itself.
I don't know exactly why, but I was afraid. Not violated but genuinely afraid.
What I experienced in that precise moment were feelings of horror and twin-peakish confusion.
the Horror, the Horror
I peeked behind the red curtain and saw the abysmal grotesque. I got squashed in the Moskenstraumen of love.