So not long ago I saw an ad on ign.com for a freelance writer. Whoop! Dream job. All they were asking for was a short CV and a 1000 word writing sample. I whipped it up the same night. They never got back to me. Assholes.
I couldn't think of any other thing else but to put the application up here as my maiden Dtoid post. I will also use the internet to add a few pretty pictures. Enjoy.
2010 was a different year for me in terms of video games. Like any other year, I kept up to date with the releases, read the reviews, picked up all the acclaimed masterpieces. But there was one game that separated itself from the pack. It demonstrated to me that videogames, when approached from the right mindset, could become a profound medium for generations of people.
That game was MAG.
I will admit that I was late on entering the MAG scene. It launched to a lukewarm response from critics. I assumed the 256-player-count was a gimmick, and I was put off by comments that it felt like “a generic first-person-shooter”. However, there remained a latent curiosity. It was not until June of last year that I picked up MAG, at a discount.
Since then, I have poured over 700 hours into the game.
MAG is a shooter unlike any other. Hidden beneath the player count, the endless bunkers and the hidden objectives, MAG offers a deep level of strategy and tactics. This is what keeps me coming back. It is not through a monotonous process of shooting enemy soldiers without purpose. Instead, it is the reward that comes from knowing I contribute to something greater than myself. MAG is huge and diverse. It is more than a shooter; it is a theatre of war.
There is an even greater reward: that of leadership. To actually be given the opportunity to lead. Given the chance, a player can thrust him/herself into a position where they can organise a combined assault of 32 or even 128 players. That leader can broadcast a voice, heard by every single teammate on the battlefield.
This is profound. Effective leadership in MAG requires the same skills that a real leader has in real life. For example, a leader does not command, he requests. A leader strives to bring out the best in his subordinates. A leader leads by example. A leader naturally commands via respect.
I brooded over these elements for a few weeks. Reaching into my knowledge of oriental literature, I came up with this:
I have come to the conclusion that MAG had the potential to teach me the art of leadership. A genuine life skill. On the flip side, it reveals some of our darker elements. I have seen evidence of leaders full of verbal abuse, muteness and selfishness.
Here I think lies the deepest potential for videogames. We already know it is the most engaging entertainment medium. It has been for the last few generations. There is a now a space for videogames to reach even further. It has the potential to teach us about life, to enrich our emotions, to help us connect, and to teach us about ourselves.
I believe that the industry is ripe to make this level of transition. This is because the industry has become polarised.
There is the top-level of development, where, year in, year out, AAA developers promise us a river of “blockbuster games”. But herein lies the problem: the reluctance for these developers to take risks, leading to an endless production line of annual sequels and updates. Activision and EA have already been found guilty of running their respective music and sports franchises into the ground. These are the leaders of the industry. They are subjecting everyone to feelings of monotony and apathy. What a waste.
Rather, it is the smaller developers - many of them independent - giving us the room to blossom. These guys are more willing to take risks. They are more willing to express themselves with integrity. They possess greater vision. This is where MAG succeeds over its competitors. Its scale forces its players to connect with other people on unprecedented levels. It is people that play MAG, people that lead other people in MAG, people that can hinder, even destroy MAG. Gambling on human responses is the risk developers must take. These smaller developers hold the key - these guys are to the major developers, what Bob Dylan was to the Beatles.
One of the great examples is LittleBigPlanet. Since its release in 2008, the PS3 community has been united in collective amazement. By combining a network of cloud community and creativity, thousands of gamers are offered a blank digital canvas to create their dormant dreams of platforming beauty. Some of these creations have defied belief. 2011’s sequel can only deepen its potential.
Similarly, platformers have provided a medium for independent developers to embark on new methods of storytelling. In some cases, the relative simplicity of a platformer allows a deeper level of emotional immersion. Simplicity also permits online distribution for under twenty dollars. Two games in particular come to mind. This year’s Limbo confronted gamers by juxtaposing innocent images of children against visceral feelings of ambiance, dread and horror. 2008’s Braid, in addition to its original time-manipulation gameplay, basked us in beautiful music and long written soliloquies of love and loss. Arguably, these releases are not so much videogames, but genuine works of art.
Art form has shown an ability to stretch itself beyond what was thought possible. Two PlayStation juggernauts demonstrate this through level design. “Epic” is the only word that can justify God of War’s levels, provoking feelings of both the familiar and the mythic. Shadow of the the Colossus, on the other hand, gave us vast, barren, decrepit landscapes that gave us feelings of dispair. SotC also succeeded is amazing storytelling, enough to make even the sassiest female gamer (Jessica Chobot) burst into tears. This is a good thing.
Storytelling is also gradually popping up as a key aspect of many recent games. Heavy Rainn left me feeling genuine tension. Mass Effect story is, for my money, the best sci-fi story I have seen in a long time. The Uncharted stories, gripped me with movie-like cinematics, believable voice acting and realistic sexual tension.
The future of the video game industry is at once certain, and uncertain, in these unstable economic and social times. What is for sure is that the industry will continue to grow, and it is up to developers to find new ways of engaging us. It is the human element of videogames that is the key to grasping our imaginations. Gone are the days when videogames were simple kid’s toys, when all that was required was press A, jump over a burning barrel, climb a few ladders and grind the next level. It is time for videogames to mature to the point when they can change us, teach us, make us feel, make us connect, make us human again. There is a bottomless well of content here; all that is required is a bit of creativity and some gamble. It is then that videogames can tap into its remarkable human potential.
Please note that I will not hold back Heaven help me
Whats your middle name? My full name is Nguyen Anh Tai David
How big is your bed? A double
What are you listening to right now? Last listened to James Brown, Live at Apollo 63
What was the last thing you ate? Dark Chocolate
Last person you hugged? A wee little lass I am seeing. She is MILF
How is the weather right now? Overcast, temperate
Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? MILF lady
What is the first thing u notice in the opposite sex? Small of her back; it's a tantra thing
Favorite type of Food. Mom's cooking
Do you want children? Maybe
Do you drink? Socially
Ever get so drunk you don't remember the entire night? Nope, I hold it together well
Hair color? Dark
Eye colour? Dark
Do you wear contacts/glasses? Since I was 12... got over the self image thing early
Favorite holiday? Chinese New Year
Favorite Season? Spring
Have you ever cried over a girl/boy? My first love broke my heart... I was 19
Last Movie you Watched? Does Rome from HBO count?
What books are you reading? Mantak Chia
Piercings? I am too pure
Favorite Movie? American Beauty... I enjoy plastic bags
Favorite college football Team? N/A, I support Manchester United
What were you doing before filling this out? Messing with Crysis 2 beta
Any pets? No
Dogs or cats? Didn't you hear me
Favorite Flower? Orchids
Have you ever loved someone? Abso-fucking-lutely
Who would you like to see right now? Bob Dylan... he's coming in a few months
Have you ever fired a gun? To-do-listed
Do you like to travel by plane? It has its perks
Right-handed or Left-handed? To do what exactly... just kidding. Right
If you could go to any place right now where would you go? It's a secret
Are you missing someone? Always
Do you have a tattoo? Still too pure
Do you still watch cartoons on Saturday mornings? No, I sleep
Are you hiding something from someone? Always
ARE YOU 18? We are legal in Australia at 16
WHAT IS THE WALLPAPER ON YOUR CELLPHONE? A beautiful eastern floral thingy
DID YOU GET ENOUGH SLEEP LAST NIGHT? Sortof
FIRST THING YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THIS MORNING? Last night's score
WHAT DO YOU HAVE HANDY AT YOUR BEDSIDE? My netbook
GRILLED OR FRIED? Huh?
WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE? :)
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? Except when I really, really need to go
FAVORITE HANGOUT? Borders
3 THINGS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT? Music is one of them
FAVORITE SONG? Charles Mingus, Black Saint and Sinner Lady - I get to cheat because I consider the entire album a single continuous listen
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? Rejection
ARE YOU A GIVER OR TAKER? A giver before a taker
WHAT ARE YOUR NICKNAMES? People call me... David :)
WHAT IS YOUR DADS MIDDLE NAME? Thanh
WHATS YOUR MOTHERS MIDDLE NAME? Thi Tuyet
STUCK ON A DESERTED ISLAND & COULD TAKE ONE THING? Emergency distress GPS locator sounds about right
FAVORITE T.V. COMMERCIAL? Kevin Butler
FIRST THING YOU'LL SAVE IN A FIRE? My 1TB hard-drive
Whats your favorite color? Blue
WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU ALWAYS TAKE WITH YOU? My wallet and a clean pair of shorts
WHAT DID YOU WANNA BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? A doctor... things change dunnit
WHAT DO YOU USUALLY DO WHEN THE CLOCK TURNS 11:11? Depends on how I slept
THE COLOR OF YOUR BEDSHEEt? Brown... its sexier than it sounds
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BEFORE YOU GO TO BED? Sex, love, women... and videogames