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About


This community rules. Thanks to wanderingpixel for the above!


Greetings, Programs!

I am a 34 year old cubicle monkey living in Austin, TX. with my lovely wife of 2 years, Dawn. And yes, we are acutely aware of the cheesiness of the rhyme scheme. And no, it doesn't bother us when people make fun of us for being so saccharine, because we are both huge dorks in our spare time. Being happy in life gives your character +1 million XP towards the "not caring about other people's opinions" skill.




Above : Me from my theatre days. Puppy Licks says it makes me look like Kefka.

Likes : sense of humor, intelligence, creativity, the ability to argue without fighting, not taking one's self too seriously.

Dis-Likes : console crusaders, people who are cruel on the internet because they are too timid to express themselves in real life, people who cannot separate facts from opinions, Fox News, onions.

Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/walk_your_path/

Video Game Writing :


Destructoid Front Page Articles! --

Read them here if you'd like!

Also:

I am an editor and writer over at Gamer Limit.
Feel free to pop over and check out what we're up to!





Systems Owned :
XBox 360
PS3
Wii
iPhone

(Some Of) My Favorite Games of Times Past :

Pitfall (Atari)
Legend Of Zelda (NES)
Quest For Glory I-III (PC)
Star Control II (PC)
XCOM (PC)
Civilization I-IV (PC)
Vampire : The Masquerade -- Bloodlines (PC)
Psychonauts (Xbox)
Okami (PS2)
Mario Kart 64 (N64)
KOTOR 1&2 (PS2)
Psi-Ops (PS2)

(Some Of) My Favorite Games of the Current Gen :

Fallout 3 (X360)
Portal (X360)
Flower (PS3)
Patapon (PSP)
Persona 4 (PS2, but made during the current gen)

Currently Playing :

Uplink (PC)
Puzzle Quest 2 (XBLA)
Robot Unicorn Attack (iPhone)
Bit.Trip.RUNNER (Real Life)
Crackdown 2 (As soon as it comes out)
Badges
Following (48)  





Here's a little tune we whipped up for grins over the past few weeks -- we were happy with the results, so we thought we'd share it with you, Dtoid!

It's a silly "sad" song about leaving a woman who cheats in love and in Street Fighter. . . it's called Rage Quit.

This was a interstate Dtoid effort -- I recorded my parts here in Austin, and through the magic of technology, Kauza pulled it all together with his recording in New Mexico.

Kauza -- Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals, Editing
walkyourpath -- Lyrics and Vocals



Lyrics

I always thought your moves were cheap, but I was blinded by the "perfect" in your eyes.
Well, you crushed my dreams and self-esteem, just like you crushed my Ken with Chun-Li's thighs.
When our love experienced latency, I tried to start our story mode again.
I jumped to cross the gap, but baby, you just kept on spamming -- hadouken, hadouken, hadouken.

I guess it's time to ragequit.
I'll toss my joystick, smash it all apart.
Because it's time to ragequit.
You broke my combos like you broke my heart.
And now it's time to ragequit.
I'll toss my joystick, smash it all apart.
So now it's time to ragequit.
You broke my combos like you broke my heart.

Well, when I found you were untrue, it hit me like a hundred-hand-slap to the face.
You said you loved my yoga style, and that my "sonic boom" could never be replaced.
So now I'm turtled in the corner, playing defense, crouched and cowering in fear.
You were my favorite Player 2, but baby, now all that is through -- I need a lover from a higher tier.

I guess it's time to ragequit.
I'll toss my joystick, smash it all apart.
Because it's time to ragequit.
You broke my combos like you broke my heart.
And now it's time to ragequit.
I'll toss my joystick, smash it all apart.
So now it's time to ragequit.
You broke my combos like you broke my heart.

<solo>

My heart's win loss ratio -- has never been this low,
how to counter, I don't know -- feels just like I'm fighting Daigo
hadouken
hadouken
hadouken
<uncontrolled sobbing>

If you liked it, you can download the MP3 here!


Our imaginary label . . .

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Dear Mindless Repeater,

It has recently been brought to the attention of the executive management team by our insurance providers that video game related violence is on the rise. In an effort to curb growing benefits and health-care related costs for the company, Human Resources has been asked to develop a series of addendums to the Employee Handbook to assist those unfortunate souls who are attempting to balance their professional career with self-destructive gaming habits.

Playing video games is a habit that reduces productivity, limits your career growth, contributes to aggressive behavior, and is generally indicative of a rebellious and independent nature -- something that we here at Mindless Repetitions, Inc. frown upon in anyone below an unspecified pay grade.

It is our hope to reduce the number of video game related fatalities and injuries to ensure that our profit margin remains intact by limiting overhead expenditures, and also to demonstrate our genuine care and concern for those of you toiling on the front lines that we will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever deign to meet in person.

So, turn off the consoles and turn on the confidence -- with our undeserved positional advantage and your hard work, we can make this our highest earning year yet!

-- Your Beloved Board of Directors





Introduction

Separating video games from reality is the responsibility of every employee at Mindless Repetitions, Inc. Although we can't legally prevent you from playing games in your personal time, we can look down on gaming as an unprofessional hobby to participate in. Failure to separate video games from reality can result in corrective action, up to and including termination (of employment, not your in-game avatar).

Here are this week's helpful hints to ensure that your co-workers will remain unaffected by your socially maladaptive influence and irrationally violent behavior! This week's topic is : Meeting Etiquette. We hope that these help you to become less of a social pariah in your work environment and that you do not exactly bloody vengeance on us for any perceived slights you may have received while on the premises.

Wishing you a happy and productive work-week!
--Human Resources





Meeting With Co-Workers

Gamers should strive to control their murderous/selfish impulses throughout the meeting. Here are some common triggers and pitfalls to be avoided.

-- Coffee and donuts need to be evenly distributed amongst all meeting participants. Hoarding these items as you would in a competitve online match will be frowned upon. Think of the meeting like a campaign in Left 4 Dead; if you use all the med-kits yourself and your companions die, you will rarely survive to the next safe house. Donuts are medkits. Coffee is the same as pills.

-- The use of "?", "!", and "..." are not responses well suited for the meeting room. This does not apply, however, when meeting with the salarymen from our Tokyo branch.

-- Referring to the laser pointer as a "n00b-tub3" during a presentation will not generate a favorable reaction from your fellow participants.

-- Being late to scheduled meetings will not be excused on the basis of being "sucked into a random encounter" on the way to the conference room. Being "laggy as hell" is also not considered as a valid reason for tardiness.

-- There is no fast-forwarding through dialogue during meetings. Consider your meeting an unskippable cutscene for which you are required to take notes. The information you gather may be relevant to later gameplay.

-- When the door slams shut in a video game, it usually will not open again until the player has slaughtered every living inhabitant in the room. This does not apply in business meetings. The start and stop time listed on the official agenda remains constant regardless of how many co-workers you murder, so not killing them remains our policy.





Meetings With Potential Customers

-- Don't jump straight into business discussion. Develop a rapport with the prospect before attempting a sale. Many gamers scare off a possible client by immediately opening their trenchcoat and yelling "WHAT ARE YOU BUYING?" or "BUY SOMETHING, WILL YA?" before determining the prospect's needs through the use of discovery questions.

-- Do not refer to their objections or information gathering inquiries as "combo breakers".

-- While most gamers are used to the unrestricted killing of prostitutes in their day-to-day virtual lives, this behavior is strictly discouraged at Mindless Repetitions, Inc. Only the prospects should be allowed to kill prostitutes. This places you, as the salesperson, in a position to maximize each sale in exchange for covering it up and keeping quiet about the whole sordid affair.

-- When encountering sales reluctance, do not offer to throw in a charizard to "sweeten the deal". Your prospect is likely not aware that he is supposed to catch them all.

-- Avoid using terms usually heard in XBL chat* during intense contract negotiations. Examples include : "I feel like I made an extremely reasonable offer, Steve. Frankly, your counterproposal is totally gay." or (in a restaurant setting) "Steve, quit spawn-camping the breadsticks, you fucking fucktard."

*Avoiding these terms even in XBL chat would also be advisable for anyone of moderate maturity and intelligence.


Photo Photo Photo








This is the fourth installment of the Tales of an Omnipotent Public Servant (TOPS) series, written by a Dtoider at the behest of his fellow Dtoiders! If you missed out on previous episodes, you can always take a gander at TOPS -- Part 1, TOPS -- Part 2, and TOPS -- Part 3!





"Well, well, well! You must have a great hunger for gaming history if you have returned to me once again to be transported into the annals of Britannian lore, my welcome guest! I am happy to serve as your guide once more -- but even an ex-Game Master's services must always come at a price. Have you brought me a tribute? A token to remind us of that point in time so I can focus the required energies?

I don't believe it! A Koosh ball? You have done well, shrewd traveller. These relics once flooded the great halls of Origin Systems. It should be sufficient to summon the time portal to Ultima Online once again. Step inside the circle and brace yourself for visions from that ancient era -- the initial airing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- the deaths of Princess Di and the Notorious BIG -- Deep Blue defeating Gary Kasparov at chess for the first time. I remember this one instance when. . . "




My other car is a TARDIS.


The Fall of the Reservoir Sharks

Social structures often adhere to guidelines similar to the laws of physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Griefers used to make a habit of preying on the weak and naive on my servers. However, they weren't the only strong players out there. The group of griefers I referred to as the Reservoir Sharks in TOPS #3 finally discovered that you can only push a community so far before they finally begin to push back.

A group of players decided that enough was enough and that someone had to clean up the shard. They all created alternate characters and trained up their skills in secret. They never visited towns or interacted with anyone as their alternate characters. In a short period of time, a group of 8 players built up their characters into grandmaster mages, and hatched a plot to finally give the griefers a taste of their own medicine.

One evening, I get a page with a cryptic message from a character whose name I didn't recognize -- "Come and watch if you want to see true justice in action."

It being a slow evening and my curiosity aroused, I finished up the other pages in my queue and teleported invisibly over to the location of the paging character. I found myself outside the Britain bank, where a group of 8 players were milling around. They looked like utter newbies; half of them were in loincloths, while the rest were only slightly better equipped.

The players were asking passers-by for help in becoming strong fighters, basically begging for information and equipment. What I didn't know at the time was that they were the ultimate anti-griefers -- both the bait and the trap for the unwitting Reservoir Sharks.




Now witness the power of this fully functioning group of grandmaster mage vigilantes!


If you throw enough chum in the water, eventually the predators will show up. Like clockwork, Mr. Orange eventually sauntered up to the group and immediately pegged them for a bunch of marks. The motley avengers played along as Mr. Orange offered to "help them out" and proceeded to lead them out of town and through the wild to the Sharks' lair. Expecting a herd of lemmings, four Sharks lazily positioned themselves around the group and began to "welcome" their new members.

Knowing that the Sharks always struck shortly after saying "Welcome to the guild.", the motley avengers had the drop on the bad guys. Outnumbering the griefers two to one, the grandmaster mages, wearing nothing but their skivvies, unleashed a legendary barage of magical retribution and dropped the entire team of griefers in one fell swoop. They picked the bodies clean and stripped them of their most valuable possessions.

From that point on, whenever Mr. Orange plied his trade in the town squares, there was always a helpful samaritan or two in diapers willing to tag along or give the newbies a helpful word of advice. The motley avenger was right -- I got to see justice in action.




They didn't think their names through -- the Reservoir Dogs almost all die at the end.


The Iron Crisis of '97

Ultima Online wasn't just a game about adventuring and spellcasting. There were players who devoted their time to making their characters into artisans and smiths. Some of the best equipment in the game was not found, but rather crafted by grandmaster blacksmith players. In order to make these weapons, they required raw materials.

Miners would make the trip to the mountainous areas and bring back the raw metal ores required for the smiths to do their jobs. The smiths would pay handsomely for the convenience of avoiding dangerous travel and saving time to keep their smithing skills at grandmaster level so that they could charge top gold for their wares.

A properous economy developed between miners, smiths, and the adventurers who bought the final products. But human greed, as it is wont to do, eventually ruined the arrangement. The game placed a cap on how many resources could be harvested in a given time frame, and in one particular month the miners overworked all the rich deposits trying to score easy gold.

Panic struck. Miners were forced to charge more for fewer ores, which meant smiths had to charge more for their weapons and armor. Some adventurers who couldn't afford the top tier equipment took to attacking miners in the wild for their ore. Others were hired by miners as protection from these bandits. Eventually the resources reset and things returned to normal. Only this time everyone learned a lesson. You can have too much of a good thing.




You guys made Iron Giant cry, you jerkfaces.


Jester For Hire

One of the most interesting "professions" I ever encountered in UO was a character who rented himself out as a fool for hire. The only skills he had built up were in tailoring/dyeing, so he always had on an appropriately outrageous outfit. He would crack jokes, and keep adventurers company for an exorbitant fee.

I never understood why other players would pay such large sums of gold to have this guy along, so one night I tagged along to see what the big deal was. He did make funny jokes and spouted silly rhymes; well role-played and in an appropriately classic style. But that wasn't his value to his employers.

The fool's main job was to minesweep for adventurers. If a huge monster or player-killing griefer came onto the scene, the fool would spring into action. Like a medieval rodeo clown, he would run towards the danger until they targeted him and then run away, leaving a safe path for his employers to escape. Sometimes, he would run around in circles with some variety of enemy chasing him while the other player attacked the creature from behind. Very entertaining.

I had always heard it said that a fool and his money are soon parted, but Ultima Online proved to me that playing the clown can sometimes be as good as gold.




You try riding a manticore for 8 seconds!
Photo Photo Photo










Me with my Red Dead swag shirt (center), the Outlaw ScottyG, and my wifey Calamity Dawn.


When it came to the PAX '09 show floor, the big names of the fall were the belles of the ball. Games like Left 4 Dead 2 and Borderlands had huge lines of nerdy stalkers waiting hours outside the windows of their objects of obsession. Rightfully so -- those games and more looked and played amazingly. It seems that this holiday season has a lot of awesome in store for the gaming masses.

I, however, was not so interested in the fall/holiday lineup as much as I was games coming up in 2010. Prior to PAX, I had already done my homework and decided where my hard-earned monies were going to be spent for the rest of '09. I just didn't see anything on the showfloor that flipped my decision from buy to not buy, or vice versa. Mostly, the games on display just served to push the slider a little farther in the 'no' or 'go' directions for me. However, I did get a glimpse at a few games coming up next year that piqued my interest.

Tucked away in a remote corner of the exhibit hall was the Rockstar booth. They were there mainly to promote the upcoming Episodes from Liberty City and their do-it-yourself DJ simulator, Beaterator. I didn't have much interest in the DJ game, but you have to give them +1 internets just for making a game called Beaterator, don't you?

At any rate, my wife and I were walking the floor when my psychic swag-sense kicked in, and I spotted a pile of Red Dead Redemption t-shirts on the side of the Rockstar booth. When I asked how I could acquire one, the lady at the booth informed me that all I needed to do was see the live gameplay demo for Red Dead Redemption. I didn't even know that this game would be at PAX (other than the shirts, there was no signage for Red Dead at the R* booth), so I immediately dragged my incredibly understanding wife into the line, and we were the last two to make it into the next showing.




Red Dead 'staging' a coup for 2010? Don't worry, I'll slap myself for that pun.


Red Dead Redemption is the sequel to 2004's Red Dead Revolver, which was one of the few shooters I truly enjoyed out of the last-generation. When I heard that a sequel was being made I was naturally interested, but I have to say that after seeing the gameplay demo at PAX this game has moved from being a "keep an eye on it" title to my second most anticipated game of 2010 behind Heavy Rain.


Differences

Redemption shares a few things in common with its predecessor, but mostly it's a horse of a different color. While Revolver was a level-based TPS western, Redemption is an open-world game built with the same RAGE framework and Euphoria middleware used in GTAIV. Revolver had a cast of playable characters, whereas Redemption follows the story of one character -- John Marston. Also, while Revolver was squarely set in the untamed Wild West period, Redemption takes place at the turn of the century when both the government and technology are beginning to take over the West.


The Mission

The gameplay demo was centered around a rescue mission in an old ghost-town. Bad guys had captured one of Marston's friends and strung her up, and it was up to Marston to come in guns blazing and save her before the life was choked out of her. Combat looked very satisfying, with an appropriate level of blood and guts for a western setting. Combat animations looked more fluid and varied than in GTAIV, which was a good sign to me that this game isn't just a Wild West re-skin. Returning to Redemption is the "deadeye" mechanic present in Revolver, but in the new iteration it will be useable throughout the game in all firefights instead of only boss fights. Also present was the classic slide through the dirt into cover move from old western movies, which got a great reaction from the screening group. Eventually the outlaws were mopped up and the friend saved, and the demo moved into a more general demo of the game world.


Exploration

One of the biggest draws of Fallout 3 (Oblivion as well to a lesser extent) to me was the exploration aspect of the gameplay. There was always something to discover or stumble into, and the vastness of the gameworld really gave you that lone warrior feeling that kept me coming back for more. Red Dead Redemption looks to have a similar draw, but in the western milieu. There were some impressive vistas shown off during the gameplay demo, and the game promises to be expansive -- the demoers said that the land mass in the game exceeds that of GTA San Andreas, which put me squarely in squeeeeee-mode. The idea of having that much to explore in a western setting has me very excited.




I think I'll name you. . . . Horsemeat!


The demo also showed off one medium sized town. In the larger towns, you will see "modern" technology's influence (there are telegraph lines in the bigger settlements), while other areas maintain a frontier feel. All the buildings in Redemption can be dynamically entered with no load times, which is an improvement over GTAIV which had to be selective due to the sheer volume of buildings. Also like Fallout, there appear to be many things available to stumble upon in the wild. Find another cowboy camped out? You can sit down and share the fire and talk to him or put him down in cold blood and loot him. Run in to stagecoaches or outlaws and deal with them as you see fit.


Ecology

The integration of animals into the gameworld was impressive. Firefights will quickly attract vultures to the area who will start circling, and eventually land and start feasting on any outlaw carcasses there. Rabbits, mountain lions, and even bears can be encountered, killed, and skinned for their pelts which can be sold. Horses, which are the main mode of transport for the game, will be realistically spooked by gun fire and bolt for safety. Wild horses can be encountered, lassoed, and tamed.


My Concerns

There was a lot to be excited about in the demo, but with an early 2010 release date, Rockstar North still has plenty of work to do. The usual texture-popping present in large open-world titles was definitely present in this build, and I'm hoping that the open rural environment makes it easier for them to polish the visuals over the next 4-6 months. Red Dead Redemption is currently set for a Q2 2010 release.

There was no story present at any point during the demo other than what the presenter narrated going into the mission. There was no voice-over integrated, and cut-scenes were choppy and unfinished. Knowing Rockstar's track record for solid dialogue and voice-over work, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one and trust that they will do right and deliver a presentation worthy of the lone gunman western theme present in the game. I'm really hoping they move away from the more cartoonish characterizations from Revolver and towards a mature story. I'm crossing my fingers for some Deadwood style dialogue and story. God, I loved Deadwood.




None of this.


Conclusion

Even wifey walked out of that well obscured demo room excited for all the different activities on display in Red Dead Redemption. It's looking sharp for the stage they're at in development, and the gameplay looks improved and more varied than GTAIV. Plus, no annoying cell-phone calls to get in the way of the story or just jacking around the countryside. I'll be looking for a playable build at PAX East to see if it'll give me that genuine High Plains Drifter vibe I've been waiting for in a video game. With a larger game world than San Andreas, I personally can't wait to get my hands on this li'l filly and see how she rides.
Photo Photo Photo











In most cases, when a community is “tightly-knit” it also means the community is less welcoming to outsiders than a Baptist congregation to a group of vampire LARPers. Yet, for every rule there is an exception and unsurprisingly, Destructoid is that exception.

My initial expectations going in were to see some games, see a bit of the city, and hopefully get to meet a few of the people I had grown so fond of over the interwebs. 4 days of debauchery, nerdery, and revelry later, and I still hadn't met all the Dtoiders who showed up. No exaggeration, every single Dtoider I plucked up the courage to meet was friendly and welcoming – I've never seen such love before in my life, let alone from a community where people interact primarily over the internet.

My wife doesn't play very many games, but as a nerd herself she wanted to see what PAX was all about. She expected to just lurk in the background, but every time I turned around she was in a conversation with another Dtoider. Many thanks to all of you who took the time to get to know her and make her feel welcome – she had an awesome time.

The staff was so approachable and friendly – I got to meet Ashley, Samit, Dyson, Grim, Aerox, Colette, and even Niero himself. The way this team interacts with the community is nothing short of astounding. Special props go out to Hamza, who in addition to being a hella-cool shark (seriously, he's a snappy dresser) also worked his ass off to make sure that everyone got together and had a good time. He was constantly coordinating or informing and making the newbies feel welcome all the while!




Disproved by Destructoid.


From meeting the bad-ass members of Dtoid Texas, to being one of only 2 Dtoiders to actually sing karaoke on karaoke night (ScottyG was the other brave soul on the scouting party), to seeing a live gameplay demo of Red Dead Redemption (now my second most anticipated game of 2010 behind Heavy Rain), and many other happy memories, PAX is an experience I will never forget.

I could go on and on about all the amazing people I met, but I'll just close this part of the blog by saying you have got to find a way to get to the next community meetup – whether it be PAX or another con or your nearest NARP, you will not find a more worthy use of your time than getting to interact with this fine community face-to-face. I not only feel like a true part of the community now, but a part of the family. Whatever is standing in your way (money, time, shyness, etc.), start planning now for how you're going to overcome that obstacle for the next event, you'll be ever so glad you did.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Guns and Roses said it all so much more eloquently than I ever could, but I do have to reiterate that every story has a dark side. PAX wasn't all rainbows and kittens for me. Before I left, I promised my good interwebz buddy Kauza that I would take his avatar with me so that he could be there in spirit since he couldn't make it. Little did I know the trouble that would follow from such a simple gesture.

I had an inkling that things might be a little off when Kauza's avatar proceeded to get absolutely hammered on the plane. I think being 2-dimensional makes you a pretty cheap date.





The convention was fun, but Kauza's avatar didn't make it easy. I promised Kauza I'd take good care of his avatar for him, so I didn't want us to get separated – so when he demanded to hang around and stare at Mr. Destructoid's ass for 20 minutes I was forced to oblige.





I thought he could help me out at the Star Wars : The Old Republic Demo. When I let him out of the messenger bag he proceeded to immediately turn to the nearest woman in the crowd and said, “C'mon baby – I don't want to go Hand Solo tonight!”





After threatening to lock him up in the Hello Kitty demo box, he calmed down and even offered to take some notes for me. So I relaxed and enjoyed the demo thinking he had me covered -- so much for turning over a new leaf.





Kauza's avatar tagged along to the Elephant and Castle one night, and it wasn't just the nerves from flying that made him drink before – he really is a lush.





My wife and Aerox were trying to have a conversation about the Discworld novels, but Kauza's avatar kept butting in. Also, I was beginning to get a little bit uncomfortable with how close he was getting to my wife.





Before long, he was passed out right in the middle of the patio.





At the end of the night, all I wanted to do was sleep, but Kauza's avatar made that impossible. We barely got upstairs before he announced he was about to “de-frag his stomach's hard drive”, and asked if I would hold him over the toilet. Given that the alternative was him tossing his cookies in the hotel room, I had little choice.





What has been seen cannot be unseen. What took place in that bathroom defied the laws of physics.





You'd think after a night like that he would learn his lesson. The next night at the E&C he was right back to his old tricks. Having scared away all other prospects with his drunken misogynistic demeanor, he sunk to new depths when he asked my wife if she'd like to “ditch old 'kissyourass' over there and go back to the room with a real man”.





Well, my amazing wife was having none of that. She was just about fed up with Kauza's avatar anyway and the proposition was just too much. She took matters into her own hands.





Oh, the humanity!





Moral of the story : A person's avatar often does not reflect their true nature. Also, nobody, and I mean NOBODY fucks with wifey.


Photo Photo Photo








The enemy. There is no single greater motivator in human history than having an antagonist. The US would have taken years if not decades longer to land on the moon without the threat of the Russians getting there first and setting up a giant mind control device to turns us all into Marxists.

Somewhere, at this very moment, there's a defense laywer sweating bullets. Out of options and out of time, he does what many others of his ilk have resorted to --

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant is not a murderer. He is a victim of our modern technological age. His involvement with the game Grand Theft Auto has stripped him of his ability to distinguish fantasy from reality."

Elsewhere, a newspaper writer is feeling the heat from her editor. The readership is falling due to the rise of internet news outlets, and everything she writes needs to grab eyes and move units off the newsstands. With the slider slowly creeping from objectivity to sensationalism, she writes her next headline --

A Digital Tragedy : Suburban Family Victimized by Video-Game Playing Son




Old tricks are the best tricks, eh?


When it comes to confronting our own demons, be they societal or individual, it's always a softer option to project our own fears onto the outside world. If we can identify an enemy that doesn't lie in our own mind or heart, then we can comfortably forego the decidedly more difficult task of looking inward to affect change. It is a seductive form of passing the buck, and most times we aren't even aware that we're engaging in it.

A successful projection requires two things. One is a target which can be sufficiently demonized without the target having the ability to adequately defend its own image. The second necessity is a way to convince others to engage in the same rationalizations. This means propaganda.

All in the name of righteousness, many activities have been attacked over the years. In the past, everything from dancing, to jazz, to alcohol, to heavy metal have been blamed for the degradation of moral values and the collapse of modern society. The problem with this tactic is that eventually enough people get to know the scapegoat in question, and when people truly understand a thing it is no longer possible to demonize it.

Video games have not yet reached the level of Public Enemy #1 despite their growing popularity as a scapegoat, but it's gotten me thinking about what the coming years may have in store for our favorite pastime before the world at large really gets to know it like we do. Let's take a glimpse at what video games might be in store for by looking at some of the propaganda attacking the last form of games to feel the wrath of a society looking to blameshift -- Dungeons and Dragons.




As a Level 26 Nimrod, you gain access to the spell Warp Reality.


When I was in 4th grade (1984), I had been playing D&D for about a year when a "concerned individual" began passing out some literature at our school. They were small comic booklets, designed to inform us of the evils of role-playing games and how we could break free of their Satanic influence. In this case, the scapegoat was literally demonized.

I never thought I would find this comic again, but when I googled D&D propaganda, it was literally the first result to pop up. The comic was entitled Dark Dungeons, and inferred that D&D was responsible for teen suicide and prepared players for recruitment into real life occult groups where actual magic and witchcraft were practiced. I encourage you to click the link and check it out -- it's a real mind trip.

The end message of the comic was that redemption through Jesus was the only way to overcome D&D's insidious influence, and that all D&D materials should be burned. Burned. The last cell of the comic shows the preacher standing in front of a raging bonfire of D&D manuals (he must really prefer v3.5 rules, ba-dum-tish!). The Nazi regime was also well known for book-burning, and they were the most egregious blame-shifters in history.

Now, I don't want to infer that the message of this comic reflected the views of all or even most Christians out there. However, I feel it is worth noting that the fantasy elements present in D&D such as spell-casting and polytheism, among others, would not have been so open to such revulsion in a culture not saturated with a Judeo-Christian worldview. It is important to note this because a significant percentage of the video games we play have similar fantasy elements, and this may explain at least some of the knee-jerk reactions that our current hobby seems to garner.




Roll a wisdom/lore check to successfully communicate with volleyballs.


I recently watched an old movie about the perils of role playing games and, in-between fits of unrestrained laughter, I found myself with a lot to think about. Mazes and Monsters was a movie made in 1982, starring a 26 year old Tom Hanks. He plays a college student who begins to lose grip on reality and permanently takes on the persona of his Mazes and Monsters character, eventually leading him to attempt a leap off the top of the World Trade Center.

It was based off of the book of the same name, which in turn was (inaccurately) based on the story of the disappearance of a Michigan State University student named James Dallas Egbert. Egbert was reported in the press to have died while playing D&D in the steam tunnels underneath his school. It is true he was in the steam tunnels; not to play D&D, but rather to commit suicide. The fact that D&D materials were found among his possessions led people to infer that D&D was the cause of his disappearance.

This is the primary weapon of any propaganda : the blurring of the lines between correlation and causality. Logic dictates that just because two trends are found together does not mean that one caused the other. If that were true, then you could just as easily argue that the underwear they found in his room was responsible for his death.

Unfortunately, propaganda does not aim to appeal to reason. Rather, its goal is to elicit an emotional reaction, and pointing out the correlation of two things is enough to insinuate that one caused the other without having the bothersome nuisance of providing proof. Like the comic book, all that is needed is to put the image of the scapegoat next to the image of any number of negative consequences and let the inferences do all the work from there.

You've probably already thought about any number of recent news stories where correlation was used to suggest causality between violence or deviant behavior and video games. Our media is saturated with this kind of faulty logic. The Columbine shooters played Doom, ergo Doom causes you to shoot people. The 9 yr. old child was killed by a teenager and her boyfriend who were supposedly re-enacting a move from Mortal Kombat, therefore Mortal Kombat makes you kill children. (I also love how the fact that these two teenagers were shit-faced drunk was conveniently left out of 95% of the coverage, because it was obviously Mortal Kombat's fault)

The list goes on and on.




Glenn Beck failed his saving throw vs. sideboob.


It's a hard world out there sometimes, and none of us are perfect. It's comforting to think that there's something concrete outside of us that's the source of our problems. It's the government, or the heathens, or the corporate office, or those damn video games.

Why do we as a society fall into this trap over and over? Because deep down, we just don't want to admit that most of our problems are actually caused by our individual ignorance, or prejudice, or laziness, or unwillingness to really connect with our children. It's easier to burn a book than it is to find ways to take personal accountability for the world we live in.

So how do we as gamers weather the storm yet to come before our beloved gaming comes out on the other side like heavy metal and D&D? How do we keep the chanting of the blameshifters from hypnotizing the majority until the mob moves on to a new monster?

The answer is simple. Propaganda relies on demonizing its target. When people begin to understand something, they can no longer match-up the evil caricature they're being presented with to what they know to be true in their minds. Then the propaganda loses its power to persuade.

The most important thing we can do is to keep our side of the debate civil. Since we're up against propaganda, when we respond with hatred or irrationality, we play right into our opponents' hands. Those attacking video games can say, "See? Look at the anger displayed by people playing video games. Video games therefore promote violent behavior."

When someone uses such blatant falsehood to attack something you care for, you're bound to have a negative emotional response, that's just human. However, when you choose to calmly share your passion and your reasons for indulging in our amazing pastime, then people will be open to listening and begin to understand. That's when the masters of self-delusion and mass-deception will have to find themselves a new patsy.
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