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10:58 AM on 07.28.2008

WoW, Really?

A few months ago, I was driving to the airport in Louisville, Kentucky at about 7 in the morning. As the drive takes a little more than an hour, I turned on the radio in the hopes of finding some mainstream music with which I could sing along and pass the time. Anyone who listens to the radio at 7 in the morning on a weekday knows that there is little music and lots of talk. On this particular morning, the D.J.’s of some Kentuckian radio station were soliciting calls on “internet addiction.”

As the calls came in, a theme started to emerge. The callers weren’t just describing internet junkies, they were describing World of Warcraft players. Literally. One woman was divorcing her husband over the game because he completely ignored her and the kids, though he was seeking custody of the kids for some reason. Another lady, a more understanding soul, had a husband who quit his job so he could stay home and play WoW. They got on welfare and she had to work a second job just so they could feed the kids. This winner of a wife actually chuckled when the D.J. asked why she stayed with the guy. Naturally, she loved him and would support him no matter what. Besides, he got addicted to the game when his mother died. He just needed a way to cope. Okay, WoW. Is that love or stupidity?

Actually, I imagine it would technically be called “enabling” the addiction and I have been very guilty of that over the years. I don’t drink, smoke or use drugs, but I certainly never preach to anyone else on the mater. I’ve made Jell-o shots for parties. I’ve gone on cigarette runs for friends who were stuck working. When I walked into my best friend’s apartment to find that it reeked of pot, all I said was “Man, it smells like pot in here; let’s hang out somewhere else" when I was really thinking, "Don't you have to get drug-tested at work?"

And, I’ve certainly spent my own money on video games for boyfriends who couldn’t afford them. So I guess it’s not fair to fault the wife who lets her husband play WoW. But what about the moms? I had a friend tell me about a kid she knows who had to drop out of college because he stayed in his dorm room and played World of Warcraft all day and night, never went to classes and flunked everything. He moved back home and he still sits in his room and plays WoW all day. Why does his mother continue paying for the Internet? Why doesn’t she kick him out or at least make him get a job? Is it just another example of enabling or, at this point, does it become negligence?

Now, I should probably admit that I have plenty of my own crazy addictions. In fact, I would most assuredly classify my personality as “addictive.” But despite my obsession for live music shows, I think I missed a total of two classes in all four years of college. Even though I procrastinated studying by writing fanfiction, I never turned in an assignment late. Even though I let myself walk right up to the edge, I never let myself fall over. Is that because I’m responsible? Afraid of guilt? Smarter than the average bear?

SilverDragon1979 wrote a lovely series of posts called “Breaking the Addiction:”

1) My Confession
2) My life 1 year after quitting
3) My worst "addict moments"

I found this series particularly interesting because SilverDragon was able to do several things that other WoW addicts aren’t. First, he worked on his master’s degree and kept his job. Granted, he mentioned these things in his “worst ‘addict moments’” post, but even the fact that he recognizes these as negative occurrences, makes him somewhat unique. If you go back up a few paragraphs, I think you’ll find me congratulating myself on being able to juggle my addictions (really, I swear they're just hobbies) with maintaining a normal life.


Additionally, SilverDragon was able to walk away from World of Warcraft. It’s someone who can quit smoking cold turkey and never look back versus someone who can never quite break the habit. What is that? Is it psychological? Chemical? Is it the same thing that’s at the root of every addicted person’s obsessive thoughts? Or is there something unique about World of Warcraft? I have many more thoughts on the matter, but, for now, leave the questions hanging for you guys (and girls) to answer.   read

10:38 AM on 07.23.2008

Website Breaks it Down for Game Illiterate Parents

The morning after the Today Show aired their thought-provoking piece on women and Nintendo, I caught a teaser for a segment about what parents should know about video games. I didn’t watch the show, but when I looked it up later, I found an article and accompanying video. When I read the article and saw that the first tip basically advised parents to know what system their kids have—well, let’s just say there was some scoffing and eye rolling involved. I mean, duh. I skimmed the rest then clicked away from the site, wondering to whom Today would condescend next. The other day, I stumbled on the article again and this time, I went ahead and watched the video.


I expected this John Davison person to be some sort of right-wing evangelical type, condemning to Hell anyone who even glances at a video game, but the more I watched, the more I liked what he had to say. I then surfed over to his website,, expecting something crazy like this, but instead I found straightforward breakdowns of video games.

According to Davison, the ESRB can “only list so much stuff” on the back of the box. His staff reviews a game by giving a little background and introducing the story. They then take the ESRB rating and break it down, without judgment, giving specific descriptions of each offensive item listed. Take the game, Condemned 2 for the Xbox 360, for example. The ESRB gives the game the rating M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol. Compare that to this review and breakdown of Condemned 2. Additionally, the site provides screenshots and video for parents to peruse.

After each review, readers are then given a place for their opinions. Parents and kids alike can offer up their two cents. I couldn’t really tell if these comments were heavily moderated, but what was present seemed thoughtful and accurate. I also noticed a Community link at the top of the site that is currently inactive. If they get it up and running, it seems like it could be a great support center for parents and a safe place for kids to talk to other kids about games/parents/etc.

While I am not in favor of censorship, I think information is always a powerful tool. Any website that encourages parents to be parents is awesome in my book. The dialogue that could be spawned from a parent actually taking the time to understand something in which his/her child is interested is nearly infinite. FTW.   read

11:55 AM on 07.22.2008

Ding, Dong...Nintendo Calling

A few weeks ago, I read a post by Cowzilla called The Ladies Love Nintendo and Nintendo Loves the Ladies. Not quite the ugly friend of the hot girl anymore, are you, Nintendo? In case you were too uninspired to click on any of the previous links, here is the video from Cowzilla’s post:


Nintendo is targeting the casual gaming demographic. Shocker, I know. But, it seems, Nintendo is really making an effort to court the ladies. From grannies to sexy, singles. From those who are already hardcore gamers to those with a tendency to turn the DS to steer in MarioKart. All these women get invited to parties by their “alpha female” acquaintances then they each get a free Nintendo DS.

But it’s not just “alpha females” and their friends who love the DS. Famous girls play, too!

For these busy ladies, the DS obviously provides a little solitary getaway from their hectic lives.

Fun, thought-provoking, relaxing. The Nintendo DS! Like a soothing massage that makes you giggle. A hobby that could lead you to a hubby. “Like a Tupperware party for the 21st century.” Wait a minute, Nintendo, you don’t have to give your product away. I could totally hock it for you.

Product parties are a rite of passage for most American females. It works like this: a friend or co-worker tells you she is having a party and invites you. She adds on that she will be selling Avon/Pampered Chef/Longaberger Baskets/Sex Toys at said party…but, don’t worry, you don’t have to buy anything. Then you go and eat the free food, looking through a catalogue for the cheapest item you can find because, despite her claim, you do feel obligated to buy something. A Pampered Chef ice cream scoop for $19.99? What a steal.

These parties serve the companies and hostesses well. The company gets people to sell their products without having to pay them anything up front. The hostess gets prizes and discounts for meeting certain quotas.

My suggestion to Nintendo is to start utilizing this business model. Though I have always secretly vowed never to host a product party, I would make an exception for Nintendo. Perhaps they could charge me $500 for a Nintendo At-Home Sales Starter Kit which would include 5 Pink Nintendo DS Lites, five games their marketing research shows would appeal to women, and a pretty catalogue featuring more games and Nintendo-certified accessories.

Nintendo could then let me earn a 15% commission from my sales. Like all those other companies bank on, they could be fairly confident that I would put my earned money back into Nintendo purchases.

Come on, Nintendo, it’s a win-win.

Unfortunately, this plan would never really work. While the target would be women, Nintendo couldn’t exclude men. We could have another generation of traveling salesmen introduced into society.

What other flaws do you see arising from Nintendo product parties? Or do you think parties like this could actually be a good thing? Would your girlfrien/mom/granny go to a Nintendo party? Ladies, would you want to host a party like this, especially if it meant getting kickbacks from Nintendo? Gentlemen, would you want to get in on it or would you be willing to leave it to the ladies?   read

8:55 PM on 07.13.2008

Be a CNN E3 i-reporter

In honor of E3, CNN is asking its band of i-reporters to send in stories about their favorite video games.

Check it out:
"Video game developers are gathering in Los Angeles for the E3 conference, where they'll unveil the hot new titles gamers will be clamoring for this holiday season.
Tell us about your favorite games.

Do you prefer the cutting-edge graphics and storytelling of the latest Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii titles?

Or are classics like "Donkey Kong," "Crazy Climber" and "Defender" more your thing?

Send us your old pictures from the video arcade, or blasting away on your Atari 2600, Intellivision or Sega Genesis too."

I clicked on a few stories that I saw on the first page and, needless to say, they were nothing like the high caliber posts made regularly by community members here at Destructoid.

This got me thinking that maybe some of you could search through your blogs for stories or pictures to submit to CNN. Even better, maybe someone should do a write-up about how one of the GTA games helped build your moral compass.

If you do decide to write something new for this little CNN challenge, don't forget to cross-post in your c-blog. And, please, drop me a comment with the link.

If nothing else, maybe reading what the "i-reporters" have to say will make you appreciate what you get to read around here regularly.

C-Blog i-reporters:
ShinOni   read

3:21 PM on 07.08.2008

And the Beat Goes On...Don-DonDon-DonDon

When I was in high school, my AP English teachers would always give us a list of essay topics to choose from, related to whatever we were reading at the time. I would always scan the list and instantly go for any topic that mentioned imagery, symbolism or extended metaphors. I always found it easy to draw connections between two items or ideas that might not normally be related. Girlfriends and Dreamcasts, for example.

Yeah, I don't know either, but it's funny, right?

Today, though, I'm going to do something a little different. I've been playing Patapon for the PSP. I won't bother sharing my impressions as I feel that Jim Sterling summed them up perfectly in his review.

Rather than present you with a diatribe about how Patapons are a symbol of the human condition (and, trust me, I thought about it), I would instead like to discuss an aspect of the game that I wish we could import into the real world: simple little songs with a potential plethora of meanings. At this point in my Patapon playing, I know of four songs/beats. Each one serves as a different battlefield command for the game's tiny little eyeball-shaped soldiers. I strongly believe that if all humans learned the songs from Patapon, the ease with which we communicate would increase tremendously.

Patapons in the office are the first step toward increased communication.

Pata Pata Pata Pon
In the game, this beat/song tells your Patapons to move forward. I can just imagine the usefulness of this phrase when I am doing hall duty at work. Rather than screaming, "Let's go! Get to class!" I could simply walk up behind a group of students and croon, "Pata pata pata pon." It would be nice to get the added bonus of those students having to automatically obey, but I think that would go against the laws of physics and/or psychology.

My eyes really do turn read when I walk into school.

Pata, pata, pata, pon could also be used as words of encouragement to a friend who's a little down on his luck. It would be great in a greeting card. Keep going. Forward march. Hang in there. It would mean all that and more. What an inspiring little rhythm you are, Pata pata pata pon!

Pon Pon Pata Pon
Though this is the attack command in the game, I imagine it to mean something more along the lines of "Let's do this!" It could also be a great pick up line. Or, in reference to a person who is a "real go-getter," except we could just call him a Ponponpataponner.

Additionally, it could be used as a euphemism for terrorism. A newscaster could report, "The London Underground was Ponponpataponned today." Along the same lines, ten-year-olds could scream it over their microphones while playing XBL, "You just got Ponponpataponned, you stupid noob!" Of course, they would spell it Ponponpatapwnd for effect. Pon pon pata pon, the catch all for passionate acts of any sort.

Chaka Chaka Pata Pon
This command tells the eyeballs--I mean Patapon soldiers--to stick close together and defend. They put up their shields and fire less shots. For us, it would mean an apology of sorts. "Honey, I traded in the Wii for a PS3. I know how much you love Wii Sports, but the PS3 has a BluRay player and it's a much better investment. But, Chaka chaka pata pon."

Additionally, it would serve as a replacement for both "my bad" and "don't tase me bro." In fact, if you read Jim Sterling's review, you will notice the way he ingeniously slips it in at the very end. Perfect usage of the chant. Oh, and if you were one of the people that posted mean comments about Jim's review, all I can say is, "I'm not trying to pimp his review. I just thought it would be informative if you had no clue about Patapon. I also liked his last line. Chaka chaka pata pon, okay?"

Another good use of a semi-chaka chant. Well done, Sir.

So far in the game, all I've used this song for is to make the miracle of rain. I'm assuming I will be able to use it for more miracles later on. For practical use, I basically see this as the superlative form of the other three songs. When someone needs an extra dose of encouragement, "Come on, Peyton Manning, Don-dondon-dondon!" When a particularly serious attack occurs, "Today, the President was Don-dondon-dondonned." Or, if you need more protection than the Chaka chant can provide, "I know I gave the game a 6.5 and you're not happy with that. Don-dondon-dondon, everyone!"

Blink and you'll miss the Don-dondon-dondon moment.

Okay, so I know this idea is a bit mad. I guess I'm just trying to say that I'm intrigued by the idea that a few little nonsense phrases could so easily take the place of so many things we already say. Plus, like the Patapons, if we wanted to show understanding, all we would have to do is repeat back the song. There's something simplistically beautiful about that. I really, really wish I could incorporate these songs into my everyday vocabulary without people looking at me even more strangely than they already do. Maybe it's the red eyes.   read

1:59 PM on 07.06.2008

Rock Band is a Gateway Game

Rock Band Reflection - Part II

If I learned anything from my co-workers' enjoyment of Rock Band, it was that non-gamers can be made into casual gamers if introduced to the right game.

This is why I think Rock Band is a "Gateway Game." It can be used to lure your friends and family--you know, the Wii demographic--into the very fun and awesome world that is "gaming." Gateway Games all share three qualities.

>>1. Simple Controls<<
One thing any great Gateway Game must have is a simple control scheme. While the menus might be a slight challenge at first, once in the "quickplay" section of the game, my co-workers had no trouble picking and starting new songs. Beyond what's on the screen, the Rock Band peripherals are extremely easy to understand. The most trouble I saw someone have was not understanding that, when using the guitar, you don't have to push the button and strum at the exact same time. Honestly, though, I think that was more from lack of experience with a real guitar. After about three songs, this particular player got it down. In fact, she wouldn't give up the guitar for most of the night. I think she even moved up from "easy" to "medium."

If you're this awesome at playing a real guitar, you will have no trouble playing the Rock Band guitar. In other words, even if you completely and utterly suck, you can rock out in Rock Band.

I think a good rule of thumb is that if you can explain the controls to someone in less than ten seconds, with no more than two follow-up questions needed, then you have a Gateway Game.

>>2. Like Something in the Real World<<
I see the ads all the time. Wii Sports. Wii Fit. But why don't I ever see Wii Dragon Slaying? Non-gamers need to be able to look at a game and instantly understand what it's about.

This is Wii bowling. What? Wii Bowling. What? Wii Bowling. Ohhh, we bowling!

Just like the non-gaming segment of the population isn't going to be willing to learn a complicated control scheme, they aren't going to want to try to understand the rules of a fantasy world. Imagine if you had to explain Twilight Princess to someone who had never even heard of Zelda. "And then you turn into a wolf. If you want to dig, just waggle your remote." Compare that to, "This is Rock Band." There's nothing to explain. They see the instruments and it instantly makes sense.

Any game that draws inspiration entirely from the real world has potential to be a Gateway Game.

>>3. Fun to Play Socially<<
Peer pressure can be a positive thing.

I have no idea who these guys are, but I bet by the end of the night, the guy on the right was screaming, "Hooray Rock Band!"

When a game has a fun and easy multi-player mode, everyone wants to get in on it. They just can't resist. Mob mentality put to good use. If you let your non-gamer friends take a stab at Rock Band, more often than not, they will want to play it the next time they come over. The experience of the game is intertwined with the memory of the fun social experience.

Games that bring 'em back and keep 'em wanting more are definitely Gateway Games.

I'm certainly not implying that if you let your best friend play Rock Band, he'll instantly become a hardcore gamer. These things take time. But Gateway Games do break down people's walls and eliminate the stigma that video games create for some people, and there's nothing wrong with that.

But will it work on cats?   read

6:33 PM on 07.05.2008

Teachers and Christmas and Rock Band...Oh My!

Rock Band Reflection - Part I

My co-workers don't know everything about my gaming habits. They don't know, for example, that I took off the day after Halo 3 came out so I could go to the midnight release.

They do, however, know some things. They know I'm the one to ask if they have any questions about video games because I either know the answer or where to find the answer.

I think that's how we got started on Rock Band. Before the game came out, one co-worker was thinking about getting it for her son, and she asked me what I knew about it. I told her the basics and compared it to Guitar Hero, which her son already owned.

A few weeks later, after I had Rock Band, I recommended the purchase to my co-worker and told her the game was awesome. By this time, her son had already said he didn't want the game, but this conversation took place at lunch and was overheard by everyone.

A week later, another co-worker told me that she and her husband had gone over to a relative's house and played Rock Band. They loved it. She had particularly enjoyed the drums, but found the bass pedal a challenge. I was both pleased and intrigued to hear it. This co-worker didn't own any sort of game system yet she was able to play the Rock Band drums? Cool.

As we geared up for our math department Christmas party, my co-workers started insisting I bring "this Rock Band game" to the gathering. I don't know if you've tried to transport all the equipment required for Rock Band in your car, but it's almost like taking a real band on the road.

Once I got everything to the party house, hauled it in and hooked it up to an old, but large SD television, my co-workers tentatively stood around looking at the game and equipment. Fortunately, our department head had his sons with him. They showed no fear. One strapped on a guitar, the other sat down at the drums, I picked up the microphone, and we were off.

Then a funny thing started to happen. My co-workers, of all ages, started taking turns with the peripherals. Most were afraid to sing, but they all wanted to try the drums. I controlled the song selection, but everyone was always able to hit A to join when needed.

I'm telling you, these people loved this game. The young, single and adorable (if not a little uptight) blonde. The fifty year old geometry teacher. The department head himself. They rocked out with their chalk out. Okay, they didn't actually have chalk at this party, but you get the idea.

As I downloaded the Jimmy Buffet song pack the other day, I thought about that party. My co-workers brought it up often. I would even have students say, "I heard about how the math teachers love to play Rock Band." Evidently, these teachers saw fit to chat up the game in their classes. Students wondered if we had it in the math office. My co-workers talked about how much better lunch would be if we actually did have it in the math office.

It always makes me happy to share something that I love with others. Often, though, they cannot appreciate it as fully as I do. When that happens, I always feel disappointed. Sharing Rock Band with my co-workers did not leave me disappointed.

Check back later for another Rock Band related post.   read

12:52 PM on 07.04.2008

Game Store Clerks Fuel Stereotypes(?)

In my last post, I wrote about one of my favorite fictional gamers. I received some interesting comments about how television sometimes promotes a "gamer stereotype." In particular, one poster said, "I just wish they would find a way to include gaming without making it seem like we are all complete and total nerds."

As many stereotypes are simply over-exaggerations of partial truths, I have to wonder how the "gamer stereotype" came to be. Where would the average citizen, the casual observer encounter and interact with someone he/she would consider a "gamer?" Well, where does a dad go to get his son a Nintendo DS? Where does a girlfriend go to get her boyfriend the latest incarnation of Madden? Where does a college girl whose friends turned her on to Halo go to purchase her very first XBox? I know where I went, and it wasn't Wal-Mart. It was A Game Store.

As I think about every experience I've ever had at any Game Store, I begin to understand why people think gamers are "complete and total nerds." It's all because of a sub-group of gamers known as Game Store Clerks. Now, you may think I am about to unfairly exploit yet another stereotype, but I promise that my analysis is based on my own objective Game Store experiences. Additionally, I once dated a Game Store Clerk, so I can personally vouch for the fact that what you see in the store is, in fact, not just a show for seemingly clueless customers. On the contrary, most Game Store Clerks actually turn themselves down a few notches while at work.

Now, before I describe this sub-class and attempt to paint a picture of the people who I believe fuel the modern Hollywood gamer stereotype, I would like to exclude a few people. First of all, female or minority Game Store Clerks. Obviously, they aren't the ones on which the "gamer stereotype" is based. Additionally, I am going to ignore any Game Store Clerks over the age of 40 because they help encourage an entirely different stereotype: Creepy Old Dude. All the other Game Store Clerks? Completely fair game. Totally who I'm talking about.

Cute, but Pale=Disheveled Dork
Game Store Clerks are generally cute, but it's usually in that "man, I want to give that boy a makeover" kind of way. Their hair is either a complete mess or neatly combed with at least one uncontrollable cow-lick. Their eyes sparkle with energy and excitement, but are sometimes hidden behind almost-hip Weezer-guy glasses. If they have the ability to grow facial hair, they do, but it always seems more sporadic than on purpose. Overall, I would assess them as "slightly nerdier than the average population" in regard to physical appearance. Now, for myself, the line between nerdy and adorable is a nearly transparent one, but I can definitely see how Game Store Clerks' looks add to the "gamer stereotype."

Very Eager to Help, Inform=Obsessive
It seems like every Game Store Clerk I have ever tried to buy a game from wants to give me the entire history of the game. Or, if I'm just pre-ordering, I get to hear all the latest "industry news" that I probably already read online. Sometimes, they even get stuff wrong. I nod, smile and never correct because I hate to bruise anyone's ago. Additionally, I usually get a whole slew of recommendations based off of my purchase or potential purchase. Once, a Game Store Clerk asked me if I was a "frag doll," but typically they don't ask too many questions. They just talk and talk and talk, spewing forth any relevant video game knowledge that comes to their minds. Sometimes, I almost let myself be flattered. I start to think maybe it's just the gamer equivalent of flirting. Until I walk away and hear the same Game Store Clerk start chatting up a poor grandma who just wants to find a Wii for her granddaughter, not hear about how Nintendo is ramping up production to meet consumers' needs. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate knowledgeable employees, but sometimes I just want to buy my game and leave. I know Granny does, too. I think this is why Hollywood always presents us with gamers that talk about nothing but games. Game Store Clerks really make it seem like there is nothing more to life. And remember, I can personally vouch for the fact that this goes beyond the store.

Why is it that anytime I want to buy something a little off beat like an Xbox 360 wireless gaming receiver, my friendly neighborhood Game Store Clerk has to go on an epic quest to find it? His journey usually includes a trip to the back of the store, a search of all the cabinets under the cash register, and a phone call to another Game Store Clerk who has the day off, but knows that the item I want is hanging on a rack behind the batteries. I know that finding such a random item in a store full of items is a tough job. I know it's not the Game Store Clerk's fault. I can see, though, how such occurrences could lead to the conclusion that all gamers are disorganized. In fact, the way those used games shelves look sometimes, I can completely understand why most gamers are portrayed as complete and total slobs.

Whether these types of experiences with Game Store Clerks are what truly lead people to certain conclusions about gamers, I cannot say. This is all purely conjecture. I would love to hear about any experiences you have had with this gamer sub-culture. All the better if you are a Game Store Clerk yourself who wants to set the record straight. I'm sure I'll find you adorable.   read

1:13 PM on 07.03.2008

Vampire Plays Games in Moonlight

Logan Griffen, played by actor David Blue, made an unremarkable debut on CBS's now canceled series Moonlight. At first, Logan just seems like your average primetime techie. He has all the gadgets and brains he needs to help the main characters hack whatever, whenever they call on him. Just check out the basement where he lives:

Logan takes a call from Mick St. John. Mick needs him to "triangulate the location" of someone who's been kidnapped.

Now, I should probably mention that Logan is also a vampire. You can even see his glass of blood in the picture above. That's just part of the Moonlight canon. On the show, "vamps" more often buy than bite when it comes to the procurement of blood. But, I digress. It's not Logan's fangs and super-strength that make him interesting to me. It's not even his triangulation skills.

According to Mick, "Logan is the vampire version of a slob," but I don't see him like that. Instead, I see Logan as the vampire version of...a gamer. One of the first games Logan plays on Moonlight is Guitar Hero.

"Check this out. Expert level. I'm playing my new coffin guitar, and I just power!"

In the next episode, when Mick stops by the basement, he again finds Logan with a plastic guitar in hand. Mick asks, "Is that all you do?" He clearly means to imply that Logan does nothing but play Guitar Hero. But, wait! Logan is obviously playing a different game entirely.

Anyone with Rock Band will recognize that Fender Stratocaster. I wonder if Logan got a defective one like I did?

Logan doesn't bother spelling out the differences between Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Instead, he simply counters Mick's demeaning question with, "No. Tuesdays and Thursdays I rule World of Warcraft." I suppose the next few episodes of Moonlight must involve only Tuesdays and Thursdays, because Logan is noticeably absent from them.

Fortunately, Logan comes back in full force in the last episode of the season. He is an integral part of Mick's plan to rescue a vampire who has been arrested by the L.A.P.D. Mick asks him to hack the city's traffic lights so the police transport will have to stop and go when Mick wants. Logan agrees, but insists on a the code name of his choice.

"Can my code name be Lando Calrissian?" I know it doesn't hint to his gamerness, but it's pretty hilarious anyway.

When things don't work out as Mick had hoped, he calls on "Calrissian" for assistance. If you've gotten this far, the clip below is a must watch.


And with that final and fateful scene, Logan earned my respect and admiration. He goes down as the first entry on my list of "favorite fictional gamers."

"Calrissian, out."

[Screencaps Courtesy of Moonlight Love]   read

1:10 PM on 07.02.2008

A Cast of Thousands...Luigi

Which characters do you personally relate to more than your fellow gamers?

Though I do enjoy pink, I am not a princess--Peach, Daisy or otherwise. In fact, as I do a mental roll call of all the video game characters I've ever controlled or encountered, there is only one to whom I can truly relate. He is the perpetual "player 2," and his name is Luigi.

I do realize that the physical dissimilarities between myself and Luigi must seem striking. After all, I don't have a mustache or...a plunger. I would never wear a matching green hat and shirt, not to mention those hideous overalls or cheap-looking white gloves. And never, ever, have my legs wiggled like crazy when I jump. But my connection to Luigi goes much deeper than these superficialities. Our bond goes straight down to the very core of who Luigi is and what he represents, his values and philosophies, his role in the universe.

Like Luigi, I am not a leader. If there is someone around who wants to take charge of any given situation, I get out of his/her way. However, if this person gives up, or simply cannot get the job done, I am the first person to step up and set things back on track. This is why I appreciate how, at the beginning of Super Mario Brothers, Luigi sits by and lets Mario have the first go at things. He waits patiently in the wings until his brother needs him. Any time Mario fails, Luigi tries to finish the job. If he can't complete a level, he turns control back over to Mario, but he never gives up (until he runs out of men). I believe I also provide this type of devoted support to my job and my relationships, willing to live in a shadow if it's for the greater good.

When I do stand on my own, though, I'm incredibly quirky. I like to play Zuma. I relish in going to the movies alone. I write fan fiction. I wear tie-dye. Oh, and I just started blogging about video games. Luigi, too, marches to the beat of a different drummer. He wins mansions in contests he didn't enter. He makes up stories about saving princesses named after pastries. He's willing to venture out into the "real world" if Mario goes missing. Oh, and he keeps a Paper diary about how he hates being left out of so many of Mario's adventures. Though Mario's experiences are oft times out of this world, Luigi's are just slightly more unique and original. I, too, fantasize that I am original(...just like everyone else).

One final parallel I see between myself and Luigi is the way we both seem to be searching for our place in the world/universe/galaxy. Who am I and where do I fit in? Sometimes we are cowards. Sometimes we try to make others think we are brave. Sometimes we are brave. Sometimes we are content to be "the backup." Sometimes we long to be individuals.

I suppose it is my connection to Luigi that has always inspired me to volunteer for the second player controller whenever given the option, no matter what the game. To me, Luigi is a loyal dreamer, always searching for himself. I think I am, too.


11:46 PM on 07.01.2008

Two Little Words: System Link

When I was seven, I had an NES. I remember staying up late to play Super Mario Bros. only to die over and over again in level 8-1. What was with that last jump? I graduated to an SNES in the seventh grade and then I pretty much stuck with that through college. Mario Paint just never lost its appeal. In fact, I may have never made a foray into modern gaming had it not been for two little words: System Link.

When I was in graduate school, I ended up hanging out with this big group of friends that lived in a four-bedroom apartment with three televisions, three Xboxes and a slew of cables, controllers and copies of Halo.

One night, I randomly decided to pick up a controller and try it out. Obviously, I had seen Halo and other games being played so I wasn’t instantly wowed by the graphics. I wasn’t enamored with the thought of running around and killing people. I didn’t take pleasure in grabbing invisibility and the shotgun in Hang ‘Em High so I could walk up to unsuspecting victims and shoot them in the face. Well, okay, I did kind of like that last one.

Experiences I enjoyed more, though, were screaming profanities at the team in the next room, laughing hysterically with my teammates as we rode around together on a Warthog, and, my personal favorite, running over to check the other team’s TV when my team couldn’t flush out a sniper.

The fun I had with those friends led me to buy an Xbox of my own—the green Halo edition Xbox to boot, and just in time for Halo 2. I signed up for an Xbox Live account and started playing online. Granted, it was fun. Halo 3 on my Halo edition Xbox 360 is also fun. But even when I play with my actual, IRL friends on Xbox Live, it’s nothing compared to my original System Link experiences. Xbox Live simply doesn’t fill the void.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic and it’s all just a fantasy. Maybe I’m “chasing the dragon” of my first gaming high, an experience that was nothing more than an ephemeral moment built on a combination of the right people, the right circumstances, the right time.

Or maybe there’s something about the human element, the social factor that cannot be reproduced when players are more than twenty feet apart. Maybe it’s something that can float through the air, but not the fiber optics. Maybe I’m just being a freak.

All the same, I miss the comfortable proximity provided to me by the System Link.


10:48 PM on 06.30.2008

Yes We Can...Make a Gamer Out of Barack Obama

I support Barack Obama. Officially. Passionately, even. I saw him speak at a rally and was captivated from start to finish. I will vote for him in November.

This is why it hurts all that much more when I hear him sneak into his speeches occasional jibes at video games. I have to wonder how he can call John McCain “out of touch" when he probably doesn't even know that people on his own community blogs are posting instructions on how to make an Obama Mii.

For a moment, I thought my sentiments may have been those of a single voice. After a little research (read: googling), I discovered that I was actually part of a chorus of millions (okay, maybe a few less) of disenchanted video game players who also feel unsettled by Senator Obama's comments. And, why shouldn't we be insulted? Does he mean to imply that he truly thinks playing violent video games directly leads to acts of violence? I've taken issue with that since it was movies instead of video games, and I'm certainly not going to stop being affronted now.

But then I started thinking about what I really heard Obama say. Parents need to turn off video games and spend time with their kids. Kids need to turn off video games and work harder on achieving in school. To be a better country internally, we need strong families who support and love their children, encouraging them to become upstanding members of society. To be a great country on the global stage, we need individuals to work at becoming self-motivated and highly-educated, propelling our country ahead on the science and technology front. Gee, I can't argue with him there.

I agree particularly with Obama's assertion that "the government can't do everything." I do think that parents need to spend time with their children, control their children (in a positive way), and encourage their children toward success. As a teacher, the blame is always put on me when my students do not achieve. I happily accept that burden, but I see too many kids that could really shine with just a little more support from home.

But why make video games the scapegoat? I'm sure some kids probably do drugs instead of playing video games. Why not tell parents, "Make your kids put down the drugs and pick up the school books." At least then you don't offend anyone. Even people who do drugs generally agree that they are "bad." Or better yet, tell parents that if they let their kids play a video game, they should sit down and try it out, also. Father and son could play Grand Theft Auto together...then discuss the game, talk about the differences between the fictional world of the game and the real world around them. If it's a matter of making our kids smarter, there's certainly a path to intellectualism through video games. Destructoid is a perfect example of that.

I certainly don't think video games are the only activity families should do together, but I don't think they have to be completely excluded either. And I really wish Barack Obama would sit down (or stand up if he prefer) and try out Wii Bowling. I can almost guarantee he would enjoy it.

What game do you think would make Barack Obama change his mind? Maybe we should each send him a message to make a suggestion.   read

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