In 1996, the original Tomb Raider was released. I first went on an expedition with Ms. Croft shortly after the game's initial release while at my uncle's house. Like any young girl, I was captivated by Lara's bravery and strength. I may not have had oppressed thoughts at the age of seven but I had already sadly grown to accept a lack of female leads. Lara was not only first character to give my younger self a chance to feel like an independent woman who didn't need no man, but she planted the seeds of inspiration. As a young aristocrat, she held a sense of enchanting elegance that blended fantastically well with her inquisitive mind and strength. She was beautiful, acrobatic, intelligent, British, and desirable. While men wanted to be with her, I wanted to be her. (The fact that she happened to also be a brown-eyed brunette only fueled that aspiration to become a extraordinary woman such as her.) I use to get in trouble for jumping on furniture in the living room when I tried to practice rock climbing; when I visited Mayan ruins in middle school, I made sure to wear khaki shorts and a light blue tank top.
Then I grew up and I realized something: She is kind of a bitch.
Lara Croft might have been an autonomous woman but her character was rather bland when you truthfully analyze her. In essence, she was nothing more than a cold-blooded gold digger. She was an archeologist who did not hesitate to slaughter any who stood between her and the treasure she so desperately wanted. Not because if these artifacts fell into the wrong hands the world would be put into peril, but because she wanted money. Suddenly our beloved heroine does not seem so admirable, now does she?
Her origin story morphed over time from game to game before recently settling on her wishes to discover the truth behind her mother's disappearance. (Defined in Tomb Raider: Legends and in [/i]Tomb Raider: Underworld[/i]) Recent Lara has somewhat broken away from just a girl who wants a lot of money into a woman searching for answers. However, the new reboot is out to set her early past straight and personally, I think it is for the better.
The new reboot is taking Lara Croft back to her roots. Players will get to experience the early years of her life as she endures the hardships of her first adventure. The development team wanted to focus on turning her more human. Not only has she physically been toned down to more realistic proportions, but she has also lost her confident heroism personality - which is causing an outcry from the gaming community.
In the trailer shown at the passing E3, we are given a glimpse at the life threatening obstructions the young Lara must endure physically and emotionally. We idly watch as she is bruised and bloodied before our very eyes as she stumbles and struggles to survive. Quietly, she pleads for help as she stares vacantly into the flames and growing darkness that surrounds her. Then whispers a soft "sorry" before butchering a deer for food. She is lost, confused, and shows little signs of her strength that we had grown to know. Many took offense to the less harsher Lara but I feel it is a necessary step into defining her as a character.
We cannot forget that this is a re-imaging of the very beginning. Her hesitance to want to kill is reasonable. For the most part, she has lived a sheltered life; or at least we can assume based on the collection of personal information the game manuals have offered over the years. According to her array of childhood tales, she spent most of her youthful years in private boarding schools including a Swiss finishing school. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a finishing school is a private institute that does not expand upon knowledge but instead, focuses on defining etiquette and social education. Their purpose to is to mold young women into proper ladies for marriage. In other words, Lara Croft was suppose to be a delicate flower meant to sit quietly and raise a family. Then the plane crash occurred, and our story begins.
Her skills are far from defined because she is inexperienced. Having grown in an upper-class environment, she would have had no need for the skills she would acquire later in life. Therefore is it perfectly within reason that she is struggling as hard as she is. No one seemed to have complained about the flustered way Nathan Drake leaped from ledge to ledge with his arms flailing. Yet, it seems that it is unacceptable to have Ms. Croft follow a similar suit. It is understandable the gaming community has grown to admire the graceful way she soars as it adds onto her estimable image, but her latent abilities deepens her overall. She now goes from being a tyro to a connoisseur while both her development and the series progress making her seem more realistic and interesting than instantly being a badass. After all, this is how she was.
(Tomb Raider manual, page 5)
According to the first game's manual, she had to "learn to depend on her wits to stay alive in hostile conditions away from her sheltered upbringing". This is exactly what the reboot is letting us witness. Not only is she being pushed to her limit but everything she knew is crashing down around her.
The gaming community has begun to throw a fit over a weaker Lara but Crystal Dynamics is truly capturing the image of a young girl who has lost everything. Her reactions and feelings make her feel human; she feels defeated because she is which is what I would believe anyone would feel in such a situation. However, do not go giving up on Ms. Croft just yet. She may come off as softer than we like but in reality, she still is as strong and as brave. Even after the crash and losing her friends, Lara does not just curl up on a cave and cry herself to sleep every night. She pulls herself together and begins evolving.
When analyzing the trailer, we can see moments that start to define her trademark personality. At a minute and fifty seconds when Sam is captured, Lara does not immediately fall to her knees to beg for her friend to be freed. She threatens the man with her bow only to fail by her own stupidity. The trailer shifts to her being captured along with the rest of her crew. Even with her hands tied behind her back, Lara continues onward before finally becoming more of her "older self". She has a brief moment of doubt before realizing that she has the power to survive. The rest of the trailer is full of adrenaline filled action. Her hesitance depletes as she fights back hard and strong, progressing her to badass self eight years later. She emotionally and physical grows the way any human being would.
(Don't f*ck with her friends.)
"After crafting the biography, our goal was to make her as believable and relatable as possible," Brian Horton, senior art director of Crystal Dynamics, told GameInformer last January. "We wanted to make a girl that felt familiar, but still has a special quality about her. Something about the way her eyes look and the expression on her face makes you want to care for her. That was our number one goal. We wanted to have empathy for Lara, and at the same time show the inner strength that made clear she was going to become a hero."
Crystal Dynamics has done a phenomenal at creating a believable, likable heroine. Having felt a connection to a character before, I admire their desire to want to make us feel something for Lara. It recalls my days of playing through Indigo Prophecy and feeling a heavy sense of sympathy for Lucas as he struggled with his torment to the point of purposely throwing Tyler and Carla off his trail to protect him. (Of course my decisions did not matter. Thank, David Cage!) You know a character is well developed when you have an emotional attachment to him or her but their work has been overshadowed by wrongful accusations both from the community and even their own executive director.
In an interview with Kotaku, Ron Rosenberg ruined Lara's new image by wrongfully describing her and their motives. Rather than supporting their beautifully crafted new vision for Lara, he gives off the impression that the reason why we should care for Lara has nothing to do with legitimate compassion but simply because she is a woman. "When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character," he states. He then slips up and mentions an attempted rape scene:
Rosenberg: "And then what happens is her best friend gets kidnapped, she gets taken prisoner by scavengers on the island. They try to rape her, and-"
Kotaku: "They try to rape her?"
Rosenberg: "She's literally turned into a cornered animal. And that's a huge step in her evolution: she's either forced to fight back or die and that's what we're showing today." (Kotaku)
("Attempted" rape scene)
Darrell Gallagher, the game's lead designer, quickly denies the attempted rape scene (which can be viewed at two minutes and nine seconds) by explaining that its intention was not to highlight or glorify sexual assault but to deepen the dramatic tone of the game. "This is where Lara is forced to kill another human being for the first time," Gallagher explains. "In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly. Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."
The scene goes no farther than a scavenger rolling his hand down Lara's side before aggressively shoving her against a wall, upon which she bites his ear off, kicks him to the ground, and breaks free. All of which flow in a way that feels natural for the situation and setting. It is not like Lara was sleeping soundly in her bedroom when a man burst through her door and violently pounded her in a safe setting.
I am no supporter of using sexual assaults or rape in media for the sake of painting a grimmer picture, but we have to admit that every once in awhile someone is going to attempt it. The content is rather risky to use but w I feel that despite accusations, Crystal Dynamics has remained tasteful with addressing a serious theme which, they promise, we never see again in the game.
Regardless of the dark image that has spawned from this thirty second of video, I hope people realize that it's an incredibly small part of the game that does little to hold Lara back. So why should we let it holds us back from welcoming this more realistic woman into our hearts and our systems?
(Think Lara is still weak and helpless? Just wait till she burns down your house and jungle, then walks away.)
I come to you today not just as a blogger, but as a friend searching for guidance. Earlier in the year, I replied to a previous Blogger's Wanted regarding resolutions for the year. June is almost to its end and I have realized that I am nowhere near where I wanted to be by the middle of the year. Living on my own and working a full-time job has proven to make it extremely difficult to pursue my desire to become a professional journalist. It has proven to become harder to break into the gaming industry than I expected. While I was aware it would be a difficult, but the struggle is beginning to discourage my ambition. The passion remains but the flame has begun to dim; the desire to be dedicated exists but I have found myself in an endless loop of fallbacks.
I wanted to be consecutive with my work. I wanted to have an established series by now and had plans to finish a book regarding some life experiences by the year's end. However, my memoirs have consistently been ignored in favor of other things. PAX East was a disaster on my part. I was completely unprepared for the workload that came along with it. I failed miserable to actively engaging with public relations representatives when I had opportunities. Meetings were not scheduled; a majority of my time was wasted mindless wandering the show floor captivated by the intoxicating sensation of being there, but I did not live up to the expectations I promised and I did no E3 coverage due to personal engagements. A part of me feels I do not deserve the title of "journalist" or even be allowed to continue to have the opportunities I do.
Balancing time has become the hardest part of the job. Five days of the week are almost solely dedicated to work. Regardless of the time my shift begins and ends, nearly ten hours of the day are taken up with work and driving time. This does not include time that is chipped away to do daily necessities such as cooking, housework, and needed shopping. Even on my days off, I find my time being split between my social life and housework with little time to indulge in recreational pastimes.
Gaming normally takes a backseat as it falls on my list of priorities. I have fallen victim to laziness so to say. While gaming consists of nothing more than sitting on a couch and pressing buttons on a controller or keyboard/mouse, my mind wanders to the long list of other activities I could be doing instead. Almost as if playing a game has become a waste as I could be doing something more productive, like writing. Thus this is where the burdening cycle begins...As a gaming journalist, I need to game in order to have material to write about. Gaming is still a hobby I greatly enjoy but I feel as if I do not have the time to engross myself into a quest or epic adventure. The want to spend hours in front of a screen are there. These hours need to happen in order to continue my career. I cannot write a review without completing or at least putting a significant amount of time into them. It is hard to start detailed editorials without much experience or exposure to fresh subjects.
One of my biggest problems, however, is just trying to figure out the right engaging topic to write about to begin with. Anyone can put their opinions on paper but only original thoughts get noticed. Even with the bi-weekly Blogger's Wanted posts, I have a very hard time making myself stand out. I have plenty to say, but the issue that arises is keeping myself focused enough to complete a piece of work. Between juggling household duties, work, social life, and the need to play games to even have something to write about has become a challenge.
More times than none, my drive to write spikes at times when I am unable to sit down and actual put a few thoughts onto paper. Ideas for articles will come to me either late at night when in bed or while I am stuck in the middle of my day job's shift. By the time I get home or have fulfilled my responsibilities, the motivation has faded away. I find myself staring at a blank Word document for awhile before either A) giving up or B) getting distracted with other things before forgetting my train of thought. I have tried using voice recognition software to record thoughts while I worked on other things around the house, and have tried investing in a voice recorder to mention a few notes. Yet, even with a nice outline, it becomes ridiculously challenging to translate my thoughts into a structured works.
I try to remain elaborate and ardent regarding my thoughts but I feel like my work has never really taken off. Throughout the years, I have seen Anthony Burch leave Destructoid to follow a career with Gear Box. I have seen Jim Sterling's podcasts, articles, and videos explode in popularity. I watched as Yahtzee become a household name. So other than not being either a declamatory orator or an angry man with a British heritage, I cannot help but question what I am doing wrong.
What does it take to get noticed in the exhausted field of online gaming journalism?
Adam Sessler had told me at this past PAX East that videos were the best way to get your face out to the public but where does one begin? Youtube is saturated with plenty of video blogs of people doing video game reviews or complaining about the industry. Naturally, I do not want my voice to be drowned out by the internet blather that plagues our browsers. So what can I do to get my career started?
I have briefly spoken to Spencer about Streamtoid. For those who do not know its history, it was another unproductive project of mine from last summer that remained unsuccessful under my management. I am honored that he picked it up. It is thrilling to see the idea thriving. Although, I cannot help but feel disappointed in myself for I should have filled its lifeless corpse with life. Naturally, he has offered to let me have a spot on its programming but what in the world do I do? And when I already feel like I am drowning due to lack of time, how do I keep up with a regular schedule?
So now I come to you. My fellow gamers, my readers, and writers alike to ask for help on freeing the blockage that seems to have formed. I am searching for help in tapping into the well of inspiration in order to get creativity flowing again. How can I overcome these obstacles and prevent myself from being a failure before I even get my feet off the ground?
The Big Bang Theory has been a tolerate/hate relationship with me. Like eating Taco Bell at two in the morning, it is something that is best avoided but for one reason or another I give into its delicious, crusty siren calls. I originally started watching it sometime after season two started after being told to give it a try. I am one of those people that I do not feel like I can build a proper opinion regarding something unless I've experienced it. So I gave it a shot. The first two seasons were nauseating to sit through. Overwhelming stereotypes were forced down viewers' throats tainting any possibility of it being enjoyable. However, going into season three the characters started to develop slightly better personalities; acting more like actual people with conflicting complexities instead of just being the "awkward, nerdy" guy or the "super smart but stupid" guy. Even though the geeky jokes are very forced and mainstreamed, the science humor added a slight bit of charm that started to appear which led me to watch through it the fourth season until it went downhill again. Nonetheless, I had invested enough time into it to keep going. It soon became the thing I watched when bored and sleep deprived.
Normally it takes quite a bit to offend me, but the latest episode of Big Bang Theory rubbed me the wrong way. In "The Weekend Vortex", Raj suggests that the men partake in an forty-eight hour gaming marathon playing The Old Republic. The idea of an 'all guys' weekend mixed with Star Wars instantly catches everyone's attention but drama develops when everyone's relationships begin to clash with their plans. The weekend is turned into a girls vs guy battle after Sheldon bails on his commitment to Amy to accompany her to her aunt's birthday party. She spreads her hurt feelings to Penny who helps her crash the guys' weekend as revenge and to set Sheldon straight.
On top of that, Bernadette invades the guys game by tagging along with Howard. She comes over with him with a bright pink laptop and begins to fill the "cute but clueless girl gamer" role. (Clip) While playing the game, we see her making gun shapes with her hands and going pewpewpew before being corrected to use your mouse and keyboard. She banters Howard into dressing like her character so they match to display that they're together in the game and refuses to heal the other members of the party except for him. Ultimately she begins to frustrate the guys by disturbing their questing due to failure. Tension rises as neither Raj, Sheldon, or Leonard want to speak up against her lovey-dovey attitude towards her fiancé nor want to risk hurting her feelings but the irritation is clearly seen on their faces and in their silence.
"The Weekend Vortex" was an eye opener. It made me realize that a demographic being overlooked - the average nerdy girl. Let's take a closer look at the three main female characters in the show, shall we?
Penny is the "hot chick"; this is something that cannot be denied. She's your average person scrapping by to make a living. Not really intelligent or into nerdy hobbies like the rest of the cast, her role is add a bit of sexy spice to the mix and make up for everyone else's lack of social skills. Bernadette is the "attractive, smart chick" whose character pushes borderline-feminist ideals without being overly bold about them. Throughout the series, she obtains her doctrine in microbiology yet has a healthy sex life as well as being pretty. Her career becomes very successful, leading to the development of the strong, modern day woman archetype. She expresses a disliking for children and fears losing her career to becoming a house wife before proposing that Howard takes care of the children as she works; after all, she already makes more money than he does. Her character becomes an example of how a woman can be both smart and beautiful while also keeping a sense of independence. Then we have Amy who is the "bland, smart chick". With a doctrine in neurobiology, she is the least attractive of the three main female characters and is portrayed to be the most pathetic of the bunch. Having very little physical relationships in her life and bullied while growing up, she's the quiet shy girl that no one really talked to who becomes overly clinging and sensitive towards those around her. Personality wise, she's just as socially awkward and strange as Sheldon, thus balancing out the attractive factor that the other two already established in the show.
I appreciate that Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady have managed to steer away from just having eye candy on the show, but I cannot shake the feeling that both are horrible at writing and developing female characters. The scene of Bernadette playing Old Republic with the guys left a distasteful flavor in my mouth. It fed into the negative stereotypes that women who do play games either start to play to bond with their boyfriends or are impractical players. The floral, pink laptop was cringe worth enough but her actions throughout the scene only made it worse. As a woman who has faced some harassment for liking nerdy things, having a show promote stereotypes like this isn't helping to improve the female community's image while empowering the male half.
I understand that the premise of the episode was to display the consequences that can follow contradictions that rise when trying to balance a romantic life with a social life. However, like the promo for the episode says, "There's just one problem...The girlfriend." Again, while this is the episodes theme, there have been quite a few occasions throughout the series where "the girlfriend" has come between the man and what he wants. Such as how Bernadette opposed against Howard working on the space station despite it being his life long dream to go to space or constant interferences from Penny with Leonard's other relationships. The show may focus mainly on the main four guys and Penny, but the other two female leads have grown to take bigger parts in the plot. However, the is little to no individuality to them.
It also does not help that none of the women hold any interest in geek-like hobbies. They three always get together to partake in drinking, gossip, and shopping despite having some knowledge about video games, comic books, and science fiction media. In fact, they all seem pretty disgusted by it.
For awhile in the earlier season, we saw Penny become addicted to Age of Conan and beat one of the guys in a game of Halo 3, but her accepting/liking of video games quickly vanishes from the series. She tries to learn a bit about the things Leonard enjoys to be appealing and interested to him, and at times, will make a nerdy reference but she still shows plenty of confusion regarding it. Neither Bernadette or Amy really express interest either, often getting things like Star Trek and Star Wars mixed up or being displeased with their boyfriends' "childish" hobbies and behaviors. For a show that tries to glorify science and make nerds look cool, I find it incredibly hard to believe that that is no female character that likes video games, comics, and science fiction. A few minor characters have popped up here and there but none have been well written or reoccurring.
I do not understand why some geeky traits have not been sprinkled on any of the main female cast. Especially with Penny already having a small background in technological entertainment, they could easily write it in that she picks up gaming as a side hobby even if she played alone. She is a bit of a tomboy so the concept would be rather fitting for her without risking taking her out of character. Plus, with her already displaying some level of skill in earlier episodes, we could see a positive, female geek over the shameful character they have created with Bernadette. Now, it could be argued that maybe they will eventually include a girl who is more like "one of the guys" later in the series. One that Raj could eventually grow comfortable enough around to speak to due to her nerdy habits but at this point, I do not have faith in Lorre or Prady to be that clever and write her all.
Because have you noticed the other reoccurring pattern regarding the female characters...?
All of them are "girlfriends". Each and every lead character that has been a woman was introduced to the show for the sole purpose of being matched up to another character, even if their relationship spanned over a few episodes. I do not mean to write the show off as being sexist because I do not exactly see it in such a way. Relationships always add more to the plot and naturally do occur when people who share similar interests, life styles, and ideals mix. It adds a sense of realism to the storyline but the way The Big Bang Theory has done it has been poor character development. In the very first episode, Leonard had already established a hollow infatuation with Penny to the point of offering to help her retrieve some properly from her ex just based on speaking to her for a few minutes. Bernadette was introduced to the show by being a selected friend of Penny's to go on a date with Howard due to the girlfriend pact: an agreement Penny would set him up with one of his friends. This eventually blooms into their relationship leading up to their engagement. Finally, Amy is introduced by flat out being matched up to Sheldon after Raj and Howard make a fake profile for him on a dating site.
Though of course the train does not stop there. A few other reoccurring women in the series were also implemented into the plot for little reason other than to complicate relationships and add sexual tension. Leslie Winkle (a rival of Sheldon's at the university) only appeared in a total of eight episodes and grew notorious for casual sex between Leonard and Howard before being written off from the show. Priya Koothrappali (Raj's sister) is yet another character whose traits center around an active relationship with another. Filling the shoes as the "uppity, rich bitch", she seems to hold little value to her relationship with Leonard as she hides it from her family and cheats on him after relocating back to India. Finally, there was Dr. Stephanie Barnette; a surgical doctor that Leonard had a brief, semi-serious relationship with. She was written as a date Howard was trying to impress but felt a stronger connection to his friend instead. In an interview, Prady admits that she was "a chance for Leonard to learn that just because someone loves you, doesn't mean you'll love them back" but nothing more.
I cannot help but feel somewhat insulted by all of this. Not only does my niche in the community not seem to be noticeable, but apparently woman are only good for making our male counterparts not lonely. While I do not feel that show is intentionally sexist, I do feel that there is plenty of room for the women of The Big Bang Theory to grow, especially in the geeky department. Poor writing choices have led to rather disappointing evolution of the characters. I do understand that not all scientists or doctors enjoy technology and science fiction hobbies, but this is a sitcom about scientists who do enjoy those things. Why can't we have a woman be like that, too?
Disclaimer: (Yeah, late again as usual but oh well...)The first part of this article may start off non-game related, but I promise it is relevant to the topic. Just bear with me for this the best example I could provide for my point.
Also, I am going to be doing like I did when I wrote about the Chzo Mythos series by providing a link to an image that farther describes what I have to say without risking unintentionally spoiling anything. So please, do not read the links if you have any intention of playing or watching what I am speaking of.
Thank you, and you may now continue with your reading. Anyway...
Have you ever seen To the Ends of the Earth? No? Well, I am not surprised so allow me to tell you a tad about it, and spoil it. It was a mini-series consisting of only three episodes that aired in 2005 and is based on the book trilogy of the same title. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, it tells the tale of a young aristocrat's voyage from England to Australia in 1812. We can assume that as an aristocrat, Edmund lived a fairly sheltered life but was exposed to a more colorful scene as he is socially forced to interact with his fellow shipmates. His ignorance slowly fades away as we witness a young man grow mentally and emotionally through hardships and others' perspectives.
Half way through the series, the ship ends up encountering a second ship upon which the two spend a night mingling in celebration of the end of the war. During the party, our fine young gentleman meets a lovely young girl who he almost instantly falls in love with. He tries to convince her to travel to Australia with him but she refuses as she cannot go against the wills of her elders. The two are separated when the ships part, leaving Edmund heartbroken but learning to accept that life moves on despite his brooding over faith in love.
After surviving all the struggles of the journey, he begins to settle in Australia which opens a new chapter to his ever growing life. Edmund is forced to face new challenges as friendships are severed from social statuses, leaving him alone with what could have potentially led to him realizing he needs to let go of his dependency and become a real man. However...
Just as Mindy from the network said: I am not happy with happy.
To the Ends of the Earth was a bit of an eye opener for me. My realization of how upset I was over a sweet, romantic closure to such a bleak set up, I took some time to think about my favorite games upon which I discovered a rather interesting (perhaps disturbing) pattern about them. In Resident Evil... Amatersu cleansed the world once again but... Persona 3 ended with you.... Then in Trilby's Notes...And do I even need to speak about Metal Gear Solid 3?!
In other words...I discovered that the games that stuck with me the most were ones involving bittersweet endings where the protagonist was put into dreadful peril upon which they only overcame by great sacrifice or ultimately resulted in their own death. Turning a character into a justifiable martyr is a delicate, difficult process. If the character is placed into danger with the sole reason only to add a tad bit of dread to the plot, the worrisome connection the player has towards the character can be lost.
For example, let's take a brief look at L.A Noire...Throughout the whole game we see Cole Phelps work to create a solid career for himself- working his way up from a standard cop to being an successful detective on Vice. Half way through the game...
Being filled with dread while watching a character you like struggle is far more thrilling than seeing them in a peaceful environment. Conflict gets adrenaline pumping, putting the player on edge and keeping attention locked on the situation occurring before them. The battle does not just involve the character, but it also involves the player as well, making the two work together to overcome the crisis together. You feel the character's pain and suffer together thus strengthening the invisible bond between the two but what happens when the fight ends?
With happy endings, the story just stops dead in its tracks. All loose ends are tied together and little is left to the imagination regarding how the character lives out the rest of his or her life. Though it feels almost too much like cliché; a forced moment of unrealistic harmony just to make the player feel good as a reward for their hard work but I feel satisfaction can come from more than just serenity. Part of the joy that can be felt after a hardship comes from knowing you survived it. Battle scars become your trophies and a greater sense of respect rises from a character who shows the effects of their suffering.
Darker themes have a stronger impact on you than lighter themes. Melancholic endings carry on within you after the credit rolls because it makes you think a bit by leaving some aspects of the story open for interruption. They keep the connection between yourself and the character active because you both share the same pain; or you suffer the loose of a close friend when the protagonist dies on you. With a happy ending, there is fairly solid closure to the plot. It leaves you with wiping your hands clean and saying, "That is the end of that!". Then you move with no reason to look back because the game gave you no reason to.
Mario can save Princess Peach a hundred times but he will never become as an iconic symbol of heroism as a character like Big Boss... As Mario lives peacefully until the next kidnapping upon which he cheerfully rescues the princess again, Big Boss had to carry the weight of his mission like a real man.
Now you are probably thinking, "But, Steph, the tones and themes are so different between the two. How can you possibly compare them?" Well, my dear reader...That is my point. Joyful tones soon fall into the same reoccurring, predictable pattern. You always know the hero is going to win and that is just boring.
As I glance at the clock on my desktop, I realize that within the next hour the weekly topic for Blogger's Wanted will not matter. However, the fact that I am sitting here preparing to write this is an eye opener. A personal note to myself as proof as to why these resolutions need to be put into effect. Over the years, I have become a tad lazy without actual being lazy - if that statement makes sense. I have shifted into the typical '9 to 5' life style. Forty hours of my week are dedicated to nothing more than working for a living; last year, I broke away from my family to set out on my own and since then, my perspective of priorities has changed. Free time has become a precious treasure as I rarely seem to have it between my shifts, daily routine, and necessary responsibilities that come with being your sole provider. Even tonight, I was home for about an hour or more before I could settle down to do something I wanted to do after coming home from a typical eight hour shift.
I am twenty-two and at the risk of hinting at a mid-mid-life crisis, one fourth of my life is over. (Of course that is based on the assumption I will live till at least eighty.) I am still struggling against the battle of entering college in order to obtain my degree; despite the hardships I am facing regarding finances, I have come to the realization that I can still have promising opportunities that I can focus on as I continue to save up to pay for classes. Some opportunities that could potentially help fund my education. While my mind is cluttered with ideas and things I want to do, I know time is against me but I am making it my goal to try to discover a way to balance everything in my life. Regarding my social life, my relationship, my job, and my schooling as well as my free time...It would appear that video games may need to take a back seat yet, they are still a main driver regarding my hopes for my future career.
Nearly eight years ago (Holy shit...It's been eight years...), we got our first computer and the internet. Eight years ago, I began to build upon my dream of being a video game journalist. My writing was absolutely notorious back then. Full of grammatical errors, poor spelling, vague descriptions, and horrid word choices, though would could be expected from a young teenager. I had started off very unprofessionally by posting reviews on internet forums. Somewhat building a reputation as a reliable, truthful source while my writing technique improved and I slowly began to develop my own style. I avoided scores when I could, going for more of an informative style of review over an opinionated one. To simply put it, I spoke the facts while sprinkling my own views here and there before recommending the game or not based on the reader's taste.
Some of my reviews eventually were published on some very small, lesser known web sites. Not long afterwards, I found myself helping a friend with his web site, while also building my own. Our need for worthwhile content led to me branching away from just reviewing to writing articles. Then almost two years ago, it was suggested to me by a friend that I write on Destructoid's Community Blogs. Needless to say, I was surprised, flattered, and greatly encouraged to continue writing - to continue to improve myself and my work while providing interesting things to say. The two years I have spent here have had a tremendous affect on my desire to follow my dream because I believe I might have a chance. You guys - All of you! - have helped to keep that flame alive.
As a result, a friend of mine referred me to a magazine searching for journalists for their gaming section of their web site. As you can see from the provided image, I was accepted for the job. It is nothing extremely big at the moment. The whole writing staff is still working on developing the gaming aspect of Royal Flush Magazine, but we have ambitions and dreams, with hopes of covering PAX East in April. (Perhaps I will see some of you there.)
So my first resolution of the year is to continue to see this through, to take chances and risks with trying to make a name for myself in the endless seas of internet personalities. This will require me to be stricter with myself when it comes to meeting a deadline. Not only will I need to play a game by a certain date, but I will also need to provide a reasonably informative review along with it. On top of that, I will need to put effort into going to conventions and staying active within the media. I have started my own [url=" http://digitalboondoggle.blogspot.com/"]gaming blog[/url] as a way for me (and those interested) to track my progress, while also keeping myself on track.
Last summer, some of you might remember the short running of Steamtoid - the community ran stream. It started off positively. We had a few good games to play with a solid response from the community users. However, it crashed and burned quickly for a few reasons. The first being that the program I used to host the live streams began to conflict with my laptop. (That has since then been fixed.) The second was just purely bad timing. I was in the process of moving again. As I prepare to begin school again, I know time will be difficult to manage, but I plan on working everything out to where we end up having more than one streamer, like originally planned.
Streamtoid seemed like a fantastic idea on paper. People seemed to enjoy it, and I even received a few candidates for streamers though I selfishly never took the time to put the pieces together. For my second resolution, I plan on making it a reality. Making Streamtoid official is my second resolution for the year. At a later date, we will try it again but make all the needed preparations to make it active and place it on a set schedule.
(The same can be said regarding Project Gforum, the place where my streaming roots are planted. I have turned my back on the first community that pushed me this far. So I am adding it to my list to be more active with them again.)
3. Embracing creativity
Writing has always been a passion of mine, ever since I was young. It was my dream to one day become a published author, to make my mark on the literary world even if it was just a single pen stroke on the ceiling of the Sistin Chapel of fiction. However, situations and incidents throughout life somewhat smothered the burning passion I use to have. The flame died as I grew overly critical of my work; constantly comparing it to the legends and growing discouraged by the overwhelming fear of never being noticed, but hey, if Stephanie Meyer's wet dreams can become best selling works... Then maybe my twisted reality can, too. (Yeah, it will not but oh well.)
This is going to be a challenge for me mainly because I will need to break away from video games in order to chase after this dream. I need to take some time to actual read more in order to better grasp the concepts behind writing fiction. I need to learn to better portray and develop my characters, properly progress the plot, and learn better writing techniques on top of improving my vocabulary while also defining my genre.
For this resolution, I am going to begin by picking up a few self-help writing books and start doing small writing exercises to start practicing my techniques. Even with just writing this I can see many flaws with my wording. I start far too many sentences off with prepositional phrases, there are too many simple sentences, and in the few fictional writings I have done recently, I have noticed a great emptiness with descriptions. I tend to use the same metaphors and similes too often while also falling victim to repeating words. These are all habits I need to break before anything else. Characters and the plot will follow. I have some ideas already in my head including a character I have been working on for the pass six or so months. (I think I am going to use him as my protagonist.) Slowly but surely, I will begin writing again to chase my goal of releasing a collection of short stories that could become a novelette or a novella.
Personally, I would love to be like Ken Levine, coming up with the concepts and being in control of the creative direction of a game or television show or film. In a way, I would prefer that over a published author. The way today is, I feel as I could do more with visuals than I could with words for I am a very visual person. I can paint you a picture with letterings but to see it come to life would be a whole different experience...A whole new dream and one that is certainly up for grabs.
It has been a year since I have had my cello in my hands. Unfortunately when I moved the first time, my instrument could not fit into the two small vehicles that were my transportation for all my belongings. I had to sacrifice it in order to make room for furniture, cooking utensils, and clothing. I still get the urge to play it, especially when listening to string instrument pieces. I have found myself browsing through classified ads searching for a cheap cello to just pick up in order to rebuild fading muscle memory. Today I decided to finally push to get my cello sent to me. I need it...I have to have it.
While my desires for advancing my technical career and improving my writing are going to swallow most of the little free time I have, I miss my cello. I miss the bliss it brought me as I played though after teaching myself the lullaby from Pan's Labyrinth, I have compiled a list of songs I want to somewhat master by the year's end including: Doctor Who theme, the ending credits to Trilby's Notes, and maybe the Ballad of Serenity since I stumbled upon two cellists playing it the other day on the internet.
Ten years ago, Nintendo released a little purple box into the gaming market. The charming playfulness was more than alluring to twelve-year old me. For over a year, Nintendo tempted and teased me with whimsical commercials. Each sixty-second video was a glimpse into a magical gateway that the GameCube seemed to offer- promising me a peaceful town full of sweet animals to live with, helping me conquer fear to save Mario, cleaning up a paradise, investigating a zombie-filled mansion... So many games I desperately wanted to play, but they were always out of reach. Always locked away behind glasses cases staring back at me; I am sure I heard Reggie and Miyamoto laugh at me every time I walked passed a GameCube demo kiosk. Their taunts driving spikes into my young gaming heart.
Like many, I grew up in a middle-class family that just "got by". My parents made enough to make a living and support my younger sister and I. We always had a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, and went to a fairly decent school but a disposable income was foreign concept to us despite what our minds wanted to believe. In the innocent eyes of a child, mom and dad always had money. After all, they always paid the bills and bought the groceries, so surely that had money to spend on a toy for their daughter then. They just needed to swipe a card, write a check, or pull out cash from their bottomless wallets though that was never the case. As I learned when I got older, money was a limited source and living expenses were incredibly expensive. Back then, however, I did not understand that. It tore at my little heartstrings knowing that the GameCube I wanted so badly was unobtainable and my chances to get one were up to when my parents had left over money. Like most kids, patience was an quality I had not yet developed. I knew what I wanted it and I did not want to wait with hollow hopes of getting one for my birthday or Christmas that left me with one choice: Buy it myself.
But what could a twelve-year old do...?
My parents did not support the idea of an allowance, leaving me with needing to find an income from an outside source. I tried doing odd ended jobs at my family's local business for money, but the pay was very low. I only spent one day a week doing a few janitorial jobs which gave me about $15. At that rate, it was going to take me about four or five months before I could afford it. A far too slow of a rate for me. I had to find another option...Another way...Then, one day, my opportunity came and all I had to do was sacrifice some of my blood.
I believe it was during my physical for high school when my pediatrician introduced me to a new medical study that was being conducted. Nine years later, I cannot recall all the details, but I remember it had something to do with a new vaccine for the flu for asthmatic 10-14 year olds. The medication had not been released in hospitals year and needed to be tested in the field to observe its effectiveness against competing medications. My parents were informed that it would be harmless and the worst case scenario would be that my body would just react negatively to the drug - meaning I would just get sick and be pulled from the study. For each month I participated in the study, I would be given $100 with a maximum participation time of three months. The gears turned quickly in my head as I realized that if I did this, I could purchase a GameCube. Needless to say, I willing accepted without much hesitation.
The study was not overwhelming. Basically all I had to do was report to the doctor's office once a month for an injection and a follow-up medical exam. It sounded easy enough, especially when a brand new GameCube would be the prize. The first injection hurt; it felt like a wasp sting and was very itchy, but I dealt with it. The welt died down after a few days with the help of a bit of ice. I never really felt ill or got a fever and for three months, I returned to my doctor's office. The physical examination was pretty standard. I had to answer a few short questions for a survey, be looked over physically, and the finally, have my blood drawn.
At the end of each session, I had have a pint of blood drawn to be sent back to the laboratory for farther examination on how the drug was effecting me. That was the hardest part of it all for me. I am one of those weird people who is squeamish but yet, not. I have no problems with gore in movies or video games, but if it's my blood that is being spilt, things change. If I can help it, I do not want to see my own blood outside of my body because it does not belong outside of my veins. (Even now while writing this, I am getting some shivers at the thought. I have no idea why, but it greatly disturbs me. Anyway...) On top of that, I have always been a small girl. I am only 5'1" and barely weight 115lbs, losing a pint of blood had a nauseating effect on me. I grew dizzy and faint which forced me to need to drink a lot of water and lay down before I was allowed to leave the office.
Three months passed and I was handed a check with my name on it. I instantly turned to my mother with a smile on my face. I had done it. I had endured physical pain and sickness for a goddamn GameCube with no regrets. Lucky for me, Toys 'R' Us was running a Christmas special. (This was in November 2002, by the way.) For $200, I was able to get my GameCube bundled with Super Mario Sunshine and I was suppose to get Bomberman Generations. However, they were sold out of the Bomberman copies that they were suppose to ring up with the system. They told me I could pick out a game of equal value in its place, upon which I picked up StarFox Adventures, which was the game I really wanted. (Despite the criticism Adventures received and while it might not be a "true" StarFox game, I still enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun action-adventure game.)
A great sense of satisfaction rushed over me because that was my GameCube. It was not a gift or one just handed to me, it was one I worked for. I gave up my blood for it. For three months, I underwent experimentation risking being injected with nanomachines or the T-Virus...Possibly saved a few lives (though probably, honestly did not) in order to earn the money for a GameCube. One risk that I do not regret...