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It Begins

So, my first entry on this blog...ANY blog, actually. So where should I begin? If the community doesn't mind, I suppose I'd best start with a question that's at the root of why I bothered starting this thing in the first place -

Why video games?

It sounds like a stupid, trite question, and it pretty much is, but regardless it's honestly bugged me to no end since time immemorial. Perhaps others have a clear, concise answer at the ready when they're inevitably asked "why do you like video games so much?" but myself, I really can't say that I do, and I'm not sure whether or not I ought to be ashamed of that fact. The truth is, pretty much every other form of media has relatively limited appeal to me - I very rarely see movies (and when I do, someone else usually drags me there), watch little television, listen to a very limited collection of music, and (though I'm not as eager to admit this one) don't read much either. But video games? The first time I can remember playing one is at my cousin's house, the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES - while my folks didn't surrender and allow me to have a system until a few months after the SNES came along (and have lived to regret it ever since), for whatever reason I've just kept on playing, and if anything have become more and more absorbed in it as time has gone on, whereas the prevailing opinion has long been that one should "grow out of" such things (though that's another topic altogether).

But, think about it as I might, I really haven't the foggiest idea as to why.

I've considered, at one time or another, pretty much everything I can think of that separates video games from other forms of media, but nothing seems to fit the bill. The "interactive" aspect? Not likely, as I'm just as willing to fire up something that mostly involves reading text as a twitchy shooter or fighting game. The "community" appeal? I certainly enjoy playing cooperatively with a pal or competing for a high score, but that's never a deciding factor when I'm considering a game purchase, seeing as few people around here (or even online) are interested in a lot of the stuff I go for. "Stress relief?" No way I'm going to deny smiling broadly as I set off some huge explosion or mow down dozens of targets with a button press or two, but you're just as likely to find me cruising along in a game I've beaten a dozen times before, that SHOULD hold few, if any, real thrills, or catharsis, or whatever, for me at this point - or else stuck at some stupid boss that's wounded my pride a million times before, and is about to do so again.

About the closest I've managed to come to a "solution" is the notion that games are an especially "composite" form of entertainment, or expression, or whatever you care to call it - when one sets out to make a game, not only do they need to make sure it looks and sounds good (or at least doesn't get in the way of what's going on), or that the text reads well, or that the subject matter will appeal to the target audience, or even make sure that the control interface works to satisfaction - depending on the type of game one is making, all of the relevant elements, at least ideally, have to mesh into one cohesive final product. Somehow that notion has always fascinated me, that artists, musicians, writers, programmers, designers, testers, marketers, directors, and others could be able to get "on the same page" to enough of an extent to create something that both looks and feels as if a single, impossible entity (under the assumed name of the developing and/or publishing company) snapped its fingers and brought its vision into the world intact, just like that. Of course, the same can be said of many other such efforts (for whatever it's worth, the credit roll for most movies is usually longer than it is for most games) - not to mention that I'll still willingly play and enjoy a game that's fundamentally flawed and uneven in some cases, far more willingly than I'd watch a similarly imperfect TV show or read such a disjointed book. Obviously my personal subject matter preferences and prejudices come into play, but that's not unique to video games either.

So the hunt continues.

I'm curious to know if anyone else has ever attempted to "solidify" their base motivation to game, as opposed to doing something else, in this manner - and, moreover, if they've had as much trouble doing it as I have. Now, before anyone brings this up, my inability to figure out "what makes me tick" when it comes to gaming has done nothing to diminish my will to play them, and it hasn't kept me awake at night or given me a complex or anything of that sort. It's not something that I obsess over, or feel that anyone should - but it is a basic question that I'm having trouble answering, unimportant as it is, and, well, since I'm not occupied with super-important musings 24 hours a day (heaven help anyone who is!), I figured it wouldn't hurt to put this out there. So enlighten the new guy - I'm quite interested to see what others have to say on this subject.

Thanks in advance for posting. Oh, and before I forget, thanks also to nintendoll (who I happened to meet completely by chance, without any idea of who she is) for suggesting I put down some roots here. Here's hoping the community at large doesn't regret it, heh heh.
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About BulletMagnetone of us since 9:04 PM on 10.04.2008

Thanks kindly for paying my blog a visit.

I'm currently looking for paid writing gigs, so if you might want anything written shoot me a message (craighats at hotmail dot com).

In case the contents of this blog don't make it obvious enough, I have something of an affinity for slightly "offbeat" titles, so if there's something out there that few others cover, there's a fair chance I'm at least somewhat up on it.

If there's any sort of (reasonable) inquiry you'd like me to address, please don't hesitate to be in touch.

Below are a handful of recaps and other links (oldest listed first by section), in case you're interested - asterisks mark promoted articles.


'Magnet School


Curriculum: Puzzle Games

Course 1: Ochige 101
Course 2: Tossology
Course 3: Ochige 201
Course 4: Phys. Ed
Course 5: Ochige 301 (Adv.)
Course 6: Free Elective
Course 7: Ochige 401 (Hon.)
Course 8: Extra Credit
Graduation Speech



King of Fighters: Orochi Saga
Ar Tonelico II - Part 1 and Part 2
Prinny and Street Fighter IV
King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match
Nintendo DS
*King of Fighters XII
How-To: Atelier Annie
How-To: Mushihime-sama Futari


The Forgotten Essentials

Part 1: RPGs
Part 2: Shmups
Part 3: Fighters
Part 4: Puzzlers


The Obscurer Tribune



Monthly Musings/Writers Wanted

The Fear: The End
*A Time to Destroy: I Cast Thee Out
*Expanded Universes: Triple Triad X
*Those About to Die: Nocturne's Demons
*Untapped Potential: The Second Dimension
*I Suck at Games: and I'm Here to Help
*The Forgotten: Real Life
*Love/Hate: The Weirdo, The Wall, and The Beast
*The Future: A Refreshing Cup of Hemlock
*More Than Just Noise: Digital Cheese LIVE
East vs. West: Where The Old Gods Dwell
Resolutions: Fresh Flowers
Collaboration: IF Only...
Violence: The Gatekeepers


Assorted Ramblings

Why Am I Here? (intro)
Non-Portable Portable Gaming
Hating the Unhateable
*Soul Bubbles, Mickey Mouse, Journey of the Self
Dreamcast: The Other Shmup Machine
One-Year Anniversary Reflections
Shmups: Gaming's EOE


Non-DT Writing


Saturn Shooter Rundown
PS1 Shooter Rundown
PS2 Shooter Rundown
Shmups 101
Shmups That Defined the Genre
"Hidden Gem" Shmups


Shadow Hearts


Unofficial Shmup Glossary (shmups.com, WIP)
My Backloggery (Warning: Inherent Shamefulness May Be Too Intense for Some Readers)