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5:46 PM on 05.10.2010

Those Filthy Casual Games

You know what I'm talking about. Diner Dash, Cake Mania, Bejeweled... and even those dirty Facebook games.

I am one of THOSE people who play these games. A lot. And I am not ashamed.

I will never quite understand the disdain that many folks have for "casual games" - a game is a game, it really should come down to whether you enjoy it. Why limit yourself to only specific "hardcore-approved" titles? I get a lot of eye-rolling, or comments about how it's "cute" that I really like these things. Why is it that gamers separate "casual" out from "mainstream" or "hardcore" or whatever the kids call it these days?

Here are the reasons why I love these games:
I enjoy the challenge that alot of these games provide (they are NOT easy). I don't need to wade through hours of terrible, pointless narrative. They are almost never artificially lengthened. The tutorial is only about 5-10 minutes and then you're up and running. They run on almost every platform (iPhone, DS, every PC... facebook!). They usually have free to play versions that give you a good taste of what the game is like... or in the case of Facebook games, they are almost entirely free unless you have no willpower.

When it comes down to it, I primarily play games for that vague term known as "gameplay" - and when you really look at them, most casual games are just that - gameplay. They are not bloated with the other vectors of modern day games, such as a narrative and graphics - things I would consider to be icing on the cake. Of course, a cake without icing isn't always appealing, but I would much rather eat a great frostingless cake than a pile of frosting with nothing underneath it.

And as such, you can tell I've been playing too much Cake Mania lately. Mmmmm cake.   read

6:07 PM on 03.29.2010

Accomplishment Fatigue

It's been a long time since I've written a blog - these days I find it difficult to express my thoughts coherently. I used to write blogs all the time back on Gamespot, I'm not sure why it's been so difficult for me to do so these days... maybe I'm just getting old. ;)

That said, since I have 5-6 hours to kill on my flight back to San Francisco from PAX East, I thought it would be appropriate to try to write some of my thoughts down. I've always been an extraverted person, and writing things (or talking to people) really helps me collect my thoughts.

I've been thinking about the current state of gaming alot recently and I like to believe that I'm getting what I'd like to call accomplishment fatigue. With the advent of achievements, there seems to be an endless checklist of things to do in games. At first, XBL achievements were often trivial - getting all 1000/1000 points on a game could be fairly easy. As time has progressed, there are games with more difficult or tedious achievements. While I don't actually care much about gamerscore itself, seeing what amounts to a checklist of things that I could be doing makes the OCD side of me go absolutely crazy. It almost feels like I don't complete games now unless I actually get all of the achievements, but I know that I don't have the attention span to actually complete all of them. So I am stuck in this limbo where I don't feel like I've finished something, even if I have actually completed the campaign/story mode. I wish I could just ignore it and move on with my life, but everytime I see that incomplete gamerscore it pains me a little.

With Xbox Live, Steam, World of Warcraft and even Playstation all having achievements of some sort, it seems that everything I play wants to reward me for accomplishing things that I may not have tried to do on my own. Though the purpose of this is supposed to extend the life of a game and give some added fun, it actually stresses me a bit - if I'm not doing all of this stuff, am I actually getting the full value out of my game? Am I just being neurotic? The answer is probably yes, but that's who I am and I've come to accept it.

The worst part of all of this is that I'm a fairly competitive person to begin with - everything I do I always strive to do better each time. With leaderboards on XBL as well as competitive ladders and tournaments becoming more and more prominent, I have a hard time even enjoying multiplayer games these days. It's sort of this defeatist attitude - if I can't be one of the best, why even bother playing at all? This attitude prevents me from really getting into fighting games anymore - I have played with some of the best in the world and I know they are leagues ahead of where I am. It's really stupid that I'd compare myself with them, but all the same, it's killed any motivation I ever had to play fighters. Being a competitive person really is a curse - you find it hard to enjoy things because you're always analyzing ways to get better. This also applies to the achievement/trophies systems - if I had the time, I would try to outdo my friends' achievements on specific games but given my limited spare time I know I'll never catch up - that also adds to my aforementioned predicament of getting fatigued.

In the midst of all of this though, I find that I can retreat to the older systems and to my DS to recapture what it is that made me love gaming to begin with. My household has acquired 4 arcade systems in the past few months (Golgo 13, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Area 51 and The Simpsons). There's something really joyous about playing with someone right next to you, and the feel of an arcade cabinet. The charm and nostalgia of a SNES or PS1 game also always bring that joy back, and my DS is probably my most played system these days, thanks to games like Ace Attorney, Professor Layton and Pokemon (any of them! I'm such a sucker). There's no pressure to compete, no pressure to get all the achievements or trophies, and I can just enjoy the ride.   read

5:41 PM on 06.26.2009

Introduction and Friday Night Fights

Hi everyone! I'm pretty new to this site, though not unfamiliar with Destructoid. I've been here for news posts and been to some of their awesome events (like karaoke at E3!)

My name is Regina, but I pretty much always go by Wedge. No, that did not come from Star Wars (usually the first guess) or Final Fantasy (usually the second guess). It's actually a derivative of my name - Regina => Reggie => Wedgie => Wedge.

I work for Intel as a Performance Engineer. Basically what I do involves benchmarking, and for me specifically, I benchmark games for Intel. I often get to determine which 3-5 minute portion of a game best represents the performance needs of the game as a whole. Yes, this means I get to spend a good portion of my day playing PC games, though it's not nearly as glamarous as it sounds. ;) I also write for the Intel blog the Inside Scoop ( about gaming in general - my latest post includes my E3 impressions.

While my work life focuses a lot on PC games, I play stuff on every system out there. I have a list of my top 10 games in my profile, which I'll repaste here:

My Top 10 Favorite Games: (subject to change)
1. Final Fantasy 6
2. Starcraft
3. Street Fighter Alpha 3
4. Parappa the Rapper
5. Tetris Attack
6. King's Quest VI
7. Phoenix Wright: Justice for All
8. Katamari Damacy
9. Left 4 Dead
10. Rock Band 2

I could probably go into several pages of detail as to why each of these made the list, because I'm like that. But I will save those for some other blogs... maybe I'll run down the list one at a time.

Actually, the last item on there, Rock Band 2, I can probably explain with this next bit about myself. I run the Guitar Hero/Rock Band division of the PMS Clan. The mission of the PMS Clan is to provide a fun, competitive and positive environment for female gamers. We all know what it's like to play in the wilds of the internet - people can be incredibly disrespectful (to say the least), and even moreso when a female is around. In fact, the worst part of it is that some folks don't even realize how disrespectful they are because they think they're trying to be nice! With the PMS Clan, girls (and guys too - we have tons of guys in our clan) can play in a harassment free environment, where having a good time and competing in a game can go hand in hand. For my division in the clan specifically, we play Guitar Hero and Rock Band - we're open to all skill levels to join, but we actually house some of the best players around the world in our division. I myself was once at the top of the vocal leaderboards in Rock Band - and as such, the game has become more than just a game to me... it's now a way to bond with the wonderful folks in my division, and at this point in my life the game is just a huge part of what I do every single day.

So as you can see, I'm a competitive person and I love games - so when Intel asked me to get involved in Friday Night Fights it was a no brainer to me. It gave me the push to actively join this community, and after poking around a bit and learning more of how this place operates I'm really happy to be here!

Speaking of Friday Night Fights, the best score I've gotten on that Cosmic Cannon game has been a measly 17. :( Something about that game just eludes me... argh! I'm a little bit better at Quake Live, but not much - usually I just try to grab the rocket launcher and spam away. Not QUITE my style of shooter, but I'm getting used to it - is it just me or is the shotgun ridiculously powered in the game? Maybe I should try using that more often...   read

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