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ccesarano's blog

Expos Everywhere on the East Coast
9:03 AM on 01.12.2013
My Bold Prediction for 2013
12:59 PM on 01.04.2013
Resolution: Be More Involved
7:05 PM on 01.01.2013
I Spent All Saturday Playing a Video Game and That's Okay
9:28 AM on 10.15.2012
I, Errand Boy
7:17 AM on 09.27.2012
Outside Looking In
9:18 PM on 09.20.2012





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Community Discussion: Blog by ccesarano | ccesarano's ProfileDestructoid
ccesarano's Profile - Destructoid

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About
After a little over a year's hiatus I have returned to the Destructoid Blog fold. Despite how thinly-spread my writing efforts have become, I still sometimes feel the need for a canvas in which I can sloppily splash the paint of my thoughts upon in hopes to have something resembling a thing.

So who am I? Right now I'm a writer over at GamersWithJobs, a blogger, a YouTuber and a Podcaster. I specialize in games analysis and criticism, and would like to use the Destructoid blog to share in some of my experiences working on these projects.

Note that I will be linking things I've been working on, but I will do so with the intent of embellishing on thoughts unsaid or detailing some of the work for any interested in also being content providers. Perhaps some of my experiences can help you out along the way.
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Famous people! Yay! (GameX 2009)


I remember graduating College in 2009 and being excited for VGXPO and GameX that year. What's that? Never heard of 'em? Yeah, not surprising. They were both in the Philadelphia region, which is evidently a place that hates video games despite a growing Indie scene. Just not as growthful (growthilicious?) as, say, Boston or North Carolina.

In truth, I think it was merely the people running the shows. VGXPO made a bad name for itself when the guy running it tried to hijack exhibitors from PAX in '07, amongst other things. I don't think they ever recovered from that, and by time I got to go to VGXPO it was small, deserted and populated by nothing more than indies desperate for attention that the attendees didn't want to give.

GameX's head guy was evidently not too spiffy a fellow either, and word is there was some financial fallout that really pissed sponsor NBC off. I don't really have much to go off of other than word of mouth, and it is extremely telling that you can't find the website anymore.

I enjoyed attending the events, but it was...depressing. No one wanted to give the Indie games a chance. Everyone wanted to find another E3 and was angry when it turned out to be, well, less. Or rather different, I'd say. I sighed, wishing the East Coast could just light up with more options for gaming conventions and expos.

Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but it seems to all have come out of nowhere. First was PAX East, which I got to check out in 2011. It was amazing. I had been to a few anime conventions before, but while my love of the oriental animation has waxed and waned like the phases of the moon over time, video games have always remained my first true passion. So being in a community where you could strike up a conversation with anyone about damn near anything you love was just...

The best way I could describe it when I came home was I got a taste of what Heaven must be like, and it was the Utopia that was PAX East.


Internet famous people! Yay! (PAX East 2011)


Now, I should note that all this time MAGFest had been going on in the D.C. area. I had heard about it when I visited VGXPO, actually, as they had a booth there. However, I'll get into that later as I was never able to visit MAGFest before. The timing was always at an odd time of year for me (first weekend after New Years) and I wasn't very familiar with the D.C. area.

In any event, to me, PAX East seemed like all the East Coast would be getting. Then The Escapist announced their very own Expo down in North Carolina. I gathered what friends I could manage (enough for a hotel room, sweet!) and we made the drive this past September to Durham, what is one of my favorite cities. This is, of course, because it is pretty empty, yet still has all the compact awesomeness of a regular city. Durham is the perfect city for people that don't like other people.

Escapist Expo was, all things told, a completely different experience for me. I wrote about it on my blog, describing it as a "Small Town Expo". This is because it was in a smaller venue than most events I have attended with a rather small population compared to previous years, but that only made it a much stronger social event. Before the Expo even began I made good friends in The D&D Sluggers (check out She's Got a Job, it's an awesome song) and got to frequently hang out with Cory Rydell, artist of Critical Miss. I got a brief moment to even speak to Jim Sterling in the hallway of the hotel, though I was drunk enough that I am not sure I made an ass of myself to a man that was tired and needed a nap. Either way, despite the persona he puts on for The Jimquisition and other such things, he's a nice chap (for all of five or ten minutes I met him). Without even trying I found myself stumbling upon other folks I had met several times before during the show having small snippets of conversation.


Mmm... chocolatey goodness... (Escapist Expo 2012)


It was, on the whole, easier to make friends at Escapist Expo than anywhere else simply due to the confined space and smaller attendance, and that was fantastic to me.

So I left feeling pretty good about two events on the East Coast. Two chances a year to go out, make new friends and to speak again with old ones.

Then I spontaneously took a trip down to MAGFest last weekend as an old College friend of mine was going to be there. He lives in Washington state, which means the chances to see him are rare indeed. I was expecting a smaller Expo like Escapist, a place that would be fine to visit for just a day.

Holy SHIT was I wrong.

MAGFest is absolutely huge and amazing. They really do combine two different loves in a fantastic way, mixing a passion for games with the emotional adrenaline provided only by your favorite genre of music. Chiptune? Metal? Synthpop? Rap? They pretty much have you covered from what I can tell. Some of it covers, some of it original, MAGFest is completely loaded with stuff to see and do. A Leliana (from Dragon Age) cosplayer managed to aggro my drunken ass over to her friends where I got to spend a bunch of time talking about Game of Thrones, fantasy novels, Assassin's Creed and a whole bunch of other stuff, making new friends once more.


People be sellin' shiz all up 'n' down the block. (MAGFest 2013)


This is what the gaming expos are about, and thanks to a few e-mails I barely paid attention to, a streetpass tag and a Google search, I've found that Philadelphia has been getting a second chance with Too Many Games.

It blows my mind. Just a few years ago I felt as if the East Coast had zero gaming presence and looked to the West Coast in envy. Over there they had stuff like E3, CES and San Diego Comic-Con. What did we have over here?

Well, I'd say right now, the East Coast has it better. Even the largest event, PAX East (and man, is it huge) is an emphasis on the experience of the attendee rather than being a trade show. It's not about press releases and trailers and marketing, it's about a love of games and bringing gamers together as a family. Escapist Expo takes this a different direction, focusing more on the press and critic side of things while still offering content for the culture. MAGFest is about combining mediums into a wonderful weekend-long concert. And now, TooManyGames, which looks to be of a similar scope as Escapist Expo.

I officially have an Expo for every season. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter can be packed with events to go to and meet new people or make new friends.

I get to experience Heaven four times a year, and that is awesome.
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I am usually no good at making predictions for the year. Usually the best things to happen are joyful, or the most noteworthy are depressing and sad. Look at what happened in the industry this year as an example. 38 Studios and Big Huge Games had to close after making a successful game (partly due to politicians opening their mouths at the wrong time and causing a closing business deal to go south), the constant argument of how women are portrayed in games, and then everyone's temper tantrum over the ending of Mass Effect 3, which is hardly the best game franchise ever to begin with, and then still shoving it all over their Game of the Year lists.

It's been a crazy ass year, and I have no clue where the next one could lead.

But there's always room for wishful thinking.

I'm not a PC Gamer and I do not claim to have some special insight into the inner workings of Valve (usually). However, something tells me this is going to be a big year for them, and Sony.

I believe Half-Life 3 will finally be announced this year. Not released, I doubt that would happen. But I do believe it will be announced. In fact, it may have been ready to be announced for some time, but there is just one thing holding it back.

New consoles. Everyone is predicting that the new Xbox and Playstation will at least be announced this year, though I personally find it too early for them to be released in time for the holidays. That little detail doesn't really matter, though. All that matters is that those systems are announced. In particular, the next Playstation.

Half-Life 3 will have a trailer as part of the new Playstation's announcement. I dare not call it a launch game, and would not be surprised if consoles get it after the PC does. However, it will be part of a whole new initiative to the Playstation store.

The next Playstation's store will be powered by Steam. Sony has been trying to create a much larger digital presence and, until the recent store update to unify the UI with that of the Vita (or so I'm assuming), has been doing a much better job than Microsoft really has. We already saw the beginnings of Steam integration with Portal 2. We know it works. We also know Steam has been building the Big Picture mode to work on TV's, a mode that looks a bit like the new Playstation store combined with the Xbox Marketplace (and better than both).

Valve and Sony will team up to have the PSN Store steam powered, allowing friends to see what their PS3 AND PC friends are doing, what achievements they've earned, and possibly to even use the same chat features across platforms (this last part is very wishful thinking). Steam sales and humble bundles will extend to the Playstation. Choose to download an item on one platform, and it'll automatically unlock on the other (similarly to how purchasing Playstation All-Stars on PS3 gets you a code to download for Vita, or how you can buy an Xbox game from the Marketplace website and your account will automatically download it when you next power your system on).

What's that? What reason is there to believe Sony would outsource their store in such a manner? Looking towards the future, I'd say. Why compete when you can work together? Sony is clearly planning on some big things, especially after acquiring cloud-gaming company Gaikai (easy backwards compatibility with your Playstation Plus subscription? Perhaps).

I'd find it a little crazy as well, but it seems I'm not the first to read the signs in the stars.

Now, I could easily be wrong. But wouldn't it be so wonderful if, by the summer of 2013, I turn out to be right?
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I'm going to start my 2013 participation in the Destructoid community with a confession (that I'm pretty sure I haven't already confested).

I came around here in 2009 cross-posting an Examiner.com article.

Wait, hey! Stop throwing things!

2009 was a rough year for me. I graduated College with a realization I didn't really like what I majored in as a lifelong career choice and was trying to figure out what I really wanted. I figured writing about games was a thing I liked doing and should try for that. In order to try and gain more exposure I figured cross-posting articles I thought were really good would be a great idea.

Look, I hadn't been at this thing for too long, okay? So sue me.

I didn't really stick around, though. I wrote two pieces exclusive to the Destructoid blogs and then, well, vanished. A lot of stuff has happened since then. I've done a lot of growing and soul searching and yatta yatta blah blah.

The point is that if I want to be a games writer, I don't want to do it by copying and pasting stuff all over the place. There are better ways to gain exposure. More than that, though, and this is the important thing, I don't want to treat the Community Blogs as a place to try and gain exposure. I want to blog here because I feel like I have something interesting to say that fits a community space. If I want to write something "professional" then I'll put it on my blog or try pitching it someplace (the latter of which rarely happens due to severe self-esteem issues. YAY!)

However, it doesn't feel right just coming around every so often, putting up a blog, and then walking away. That's not being a part of the community, right? That's just being a random guy that walks into your house, drops off a pizza, then walks out. I mean, hey, free pizza. Cool, right? But seriously, who the fuck IS that guy and why does he keep coming around?

I don't think I'll ever be as involved in the community as a lot of you folks. I've become deeply entrenched in another one already, and I have a tendency to stretch myself thin. Life gets busy and then it is hard to find time to be a part of all the wonderful little places I want to.

I want to try, though. I want to keep reading some of your blogs, and I want to toss stuff up that I hope is entertaining to read or cultivates discussion.

You guys are a great community. A surprisingly great community, truth told. Granted I've mostly just seen the blogs, but you guys have something special here. To use a quote I love so much I toss it about whenever possible:

"I know half of you half as well as I should like, and half of you half as well as you deserve."

I won't be one of the regulars, but I'd like to be that guy that every once in a while comes to your parties or some other gathering, is always a good time, and then heads off to return at the next friendly gathering.

I look forward to reading some of these "best of 2012" blogs, by the way.
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In the past, spending an entire day inside the house would help drive me into feelings of depression. I would feel lonely, as if I had accomplished nothing, and yearn to have an excuse to leave the house. While this has happened a lot less in the past few years due to full time employment, Iíd still feel a bit sad if I spent my entire day inside by myself instead of being out with other people.

This Saturday I didnít give a flying fuck.

Society has hammered into some of our minds the notion that video games are something you should grow out of. Parents may say it, significant others may claim it, or the media may represent games as this thing only juvenile man children may play. So itís easy to be at the water cooler on Monday standing around with your coworkers discussing things like sports and ball tossing, and all you have to add is the fact that you missed the game because you were more interested in the world of Ivalice or the Mushroom Kingdom or Generic Middle Eastern Country No. 7.

Today, on this Monday morning, that is not me. I spent all of Saturday playing Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood, and I feel no guilt or shame in it. This was not a choice. It just happened.

Society, as usual, is full of shit. Feeling shame for your passions is not growing up. Accepting who you are and being content or even happy with it is (which is not to say you shouldnít look to better yourself. You should always strive to improve who you are, but that doesnít mean you have to hate yourself before you can improve).

So Saturday morning I woke up and started playing Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood. I played for twelve hours. The intent was to go see a movie with a friend when he was done work, but we each dropped the ball on the communication front and missed the chance. I spent a couple hours watching television with my brother as a break, and then dove back into the Animus and resumed my efforts to rebuild Rome.



Which is exactly what I had done. I had begun the day with Rome at around 30% rebuilt, and by the end of the day it was fully, 100% complete. I may not have been productive in real life, but I got through a lot of the side missions and content the game has to offer, and in a single day achieved near completion of the game.

I do not feel proud, but I do not feel guilty. I was responsible, remembering to get up to go to the bathroom, to get a shower, to eat meals and all that other stuff World of Warcraft addicts notoriously die from forgetting to do. Then, on Sunday, instead of feeding some sort of addiction by plugging back into this digital world of sexy courtesans and Italian stereotypes and knives into the gullet, I went to the pub and watched the Eagles game with a friend. I went shopping for groceries. I prepared my lunches for the week and cooked dinner. I did my laundry. I sat down and watched a movie with my brother. Not a minute was spent playing Assassinís Creed: Brotherhood, even though I wanted to spend the day completing the game.

That, my friends, is adulthood. That is maturity. Spending your time any way you want to as long as you donít ignore or reject the basic responsibilities of life. I have not abandoned the companionship of other humans, nor have I forsaken my responsibilities at work or in personal hygiene.

I am an adult. I work forty hours a week at a white-collar assembly line job so middle-aged middle-to-upper-middle-class women can purchase over-priced fashion products from Major Shopping Network over the Internet. I pay my student loans, my car insurance, my phone bill and help with chores around the house.

So if I want to spend my entire Saturday playing a video game, I can. Because Iím a grown up dammit, and I get to do what I want.
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ccesarano
7:17 AM on 09.27.2012



So I've been playing Darksiders 2 recently because it takes me forever to complete a game I purchased on launch day. It's a really fun game and I enjoy it, though I'm not sure if I like it more or less than the original Darksiders. I think, in truth, it is dumb to compare the two as they are truthfully very different games, and just accept that I prefer the Legend of Zelda inspiration of the first and wish they had kept that, ditched the loot and fused Zelda with Prince of Persia 2008 (at least, that's the game I'm choosing as the new primary influence as I'm a heathen and hadn't played a Prince of Persia game until Nolan North as The Prince as Nolan North).

As I was sick last week I got to play the game for an abnormally long amount of time, jumping from about 6.5 hours in to 13 or 14 or so. Being able to play so much all at once revealed a dirty little secret that caused me to just sit back and sigh, as if to say "Dammit, Vigil, I thought you were better than this".

So about two or three quests ago I reach a dungeon, and the objective is to collect three rock things to bring this massive colossus back to life. A couple dungeons later and I have to collect three rock things to summon the Arena's champion. This allows me to talk to this Rotting King fellow, who says he won't help me unless I get his three Lords from three separate dungeons. In one of these dungeons, this Lord won't help me unless I collect three different souls for judgment.

That's a "Fetch Me Three" quest in the middle of a "Fetch Me Three" quest, directly following two other "Fetch Me Three" quests. As it had been a while since I last played before having to summon that Colossus, there could have been more (in fact, one of the earlier dungeons was "Hit these three switches to get water flowing again", so it seems to be a common theme within Darksiders 2).

Now, I'd be a lot more angry at Darksiders 2 if it weren't for the fact that this is a trend in Western games as a whole. Let's jump back a bit to that Rotting King fellow.

The way the plot has moved, I cannot accomplish my ultimate task until I have the Rotting King helping out. Yet I cannot gain an audience with this Rotting King until I defeat the Arena's champion. Once I get to the Rotting King, he is forcing me to do him a favor. All the while the plot has hit a stand still, as has any sense of character development. Death is not becoming a more complex character. At most the world is being built, sure, but what is really going on is Vigil is trying to make Darksiders 2 a longer game with more content. So they create these fetch quests which delay the main story to pad onto the game length and create new dungeons.

Now let's jump to a game company that is known for exemplary story-telling in the West. Bioware.

Dragon Age: Origins begins with our selected heroic origin, which establishes your character's past and provides the impetus for them to join the Grey Wardens. The second quest is... y'know, I don't really remember the actual purpose of the second quest, but it manages to introduce the player to characters that will be valuable later. The third quest is to defend the fortress and fight against the Dark Spawn. The first major event pops up and we have our villain established. We have our overall objective.


According to Google Image Search, women find this sickly visage attractive.


Then the story pretty much stops while you go and complete three different quests where the villain basically sits and waits for you to come at him (okay, so he tosses Elven Antonio Banderas your way, but that's about all) and the Dark Spawn just sit and let you take your time. While the player is able to interact with the secondary characters and allow them to develop, it isn't through the actual story itself. It's by taking time outside of the plot.

Fifteen to twenty hours later you finally move the plot forward, and it feels like you're jumping ahead. It's like the writer didn't know what to actually do with the story once you discovered who the villain was and when you'd jump in to bust him up. You basically went on one giant fetch quest. Mass Effect was basically the same way. Several missions to collect characters where the main plot didn't really move forward too much. Same with Mass Effect 2.

Or let's take Dead Space as another example. When I talk to people about it, there's always that slog in the middle of the game. I nod and say "Yeah, it doesn't really ramp up until about Chapter 10". That's because the first few chapters are interesting. You're introduced to the Ishimura, separated from your team and gain your objective to meet back with them.

Then you spend several chapters doing nothing but fixing the damn ship. You have the occasional cryptic vision and something sort of creepy occasionally happens, but on the whole you're just fixing the ship. The closest thing to a plot development is the one crazy guy that believes Necromorphs are the future and sends Big Scary after you, but nothing in the plot really develops. It's just an excuse to keep playing the game until the final two chapters that start to wrap things up and bring the game to a close.

Now, technically this isn't exclusive to Western games. Ocarina of Time basically stops the plot while you grab the three Medallions as a kid, then stops the plot again while you rescue the sages. Yet it seems to be less of an issue where Japanese games are concerned (in these classic examples I've intentionally picked to illustrate my point).

Let's look at the beginning of Final Fantasy VI. The overall goal is "stop the Empire", but the story feels like it moves on more naturally. Character-based sub-goals exist. Terra has amnesia, so that is a constant story point. Locke, a contact for a rebellious group known as the Returners, is summoned to try and help Terra out as she could be a valuable asset, be it in her knowledge of the Empire or her magic abilities. Locke takes her to Edgar, a King pretending to help the Empire, where the story progresses. Kefka marches in, burns the Kingdom to the ground, and the trio of heroes get away. From there on they head to the Returners hide out, meeting Edgar's brother Sabin along the way without it being a spelled out objective. No one says "You guys can't meet the Returners until you do this quest!" It is merely on the way and just happens.

Or let's illustrate how the player would get the Tiny Bronco in Final Fantasy VII if it were written by Western game developers. Now, remember, the Tiny Bronco is obtained in a village where the player also gets Cid after Shinra shows up with their own objective. The whole idea is to lead the player to a location where the story moves on and offering the player the tools for the next location. It happens naturally, there's a sense of world-building and character development, and it feels natural for the enemy to be there since they, too, are looking for ways to catch up to Sephiroth.

Now I present to you Obtaining the Tiny Bronco in a Western Video Game.

Tifa (over Intercom): This place is called "Rocket Town". You're going to need find a man named Cid Highwind here.

Cloud: And he can get me a plane to fly to Sephiroth?

Tifa: Hopefully. Cid is known to have a bit of a temper, and-what's that?

Cloud: Aw damn! Shinra soldiers!

Tifa: Watch it! There are civilians around this place! Try not to shoot any of them!

Cloud (diving into cover): Easier said than done, lady!

Designer's Note: You can't actually shoot any civilians, the costs in models, textures and motion cap would be too expensive. We're just sticking a bunch of clones to occasionally duck their heads and run across screen. It'll be "immersive"

Player battles through the corridor-like town of Rocket Town until they hear some gunfire and foul language in the distance.

Cloud: What's all that about?

Cloud looks around the corner to see Cid Highwind blasting some Shinra soldiers up in a manner more bad ass than the game controls could possibly allow. He will never be this awesome on your team and will instead die half the time getting to cover that's out in the open.

Cid: Yeah! Eat that you son of a bitch! How's it taste?!

Tifa: Sounds like our guy.

Cloud: That's the greatest pilot this side of the world? You're kidding me.

Tifa: I dunno, looks like you guys ought to get along swimmingly.

"Objective: Find Cid Highwind" crosses out. Once the player approaches Cid, the screen fades out and into a cut-scene where Cid curb stomps a Shinra guard.

Cloud: Hey, you Cid-Whoa!

Cid (pointing a gun at Cloud): Lookout! I'm a middle class white man on the edge! I'm angry because I fit this game's target demographic and they have pent up cubicle and high school rage and angst!

Cloud: What do you know, I'm the same! Let's be best friends, only act like we hate each other because men are too manly to be best buds forever.

Cid: Sounds like a plan!

Cloud: So I hear you can fly people around and shit.

Cid: You hear right, but there's no way I'm taking my beautiful baby off the ground without a fight!

Cloud: We hate Shinra, too.

Cid: Well why didn't you say so? Let's get going.

Tifa: Uh, you guys might want to hurry along.

Cloud: What? Ah, shit. More Shinra incoming!

Cut scene blends into gameplay, and the player is able to shoot through the corridors of Rocket Town with Cid by his side. In the upper left corner "Objective: Get to the Plane" appears.

Fast forward, the player reaches the Tiny Bronco. They get on board, fly away, and the screen fades to black. The screen then fades in as the plane lands outside the Temple of the Ancients. Tifa notes this is where Sephiroth is, but the door he's in is locked! The player must grab three keys to unlock the door and yatta yatta you get the picture.

Now, okay, that's a lot more unfair than it really ought to be. The real issue in my mind is a video game writer's inability to marry the concept of story progression with the natural goal-oriented nature of video games. In order for a player to have a sense of progress throughout a game there must be goals, and the easiest way to portray them is as an objective.



Yet the two can work together. Let's look at Brutal Legend as an example. Even though the player has a list of objectives for attacking General Lionwhyte, they manage to make it feel as if the player is progressing through the story. After all, they're trying to build an army, and each step of the way characters are introduced, established and evolved. Eddie Riggs didn't have to go slay the giant Spider monster because the Killmaster wouldn't join him otherwise, they did it in order to save a gravely wounded friend. We learned more about Ophelia when she disobeyed orders and tried to fight by herself, and through that action she returned hurt which created a goal on its own. It moved the main plot forward while developing characters.

This sort of plot advancement is even possible in a shooter game! It just seems as if no one really knows how to marry the two together.

Which, truth told, isn't completely surprising. My understanding of the industry is that the designers will usually outline the plot, and then a writer is hired in to fill out the dialogue. This is a God awful approach to things and is typically the sort of approach that yields pretty by-the-numbers movies from Hollywood (a Producer or Director will come up with a basic story and hire someone to fill it out for them). Brutal Legend was able to do a much better job because Tim Schaffer has proven since the start of his career that his talents lie beyond the technical.

So while the games industry is hiring people that are better at dialogue, they really need to be stepping up a writer's involvement. Have the writer there from the beginning, or even go so far as to get story ideas from writers that will then flesh the game out, all while working with a designer. Sure, this means a writer will need to learn how to deal with stuff left on the cutting room floor, but if you're writing for video games then hopefully you already know enough about the industry for that.
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ccesarano
9:18 PM on 09.20.2012


First, while this is related to things that are part of the game world, it is technically a more personal blog. As such, if I should add "NVGR" to the title, just let me know and I'll do so.

Second, before I get started, I just wanted to give a big thank you to Mr. Andy Dixon for promoting my blog Fat on Games. I checked in on Twitter real quick Thursday morning before heading out to Escapist Expo and @sezonguitar had sent a message complimenting me on my article. I check the front page and lo and behold, there it is. When I got back from the expo I finally had a chance to sit down and go through the comments, and I was stunned. Of the 70 some comments, none of them were an outright insult. None of them were trashing my thoughts or complaining about the sort of content Destructoid promotes (which I've seen in the past). It was overwhelmingly positive.

So I want to thank each and every one of you for that. I don't know how, but it does matter...and will tie in later to this blog, actually.

Now then, to the topic.

I like to be introspective. I like to try and figure out why I behave a certain way, particularly so I can improve on my flaws. I've been a jerk in the past, for example, and I've tried to be much more considerate as a result. It's a work in progress. When my ex-girlfriend and I broke up I discovered (though actually became aware of it all too late) that I am the strong jealous type. It's an awfully hard habit to break oneself of, even after being aware of it.

In truth, though, I can't always explain things. Or if I do, they sound awfully trite. My siblings and I grew up in one of those shitty small towns where sports are the important thing. Well, if you were a boy. My brother and I sucked at sports, but my sister was actually a rather good soccer player. Yet for some reason all three of us were outcast, and because we had young parents thrown into a marriage and parenthood they weren't ready for they "done fucked up", as the Ivory Tower sorts might say. This has left all three of us with a desperate need to be loved.

See? It's the sort of origin you expect to find in the journal of a thirteen year old that really, really likes Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Yet for as long as I can remember I've dreamed of a sort of "off stage" fame. I never wanted to be the actor or anything of that sort. I wanted to be the famous creator. I had dreams of my comics published across the country, or films I wrote becoming major award winning pieces of cinema. Or as I approached high school and early College, I had dreams of standing up on stage at E3, demonstrating my latest game design. In any event, I had always dreamed of standing in front of everyone, saying "Here is my latest creation, I am so excited to share it with you".

These dreams have been dashed, smashed and crashed head first repeatedly, though most often by my own short-sightedness or bad habits. I spent years in elementary, middle and early high school wanting to be a comic artist as an adult, yet I chose to try and be a games programmer instead (and I didn't even want to program; I wanted to design games, but all the advice online at the time said you had to start as a programmer...two years later, all the advice said you could start as anything and later become a designer.).

I gave up on my dream of making games, but simultaneously discovered that I enjoyed writing. In fact, I had been writing about games as a simple hobby for a long time. After taking a Journalism minor in College and spending some time as a writer for Wii60.com (I'll gladly tell that entire story another time), I decided I wanted to be a games critic. Not a reviewer, a critic. I didn't want to merely give consumer advice. I wanted to break down and analyse games as an art form. I wanted to take what I learned in a lot of my human factors and software design classes and apply them to how I viewed and dissected games.

Let me pause a moment to realize just how much more I'm writing than I had originally anticipated. I was supposed to be well into the point by now.

In any case, for almost a year after I graduated College I was unemployed. During that time I tried to get typical white collar work, but I was still dreaming of getting into games writing. I joined game journalist "social networks" that weren't really filled with any major journalists, just other amateur hopefuls such as myself. I did some news writing for GamersHell.com and quickly learned that I hate writing news articles. I joined GamersDailyNews and swiftly learned that I cannot stand writing previews. You cannot dissect a preview. You can't write out thoughts about what is and isn't working because it is an unfinished product. A preview is literally marketing material, and I wanted to provide feedback. Yet a lot of readers don't view it that way. If you give a laundry list of problems, readers remember that, and next thing you know you have an almost different game that sells poorly because of one shitty preview build six months ago.

Where did that leave me? Where everyone else that wants to write about games ends up. Sort of. Whenever I discussed reviews with other wannabe writers, it astounded me how little thought was really put into the process. I had been trying to figure out what works and what doesn't for years, trying to perfect the balance between entertainment and being informative. I felt like an asshole because the work of my peers was boring to me. I just wanted to go in and scratch stuff out, give recommendations for how to spice it up, and to tell them to stop writing as if they're looking past the keyboard to their notes with all the bullet points to hit.

All the while, throughout College, I still tried a side hobby of doing a comic of my own. Simultaneously, I tried really hard to inject some real effort into writing it, making it funny. Sometimes ideas I found hysterical fell flat with the audience, other times I wish I could just tear certain strips off the Internet forever, and then there were the slew of comics that others thought were awesome.

So what's all this come to? Well, basically, I feel like there are two versions of myself, and both of them sat on my shoulders this Escapist Expo.

Let me pause again to count how many paragraphs it took for me to actually get to the point... Unless I miscounted, fourteen paragraphs and one sentence. If you're still around, well, I don't know what's got you so bored, but thanks for reading.



Anyway, I was already feeling good about heading to Escapist Expo. I was a bit worried due to the small size that it would turn into another VGXPO or GameX (both failed gaming shows in the Philadelphia area), but I was so wanting to support a gaming show on the East Coast aside from just PAX East. Two gaming conventions a year? How delightful!

This emotional high was only boosted by @sezonguitar's comments and my article being front-paged here. I was completely stunned. Then I got an e-mail from YouTube notifying me that some random guy thinks some anime music video I made back in high school is the best thing on their website. I don't understand why, but okay! I've been getting compliments on my artwork a lot lately, my writing was front-paged, someone likes my video from ten years ago and I'm going to Escapist Expo! Nothing can go wrong!

Which was true the first two days. Friday and Saturday were an incredible blur of meeting new people, getting to briefly speak with Jim Sterling in the hotel hall while the Carolina D20 Girls danced the Gangnam Style, getting drunk with a slew of expo goers and MovieBob in my room, and various moments of chilling with Cory Rydell and the D&D Sluggers, so on and so forth. It was just an all around fantastic time.

Two things ruined Sunday for me, though. The first was losing my voice. I tell you, screaming your lungs out at a nerd-themed Burlesque show on Friday and then at a concert on Saturday is not the best idea during a convention. Also: tea does NOT help heal a bad throat. I looked it up on Google. Drink lots of water or ingest honey some other way, but tea will hinder, not help.

In any event, the voice loss was just a gateway for that one horrible voice on my shoulder. My insecurities.

Remember that I said my siblings and I all want to desperately be loved by others. Well, this manifests differently in each of us. They tend to be obnoxious or emotionally violent, and their tempers flare when people refuse to accept them at their worst. Me, I am my own worst enemy. Even though my article was promoted and tons of people had told me I had written a good article, and even though there were a slew of people complimenting me on my art at the convention, all my insecurities struck me at once at Escapist Expo.

It hit hardest when everything was closed down and I sat at a collection of tables physically separated (not by rope or anything, just by the shape of the hotel) of the Escapist Content Contributors (Jim Sterling, Yahtzee Croshaw, Gavin Dunne, Graham Stark, MovieBob, etc.). I felt like going over to them, sitting and joining them, or at least joining the much more low key Cory Rydell and other...con goers? Staff? I couldn't tell. I wanted to be a part of them.

I wanted to be a peer.

This is the problem with having big dreams. While I do these things out of the love of doing them (why else would I write so, so many words even if they drive people away?), I also dream of being known for these talents. Yet I'm not, and for the most part I don't know how to get from where I am to where they are. More so, I don't even know if I deserve it. Sometimes I think of myself as one deserving bad ass son of a bitch. Other times I think I'm complete mud.

The worst part is I'm not sure if I'm torn between confidence and self-loathing or conceit and self-loathing.

It didn't matter to me, though. I sat there, looking at all those people gathered together, people that I wanted to stand beside, people that I felt I had something to offer in conversation... yet because they are where I want to be I cannot view them as other people. I must put them on a pedestal, and the over-thinking starts. It's almost like being a nerd trying to talk to a girl. There's this mental idea that women are this mystical thing, and so you try to think of the best combination of topics and words that will please them the most instead of being yourself.

So what I'm basically saying is while I was talking to Jim Sterling (I think I hugged him, it's a blur, I was drunk) I was also trying to figure out how to fuck him.

Okay, not really, but would you blame me? More cushion for the pu-anyway.

I was already feeling down because I couldn't give anyone a proper goodbye on Sunday. I tried speaking but no one could hear or understand me. I opened my mouth and whispers came out. But what really did me in was my crushing insecurities coming in and telling me that I'll never be as good as them.

This is one of the reasons I want to thank you all for your kind words on my promoted blog. It's so easy for me to consider it a fluke, so easy for me to get lost in my own self doubts, and it will happen again. But the more things like that happen, the easier it becomes to convince myself that it's a lie. That I am worth giving a damn about.

It is possible that I will never be a professional comic creator, or a games writer (both of which, I feel, are dreams worth pursuing, though considering the current state of things I'm going to push for comic artist for the time being). But God dammit, I want to try because, no matter what I tell myself, I know I am a talented individual. I may not "deserve" to be up on a panel with all of those other talented individuals, but I can at least try my hardest to earn the right to do so.

Until then, yes, I will be on the outside looking in. I will try not to do so, as it interferes with my ability to relate to these folks (except Cory Rydell, all around cool guy), but I can only change so much.



So thank you, all of you. I wish I could be a much more active member in this community, but unfortunately my job has become more active so I don't have as much time to browse the community blogs. In fact, all of my reading has dwindled. So while I try to make time on occasion, I cannot be as active as I'd like.

But I do think what you guys are trying to do with the Community Blogs is wonderful. I wish you luck in making the Destructoid community one of the best on the Internet.

Thanks for reading! Now go wash your brain out with something productive.
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