Last night around midnight (I'm a night owl) I picked up the book that the UPS truck had left on my front porch earlier in the day, Masters of Doom. The incredible story of id software and their rise and fall through the ranks of elite gaming developers. The story follows the two Johns (Romero and Carmack) through their childhoods up to the release of Quake III arena. Absolutely amazing, the story of how these guys came from absolutely nothing, to be gaming culture icons is something that every gamer should at least take a peak at. I finished the book at around 6am wishing there was more to read.
Toward the end of the book the author spends some time talking about the Columbine shootings and what seemed to be the nation's accusing stare upon id software and their explosively popular game Doom, you know the one that created the FPS genre? Back to the point, it got me to thinking what in the world would cause these simple minded fools to immediately assume that a video game had caused these kids to show up at their high school and just pull the trigger on anyone that crossed their path? It seems to me that it is the country's way of skirting actual issues. The bullying of children in school, parenting done more physically than verbally, or maybe just the fact that some people don't think the way others do. Murder has been around since the human race has been on earth, yet people are constantly finding a source for such outrageous acts within video games, music, books, etc. With this still running through my mind I went to sleep.
Waking several hours later and walking by a television in my home I heard a very familiar sound, someone had taken a gun to their high school and started pulling the trigger. This is the second time a kid has picked up a gun and started shooting at unsuspecting people in a public place, if you remember the mall shooting in 2007. Upon hearing the news my first thoughts were for the people inside. My second being, when will the news attempt to blame this on a video game? While our favorite hobby has been maturing much throughout the years people not closely connected with video games might not be aware of this fact, but when will they finally come to terms with the fact that we are growing older and wiser?[img][/img][img]
In October of 2008 I went to my local game retailer to pick up Dead Space on the day of release. I had been pretty hyped about the game considering the graphic novel that had been released periodically before the release of the game not to mention the film that was to be released slightly after the release of the video game. Back to the story at hand, I bring the game home and pop it in to my Xbox 360. I still remember the first time I watched the intro to the game and thinking “okay this isn’t too scary so far”. I mean it wasn’t like the beginning of the original Silent Hill; I didn’t have knife wielding mutant zombie babies cornering me in an ally. Then I actually started playing, here I am walking in to a dark corridor no weapon in hand and I have some monster I have never seen before jumping out at me. I freaked out, paused the game, I was completely frightened. I played through the first half of the first level of Dead Space and couldn’t take it. I put the controller down shut off my Xbox and never picked up the game again, until I played Alan Wake.
Alan Wake is a game I have really been looking forward to. I am a huge fan of Stephen King and I saw this game as a Stephen King novel, just in video game form. I was rather timid about my purchase though, Dead Space being the last thriller/horror game I played I honestly didn’t know if I could play it. I was rather conflicted the entire time that I was driving toward my local game retailer. Alan Wake’s story had me very intrigued I just didn’t know if I had it in me to play through a horror game. Apparently I did.
While Alan Wake didn’t scare me as much as Dead Space the environments were very reminiscent of any nightmare you might have that included a wooded area.
Alan Wake’s story is what really made me continue through it while being completely terrified of my surroundings. I knew there was something that was going to pop out at me while walking down this path in the woods or through a line of log cabins, but in order to get the next piece of the story I had to get through it, gripping my controller as if it were the last thing I would ever hold on to. The “episode” structure of Alan Wake was also a huge help. By the end of every episode I was always trying my hardest to not turn off my console and when I finally reached the end it was always a huge relief, but not once did I stop playing until I had finally gotten to the conclusion of an episode.
On Monday June 7th I watched the ending credits of Alan Wake. Shortly after while sitting here trying to wrap my head around the ending of this great game it occurred to me that I had no new games to play, but I did have one that I had never completed. I am currently at the beginning of chapter 3 in Dead Space and really enjoying myself, playing a chapter at a time.
First off, I don’t quite know how to start, write, and finish this article so I’m just going to put some words down, hence the title. This is something I have wanted to write for a while just haven’t really put any effort in to it until right now while I’m drinking coffee at 11:12 PM after an unexpectedly long nap in the evening. Also, I would like to point out that I am in no way insulting bloggers, considering the fact that I am one only strengthens my point in saying this. I just want to put my opinion of what I do daily in to writing for others to see and get some feedback.
Feedback, isn’t it something that we all crave? Some form of attention given to us one way or another. The attention I crave the most is obviously feedback from my writing, I want someone to say something about it whether it be good or bad, and any type of response is great. Seeing as how I write for a less popular website when I actually do get a comment or two on one of my articles, it’s a very exciting ordeal. I remember the first time one of my articles was actually commented on I immediately told my friends and family “hey check this out someone actually had something to say about something I wrote!” It was just a piece about the sega channel, but damn it I was happy. Now when you look at “blog” sites such as Destructoid, Kotaku, and Joystiq their articles get commented on hundreds of times a day and it really makes me wonder where the excitement comes from once you have made it to one of these extremely popular sites with large communities. (For the record, 9 times out of 10 I am going to go to Destructoid to read an article rather than IGN simply because I know what I’m reading there is much more”pure” than something I would find on a large corporate site such as Gamepot or IGN, this may be a slight rumor but I believe there is some truth behind it.)
I suppose another reason I write for free on any website that will have me is the possibility of one day being a common name in gaming journalism. There isn’t a gaming blogger alive that hasn’t heard of Jim Sterling, Anthony Burch, or Dan Hsu, and why not look up to them as some sort of inspiration. All a couple of rather young mid twenties fellows that are doing exactly what us bloggers want to do, getting noticed daily simply for putting their opinion on paper. One thing that any person alive could attest to wanting to achieve before death is the achievement of grabbing the attention of hundreds if not thousands and then the realization that those people care about you, but more importantly care about your opinions.
I don’t have much to say at the end of this except that if there is one thing that I am absolutely great at, it is perseverance. Two years ago I set a goal for myself and that is to one day write for a large website or publication, and eventually this dream will be realized. To this day I have only had 4 people comment on anything that I have ever written on the website that I write for but day after day I go back to that website and write another article, and I have no plans of giving up this habit in the near future, because without perseverance I will get absolutely nowhere, but with it I can achieve just about anything.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines escapism as habitual diversion of the mind to a purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine. So, why do we game? Is it for the pure enjoyment of the activity, or do we dream of being the characters we control during our gaming sessions? Every person has something that they habitually do to escape the monotony of the everyday routine; it may be the weekly trip to the church, the weekend nights out to the bar, or your game of choice to get some sort of release from your daily life.
Anyone that plays video games has at least one friend that has been playing a certain FPS since its release, they have found a game, put a lot of time in said game, and now they just go online and destroy opponents on a daily basis. Rather than going out and getting a new game or trying the popular game of the week, they have stuck with this one game, why? Is it because they have found something that that is so enjoyable they have decided that no other game can live up to it?! That is very unlikely, the most plausible scenario I can come up with is that these people have found something that they are good at, they have put countless numbers of hours in to this game and they have, in their minds, risen above the crowd and while they are online, the spotlight is on them. Seeing the number 1 ranking next to their name during their online matches really gives them a feeling of accomplishment, and why shouldn’t it, who doesn’t want to be called number one? (Insert reference to Joe Esposito’s You’re The Best)
MLG (Major League Gaming) has recently taken the spotlight as far as popularity goes within competitive gaming, it even had a short lived Saturday morning spot on Spike TV. MLG went out and told everyone that they too could be a pro gamer, and all they needed was a rather hefty amount of money, and nothing holding them to one place, because if you want to be one of the top teams, you need to follow the circuit around the country. For us regular people that hold jobs down out of necessity, this is an impossible task, but there are quite a few people that take this plunge head first. One such team is the MLG’s Str8 Rippin one of the more popular teams on the MLG Halo 3 circuit, one of the team members (T Squared) has even landed a job on the G4 channel giving weekly tips on competitive first person shooters such as Halo and Call of Duty.
In a world that covets professional sports players that get paid millions of dollars to go out and catch a ball once a week why not dream of getting paid just as much to do something you love, playing video games. That is the trick of competitive gaming, these are kids sometimes still in their teens making thousands of dollars a year doing nothing else but playing other people in video games, and who wouldn’t want to do that?
-Scott R. “Escape Artist”
In 1994 the Sega Channel was released in North America and it was absolutely mind blowing. The year it was released I was 8 years old and I don’t remember exactly how I came to acquire the Sega Channel, but I do remember playing it. I was the owner of a Sega (obviously) rather than the Super Nintendo, and the Sega Channel was the one thing I had over my friends that were Super Nintendo owners, oh you’re playing Super Mario World? I’ll just go pick one of the 50 games that I received at the beginning of the month. I even remember waking up 2 hours early for school on the days that the new games were downloaded to the Sega Channel at the beginning of the month; it was like getting 50 games for Christmas, except it happened every month, wonderful.
When Sega Channel started there was a 25 dollar installation fee and it was 15 dollars a month, for 50 games a month. Let’s put that in to perspective, anyone that plays an MMO or pays for Xbox Live monthly understands what monthly fees are all about. World of Warcraft is 15 dollars a month, the same as the Sega Channel, except it is just one game. The Xbox Live monthly fee is $7.99 month to month if that is how you pay, and that is literally just to get the premium content, you still have to pay for the downloadable games, we sure have come a long way.
With services such as Steam, PSN, and Xbox Live everyone now has access to digital content as long as you are near an internet source and a lot of people in the gaming industry see digital download becoming the main way us gamers get our games. When the so called “digital future” gets here just remember one thing, the Sega Channel started it all.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines escapism as habitual diversion of the mind to a purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine. So, why do we game? Is it for the pure enjoyment of the activity, or do we dream of being the characters we control during our gaming sessions? Every person has something that they habitually do to escape the monotony of the everyday routine, it may be the weekly trip to the church, the weekend nights out to the bar, or your game of choice to get some sort of release from from your daily life.
Gaming journalism has seperated gamers in to two catagories the casual and the hardcore. The casual being the gamer that picks up a controller once or twice or week just to kill some time. Of course the hardcore gamer is someone that games daily with their prefered console or consoles, whether it is an Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii or computer. These are the people that follow gaming websites and these are the people that this article is directed toward. When you grab the controls of your avatar the irrational customer you had to deal with at work a few hours ago isn’t on your mind, what you’re worried about now is how you are going to tackle the next obstacle that is in your path while you are one your way toward your next destination. You see a group of enemys ahead and they will have to be taken out because they are in your way and nothing is stopping you because you have to reach your final goal, and nothing will stop you.
The first subject I would like to look at is the MMO gamer, these people spend days and days of in game time trying to reach any number of goals whether it is the next level toward the final goal of the level cap or maybe its that piece of gear that will jump your stats to a higher level which will allow you to join the raid that all your friends have been raving about, all you know is that you have to get it done, and that is all that matters while you are doing it. The most hardcore group of MMO players are the raiders, these people spend endless amounts of time preparing themselves repeating the same activities day after day with the ultimate goal of earning enough “emblems” in order to get the next level of gear just to have high enough stats in order to join groups to do other monotonous activities until the next patch/expansion comes out. I recently watched a documentary titles Second Skin and one of the characters followed in the film explained that in his normal life he has bills to pay he is in debt and he has children on the way, but in World of Warcraft he has endless amounts of money and he is a hero, and who doesn’t want to be proclaimed a champion? In your normal life you go to work daily do your normal everyday activities and you do this because you have to, in World of Warcraft you have made a decision to play this and you have made the choice that you are going to be among the best, and lets face it, you aren’t going to have a chance to slay dragons and assassinate tyrannical rulers from your cubicle, unless of course, you’re logged in to your game.
Before ending the first part of this soon to be series of articles I would like to point out that I am a “hardcore” gamer and I occasionally delve in to World of Warcraft. I have nothing against these gamers and by all means, if it makes you happy, please, continue to do it.
-Scott R. “Escape Artist”