Still writing this thesis and I'm running into a roadblock of information. Does anyone know what the first gaming communities that existed online were? When was the first MMO released, for example, or when was the first gaming blog started?
It's hard to find information on this stuff, ironically, on the internet :(
This is part 1 of my series of blogs for my thesis on videogaming cyber cultures. Please comment, discuss, troll, I welcome it all!
ďBesides, interesting things happen along border-transitions-not in the middle where everything is the same. There may be something happening along the border of the browd, back where the lights fad into the shade of the overpassĒ
Snow Crash p. 122
I first started playing World of Warcraft in November of 2005. I was a sophomore in highschool at the time, playing water polo and swimming in junior varsity, going to the movies with my friends, and spending a large chunk of my days playing videogames. I remember purchasing the game, colloquially referred to now as WoW, because it was the first time I had ever peronsally used a credit card on my own and because three of my best friends had bought it the same week and we all planned to meet up and play together online. It was a new world for us, where we could be brave, where we could lead, where we could harass and talk, trading thoughts on everything from abortion to dances in high school to George W. Bush and our own personal stories of our homes, who we were in our safer digital skins.
I spent a year playing WoW, and remember the exact moment in January, 2006 when I deactivated my account for the final time. It had been an experience, a process of growing up, an addictive escape and a safe haven at the same time. The day I deactivated, however, was a time of relief for me, the culture had become personally intrusive into my life and affected my relationships with friends and family, I even lost a girlfriend because I ďplayed too muchĒ. For almost that entire year and the following, I hardly saw my brother, hardly even talked to him because he was addicted just as bad as I had been, spent, like I did, marathon amounts of time, bordering 15 hours and up on occasion, per day playing the game. To our parents, to my brotherís friends and I, it was clear that WoW was not merely ďjust a gameĒ, it was literally an indelible part of my life up to that point, with countless hours invested into maintaining an image virtually and interacting with people I never saw in real life but felt that I had personally known. As of October, 2010, there were estimated over 12 million active subscribers to the World of Warcraft gaming servers (http://bit.ly/dl38rl) experiencing everything from fighting alongside or against each other, chatting, maintaining actual businesses, marrying, murdering, loving and hating each other. There is even detailed 3rd party census data on the gameís population, though census-taking is not new in the online gaming world. It is clear that those who play World of Warcraft are investing their time in something that is more than a game to those who play it. With the advent of virally spread Facebook games like FarmVille mobile games available for the IOS (Appleís operating platform), Nintendo handhelds, and the explosive expansion of the MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game sphere, many millions of people have participated in a virtual culture that, in many ways, both mirrors and enhances the human cultural experience, regardless of which ďrealityĒ people prefer to believe in. These gamers are playing videogames and interacting with each other, participating in a major conduit of virtual culture that is, increasingly, bringing global society closer to the blurry intersection between reality and its virtual avatar.
Okay, let's be honest with each other right out of the gate, Rebecca Black's heavily bashed single, "Friday", may be the best song ever made, or at least the most viscerally metaphoric capturing of a generation I have ever seen.
The song, riddled with lyrics as seemingly deapan and simultaneously poignant as "Friday comes after thursday...we want to have fun, fun, fun". Falling down the rabbit hole, we think we are witnessing the comedic destruction of the english pop song and some how can't look away. Which seat should we take? What should we think? The internet's seemingly unabated wrath has been unleashed on the video, demanding the blood of the singer for her "stupidity and fatness" (I read that in a random YouTube comment).
Some laugh, some rage against their proverbial confines of reality, some are left just stumped. I can't stop smiling. In this moment, this snapshot of human communication as of 11:27 AM, 3/28/2011, a cultural battle/rage war on YouTube has reached international status, overtaking stories of civic upheaval across Africa, beating out announcement of a possible fragment of alien life contained in meteorites found on earth (http://yhoo.it/g16CX9), or how about Libyan rebels closing in on Ghadafi (http://yhoo.it/fguTh4)? The fact is that this video, this damnable piece of mystical autotunnery/kiddie earporn, has outstripped the majority of news for a wide swathe of the community. A lot of my friends at Cal, smart people, can't stop talking about Rebecca Black, and it seems that everyone is abuzz on the internet about her, is this a drug?
If you're interested, the wiki page on the song is really interesting. Wikipedia captures internet culture amazingly well - http://bit.ly/hhdKBX
It's in this moment that entertainment has taken over our lives, our attentions directed voraciously, indelibly, to an internet meme that blazing through the ranks of the internet and people's minds; This is our generation's news, at the time of this writing, there are 60,997,359 views of this video, the amount of words, communication's essence has changed. The lingo of a generation is more adept at communicating on the internet then we are in RL(:P), our tongue's more suited for the rolling sounds of digital lolz, the silent enslavement of our attention spans in search of "fun, fun, fun". When is the next thing to talk about coming? When will be numbed next? Are we having fun yet?
The internet, for better or worse, has broached global communication across the infinite networks of wires transmitting the power of a billion and a half voices at the speed of electrons, words bouncing off the nucleus of the human socio/cultural biomass. I'm starting to believe that our thoughts are no longer our own.
Hi, Iím new here but this isnít my first post on the site. Iím not a very experienced ďbloggerĒ per se, but Iíve written countless words on forums, pages, myspaces and walls over the years. Iím not really sure how I got here, but I know that the community, one of the best Iíve seen in my years on the interwebs, is why Iíll stay for a long time. People are curteous without being ďpolitically correctĒ and give you feedback without, normally, being douchetards about it. In a few words, Destructoid is that lemonade on a magical party island full of smart hot people stuck in a sea full of pedophiliac, homophobic, racist, evangelical, prostheltyzing trolls and Satanists. Basically those people who post on Yahoo! News.
Sooo, now I guess I introduce myself. My name is Will and Iím a 23 year-old Cal student who is graduating in two months. WAHOOOO! Since Iím on Destructoid, it goes without saying that I love the shit out of videogames, but Iím going to say it anyways ☺. The world to me is fascinatingly small and large at the same time. Where the future is heading is anybodies guess, but, since Iím writing my thesis on it, Iím willing to bet that the majority of peopleís lives will be spent in the virtual medium if that already isnít the case. On the subject of my thesis, Iíll be posting snippets of it up here in the blogs in the coming weeks, mostly focusing on my musings about online communities and the developing nature of virtual communications. It would be awesome to hear from the DToid community on your thoughts and predictions for the future and Iím stoked to engage in a dialogue with everybody. Iíve been working in social networking editorial circles for a while (last year as an editorial intern at IGN) and Iíd really love to keep heading in that direction in the future (so give me some job offers! :P)
One of my closest companions is a doggie named piper, Iíve got a special place in my heart for cheap Indian food and few things are as relaxing to me as lying on a beach in the cold sunlight of Half Moon Bay, Ca. Itís a pleasure to get to hang with all of you☺
When I was a little kid, my parents gave me a little cardboard sleeve that had three tiny, indelibly cute books in it, with the set being called "Voyage to the Bunny Planet". Maybe some of you remember it. Well, as a kid, when I was going through down periods I would flip the books open and enter a world, like the bunnies depicted in the books, where I could forget about my troubles and refocus on what was important in life.
It's this freaking relaxing.
For a while, gaming was akin to that escape for me. I didn't get FF7 until I was in middle school in like 2001 or so, but I remember hanging out at my buddies house in like 1998 just watching him play that game and it was an utterly engrossing experience for me. When I played games like Twisted Metal and Crash Bandicoot, it was the same experience as well. A momentary break from the real world that made you feel a little more fresh. Maybe it's because I was really young and life was less confusing back then, but a lot of those experiences have changed over the years. I'm 23 now and finishing up undergrad at a competitive, top-tier school that is just stressful sometimes. It seems, sometimes at least, that I've forgotten how to relax. I'll play games like Borderlands or Dragon Age or Oblivion for hours on end and maybe for the first hour they are relaxing, the rest of the time, however, just seems like a major grind. There's this book called "Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World" (gigantor title huh?) written by a Jane McGonigal that posits, based on studies, that playing videogames for 23 hours a week is good for you but playing anything more than that is bad. I haven't read the book, but it seems that I can't play certain games for extended periods of time anymore and still enjoy them. Final Fantasy XIII was just kinda mediocre as was Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 2 (GASP!). As enjoyable as Bioshock was, by the end of the game I just fucking wanted it to be over already (Mind you I played it nonstop for like 18 hours till I beat it).
Sometimes I don't know when to stop
Of course the games I listed all have great aspects to them, so before the pitchforks come out, let me say that I've had some great experiences as a gamer in my life and am not knocking gaming at all. From Smash Bros. to MGS2/3 to FF7-10 and many, many games in-between. I'm not sure this post is a "Why aren't games fun anymore?" kind of thing, but I increasingly think that sometimes I just need to escape from games back into a world that I originally escaped from. Perhaps it's because games are REALLY addicting. More and more studies are showing that games, when played too much, cause depression, anxiety and general loss of interest in everyday things. It's shitty, then, that something so fun can impact me so much. Of course I don't blame gaming, how could I? I blame myself for not knowing when to say no and not managing my time more effectively. How many of you experience this? Have you had to set aside time to game and then limit yourself doing it? Moderation in all things, as they say, is best, but how do you get back into life after you've spent so much of it gaming? In the past, I would drop 10 hours into games in a day, easy, and then just feel like shit later on (FUCK YOU WoW!), but, now that I'm getting older, I'm getting more and more concerned that my life is actually being wasted. Seriously, it's hard for me to say that gaming sometimes is a waste of life, but, in my case, when you play that much for that long, important, happy moments pass you by and sometimes you forget what it's like to live life normally.
"What do you say, guys? You can jus... you can just hang outside in the sun all day tossing a ball around. Or you can sit at your computer and do something that matters..."-Cartman
Maybe I've spent too much time escaping important things in my life that now relaxation doesn't come as easily as it once did, maybe that's just what getting older is like. Too much shit to do, not enough time to do it all, but, sometimes, I think we all just want to escape to our own proverbial bunny planets where life makes some semblance of sense even for just a bit. Blink 182 was right, nobody likes you when you're 23:P
I had typed up a huge diatribe, but forgot to save it and my I was logged out, but I endure and endeavor to try again, this time I'm going to be more straight to the point and less ragey.
Oblivion had some of the worst character models of faces I've seen in gaming and certainly among the worst of the worst in this generation of consoles. The game was enjoyable though. Deadly premonition, as Jim has pointed out, is fucking terrible looking, with bad texturing, bumpy objects (are those wheels on the car?), hilarious voice-acting and wonky controls but it still is a great game and appealing. The reasons for both of these games successes as games, not fiscally for Deadly Premonition, is that the style, narrative and gameplay worked well within the medium and the presentation did not sell us something that the game couldn't back up. Images are worse than words because they carry no context with them. When Mr. Hines says, in refrence to the selling power of "good" graphics/images, "it's so much easier to get them (the audience)", it sounds to me like he is really saying, "images are great because we don't have to show you how this game works or how fun it is, we can show you ADD-addled children a pretty-picture and you'll buy our shit because of it, easy monay".
The message is what matters in all forms of communication, not what you are presenting in words or pictures but what is actually being said. When someone looks at an image, they know nothing other than something looks cool. Playing with cool looking shit, as has been proven in gaming, without having that mysterious and elusive fun-factor mixed in is like taking LSD and sitting in a hitlerian WWII bunker. Pretty lights and colors will appear before you, to be sure, but you aren't going to be able to do the stuff you want with them. The most popular IOS app, Angry Birds, is not a particularly graphically-stunning game compared to a game like Infinity Blade, also on the IOS, but it IS a better game nonetheless and it sold infinitely more than most games on all of the current-gen consoles not to mention the IOS apps. WoW, when compared to the artistically and graphically stunning Guild Wars, looks like a free-online mmo, but how many users does Guild Wars still have? Funny side note, Medal of Honor looked really good too right? Wonder how that game did...
Because of editors, gamers and the noosphere of information, images are pretty irrelevant in the stream of data that gaming market and gamers are saturated with. I would go so far as to say that graphics are irrelevent, out-dated and illusionary. For games like FF7 they really mattered because it made the game stand out from all of the other JRPG's of the day but back then there were a TON of great RPG's, just not very many graphically impressive ones. Square was suffering financially something bad in those days and FF7 rescued it from the brink by the pure happenstance of hype being met and fans being made. It's part our fault as gamers, of course, we're part of the reason why our generation is so attention poor and information-drenched, image-saturated. In an age of cheap data, attention is expensive, maybe that's why it's hard to make good games now. It's easy to make things look good, but I won't buy it.