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Andrew Dice attempted to kill himself earlier this year because of Trails in the Sky The Second Chapter. This came as a shock to me because I'd followed Carpe Fulgur for a number of years as a translation studio. After I became enthralled with their first project, I began keeping a lookout on this company's rise to prominence as they became what I considered to be the catalyst to the wave of Japanese PC games that have made their way west recently.
The optimism the studio presented before they went dark this year was refreshing and represented a pair that really seemed like they had the special something it takes to become something big in this industry. Trails in the Sky was their opportunity and it crushed the soul of the man who dared to dream big. He's lost that opportunity because he entered into the vicious cycle that is depression.
Most of us deal with that monkey on our back regularly. Some days are better than others. Others are so much worse than the ones before it.
I've struggled with it all my life. I think this hobby of mine is a coping mechanism for it. I enjoy escapism much in the same way as many of you. I love how it takes me away from things. For years, I've tried to write blogs to emphasize what I enjoy as a sort of brain dump to move things forward. In fact, I've been struggling with a bit of depression right now, which is what made Andrew's struggle so shocking for me.
So I figured I'd open up about my depression.
I'm still in my 20s, but I have considered myself middle aged for a few years now. I have been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis since my college days, which doesn't stop me from feeling like an old man on a day to day basis. What really ages me though is my father who succeeded in commiting suicide with a gun when I was about 13. Sorry if that's sudden, there isn't really a way to finesse that statement. If my memory serves me right, he'd have been about 53 which makes me over half way there.
My mother was hospitalized by her friend roughly half a decade ago after finding she'd taken too many pills in what mom has said was not an attempt, but a misunderstanding. Seeing her spitting up charcoal in the ER is still etched in my head.
In high school, I was drawn to my now ex-wife who had a history of troubles that involved tell tale signs of depression.
I've had to struggle with understanding what depression actually means to the people around me all my life. I've been thinking about what the world would be like without me since puberty. I've randomly thought of my suicide as a joke. As a joke! It's almost absurd to write out as I don't even think I can elaborate how I've vividly internalized the words "God I wish I were dead" with how I could do it, but with no intent truly behind them.
I say no intent, because I've personally had to understand the reality of what happens after somebody dies like this. I've had to come to grips with the why and the how and seen the indecency that can come out of it. I'm not and never will be suicidal out of sheer stubborness, but I can get pretty depressed and it sucks and can overwhelm everything.
I write all this for a reason. I've never had any help with depression. My father died towards the end of my freshman year of high school. My mother pushed me to go to a support group of students that had gone through this, but I was told that since it was near the end of the semester I'd have to wait until the fall before I could join. So I went a whole summer dealing with my father's death in my own way.
I had friends that helped me and friends that avoided me that summer. I had family do the same. Some of it helped, some of it hurt, and some of it I just didn't understand how to deal with.
By the time the fall semester began, I started to use my counselor as a means of cutting class once a week. I never once talked about my father in those sessions and I learned very quickly that these people were about as interested in hearing me talk about it as I was in actually talking about it. So for an hour every week, I talked sports. I didn't even care a whole lot about sports. It's just a hell of a lot easier to talk about than anything else.
Which is interesting. Now that I think about it, even on here I've done the same. Years ago the lovely Chad Concelmo posted a write up on how unsettled he felt in his playthrough of Space Quest 4. It sparked a bit of a controversy in the community (especially in the comments which has unfortunately been deleted in this the Disqus era). He was called a wimp at the time by some.
My immediate reaction was to write up about how I just couldn't play Persona 3 in some sort of support for him (or maybe just me), which I never did. I really wanted to, I just...never did. Consider this to be my delayed effort. I couldn't play that game based on the imagery (like you see above) constantly put forth. I don't hold anybody accountable for putting it across, I just emotionally couldn't get more than an hour in. I like to think I'm stronger but that just offends my sense of fun.
Small things set off emotional triggers and the weird thing is I knew this going in. I tried to power through it as some stupid sort of quest of emotional strength. Then I just couldn't. I guess it was my way of trying to feel like I could enjoy things like games without being controlled by imagery.
I somehow tied this back into games. I don't know why I thought of that, but maybe its just me reminiscing. I won't take it out because it's long overdue.
My main point (before I decided to go on about Persona) was that I, like many people, avoid dealing with depression. As a father and the heir of a family run business, I know stress. I know expectation. I know failure and what it means not to meet a goal. I know all these things.
I only now know that I've been avoiding venting. That's why my new year's resolution is going to be to go to a therapist and actually vent. For years I've internalized stress. It's worked to get me through some things, but eventually I've come to realize that I don't really like to rely on friends and family for venting. I need somebody to help.
My family and friends have been there for me through good times and bad. They just really don't know it. Maybe you do the same, or hell you might be more relatable with yours. It doesn't really matter. If you are suffering through depression, make it your new year's pledge to do something progressive about it. We all have a monkey on our back. Maybe somebody can help us before we stare at a knife like Andrew did.
I don't know if it'll fix anything for you. I don't know if its going to fix anything for me. I do understand that depression isn't something that just appears as a bad day. It's a bad week, a bad month, a bad year that beats on you. It changes how you think. It crushes you. It also won't go away without some change.
Escaping into film, games, blogs and the like was a great way to mask issues behind creativity for me. Its not an answer for depression. I don't even know if there is an answer. There are people out there that can help though. If you don't feel comfortable with those close to you, there are people you can pay to sit down and work them out with you.
I'm going to try that out. I welcome you to please do the same.
I am streaming for the Children's Miracle Network event Extra Life. If you would like to come join me, do so. If you don't, that's just fine. I am doing this to raise funds for sick kids so if you could spare any change, that would be swell.
Find out all about why I'm doing this, the raffle and more here.
Watch live video from manasteel88 on www.twitch.tv
Well it is time again to give back to the less fortunate by giving to the hospitals that treat them. That's right, it's Extra Life time. This year at random, I've chosen to randomly represent a hospital system in New Jersey. I encourage you to sign up and gather donations for any of the many hospital groups represented for Extra Life.
I have created a Destructoid team page so you can do just that.
To help drum up support for donations I've collected a number of unused steam codes and will offer them up for raffle. All the details are down below.
With this year's event, I will be raising funds for Children's Specialized Hospitals, a system that does a great deal of work across a number of locations in New Jersey. They offer services across the board from autism awareness and training to long-term care for a wide range of disabilities.
As with every year, I chose one hospital at random. I probably will never need their services as I don't even live in the state. The reason I choose random hospitals is because it doesn't really matter which one I choose specifically. Helping children regardless of location should be the goal for all of us.
My Extra Life Page is here
If you have ever donated to my Extra Life events, you've received a game. Each year I have collected a number of games that I raffle out personally. This year is no exception. I'm still going through my list, but here's a start.
AAAaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAA for the Awesome
English Country Tune
Metal Slug 3
Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball
Take On Helicopters
The Bard's Tale
Thomas Was Alone
I will be streaming all day October 26th. Twitch seems to be giving my PC issues so we'll see come Sunday if I can even run anything. The theme this year (which coincides with my low powered PC) is games from my childhood. If I can't get Xsplit or my stream to work, I'll bust out the SNES and rock this out old school and take a picture of my struggles.
If I can, I'll try to beat the AWFUL Spider-man/X-men Arcade's Revenge as well as some other games that I own like Super Mario World or FFTAdvance.
If you want, come watch me. If you don't want (I wont judge), just donate and I'll love you all the same.
Since you haven't asked, I'll just post some random stuff:
How to Donate?
Click on the link below:
Donate to Extra Life
Fill out all the information and the amount you want to donate. Even if you only spare a dollar, I will gladly accept it and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Next, make sure you click the little box that says "Allow participants to see my email address"
This allows me to track who donated so I can enter you into the raffle. If you choose to donate anonymously, I won't be able to see you and I won't be able to get you entered in the raffle.
If you want to message me for a certain game, I won't promise you the game, but I won't say I won't be swayed by the request of a donor.
Donations are live right now so please donate anything you can.
How can we watch you?
On Sunday October 26th I will hopefully be streaming on my personal Twitch page.
When will you draw the Raffle?
Depending on how sleepy I am and how many donations I have to send it, it could take me a day or two to get back to ya'll. I should be raffling things off by the 2nd though.
Why do this?
Well, I want to get as much money I can to help sick kids across the world. I'm doing this because we all need to help reduce the cost of healthcare for children. I won't promise you this will save lives, but it has the potential to change them. If the money raised just pays for a single janitor to clean the hospital for even a day, that helps recovery for these kids. If it buys a bunch of pop sickle sticks, that is something that reduces the always increasing medical costs.
I'm only asking for whatever you can give. $1 suits me just fine. While it's still open I will ask you to do anything you can to help raise funds for children's hospitals.
I have no money, what now?
Join our team and ask for your own funds. Advertise via twitter, facebook, etc. or just join the twitch page if you have time. Fundraising events need word of mouth for people to get excited. I'm trying to get people excited and any help is...well...helpful.
Sorry for the lateness of this post, but I've been ripping my hair out trying to get my streams to work. FFSplit is a great alternative to Xsplit except when it crashes every goddamn time I go live. Xsplit is being a real resource hog, so I don't know how this is all going to play out on Sunday. Also, I have no idea how to use OBS.
Hi guys. It's...uh...been awhile. My god, December??? Look how time flies.
It's been so long, that I doubt many of you will have remembered me. The ones that do, god bless you. The ones that don't, don't worry about it.
I quit my job over at Twinfinite in June which makes this my first real appearance back on the web since then. I've been busy building my own website for work (the one that puts a roof over my head) and well, it has been taxing my time. I'd love to say that I quit my job for some serious drama after seeing the dissolution of the "gaming press" over the past few months, but honestly I needed to take some time for me. I had lost the fun of all of this which means I needed to leave.
It was a dick move that I quit like the weekend before E3 and left them a reporter down though. I felt kinda bad about that.
The crew that were running around when I was there were all really cool. If you happen to see one of them at a convention or randomly walking the street, run up and give them a high five for me.
Anywho, this isn't a post to say I'm going to be writing a bunch of articles, but something popped up on my feed this weekend that said Extra Life was going on, so I had to set something up. I whipped out my little pathetic donation jar at work and even got my kid working a lemonade stand for extra change because it helps sick kids.
So seeing as how I couldn't find a Destructoid or Twinfinite Team Page, I just decided to make one out of the blue for Destructoid. You can join if you haven't or you can just donate whatever extra cash you have lying around to a good cause.
I'll do a full write up this week at some point since I have no idea how I'm going to set everything up on my outdated laptop I'm currently writing on. Not even sure if this thing has the power to run any games, let alone stream them, so I'll need to sit down and think this thing through.
Less importantly, this time off has given me very little time to focus on anything. So honestly, I've been playing Pokemon for the first time in over a decade.
The way that Nintendo has gone on to improve this system really proves why they are the only ones in this genre. Just the way that dual types affect things is impressive to see implemented with such restraint. I think Y has its share of issues, but it is a beautiful game that I've been picking up and playing whenever I have free time.
Now all I need is friends so I can understand how awesome a "friend safari" is.
Other than that, I've not felt really impressed with anything. New console cycles have a way of stemming things as everybody gets caught up, but nothing has made me foam at the mouth, which means I'll just hold on to my money all the more.
What has been interesting me are these nice little Humble Bundle book deals. I'm extremely sceptical of the online distribution of comic books. The idea is something easy to comprehend, but the implementation is not there amongst any major publishers. Or at least it wasn't years ago.
Fear of theft is something I'm not keen to fall behind as a consumer. Locking my books to websites crappy readers gives little encouragement to make me want to invest in a product. For a company like Crunchyroll I'm less apprehensive because piracy is insane in the west for manga and this gives everyone a cheap chance to adopt some new material. Marvel doesn't get that break.
These Humble deals however are wetting my whistle handily. I migrate my entertainment rapidly. Be it games, film, or comics, I find myself always toeing a line between the 3. Since DC's ham fisted relaunch and Marvel's destruction of Spider-man, I've not felt passion for the medium in years.
Paying some $15 for 12 books that I can have on every crappy piece of computing I own in my house isn't such a bad deal. I can finally see if dropping Acclaim was the turn around that Valiant needed. Hint: it was and I'm kinda impressed at the quality of Harbinger.
I'm happy to be reading and investing (cheaply) in some comics worth reading again.
I don't know how to end this, so I guess I'll finish on why I've become a bit disillusioned by games over the years. When I got really into games, it was JRPGs that defined what I was looking for. To be exact, it was the triple threat of Breath of Fire III, Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics that cemented what I loved about gaming.
Capcom has abandoned the Breath of Fire series and the man driving Final Fantasy became too ambitious and had to flee the company and leave it to corporate bigwigs who knew not how to build a product, only to make profits off it. When this pheonix rose from the ashes and brought us something new as Mistwalker, it was a pair of good RPGs in Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey.
Then everything started to turn downwards. The reason for this again was corporate bigwigs. I'm a huge fan of Sakaguchi, but 2010 and 2011 was absolute bullshit for him. In one fell swoop, Mistwalker lost every single developer they had for their projects. Something to think about when you complain that he's making an iOS game.
AQ Interactive was Cavia (Cry-On), Artoon (Blue Dragon), and feelplus (Lost Odyssey) before the 2011 merger with Marvelous. For those that like to connect the dots, this merger took Sakaguchi's entire development structure and destroyed it in the span of a year. It turned a potential JRPG powerhouse and reduced it to an iPhone developer.
The worst of which is that most the teams were disbanded or broken up to freelance elsewhere. The director has no team and the teams have no talent. The revival of the great JRPGs from the east fizzled in one fell swoop as they were just beginning to become something worth noting. Anyway, I am still pissed off about that and as somebody that had to review a lot of JRPGs between 2010 and now, I still haven't gotten over it.
See you guys this weekend. Donate, if not to me then to any number of organizations that are doing real things this month. Give some change to a homeless guy or something, just do anything that makes someone or some thing better.