Wednesday, October 22, 2014

6 game-themed artists that you need to hear

Music, along with gaming, is probably one of my largest passions, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that when the two coincide there are fireworks. From straight up 8-bit theme music to raps about Princess Zelda, from absolutely mind-blowingly great to brain-numbingly horrible, I have listened to a large array. From my exploration, here are a few of the best gaming-related musical acts out there:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gaming Feminism: Why 50 Percent Makes Sense

The next time I hear the argument that women are only becoming a standard demographic in the game industry because the statistics "count" mobile and social gaming, I am going to punch someone right in the e-mouth. I know.  That sounds like a really aggressive way to start off an article that, for all intents and purposes, is going to try to get you on its side, but DANG does that stuff annoy me. If you are a denizen of the internet, as I am, you have no doubt seen the number of articles floating around that ZOMG WOMEN MAKE UP 50 PERCENT OF THE GAMING DEMOGRAPHIC. The fact that this is exciting news is depressing to me for a few reasons:

On Nostalgia and Crash Bandicoot

When I first discovered that I could purchase Crash Bandicoot on the Playstation Store, my inner 8 year old went nuts. When the game finally finished installing on the virtual Playstation “memory cartridge” that the PS3 provides, I started the game anew with ramped up anticipation and excitement. Unfortunately, it was not as I remembered.

The first few title sequences looked grainy, jagged and just generally inferior to the graphics that I have come to know from modern games. In my mind’s eye it all looked so much better. The starting zone, N. Sanity Island, looked simplistic and low-tech, with its bright blinking red lights to signify how many areas had been beaten, and its crumbily architected palm trees and shadows. The whole thing was underwhelming until I started the first level.

Wildstar: State of the Megaserver

Update: I have seen the promised land of megaservers, and it is good.

For those of you that missed it, Wildstar announced the move to megaservers from their traditional MMO server structure a few weeks ago. While many have said that this is a sign of the decline of the game as a whole, I heartily disagree. When I first joined Wildstar's Beta, it felt like I had reached the promised land after dragging myself through the desert, starving and parched, for years. A self-professed MMO lover, Wildstar seemed to combine all of the mechanics that I had ever known and loved from other games: the content was challenging, and constantly evolving with new updates each month, there were personalization options for how your gear looked, and with the Path system you could, at least partially, choose how you wanted to level up. Everything seemed perfect.

I admittedly didn't get too highly leveled in the beta, for fear of tiring myself out on the game before it actually launched, and instead took time trying out a bunch of alts to see which class I liked best. After much trial and tribulation, eventually I settled on Spellslinger. With both range and high-mobility, spellslingers can be one of the highest skill-capped classes in the game, but I was determined, despite low starting DPS ratings in comparison to my Medic and Warrior brethren, to succeed.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Bit of Space: First Impressions of Wildstar

I have always been an MMORPG girl—since my first introduction to World of Warcraft, I've been addicted to the grind. Whether playing with IRL friends, or making new ones through PUGs or new guilds, there is something to be said for playing in a massively multiplayer online world. With the release of Pandaria, though, I found the pull of the MMORPG releasing me. While the game play remained the same, the new content wasn't all that engaging for me, and I felt Blizzard copped out by making it so the pandas could choose to be on either Faction. That, combined with the need to complete my thesis and my crazy work-schedule, made the paying sixteen bucks a month for a game that I wasn't really engaged with seem silly. Luckily for me, though, PAX that year introduced me to something new: WildStar.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reflections on my Panel Experience at PAX East 2014

Videos of both of the panels that I went to ("Why It's AWESOME to be a Female in the Gaming Industry" and "Sex, Sexy, and Sexism: Fixing Gender Inequality in Gaming") became available recently, affording me the opportunity to share an open dialogue about them with those of you who didn't attend PAX. In the past, I have definitely done my fair amount of debate on the place and role of women in video games: what makes someone a "real" gamer versus a "fake" one, and some commentary on the behavior of some of Twitch's live female streamers are two points/posts of mine that come to mind. While I do stand by some of those thoughts still, in some ways I am ashamed to go back and read what I wrote when I was younger, angrier, and just generally more lost.

Just because someone plays only Cooking Mama for DS, chooses to only play girl toons in League while wearing their underwear on a live stream, or behaves in a different way from me does not make them any less of a gamer than I am, it just means they are of a different ilk. Being a gamer is more so about the mentality and identification as such rather than any real "credentials" that make someone one. The talks that I went to over the weekend while solidifying many of my perspectives in terms of my sex and how it relates to my role in the gaming world also helped me to reconsider some positions which I had thought I was set on. Similarly, just as a male can reinforce sexist positioning in the gaming world—so can other women.

Why It's Awesome to be a Female in the Gaming Industry

First off, and probably selfishly of me, it made me feel comfortable to see women on this panel that were in roles that I may be able to feasibly achieve on my own in the future with enough work. While it was obvious to me that they had put in quite a bit of work to get where they were in life, I also felt that I could have friendly conversation with them that wouldn't be too different from the ones that I had regularly. Similarly, their closeness to my own demographic and skill set made me more comfortable to give credence to what they were saying—they weren't sitting on some high pedestal, but were regular women just like myself. What made this even more inspiring is that each of them has already excelled so far in their own individual roles—Emmy and Webby winners, editors, successful freelancers—but still seemed so human. While they introduced themselves and explained how they had come to be at this panel, I became more invested in what they had to say, as it didn't seem so far off from my own reality.

One of the main ideas that I took from this panel is "it's okay." This kind of relates to the idea that I mentioned above: everyone has a right to claim their place in the gaming world—it is not my place, nor is it any one else's to tell or cast judgement on someone for not being the right type of nerd, or not being "hardcore" enough. After having a few days to reflect on this, I see this as much of the reason why females may seem to be under represented in the more vocal gaming world. A point that was brought up in the next panel I talk about was that the gaming population is approximately half male-identifying individuals and half female-identifying individuals, yet it appears (on sites like IGN and Kotaku) that it skews more to something like 80/20 in men's favor. Susan Arendt, also present on that secondary panel, made the distinction that while it may appear that women were less active in the gaming community, it may be instead that the type of individuals to be more vocal in that kind of environment tend to be male.

Why is that? I wondered. Is it because men are more aggressive and women are more passive? The thought stopped in me in my tracks. Maybe, instead of the defining characteristics of the sexes, it is that we as women are not only judged by men in the gaming industry, but are also judged by other women. When thinking this in the panel, I immediately thought about the posts that I'd made in the past, posts like "I hate fake girl gamers" that brutally shredded any woman who considered herself part of the gaming world just because she only played DS games, or Facebook apps. While I did make a public apology about this when starting up this blog again last year, part of me has to wonder how many people I may have potentially alienated when I held such a mindset. Even further, I have always thought of myself as a forward thinking feminist-leaning individual—how many others like me, assuming such a role in society, behaved like this and potentially alienated their fellow gaming brethren? Truly, I should have been engaging and encouraging other gamers, no matter what games they were playing.

Another point rang true with me when Susan (obviously full of great points) brought up the idea of slut shaming women that specifically played on their attractiveness in order to get further in the industry. I don't think that she mentioned the exact phrase "slut shaming" but she certainly emphasized the point that there is no right or wrong way to get ahead, especially in an industry that already handicaps women pretty steeply. She noted that it was important to make sure one was comfortable with one's own choices at the end of the day, and that we needed to be able to conceptualize where we would be in five years and be okay with that. Instead of verbally shaming those individuals into behaving differently, we should instead take the initiative and frustration that we feel and use it for something more productive than hatred. This way, we as females do not silence other female voices unintentionally, and also add another voice to the stream—our own.

I agree that it is important for young gamers to have important role models, and because of that I think that it is especially important to behave in a professional and encouraging way to other women trying to make it into the world of gaming. By being negative and derogatory towards other women, we are showing young girls potentially reading our content that this is an okay way to behave, and is to be expected—aggression is becoming our way of life. This moves solidly into my reflections on:

Sex, Sexy, and Sexism: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Gaming Industry

I was first impressed, as I noted in my other post, that two of the panelists were male. Duane and Ken did an amazing job not only of representing the male sex, but also by engaging difficult topics. There were a few ideas that were brought up that really stuck with me, some relating to the above topics and some not. First, not only females can feel under-represented in the game industry; in general we need more "stories" and more representation as a whole. It's not that we only need more females, we need more races, gay or questioning individuals, or even walks of life as our "heroes" in games. Second, men are afraid of "white knighting" and hence may not take action in the face of trouble. Third, sexism as related to cosplay—while this is not news to anyone, it was my own specific relation to this topic which is still sticking with me now. 

The idea of under-representation in the game world is one that I am familiar with. While indie game houses and games like Gone Home or Depression Quest have chosen to take on the sometimes difficult task of showing a non typical hero or main character, the gaming world is almost-shockingly white-washed. As a bisexual white female, I can't honestly say that I have ever come under heavy scrutiny of any real type for who I am or the choices I make. Because of that, it was interesting to take a more introspective look at the games that I play and who is traditionally cast as the hero. Not only are the "real" heroes traditionally male, but they are traditionally white and muscular. Or, if they aren't, they are probably an under armored female of curvy persuasion who would help me win female armor bingo. 

Physicality is not the only aspect of what should make someone a hero either—issues such as depression, anxiety, and insecurity are infrequently addressed positively (or at all) in gaming, especially when it comes to the main character. While, again, many of the indie game companies are trying to make this more evident (such as in Depression Quest, or Actual Sunlight—a game being demoed at PAX), this is something that is left untouched by larger game companies and audiences at large. The opportunities for this both as a teaching tool and for truly engaging story lines are endless.

While there was some interesting commentary on this, I don't think that the panel really came to any real conclusion—nor could they. I will say, though, that Brianna of Giant Spacekat, was questioned about the outfit choices for the main character Holiday of her iOS game Revolution 60—in response, she noted that the intention behind the character had not been to sexualize the female form, despite Holiday's tight outfit. She has also noted both on Twitter and in publications, that the reasoning behind this outfit choice is because of technical aspects of Revolution 60's character's physical makeup along with the fact that the art team for Giant Spacekat undergoes secondary draw calls every time a character is reconceptualized. Since that point however, as a follower of her Twitter, she has been concepting a redesign of Holiday's outfit for the next Revolution 60 game to include more armor—whether that was necessary or not, it has been noted.

The second point, then, came from the first. Brianna noted that a female cosplayer who had been playing Holiday at the Giant Spacekat booth at PAX had been asked by a fan "Can I touch your ass?" Obviously, the answer should and always will be no. Here is where I have an admission: I go to PAX every year uncomfortable around the number of near-naked women in cosplay. Part of me wonders whether they are doing it for the attention, and part of me dislikes them for it. I remembered, upon hearing this, the cosplay of Cammy that I had seen—a young woman with the high-cut thong bathing suit exactly like the one in the game. I had been angry about her brashness and questioned why she had made the choice to wear that at the convention. Admittedly, all of this was from my high throne of cosplaying as Lucca—a "strong female character" who also just so happened to be fully covered in her tunic and shorts.

I feel that this honesty may make my next point more meaningful: I wondered, then, why Cammy couldn't be considered a "strong female character?" Did wearing clothing make a woman more strong, or did it just mean that I felt I had more privilege to judge someone? While I am still not entirely sure how I fall on this spectrum, I can't help but think back to Susan Arendt's perspective that there is no wrong or right way to be a female in the gaming industry—I just have to be happy that there are actually people that want to do it. I still can't say that I will ever be happy about Booth Babes, but I am certainly trying to come to terms and understand that they, too, are part of the fandom and are dressing as someone that they look up to and respect. It isn't my job, nor should I expect to be able to judge them, for that. Though, it did bring up my question: while asking to touch someone's ass is overly sexist, where would that place the individual that, over the weekend, asked me where my Chrono was, thus implying that it wasn't possible for me to just cosplay as a female "support" character on my own.

Lastly, ah, "white knighting." I'd never heard this, and I'm not sure why. It's possible that I don't read enough theory, but it's also possible that in the overtly-vocal (and usually male) gaming world of the internet, there aren't many people rushing to the aid of females. When listening to my husband play GTA V I not only hear no female voices, but understand that if there were to be a female they would most likely instantly be sexualized or accosted by the young men playing the game. (He notes that he's heard women once or twice, and it's been fine.)

For those of you that have not heard of "white knighting" it is the idea that a man, without much context or understanding of the more complex issue at hand, will come in to save the day at the last minute. From the context of this panel, and Duane's description of it, I would anticipate that is also means that they likely bugger it up. Along with his definition though, I thought he had an astute response, which also was discussed in his post here: if you hear some one saying some thing sexist and/or shitty to someone else, tell them to stop. It's pretty easy to not be a douche if you just stick to your morals and stand up when they are being broken.

It bears noting that, upon reading this story to my husband for his critique and hoping that I would come up with a more solid conclusion in the process, we got into debate. "50 vs 50, huh? It can't be that much." It startled me that he would think that, my husband, husband of a proverbial nerd queen. "What do you mean, it can't be that much?" I asked him, feeling the anger bubble inside me. "Well, what do they mean, like Candy Crush and stuff?" While debating the validity of certain games, and talking about whether consoles or PCs "weighed" more, it helped me to realize that this is ongoing. My husband, who I know and love, still questions whether this is a real thing—if women really make up that much of the population, despite the fact that he sees it every day in his own home. And, really, I can't fault him—before this weekend, I'm not sure that I would have felt this strongly either. It shows me that we all have work to do, no matter how much or how little.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Bit of Recap: PAX East 2014

PAX East had me leaving this year with even more pride and happiness than I have in years past. I think that much of this enthusiasm is prompted by being in close spaces with my nerdy brethren, but also question how much is because, as I grow older, I become more entrenched in "the scene." This scene doesn't necessarily just mean playing all of the latest greatest games, but is also camaraderie, companionship, learning and drinking highly-priced beer while playing board games with friends new and old. Here's my post about some findings from this year's PAX East.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Bit of Interview: I'm Not a Nerd! Common Misconceptions Refuted By The Gaming Community

This was my first foray into nerd journalism and while digging around in my computer for another document that I'd just downloaded, this guy came up. I interviewed 50 nerds, near and far, about common misconceptions in gaming. Read on and enjoy! Maybe you'll find something that you do or don't agree with—if so, let me know!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Bit of Screams: Silent Hill 2

Most people know what Silent Hill is now because of the movie rendition that came out in 2006. While I love that movie just as much as the next person, and while I love the first game as well, Silent Hill 2 (for a number of platforms) was one of the scarier games that I have ever played. Even now with all of the FEAR games, and nail-biters like the Last of Us, the Silent Hill series stands up to the test of time, and will always have a place in my heart. Because of that, I thought it deserved a blog post.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Bit of Ice, Ice Baby: Kickle Cubicle

First, I would like to take the time to express how sorry I am that I haven't been keeping up with posts. While I know this is, by no means, everyone's favorite blog to read, I was doing a pretty good job there at getting regular content out the door at least every other day. Because my PAX East cosplay hit a lot of hinges (my fabric getting stolen by my neighbors, UPS marking my address as not a real address, FedEx losing packages, and so on), I have had to spend a lot of time working on getting that ready. Hopefully, after this weekend when I finish it, I will be back up and running and writing about all those good old games you know and love.

So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce or remind all of you of a little game called Kickle Cubicle for NES. While there isn't much of a plot to this game, the premise is that there is an evil ice king, and that he has taken over Kickle's home planet, the Fantasy Kingdom. The major driver of the game is to collect red "dream bags" in which the Wicked Wizard King has imprisoned all of the citizens of the planet. The dream bags look kind of like Santa's sack, and are strewn haphazardly around each of the many, many levels.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Bit of Wat: A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia

The first thing that I think of when I think of A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia is: the opening track sounded very similar to the Indiana Jones theme song. The second thing I think of when I think of this game is that the titular "boy" runs like a ballerina on stage. Otherwise, I have no really solid critiques of this game. It was just that awesome. If you never played it for NES, then maybe you played it for the Wii, which is was later released on. If you played it on neither, then you are a sad, sad soul that REALLY needs to play this game.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Bit of KO: Punch-Out!!

So, while talking to my husband about one of my newest forays into athleticism (Boxing), it was mentioned that now that I know how hard it is, I should write up a post about Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. While I don't, by any means, think that this is one of the best games of all time, I do definitely think it deserves more attention than it typically gets when it comes down to traditional NES games.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Bit of Alien War: Contra III

Contra III was the first Contra game to be released for SNES, and was done by Konami in 1992. The premise is simple, and pretty much to be expected: the Aliens that have been fought over the past two games (and defeated) are now back and enacting a full all out revolution against planet earth. While this is a pretty short game, the upgrades from the previous versions lend this to be, in my opinion, more enjoyable than the first two.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nerves Over Cosplay

Okay, folks. I'm sure you're getting the picture over the past two posts—catching up after my vacation to Texas has been a bit taxing, and I'm finding myself with less and less time to replay all those old games. Over this coming weekend I plan to do some catching up, and hopefully have some new and wonderful reminiscent posts for you but as of right now, I'm just going to write what I know.

Currently, I am working on a cosplay. While I have cosplayed before, this one has, indefinitely, been one of the more complex ones that I've undertaken. Okay, so I'm not going as, like, something with tentacles and spikes and a bunch of extra mumbo jumbo that I have to create by hand, but I do have to make some of it, and even that minimal amount has proven to be difficult. I've learned to face it: cosplaying as an adult is hard.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Bit of Coming to Terms: When You've Lost That Loving Feeling.

Recently, I decided that I was going to purchase and replay The Secret of Monkey Island. Along with it being the first blog post I wrote for this here humble establishment, it was also, ostensibly, one of my favorite games for years. It worked especially well because, for those of you that have been following along, the PC that I have been trying to stream on handles...well, almost nothing. So, The Secret of Monkey Island was just graphically unintense enough for me to play for the world to see.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Bit of FPS: Star Wars: Dark Forces

Often called a DOOM-clone because of its release a meager year afterward, Star Wars: Dark Forces was the game that fueled the fire of all Star Wars games to come. Set in the Star Wars universe, ostensibly around the time of the events featured in New Hope, the player controls Kyle Kattarn, a mercenary that has been hired by the Rebel Alliance. While its a possibility that I love this game because it has anything to do with Star Wars, because it was made by LucasArts, or because it was playable on computer its not clear. What is clear is that this is a freaking awesome game that deserves a bit more recognition.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Bit of Action: River City Ransom

River City Ransom, in my mind, crossed genres as both a fighting game and an RPG. While following the line of a traditional beat-em-up, it is also set in an open world which the player is encouraged to explore while moving onwards in the game. The graphics, while being pretty basic, were good at the time of the game's release in 1989, and the longevity of the game is demonstrated by its having been released for multiple other platforms since the original for NES.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Bit of Ball: Base Wars

Short for Cyber Stadium Series: Base Wars, Base Wars was a futuristic game that came out for NES in 1991. While any one who reads this blog with any frequency knows that I'm not REALLY a sports game fan, this game deserves a place in the annals because basically everybody else I know loved it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Bit of Crates: Crash Bandicoot

I feel like Crash Bandicoot is one of those awesome games that has just gotten forgotten with the passage of time. I spent hours playing this game, yet when someone asks me which games are my favorite, I've never thought of it, which is a shame. This platformer, released for Playstation in 1996, has both an engaging story, beautiful-looking design, as well as being acclaimed globally by critics and players alike.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Bit of Skeletons: Grim Fandango

I am pretty disappointed in myself that it has taken me this long to write about this amazing game. Considering my love affair with all other LukasArts games, it should come as no surprise to you that I also love Grim Fandango. The game is a neo-noir adventure game (point and click style, like it's sibling Secret of Monkey Island), which did not necessarily do as well as it commercially could have, but is still recognized as one of the foundational (and last) games of this specific genre. It also put an end to LukasArts' creation of these types of games, which makes it pretty impossible to find on the internet. The likelihood of re release has been unfortunately thwarted as the individuals responsible for recreating and re releasing some of these games, like Secret of Monkey Island, do not have the rights to it. Sad faces all around.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Bit of Health: Fitocracy

Over the past few years I have lost around 70 pounds--I've gained some weight, and lost more weight, but the amount that it has all fluctuated is around 70, give or take. This time last year, in an effort to try to lose more weight, or find something that kept me interested and compelled me towards weight loss, I downloaded an app called Fitocracy. Unlike other fitness applications that pit your against your friends, or offer you money for each workout (I heard that app totally bombed), Fitocracy allows you to gain points, achievements, and level up with each workout. If you pay for the application, which I have not yet done, it gives you the opportunity to "challenge" other members in a battle to see who can do the most push ups, crunches, run the most miles or whatever in a set amount of time. It's all about them 'chievos, baby.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Bit of Ballin': NBA Street

Alright. There is a first time for everything, and I think that this is probably the first (and last) time that anyone will hear me saying this about a sports game. NBA Street was one of the most enjoyable and addicting game to me when it first came out in 2002 for PlayStation 2--more so than any other thing that I had at my fingertips. My cousin and I would fight FOR HOURS against each other and trash talk while controlling our custom players on the hard scrabble street courts presented in the game, and there was nothing you could do to stop us. Sports games, in general, seem pretty boring to me--probably a combination of my lack of interest in the content as well as not really understanding what the rules were in real life. I enjoy being able to play as a character that I have some kind of emotional resonance or connection with, and in sports games where half of the characters are already a reality, I just don't find that. NBA Street was different.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Struggles With Streaming

Alright, so, I think that most of you that read this probably follow me elsewhere--Twitter, Facebook, etc.--and if that's the case, you probably already know most of this. That being said, as it pertains to my goals of becoming a female streamed gamer (preferably ranked), I think that some sort of post about my struggles with streaming (and the computer that I am streaming it from) belongs here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Bit of Science: The Lost Mind of Doctor Brain

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, there are other games exactly like this one out there--in fact this is apparently the third in the series. That being said, in my world as a young kid playing PC games, The Lost Mind of Doctor Brain was the only one in existence. And I loved it. This kind of follows the same trend as my post about Zoombinis, so if you didn't like that game, don't like this one, or don't like logic/puzzle games you should probably just kick rocks before you get too frustrated.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Bit of Weird: Super Dodge Ball

Super Dodge Ball is to the NES what NBA Street was to Playstation. Both games seemed intensely awesome while I was playing them, but looking back both are pretty limited in their scope. Also, it bears noting that Super Dodge Ball is vaguely racist, based on the different fields that it is played. Despite that fact, I loved this game back in the day and think that it deserves mentioning.

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Bit of Speed: Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog. I mean, who doesn't or didn't love Sonic the Hedgehog? While I don't think that I was quite old enough to play Sonic when it first first came out, I definitely did when I was a bit older. I remember myself, and two boys who lived near my dad's house each gave each other nicknames corresponding to the different Sonic characters—I was Tails. Either way, Sonic was a game that defined our generation, to my understanding, and I felt that it deserved to be mentioned here.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Bit of Fleen: Logical Journey of the Zoombinis

When I look back on my favorite games as a child, I start to see a trend—the games that I loved required puzzles, intelligence, and...gasp...learning. Chrono Trigger, Secret of Monkey Island, The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain and, yes, Zoombinis, were all logic games deeply immersed in puzzle solving and riddling. This seems, to me, a pretty far cry from games that we have nowadays, but I guess that is the sign of things evolving and me becoming older. Anyway, if you are one of the few individuals of my generation that has not played Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, here's a breakdown of what you missed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Bit of Bullshit: Solar Jetman

Solar Jetman is both one of the simplest and most difficult games of all time. I felt like it needed to be included here because, obviously, it is an important game in the development of video games, but this post will be a short one because, well, it's just too dang simple to truly devote any kind of real thought to.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Bit of Love: Appreciating my online (and now offline) friends

Every once in a while I, like many similar to me (I assume), go through a period of wondering whether there are things in my life that I could be doing better. Maybe I could go out more, or try more actively to make friends, maybe I should try cooking more at home and eating less Dominos, or being a better lover. This happens usually about once a month and tosses me into a guilty spiral of feeling like I am not a real adult, or am not living as much of a life as people that I know who are in the Peace Corps or doing capitalized Big Things. But, inevitably, I come out of it with the help of some of my friends — my internet friends, that is — and realize that life is great whether it is filled with capitalized or lowercased things.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Bit of RO: Ragnarok Online

I started playing Ragnarok in 2006 when my boyfriend at the time developed an addiction to it while I'd finished up my senior year at boarding school. I had played other MMORPGs in the past, like World of Warcraft, but hadn't really delved deep into things like raiding, joining guilds, and other "extra" features beyond leveling and questing. Ragnarok was what did it. And, while this game is still being played and may be quite popular, it is old school to me.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Bit of Halfshell: Turtles In Time

TMNT: Turtles in Time (along with Chrono Trigger) holds the prestigious title of One Of My Favorite Games. Even now I can remember sitting in my grandmother's house, passing the crappy SNES control back and forth between my cousin and I, and sometimes to my onlooking uncle when there was a level we couldn't beat. Frequently, I'll have flashbacks to scenes from these games and almost forget where they come from—for example, for some inexplicable reason I always associated the band Butthole Surfers with the second level of the game where the dudes are surfing along in the sewers. Strange? Yes, I think so. While I am aware that the SNES version of this game was a port, it was the version that I played first, and will be the version that I focus on here. They are basically exactly the same (kind of), but if that's a problem for you because you are some kind of arcade elitist, you have been forewarned.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Bit of Something Different: Depression Quest

For those of you that actually know me, you also know that I have struggled with depression both seasonally and for no apparent reason. While I generally do not like talking about my emotional struggles, it is refreshing to find someone or something that seems to "get it."When I first heard about Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey and Isaac Shankler's game, I was both intrigued and concerned. A literary game about depression? I was so sure that myself, or anyone like me would want to role play something that they have been afflicted with the whole of their adult life for all the wrong reasons. Luckily I decided to give it a try anyway—turns out that while it isn't something that I would play repeatedly, Depression Quest is an innovatively designed game that has more to it than would originally meet the eye.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Bit of Intelligence: Intelligent Qube/Kurushi

While the gameplay for Intelligent Qube is a basic principle at best, this game for the original Playstation had me obsessed when it was first released in 1997.  This probably is because of the beginning onset of a completionist gamer mentality, but each time the blocks crushed me or I continued to persevere through each of the game's increasingly difficult levels.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Bit of Lead Pipe: Streets of Rage

Ah, Streets of Rage. From the sassy, prostitute-esque lady cops to the rugged names of the three main characters, this game wins on so many fronts for me. Originally released as a side-scroller for Sega Genesis, this game has since been duplicated on any number of platforms, from virtually online, to iOS, to Steam—it is still well-loved today. With good reason, this game deserves to be noted as one of the most awesome games ever released.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Bit of Possession: Shining Force II

I thought that, given that the last few posts have been about platformers, that it was time to return our gaze to my most loved game genre: RPG. Shining Force II was such an RPG and, while the plot now seems pretty basic, was very advanced for its time. Because of its advanced nature and the fact that this game was a best seller, I thought it deserved mention here.

A Bit of Amphibians: Battletoads

Battletoads, along with being one of the most popular NES and NES ports of all time, won numerous awards. In fact, it won first place in the categories of: Graphics and Sound (NES), Theme and Fun (NES), Best Play Control (NES) and Best Multi-Player or Simultaneous (NES) and was nominated for 9 awards in total at the 1992 Nintendo Power Awards. Despite this, it is most commonly associated with its difficulty, something that sometimes even the most advanced players were not able to overcome. All that being said, I loved the game and I know that many of the people that have played the various versions of the game or watched the cartoon feel the same way.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Bit of Training: HabitRPG

Every once in a while, as you all know, I will write about a modern game that I think espouses the mentalities of old school gaming. HabitRPG is one of those games. This web-based application is based on the principles of an RPG—complete tasks, upgrade your gear, get pets, join parties, fight bosses—but the tasks are all based on your own personal betterment and goals. You are able to set up "dailies," "habits," and "To Do"s that, when completed, all contribute to your experience points and help you to level up.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Bit of Bosses: Mega Man 2

Mega Man 2 is widely known as one of the best games in the series, and to some even as one of the best games of all time. Not only did it evolve the earlier Mega Man game into something that could be more easily playable, but its graphics, sound, and plot are also known as some of the more enjoyable ones in the series.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Bit of Brainpower: Dynamite Headdy

Originally released for Sega Genesis and designed by Treasure, Dynamite Headdy is a creative platformer which requires you to use your head. Literally. While there were many platformers around this time, it being the main style of game used in 8- and 16-bit games, this one took the typical tropes and skewed them, making for an incredibly unique experience.