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About
A relatively new dad telling tales on what life is like as a gamer and a father.

- I'm the youngest of two children with one older sister.

- I'm first generation American as my parents were born in Italy.

- Married to a wonderful wife and have an amazing daughter who makes me laugh and smile every day.

- Hobbies include exercise, reading, writing, sci-fi, film, and of course, video games.




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Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Some people enjoy really bad movies starring Nicholas Cage or books that have a painting of Fabio on the cover. Others have a weakness to certain sweet, savory, and salty snack foods, like pork rinds (Mmmmmm deep fried pig skin!). †As a gamer, I also have had my fair share of guilty pleasures, that is, games that I know are just plain horrible, but for whatever reason, I just couldnít put them down.

With summer we yearn for leisurely activities that are not meant to tax the mind, but rather just purely entertain. †Itís the time of year when the film industry releases big blockbusters starring giant robots and flicks that have Tom Cruise running from things, it doesnít even matter what heís running from, as long as heís running.



If books are your thing, do you really want to be reading some deep thought provoking shit? Hell no, you want to read about Fabio plunging his wang into some sexually repressed librarian or something. AM I RIGHT LADIES!? How else can one explain Fifty Shades of Grey, a best selling series about a man named Christian Grey who fucks anything and everything that moves. (Full disclosure, I havenít read any of the books.)

I remember going on a cruise once with my in-laws. Word to the wise, donít go on a cruise, theyíre horrible, let alone with your in-laws. First off, your boat is a giant floating petri dish in the sea, supporting some of the nastiest bacteria and viruses man has ever encountered. Itís not a matter of if but when you will shit your brains out while on a cruise.

Secondly, imagine the worst of the worst of Wal-Mart trash. Now imagine being forced to be in close proximity with these people for four days and three nights, with the only way to escape is to vault oneís self into the briny deep. Lastly, the food, which your shipmates will go on and on about is not very good, but they serve a fuck ton of it, so you youíll have plenty to crap and puke out when the inevitable norovirus strain firmly entrenches itself into your bowels. I once saw a pack a severely obese people shove children out of the way to get on line for ice cream sundaes. It was a stampede flab and Ed Hardy t-shirts. They were going to get their fucking ice cream sundaes, no matter what.†



Anyway, while aboard the USS Hershey Squirt, I decided to catch up on some reading. My book of choice was a nonfiction work on Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. As I read my book, perfect strangers would walk up to me and ask me what I was reading, as they were confused, since the pages I was reading didnít have colorful pictures on them. When I told them that this was a historical biography, the look of surprise and at times, disgust, on their faces was extraordinary. They were legitimately taken back that I would read a book like this on a cruise. This was some heavy reading, it wasnít about teenagers murdering each other for the entertainment of the denizens of some dystopian future city, nor was it about Christian Grey sticking his hang down into his secretary. Iím a total square apparently to the cruise-taking crowd. Come to think about it, going on a cruise must be a guilty pleasure, because no one in there right mind would think that going on a cruise is in any way, a good idea.

To get back on point, the gaming industry has always been guilty of not releasing enough quality games during the summer months. Maybe they believe that everyone is on vacation, outside getting skin cancer, or shitting their brains out on a cruise ship somewhere out in the Caribbean Sea. With the dearth of games available, I usually find myself playing games that I missed out on earlier in the year and more often than not, games that I would never dare consider playing, let alone overplaying, as it is so often the case.

This is not a new phenomenon for me either. I recall playing a Gerry Glanvilleís Pigskin Footbrawl on the Sega Genesis way back when in the summer of 1992. I actually rented this game and kept it way past its due date, racking up some serious late fees. My mother was none too please. Even in my youth, I knew this game was a steamy turd, but what else was I going to play? What amazes me is how much I enjoyed playing this game. I was working in construction at the time and I actually looked forward to coming home at night, cranking the air conditioning after a long day breaking my ass, and playing this shitty game. Maybe I was suffering from heat stroke and didnít know any better?



The game was so putrid, that they couldnít even find a decent celebrity to endorse it, so they chose Gerry ďFuckingĒ Glanville of all people. A buffoon and mediocre coach for the Atlanta Falcons, whose only famous for saying something vaguely funny on the sidelines during a game to a referee that just so happened to be recorded. He actually has a losing record in all of his years of coaching, both at the collegiate and professional level and yet Iím sure he has a nicer house than me so FUCK HIM!



Two years later in the summer of 1994, I became smitten by another mediocre game, this time for my Sega CD. The game was FIFA International Soccer and I pretty much played this game non-stop for two months. I mustíve have led Italy to the World Cup fifty times. The kicker was that this game was so incredibly mediocre, but I was in the grips of World Cup fever, which was being hosted by the United States that year. I even had an opportunity to attend a match between Italy and Norway, which was just incredible and Iíve been a fan of the sport ever since.



What was not incredible was FIFA International Soccer for the Sega CD. EA Games essentially took the code from the equally mediocre Sega Genesis version and just ported it over to the Sega CD. They slapped on some grainy video, added some crowd noise, and abracadabra, they set a precedent of repackaging the same crap year after year, something they still do to this day.

A good friend of mine, who is still close to me today used to break my balls for playing that game. To this very day, every once in awhile heíll bring up that summer I wasted playing that shitty soccer game.



Now, with the advent of Xbox Live and PSN, I donít have to take a trip down memory lane to see what horrible games I spent way too much time on. All my transgressions are saved, via achievements in my profile. THANKS MICROSOFT AND SONY!

Unlocking an achievement in a horrible game is equivalent of a cross campus walk of shame at 6:00 in the morning, where youíre still dressed in the clothes from the previous night and everyone whoís out just knows that you made some horrible decisions the night before, and probably woke up naked next to someone who could be mistaken for a sasquatch.


Oh my god. I hope I wore a condom.

Perusing some of my old achievements of summers gone by on Xbox Live, I could see that I played way too much Prey on the Xbox 360 during the summer of 2006. Preyís claim to fame was that the protagonist was a Native American trapped on an alien spaceship, and he can, at times, walk on walls and ceilings. Oh, and on said alien spaceship, there were GIANT VAGINAS!



I then took the next two summers off from gaming, but in July of 2009, I came back with a vengeance and played the craptastic Red Faction: Guerilla for days on end. All I remember about this game was that it took place on Mars or some uninspired shit like that, so everything was colored with brownish red hue. For whatever reason, the main character had a sledgehammer that could topple entire buildings. Given the amount of time I played this game, one would think that I could do a better job of describing it, but I wasted enough time on the game, so I would rather forget that I ever played it.



Fast forwarding to 2012, Max Payne 3 became my guilty pleasure of choice. I was actually looking forward to play that game. I was so eager to return to the world of Max Payne 3 that I was blinded by how incredibly unmemorable it was. Once again, not a bad game, per se, but certainly not a great game, deserving of the amount of time I eventually poured into it playing it. I remember trying to talk my friends on giving it a try, pleading that it was good, just underrated, but they werenít buying into it. They probably thought that I was back on peyote and was hallucinatingÖ. again.



So there you have it, my walks of shame of summerís past. As you can see, I donít fall into the trap every summer of guilty pleasure gaming, but itís certainly a trend. Itís almost like I learned my lesson for a short time, only to fall off the wagon, just to get back on again. Will it be the same this summer? Iím trying to be strong. I have a couple of games from earlier in the year that I want to finish up, but who knows, Iíve been known to make bad decisions before.


Hey baby, listen, about last night... I was really drunk.

Would love to hear what some of your gaming guilty pleasures were. Go ahead and share some of your walks of shame in the comment section. I wonít judgeÖ Unless it was really bad and then Iím totally going to judge.
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Last Sunday, I attempted to trade in some games to my local GameStop. To my surprise, the storefront was abandoned, adorned with a poster stating that Little Caesar's Pizza was "Coming Soon!" My first thought, "Holy shit Little Caesar's still exists!"



No problem, I thought to myself. Sure, I heard GameStop was shuttering some of their underperforming and redundant stores, but this location always seemed pretty busy. It's not like I had access to their balance sheet, but I assumed that this one location would not be one of the stores to get the axe. Having seen the crowds for their midnight launches of both the PS4 and the Xbox One, this store seemed to be doing pretty well.

A little inconvenienced, but not completely put off, I decided to stop at a secondary GameStop a little later as I made my way to Father's Day festivities at my sister's, where I would stuff my face, drink way too much and watch the World Cup. To my surprise, this GameStop was also closed down. There was no indication whether a national takeout pizza chain would soon occupy this location.

Now I was surprised, as this GameStop was in an affluent town and this store always seemed to be busy with soccer moms buying games for their kids in between Pilates classes and blowing the pool boy. I was also, at this point, quite annoyed, as my time has been wasted not once, but twice. Not to mention, that there was no longer a GameStop a conveniently located near my home.



As I pulled out of the second shopping center empty handed, my wife asked me what the heck was going on with GameStop? I mentioned to her that GameStop had announced that they were shutting down stores, but I never thought that it would have been this aggressive. She assumed, that GameStop were doing great, since I gave them so much of my fucking money.

All in all, GameStop has claimed to shut down between 120 to 130 stores, but it seems like a lot more. 130 stores is not much in the grand scheme of things as they have 6,457 stores worldwide, these closures only accounts for approximately 2% of their total locations. Whatís more symbolic is why GameStop has decided to start shutting down stores in the first place.

GameStopís CEO Paul Raines describes the closures as the beginning of ďGameStop, 3.0Ē. Just give me a moment for me to slam my fucking face onto my desk as hard as I can, because I love marketing buzzword bullshit so much. Think, for just a moment, how the news of this was broken to GameStop employees who were just shit canned. Iíd imagine it went something like this, ďGood news, GameStop is now GameStop 3.0Ö. AND YOUíRE FUCKING FIRED!Ē

So what is GameStop 3.0? Apparently, itís less about games and more about mobile technology. So theyíve closed down 130 stores, but theyíre going to open 200 to 250 additional stores that will cater to mobile phones and computers. Tim Raines calls these ďgaming-adjacent fields.Ē MARKETING BUZZWORD! Excuse me while I punch myself repeatedly in the nuts. So will GameStop continue calling themselves GameStop, since, you know, they arenít exactly just selling games anymore?

So letís back track a bit back to last Sunday after finding that the second GameStop location I went to was closed. I was visibly annoyed and my wife asked me if I was upset, which quite honestly I was not. She then asked me where I would be buying my games now.

As we drove down the road, I pondered this question. There was always Wal-Mart, but I refuse to shop there out of principle. There was Target, but once again, even though the lesser of two evils, buying games at a big box store is just not appealing to me.

ďHow about Best Buy?Ē My wife asked? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! We both had a good, hardy laugh about that. Maybe Iíll just use Amazon and my Prime membership? That still is not optimal, since chances are, I wouldnít be able to play the day and date a game is released, which is not a huge deal, but still.



Finally, almost out of nowhere, I said, almost to myself, ďMaybe Iíll just start downloading them from PSN or Xbox Live.Ē

ďI donít understand why you are not doing that alreadyÖ Stupid Face.Ē That was my wifeís candid, and frankly, hurtful response. As I sat there, wondering if I should call her something equally awful (coal mine hooker came to mind), I tried to think of a reason why this wasnít a good idea either. However, those reasons were pretty shallow.

There really isnít a good reason why I shouldnít be downloading games instead of buying physical media. I went to GameStop becasue it was convenient and they gave me store credit for used games. Now, that GameStop is no longer convenient, I can no longer personally justify going there just because they give me store credit on my used games, which quite frankly is a pittance.

Iíve had a love/hate relationship for many years with GameStop, but I think Iíve finally come to the revelation that itís time for me to evolve and begin downloading my games. So all that store credit that I have still GameStop, will be used to purchase PSN and Xbox Live points, for future downloadable games.

Itís not like GameStop didnít see the writing on the wall either. They always said that the eventual industryís transition to digital distribution would not impact them. What they didnít say was that it would not impact them because they were going to start selling cell phones and computers and pretty much become fucking Radio Shack.



So you can say that Iím venturing into a new frontier of digital distribution, which is not so new if you think about it. I went from buying music CDs (like an animal) to downloading and streaming, like a civilized person. PC gamers pretty much download everything through Steam now, so why shouldnít console gamers like myself do the same?

Sony has recently announced that their AAA titles will soon allow for pre-loading, which would alleviate the need to go to a midnight launch. While suckers are waiting on line at a brick and mortar location, at the stroke of midnight, I could be playing. Unless of course, itís a game from EA then youíll be lucky if the online component even fucking works at all.



With the news that Sony will soon be allowing pre-loading for AAA titles on the PS4, Microsoft cannot be far behind with the Xbox One. Given the fact that online and digital distribution was such a major part of their initial plans, all they probably need to do is flip a switch. I would like to add that I know absolutely nothing on how any of this shit works by the way, but Iíd like to think some tech just flicks a switch and shit just happens.

Iíd would also add, which will probably inflame a lot of people out there and cause a mob to form outside my house where the townsfolk will brandish pitch forks and start a bonfire, burning me in effigy, but never the less, Microsoftís initial plan for the Xbox One sounded pretty cool to me. Yes, there were certain parts that made me concerned, but change is scary. Sometimes you just need to jump in. Sure, sometimes the water is too shallow and youíll have a depilating spinal injury, but maybe not. Maybe that water is deep enough, and all the chicks will think youíre hot shit and will want to go steady. (What am I talking about again?)



Itís time for me to change how I acquire games. Buying physical media is really, no loner that attractive to me. Iíve been gaming a long time and very little has changed on how I got my games, but this old dog is willing to learn new tricks. Itís time to take a leap off the cliff and hope the water is deep enough. What do I have to lose? If I donít like it, I can always just start buying my games at Wal-Mart.

Kidding. Fuck Wal-Mart.

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It' E3 time, that wonderful time of year where game companies from around the world converge on LA to showcase their latest and greatest wares to their adoring fans. By the way, when I say their adoring fans, I mean Walmart, Target, Gamestop, and pretty much anyone who doesn't play videogames, but rather sells them.

Did I burst your bubble there? Did I ruin the myth for you? Was my statement akin to telling a small child that Santa Claus is not real? Well I'm sorry, but if it's any consolation Belsnickel is very real and he's waiting for you, at home, in your closet.



Don't get me wrong, E3 is great, but it's not really for the gamers, per se. Sure, gamers wait all year long to watch and see what's coming down the pike, but it's true intention is to get the retailers moist. Thatís why itís called a trade show, you see. †Yes, itís an opportunity to show off, even to each other. How great was it seeing Shigeru Miyamoto donning the Oculus Rift? Imagine the possibilities of that. (By the by, I just imagined the possibilities and I was not impressed.)



Gamers get all weak in the knees by all the announcements, but we're not the real target audience here. The game companies are trying to woo the major retailers by essentially saying "LOOK AT THIS SHIT! ISN'T IT GREAT? YOU TOTALLY NEED TO STOCK YOUR SHELVES WITH THIS. PLACE YOUR ORDERS NOW!" And we wonder why game companies release sequel after sequel of the same shit every year. Because itís safe, and it sells and retailer donít like risking valuable real estate in their stores on things that are not safe and a sure thing and sell sell sell goddamnit! It looks good on their spreadsheets, then they get big bonuses, and then they blow it all on coke and hookers. (Probably not true.)



E3 is meant for the trolls that crawled out from under their bridge in Bentonville, Arkansas, no longer satiated by devouring the souls of their minimum wage workers. Gamers, like you and I are an afterthought, the suits from Wal-Mart are who the gaming companies are trying to impress here, and thatís a fact.

Thatís why I always get a chuckle when the gaming media asks the question, ďWho won E3?Ē Because the answer is simple really, the retailers, thatís who. And then the Wal-Mart executives head back to Bentonville, after a week of wining and dining, where they can go back to their true purpose, running the most miserable and shitty big box stores imaginable.



You know what would be really great though? What if E3 really did have a winner, where it wasnít the retailers, and it was decided by a gold old-fashioned brawl, with fists and makeshift weapons? Now that would be fucking sweet.

Iím not the only who looks at Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime and is immediately intimidated by the man. Iím not a small guy, but I wouldnít want to run into this guy in a dark alley. If I saw him coming up the street, Iíd probably just hand him my wallet, and stab myself in the face, no questions asked. No doubt I would give Nintendo the edge in any gang brawl if he were leading the way. Reggie is always claiming that he wants to kick someoneís ass, wouldnít it be great to actually see him do it?



However, did anyone else notice that Xbox boss Phil Spencer was looking pretty jacked during the Microsoft presser? The dude has been apparently working out, hitting the weights. I imagine him in his office, doing chin-ups and old-timey exercises, like Travis Bickel from Taxi Driver or Jerry Seinfeldís uncle. Spencer, motivated by the shit show he inherited from whatís his face. After every pull-up grunting out a solitary word, like ďKINECTĒ, †ď24-HOUR ONLINE HANDSHAKEĒ, and ďDonÖÖ MATTRICK!Ē


HELLO!



How great would it be if at the end of the show, all the executives from all the major game companies, console makes, publishers, and developers all met out in the parking and just beat the ever loving shit out of each other, like a bunch od old school 1950ís greaser toughs? A battle royal, if you will, to prove once and for all, who won E3.

Iíd imagine it would be like something from the movie the Outsiders. If you havenít seen this, then you should for a multitude of reasons. Number 1, it has the Karate Kid himself, Ralph Macchio -- the original Karate Kid and not that bullshit with Will Smithís fucking son. Go ruin someone elseís childhood memories spawn of Will and Jada Smith.

Number 2, it has a pre-Scientology Tom Cruise in it, with what is quite possibly the worst teeth imaginable at the time for Hollywood. L. Ron Hubbard corpse probably paid to get that shit capped from beyond the grave. We canít have a snaggle tooth being the face of our made up crazy ass religion!



Lastly, it had the late great Patrick Swayze of Road House, quite possibly the finest film ever conceived and stored onto celluloid. The ladies will remember him from other movies like Ghost and Dirty Dancing (No one puts Baby in the Corner.)



However, the gaming industry is all about glitzy entertainment now, so maybe the all out brawl would be something more stylized, something akin to West Side Story, where the Sharks and the Jets have a dance fight, TO THE DEATH!

Just picture it, for a moment, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, snapping their fingers and smoking cigarettes as they prepare to brawl out in the streets, choreographed to a jazzy ensemble. Who will win? Who cares! Just sit back and be entertained.



Will this ever happen? I doubt it. The lawyers will never let it. All it takes is one marketing executive getting stabbed with a switchblade and itíll be all about lawsuits, and public endangerment, and murder, and manslaughter and BLAH BLAH BLAH.

This doesnít stop me from dreaming that one day this cold be a reality. I like to picture Phil Spencer putting Reggie Fils-Aime in a headlock while wailing on him with this free arm. I can see Satoru Iwate, swinging a two by four with nails sticking out of, as all the other executives cower away in fear. Maybe Miyamoto will use his banjo as a weapon? It is a dream that will never come true however, so I guess, weíll never know who actually won E3.
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The World Cup is just around the corner and fans of the "beautiful game" are waiting with baited breath on whether the historic tournament is going to be reduced to a shit show consisting of poor refereeing, racist chants, and hooliganism. Good luck with that Brazil and FIFA organizers. Iím rooting for you. (Not really)

Even the Logo looks like someone doing a face palm.

Whether you refer to the beautiful game as football, futbol, calcio, soccer (for the Aussies out there), or DURRRR this is not real FOOTBAWL! (HEY AMERICA!), there is one thing that the sport has an unfortunate connection with , and that is hooliganism. Just like with a lot of things, a few bad apples ruin it for the bunch.

Hooliganism in itself is a violent and physical form of fanaticism. It can consist of verbal abuse, but it can also become physically violent, where fans will attack fans of opposing teams, attack players of the opposing team, and at times even attack players of the team they apparently support.

Hooligans give the game of soccer a bad name, much in the same way that fanboys give gamers a bad name. I will freely admit that during my younger days, I would have classified myself as a Sega fanboy where I would harass my friends and classmates who were Nintendo fans and vice versa. However, this was playground banter any never amounted to anything more than kids being kids, no different than boys arguing which superhero was the coolest.

The answer to that question is obviously Batman.

The days of Nintendo fans versus Sega fans had an innocence to it and yet, as the gamer demographic began to skew older and online communications began to grow via the ever expanded use of the internet, things got less innocent and a lot more serious.

I never quite understood why some folks find the need to turn conversations in comments and message boards toxic against fans of other consoles. Maybe I just became an old man shaking his cane at the neighborhood kids cutting across his lawn and Iím simply out of touch. Perhaps itís the disposable income that comes with getting older and moving up the ranks in business that allows me to own multiple consoles and not feel like I have to defend my decision with whatever brand I chose. Perhaps some people are just fucking assholes and like to shit on other people.

Before becoming a dad, I used to go to a lot of live sporting events, mostly football and baseball games. Without fail, there would be a fan or group of fans that would spew the most vile and racist shit Iíve ever heard. To make matters worse, they were supporting the same team I was, but their goal, unlike mine, was not to go to a game, throw back a few beers and enjoy one’s self, but rather become the center of attention and ruin the experience for everyone around them.

Iíve seen grown fucking men make fun of a young Jewish boy wearing a yarmulke at a New York Jets game to the point where he started to get tears in his eyes. Iíve also seen men at a Yankees game make racist comments to Hideki Matsui. The stereotypical and vulgar comments that they taunted him are not even worth repeating, and yet these were Yankee fans, taunting a Japanese man, who just so happen to be playing for the fucking Yankees.

I also want to point out that this is far from an American problem. Footballers of African descent are under constant attack at stadiums throughout Europe, not just from opposing fans, but from their own teamís fans as well.

Itís not uncommon for fans to throw bananas onto the pitch at opposing black players as well as taunting them monkey sounds whenever they touched the ball. I confronted a friend of mine who lives in Italy about this once, on how this is blatantly racist behavior. He defended himself saying that the fans were not racist, that whenever they made monkey noises at one of their players, they did it out of respect and Italians could not be racist. According to him, racism is strictly an American problem. We were drinking heavily during this conversation so maybe I hallucinated the entire thing.

In Italy, when you like someone, you throw bananas at them, right? RIGHT!?!

You know where else you can encounter random acts of racism? Go online and play some multiplayer. Hang out in any random game lobby and some prick will eventually go on some tirade spewing every racial and homophobic slur imaginable. The only difference is that many times these slurs and targeted to anyone and everyone, whether theyíre black or gay, who knows? You can say that these individuals feel emboldened by the anonymity that comes with being online.

I would also like to add that the same types of people who poison game lobbies very often are the ones who grief their own teammates during a game. Instead of just enjoying the game, they want to make it about them. Not too dissimilar to the racist chants at soccer stadiums or someone throwing a banana onto a field.



Just like racist hooligans at a sporting event, the racist gamers lurking in multiplayer ruin the experience for everyone, however you can always mute them, then seek them out in the game and take them out. I wouldnít suggest doing that to some asshole fan in real life, unless you want to get arrested.

So what is one to do with the griefers, racists and generally the assholes that you find online? Personally, I mute them pretty much automatically and eventually block them so that I never have to encounter them again. Not too different to what I do with the assholes that I encounter in real life actually. Iíd rather tune people out or avoid them than getting into a argument that can escalate into something stupid. For whatever reason, I also rarely report people for bad behavior, both online and in real life situations with hooligans and racists. My hope is that someone else will do it. I would rather not get involved.

As I got older, Iíd rather avoid conflict whenever possible. Unless someone is attacking me or my family, Iíll let someone else get involved. My days of scuffling are over.

So how do you guys deal with assholes, both virtually and in real life? Do you tune them out and give them a disapproving glare, like me, do you say something, report them, or go in with your dukes up, like an old timey boxer?

Let me know in the comments.

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Itís hard to trying to pigeonhole what industry the videogame most closely resembles. I personally hate comparing videogames to any other industry since the videogame industry is so unique in its own right. The general consensus, however is that the film industry has the most in common with the videogame industry and thatís a fair assessment I suppose. One could even say that the videogame has been trying to emulate Hollywood in terms of how to develop and market games, especially when it comes to blockbuster titles.

Comparing Hollywood blockbusters and videogame blockbusters is not that far fetched. One just needs to take a look at what type of films do the best and compare them to the type of games that fly off the shelves. Hollywood loves the big budget summer action movies and holiday fantasy flicks. In turn, the gaming industry loves shooters, action and fantasy RPGs, many of which have budgets that rival and even surpass the films that they are trying to emulate. However, the type of films that win Oscars are usually more subdued. The videogame industry puts its big budget blockbusters on a pedestal, but a shift may just be starting to occur.

There is one type of film that videogames rarely try emulate, and that is the emotional tearjerker. Yes, there were games that may have had moments that made you misty eyed, but it has never been the actual premise of the game, until now that is.


The tearjerker chick flick is still years off though.

Take a movie like Schindlerís List, Terms of Endearment, or even Toy Story 3. I would reckon that the goal of these movies is to provoke some deep thought and turn one into a blubbering, sobbing idiot before the end credits roll. Games havenít done a very good job of at getting this response. Games are great at getting our adrenaline pumping in shooters, or contemplating deep issues in some RPGs, but getting one to cry? Not so much. That Dragon, Cancer an independent title being developed by Ryan Green as well as Valiant Hearts from Ubisoft, could very well be two titles that could change the way games are perceived and add a new genre to the industry, the poignant tearjerker.

That Dragon, Cancer, is the story of Ryan Green and son Joel, who was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of cancer. Green, a veteran programmer, who has worked in the videogame industry for many years, found a release by developing a very special type of game.


Image from That Dragon, Cancer

You are in Greenís shoes, as a father, caring for his son, as he battles the disease. In essence, a point and click game with an interesting art style, the goal is to make Joel comfortable during chemotherapy treatments, get him to eat and drink, play with him, or simply distract him to take his mind off the pain. Goals are not always clear-cut and sometimes the only way to proceed is to stop and pray. Youíll experience the highs as well as the extreme lows that the Green family felt, in a way that a film could not due to it being interactive. Simply put, this is a special game. One could say that this is a major departure for games. Youíre not defeating terrorism, slaying a monster, saving the galaxy, or rescuing a princess, you are simply caring for your son. Whatís the ultimate goal? Simply put, there isnít one. Just like life, itís day to day.

This may be tough to swallow for some gamers for a multitude of reasons. Games are supposed to be an escape from reality. Itís an opportunity for one to take a break from the mundane day-to-day life and be a hero. Thereís also the question of religion, which is an integral part of this game, which many folks may be turned off by. Even if you are religious, you may not want to play a game with religious overtones, and that is understandable.

Personally, That Dragon, Cancer is a game that I have decided not to play and it has nothing to do with religion or not having enough action, but because Iím a father myself, and this game would just be too painful to play, most likely turning me turning into a blubbering, hysterical wreck. Having kids will do that to you.

Not to sound clichť, but when I became a dad, and held my daughter for the first time, in the delivery room, you come to a realization that everything has changed. Iím not talking about free time, sleep, money or any other trivial bullshit, but rather where you put yourself, personally, in the grand scheme of things. As I held, my slimy and screaming daughter for the first time, her well-being and happiness became tantamount to everything else. As I held her, I thought to myself, I will give you everything that I have to ensure you are safe, even if it is my own life. Yes, I know, HOW MELODRAMATIC! Yet, thatís the truth.

I could point out a few instances where my daughter has hurt herself. As she wailed and cried, I would hold her trying to calm her down and pray for her pain to go away. A part of me would even pray for her pain to leave and enter me, so I could bare it for her, just like in Cocoon Part 2, starring Wilford Brilmley of ďI have DIABEETUSĒ and Quaker Oats commercials, where an old dude takes his wifeís cancer and then dies at her bedside.


DIABEETUS!

One day, while my wife had a late night at work, I had my daughter all to myself. She just started walking recently and was wobbling around the house. I encouraged her to walk and play, as I was a proud papa. BEHOLD! THE FRUIT OF MY LOINS WALKS!

I took my eyes off her just for a moment, she tripped and face planted right into the hardwood floor. She began screaming bloody murder. I picked her up, trying to soothe her and realized that she had the slightest cut on her lip and she was bleeding. That sight made me feel as if someone stabbed me right in the gut with a red-hot ice pick. ďIíM A SHITTY FATHER!Ē I thought to myself.

I got her an ice pack and rocked her back and forth until she finally started to calm down. As I carried her around the house trying to soothe her, I passed by a mirror and noticed that my eyes were all welled up with tears. Seeing my own flesh and blood in distress made me, a grown man, into a teary eyed idiot. I turned into a massive pussy.

This simple accident, in the grand scheme of things was nothing. Kids are going to fall and hurt themselves. Thatís a part of life, and yet, as a parent, you do all that you can to protect them, and when you fail, you feel like a shitty parent. With that said, I could not fathom what Ryan Green went through caring for his son.

Since we have already concluded that when it comes to my kid and really, anyoneís kids, Iím a massive pussy, so Iím going to pass in playing That Dragon, Cancer. I hope that many others give it a shot and give this game some much needed attention. I think it is very brave for Green to share such a hard time of his life through the medium of videogames. I hope that people take it seriously and the media looks at this as an example of a mature, poignant game that has nothing to do with violence, but rather the human spirit.


The Green Family

Sadly, Joel Green lost his battle with cancer on March 13, 2014. He was 5-years-old. His spirit will live on though, through his parents and siblings, and through his game. That Dragon, Cancer is planned to be released on the Ouya microconsole first and hopefully followed by releases on other platforms later. A documentary is also in the works detailing the development of the game.

To read more about That Dragon, Cancer, please go to game's blog here. Itís a good read and well worth your time.
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The Oculus Rift is going to be the beeís knees. Itís going to revolutionize the industry and change the way that we play games, FOREVER. Why, in fifty years, our children and grand children are going to look back a how positively cavemanish we were, playing videogames, on a TV, like and animal.

I would like to let you in a little secret though, and tell you that virtual reality is nothing new. It has been done before in videogames, all of them spectacular failures, mind you, however, maybe Oculus has found a way to break through and create something that will change how we play games. Time surely will tell. In the meantime, letís take a stroll down memory lane and dig up some of the more embarrassing moments of virtual reality technology. Itíll be like the time your parents broke out the baby pictures of you in the bath, showing them to you boyfriend/girlfriend. How delightfully embarrassing!

Virtual Reality wasnít the sexy Scarlett Johansenesc (Brad Pittish for the ladies out there) beast it is today. In its infancy, it was cute, but like all babies, useless, and will likely you give you headache and regret the decision for not pulling out when you had the chance. (I KID! I KID!...... but seriously).

SegaScope 3D for the Sega Master System, 1985



The SegaScope 3D was the cute, infancy stage of home 3D technology. Sure, it wasnít true virtual reality, but it was the first time for many gamers to play games in 3D at home.

The SegaScope 3D was an interesting concept, but boy was this thing hunk of shit. First things first, the glasses looked like a pair of ďfit-over glasses.Ē These are the glasses that old people in Florida wear, who are too cheap to buy prescription sunglasses. So they buy enormous fit-over glasses that go over their regular reading glasses that they purchased from Sears Optical. Did Sega just happen upon some surplus granny glasses and decided to use it as the base for their 3D glasses? Iím going to say, with out a shadow of doubt that the answer to that is YES! (Iím probably wrong.)



One did not look cool wearing this device and this is an ongoing issue with any type of wearable tech. You will look like an asshole. This is particularly true for any type of technology that you wear on your face, but especially for the SegaScope 3D. Donning these things made you look like an octogenarian sitting by the shuffleboard courts at the Del Boca Vista active adult retirement community in Boca Raton Florida. Not a good lookÖ trust me.

I got a pair of SegaScope 3D glasses for my Master System one year for Christmas along with a copy of Zaxxon 3D. Boy was excited when I ripped the wrapping paper off and witnessed this futuristic bit of technology. It did not take me long to be disappointed.

I recall that the glasses needed to be connected to the console via the front facing card slot. The cable, which was just a simple headphone style plug, was relatively short, so you would have to be seated close to the TV. By connecting to the console, the glasses strobed from lens to lens, giving a primitive 3D effect to what was on the screen.



The strobing allowed me to encounter for the first time, the splendor of migraine headaches. Not to mention, Zaxxon 3D sucked, along with the handful of other 3D games Sega put out, which I didnít even bother playing.

Lastly, these glasses were cheaply made. To my horror, one of the arms (is that what theyíre called?) broke. My father was able to fix it with duct tape, because of course he fixed it with duct tape. Heís a dad and thatís what dadsí do, fix things with duct tape.

Nintendo Virtual Boy, 1995



If the SegaScope 3D was the infancy stage of 3D and virtual reality, then the Virtual Boy would have been the awkward early teen years. What a fantastic time! Youíre becoming a man or a young lady. You have some serious hormones pumping through your veins. The slightest, most innocent thing reminds you of sex. Too bad your complexion is eerily close to an overcooked pizza, your voice cracks uncontrollably, and your body is growing in rapid spurts, making you an uncoordinated goofy mess. God luck getting some stink on your hag down in that condition champ.

The Virtual Boy did have something going for it though, and that was the genius and pedigree of esteemed Nintendo engineer Gunpei Yokoi, the inventor of the Gameboy. Unfortunately for Nintendo and Yokoi, the Virtual Boy was a disaster.

I remember the hype leading up the release of the Virtual Boy vividly. It was touted as a 32-bit, virtual reality, 3D capable, ďportableĒ system. Notice what I did there, putting ďportableĒ in quotation marks? Because itís ďportableĒ, in the same way as a 19-inch TV is portable, in that I can disconnect it from its original location, carry it somewhere else, and then plug it in and watch it, in that new location.



The system had another flaw, in that it could only display shades of red, forgoing color to minimize cost. Nintendo promised that the Virtual Boy would ďimmerse players into their own private universe.Ē I guess that would be true, if your private universe was some sort of surreal existential nightmare where color ceases to exist and is replaced with varying shades of red and black.



The Virtual Boy was a commercial failure. The high price, lack of quality games, the fact that it gave people headaches, dizziness, and nausea after extended use didnít help much either. It also wasnít true Virtual Reality, as critics complained that it did not have head tracking. Gameplay was essentially 3D on 2D plain.

The saddest thing about the Virtual Boy is the unsubstantiated rumor that Nintendo laid the blame of systemís failure on its creator, Gunpei Yokoi. The Virtual Boy was discontinued in late 1995 in Japan and in early 1996 in the U.S. Yokoiís last project, before leaving Nintendo after a 31-year career there was the iconic Gameboy Pocket.

After leaving Nintendo, Yokoi-san joined Bandai, where he created a rival handheld, called the Wonderswan. Various iterations sold modestly in Japan, but were never able to gain sufficient traction and were totally outclassed by the Gameboy brand.

Sadly, in October 4, 1997, Gunpei Yokoi was killed in an auto accident.

Atari Jaguar VR Headset, 1995 / Never Released



The Atari Jaguar 3D can be best described as that awkward time in your life after high school, where your not quite sure which niche you belong to. This is different for everyone, but I imagine the Jaguar VR as that Goth kid at the mall. At some point, he decided to dye his hair black, put on ďguy-linerĒ, took up smoking cloves cigarettes, began writing really dark poetry, and started listening to the Cure. Heís confused, just trying to experiment, and itís just a phase that heíll grow out of.



For the record, the Jaguar VR Headset never saw the light of day. It was vaporware in the truest sense of the term. Units were shown off at trade shows, but they were just a rebranded unit from a VR company whose name totally escapes me and research online is coming up empty, so fuck it, just take my word for it.

Atari, who was getting its ass kicked in the mid nineties from Sega and Nintendo, tried to shake things up and drum up interest in the fledgling Jaguar by announcing the VR headset. Atari originally planned two types of units, a ďblue and greyĒ high-resolution model and the ďblack and redĒ low resolution. The only game playable at tradeshows on prototype equipment was Missile Command 3D.

In 1996, when Atari merged with JTS, the project was canned, and most of the prototypes were destroyed. Two units did survive however, and came up on eBay in January 2013. The starting bid was $14,500. Not sure if anyone actually bid on the damn things. Waste of money if you ask me. Buy some coke and hookers, youíll have a much better time and wonít regret the decision as much a day later.

The Future



VR is now taking another stab at infiltrating the home. We have not one, not two, but three companies vowing to make affordable and technically impressive VR for the home a reality. Oculus, Sony, and now Samsung are going to go head to head with their respective headsets. I wouldnít be surprised if Microsoft decides to join the fray as well. More competition usually means a better product. Hopefully, this is virtual realityís chance as a technology to mature, into a voluptuous, wise, and adventurous cougar of a lady, ala Sofia Vergara (George Clooney for the ladies). No longer awkward and odd, but sophisticated.

No if only they can make people not look like complete assholes when wearing the tech, then we can all be happy campers.
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