Hypocritical Hyperbole

The Abomination of Obama's Nation

Just Started Bioshock Infinite March 30, 2013

Filed under: Video Games — Micah Griffin @ 07:34
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I’m literally half an hour into the game. That’s it. And it’s fucking shitshow. I can tell that this game was made by no one but white liberals. These people who think they are smart and doing something cool, but they’re disastrously wrong. There’s no way a single black person or native american person had even the slightest say in the way this game was made.

So, the game takes place in a sky city above america some number of years after the battle of wounded knee. This is important because they mention it over and over again. You see, this is a game made for white people to play and no one else. I already know that this is a failed idea of a utopia (because it’s the third game in the bioshock series and that’s what bioshock is about), but it doesn’t mean the white supremacy is any less disgusting. Parody isn’t parody and satire isn’t satire, when you’re literally just doing what you’re supposed to be lampooning.

So you play as a white man going to rescue a white girl from this place that literally worships Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin as gods. Some other white dude who killed a bunch of Indians at wounded knee founded this place and his wife probably died or something and you’re here to kidnap his daughter. But people are literally praying to the white dudes who founded the shitshow that is America.

Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be satire, but it doesn’t work. In fact, it fails not ten minutes into the city when you get to a shooting gallery game. It’s supposed to have an old timey late 1800s early 1900s feel to it with the generic ludicrous salesmen and the cheesy state fair. But when you get to the shooting gallery, there’s just racist imagery of a black dude with distorted features hanging from the banner. Mind you, this society is entirely white and entirely homogenous. They make sure you overhear conversations about looking out for evil and being ever vigilant that no one strays from the moral path. People think someone may have a hint of an accent or something. It’s overdone McCarthyism.

The thing is, there’s no need for the racist imagery. None whatsover. I know the society is racist. It’s all white people. This is just that shit white people can’t help themselves from doing. They love using racist imagery any chance they get and will find any rationalization for it they can.

So here we are half an hour into a video game that is getting praised for it’s amazing story by the video games press and I’ve not seen one mention of how disconcerting the beginning of this game is going to be if you’re not happy about racism. If you don’t find racism funny. You just get onslaughted with “thank the founders the prophet kick this shit out of those evil Indians.” and “come shoot the darkie and maybe an indian princess though it’s hard to see her through the trees.”

Yes, there are white characters in the shooting gallery. Caricatures of poor stupid white people from rural areas and such, but when the game is all white and made by white people those don’t matter. There are no black people in this game. There are no Indian people in this game. So the only time you see or hear about this is with racist shit it’s not a parody, it’s a reinforcement of white supremacy. It’s not challenging anyone’s racist ideas, it’s reinforcing them. There’s no agency for oppressed people, we’re just jokes, and the only way for this story to make this seem offensive is for a white guy to shoot everyone, and we are still left without agency.

yeah, the story could change, but there’s no way to chance the main characters. They’re white. They read as white they act as white they’re played off as white. Just saying later on that they’re not won’t change the tone or nature of the story at all. So that excuse can sit back down before you start to say it.

First impressios do matter, and this is just an awful first impression, and the reaction to this game lets you know everything you need to know about the video game industry. Everything. This isn’t a bold story. This is the story white people always tell about racism. Racists are cartoon characters and the people effected by racism have no place in the story except to be helped out and saved by a white person. Preferably they can do it without ever being seen or heard from.

 

Things I liked in 2011 (Part 1 of ?) December 26, 2011

Filed under: Video Games — Micah Griffin @ 20:28
Tags: , , ,

This blog totally skews negative because the world is full of stupid people that do stupid things. What’s more so is that a lot of people don’t really discuss some of the stupid things people do and why they’re stupid. I’m not great at it, but I try. This post, and probably one or two more are just dedicated to stuff I loved this year. This isn’t exactly a best of 2011. Let’s be honest, to do a full on best of 2011 in a lot of categories requires a lot of time and a lot of money. Playing all the video games, listening to all the music, reading all the books, watching all the tv and movies; it’s an endeavor. There’s money and time involved that I don’t have. So this list are things that are just new to me this year.

I’ll knock the easiest one out of the way first. The thing that has taken the biggest hit for me due to school and work is Video Games. I do not have nearly the time that I use to for playing them, nor the $60 it costs to buy the mainstream popular ones. On the digital front $15 seems to have become the standard price for bigger indie games, and that’s a bit steep for how short or unfinished some game are. I understand that long doesn’t necessarily mean better, but the game has to be DAMN good for me to pay $15 for something I’m done with in an hour two. It just doesn’t work in my life. That said, let’s do this! Also, these are not in any order. I’m not devoting energy to that.

Video Game I liked 1

Don't fight that Bear, it will kill you

Skyrim, cause it’s fresh in my mind. I’ve only had it for about a month, but I’m absolutely in love with it. It’s an adventure game’s adventure game. It works kind of like this; You create a character then run away from a dragon. From there, do whatever (*not really. When gamers talk about freedom in most games they really mean the ability to kill or not to kill when you feel like it) you want. You can kill the person guarding you or follow them to a town to get some quests. You can steal things and fight people or buy things. You can learn to smith, cook, forge, smelt, talk, and other things. All of this in an attempt to make it easier for you to kill/not kill things. What I love about the game is how big it is. The map is huge, it takes hours to walk across it on foot. (Honestly, takes almost as long on horse back). I love the surprises the game has for you. The main story is traditional fantasy bullshit, but there are secrets hidden about that are kinda cool. There are books with riddles and puzzles, there are dungeons with sleeping people and wolf fighting rings, and vampires and werewolves, mages, wizards, fire demon looking thingies, conjurers, zombie type fighting skeletons, and necromancers. The outside world has bears that will kill you (no really, don’t fight the bears), Sabertooth Tigers,  ice trolls that hate you, Giants that will wreck your shit, and Dragons. Lots of Dragons that aren’t as hard to kill as they maybe should be, but whatevs. They’re still fun. Mostly, I just love the ability to get kind of lost in this world where there isn’t a terrible story forced down my throat in bad cut-scenes (it’s kinda forced with talky bits and people with only four different accents). I make up the story for myself as I go along. It’s totally fan fic in my head the entire time and it is GREAT!!

Video Game I like 2

CAVE STORY WII

I'm Curly Brace!

See, this is totally cheating, because I played cave story when it first came out for free in English. But, this time around I played it on the Wii as Curly Brace! It makes it into a totally different game. And by that I mean Curly actually has lines of dialogue where Quote didn’t say anything. This game is good. It’s kind of like Metroid, but different. So it’s good. This game is about mad scientists turning cute little bunny creatures into angry evil fighting mad bunny creatures and you having to stop them. It’s an old school style exploration shooter game. I like the soundtrack a lot, the actual shooting mechanics are fairly great and the way Curly jumps doesn’t make me want to kill things. The real star for this (as it should be, and is for comparable titles like metroid and post symphony of the night castlevania games) is the level design. It’s all put together well. It encourages exploration and hides it’s secrets well. I feel like you can find everything the game has to offer if you just look closely. Nothing is super obscure. Some of the secret items require you to do tricky things you wouldn’t do on purpose your first time around most likely, but that’s fine in a game like this. The cool weapons you’re allowed to get for putting up with the higher difficulty of trying to do weird things is worth it to me. It’s just an absolute blast to go through.

It’s free on the PC, but you can buy Cave Story on the Wii for like $10 or whatever. Or you can buy it on the 3DS for like $40 or something (I wouldn’t, but you can), or you can get it on Steam or something like that (I got it on Humble Bundle 4? or 3?) for like $not much.

Those are the ebst new games to me in 2011. The other games I played and really enjoyed this year were old stand byes. I love Pokemon and played quite a bit of gold/silver again this year as well as went back in on Chrono Trigger for the Nintendo DS. Both are games I’m quite fond of. I played through the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker again this year and started Metroid Prime 1 (which may be my favorite gamecube game of all of them). So yeah, not much new this year. It may change next year as there are a couple of games I’ve purchased in the past few months through the humble bundle or cheap steam sales that will definitely get played cause I’m not buying any more games.

Or I could play skyrim for sixty more hours and not play anything else. We’ll see how it goes.

 

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Pt 1. Man In a Fridge August 6, 2011

Filed under: Six Months Late,Video Games — Micah Griffin @ 13:35
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I just booted up Tomb Raider: Anniversary because I’ve always loved the idea of the Lara Croft games, but never really got into them. I had an N64 instead of a playstation as a kid so that was out.  By the time I got a Playstation 2 the Lara Croft games had dive bombed into awfulness. Then came Crystal Dynamics.

Crystal Dynamics is a really solid developer. I don’t think any of their games win awards for best of the best, but their games always work. You turn it on, you play it, you like it, you turn it off and all is well. Putting them on Tomb Raider to right the ship was the best idea anyone around Lara Croft had since they went about making the first movie.

I’m just about an hour into it and there’s a lot of stuff here. One of the reasons I never played Tomb Raider as a kid (even with friends) is because Lara Croft is an absurd character. The redesign kept much of that absurdness, only toned down to slightly less offensive forms. The beginning of the game has a cut scene where someone tells Lara to go do stuff, I skipped it. I really can’t abide a majority cut scenes. The actual game game starts with a Man in a refrigerator moment.

Lara Croft doesn’t need to wear clothes. She’s a super hero. We start in the mountains of some country we don’t care about. There’s a native of the land with a huge backpack full of stuff he needs to move around, except no rope to help Lara climb up. No big deal, Lara has a magic video game grapple hook. I need to write a feature about video game grappling hooks. Metroid Prime  may be the only game that actually has one.  This is off topic.

Lara Croft is standing in the snowy mountains surrounded by death and cold in nothing but her short-sleeve shirt, short shorts, a pair of pistols, and a magical grappling hook. That’s all. It’s freezsing outside, no leg warmers, nothing on the arms. This is what we’re dealing with. A character who’s main purpose to try and sell video games based on her sexual appeal, and never do we dare to limit her sexual charms by putting her in outfits that someone might actually wear when traversing through ice cold mountains.

That’s the whatever of it though. Once I’m able to get past this I’m assaulted with one of the dumbest animations I’ve ever seen. It’s Lara’s handstand. Throughout the game you’re climbing over stuff (which is part of the real fun of Tomb Raider) and often times when you’re pulling yourself up onto a ledge, you’ll do a handstand. This serves no point, especially since there’s an animation of her actually just climbing up the same way every pereson on other human being ever would climb up a cliff face. It’s frustrating because I know what it is. There is so much good going on in this game from a gameplay standpoint that it just makes the dumb stuff more frustrating. The only reason she does these absurd animation is to show you, again, how sexy she is. I get it. Lara is a sexy character, now let me play my game. It really says something about who they think is playing this that the only way their target audience will finish this game is if they’re constantly rewarded with shots of Lara attempting to earn a few extra dollars on the side.

No biggie though. I already gave Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix my two dollars, and I knew what I was getting into when I started playing this. The rest of the game is good enough for me to ignore all this stuff.

Oh, and about our dude in a fridge. This dude is eaten by wolves right before you enter the tomb. Lara then kills the wolves and leaves the dude’s body (along with his giant backpack of presumably useful stuff) outside, cause yeah. That’s just how she rolls.

 

Been So Long July 10, 2011

Filed under: Books,comics,Movies,Video Games — Micah Griffin @ 17:07

I’m excited!

So I’ve found my groove, mostly as a consumer. I haven’t done this in a long long time. I’m reading books, playing video games, and listening to music in abnormally high volumes. I guess it just sort of  hit me that I’m going to be killing myself in just a month or two’s time with school work. In the past month I’ve purchased nine albums (17 if you include all of The Color Spectrum as different EPs), at least 41 books (yup. 41+), and about 43 games. Now, the games thing isn’t fair. I’ll probably only end up playing about 35 of them, there were just package deals where it was cheaper to buy all the games than to just buy the ones you want.

What this really means is I have a lot more content taking up headspace, which also means I’ll be more inclined to write about stuff, especially since I’ll be condensing all my blogs into just one (or two) blogs. I thought about it, and for as much as I post, it just doesn’t make any sense to have a bunch of different blogs that I essentially write all in the same style. Why differentiate between the new stuff I read and the old stuff I read? Everyone knows I don’t be following on time. Keeping up with movies, comics, tv, and all that is time consuming. Maybe not any one of them individually, but all of them together is rough. Scratch that, even individually if you’re dedicated to a lot of pieces of any one media you’re going to have an impossible time to stay caught up and involved in the conversation.

I’ll just make my own conversation. With myself. Cause yeah. That works best.  From now on this blog is just an exploration of my thoughts. Still not doing a bunch of research on anything. I like some stuff, I do n’t like some other stuff, and I’m really wanting to figure out why that is. I think it’s an important step in getting somewhere. I rather enjoy the discussions of why things are good and bad much more than are they good or bad. I love the minutia of figuring these things out. I want to learn how to write in words for other poeple to understand, why it is I like some of what I like. I think a good numbers of my hobbies could use more of that.

Music has enough pretentious people running around delving deeply into all the nuances of meter to let you know why a song is good. Books have writers who write pages and pages on each individual chapter of a book. It’s a thing. I only know of a couple of people who do it with comics, and even less that do it on video games. Most of the mainstream comic book discussion and breakdown is shallow. Not in a bad way, it’s just shallow. There aren’t a lot of people breaking down panels. No. That’s not true. There are a lot of people who see it. They talk about it here and there. They say “oh, that panel breakdown was super sweet, dudes.” They don’t write it down though. They see it and think about it for a second then move on quickly. They’ll tell you that Jack Kirby was super awesome, and even give a small because. When they do, it’s rarely ultra personal.  They don’t often spend a lot of time with the why the artform connects emotionally with them.

It’s even worse in the video game land. Much worse. That discussion is banal at best. Have you read a game review lately? I can write that stuff, and I can’t write. So the “higher thoughts” haven’t really come into the discussion over there. The greater majority of it is still product reviews. This is sort of a problem with the youth of that industry as a hole and how the internet has informed the people who write and talk about it. There’s a certain style game writing takes on and it hasn’t really had time to break out from that. People love talking about breaking out from that, but it doesn’t really happen that often.

So here I go to fail again where I’ve failed so many times before. So long six months late, dimes all day, comics death watch, aww yeah comics, and adventures of. You’ve all been fun, but you’re all a bit too unwieldy and unfocused. All have given me too many excuses to not write because something didn’t quite fit in one where it could have fit in another. This time, at least, I know I won’t update anything. I also know I’m not going to be changing any landscapes. I am going to try though. Something a little different, at least. The only thing I hope to get out of this is a little deeper joy out of what I consume.

 

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – The one with only the words in it. July 18, 2010

Converting things from one medium to another medium is always a tricky beast. A story that works great in one form doesn’t always work well in the other. The absolute best forms of each medium are ones that cannot be done in another. There’s no way you can take the best comic and make it into a novel or a book. Same with the best Novel. The medium that I feel is most exemplary of this is Video Games.

Book Cover

Only one of at least 200 Storm troopers destroyed in this book

Other things you do for entertainment consumption are generally passive. Sure, some plays you go to use crowd participation, but usually you just sit there and let the actors do their jobs. Same with books, movies, comics, music, and interpretive dance. With games, nothing happens unless you make it happen.  Now, you may only  be able to make happen what the developers want you to make happen, but it still stands that to get  enjoyment out of it you have to do something. You are more or less in control of the actions of the characters.

There is a lot more  that goes into it, but that’s the big issue. The video game of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is my favorite Star Wars based game since Republic Commando (They’re both on steam). It’s a very enjoyable experience, and it does a wonderful job of filling in one of the story gaps between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars story. The writers were working with some hard constraints as to what they  could an could not do with the story, and they did a smash bang job.

I was surprised at how much ‘canon’ they were allowed to play with. This story effectively made itself a HUGE  part of star wars lore in a way most Extended Universe stories can’t and don’t. They essentially went in a way where “A New Hope” doesn’t happen if not for the events of this game. I found that kind of cool. One of the things Lucas Arts wanted to do with this story was branch it into many paths. The video game was the main focus, that’s the money maker. The comic book and the Novel were just nice additions. The story is good enough that a decent writer should be able to catch and enhance the good parts of it. The comic that Haden Blackman did with Brian Ching and David ross was very good. It was a straight forward adaptation with good enough artwork. Nothing to complain about, and for the $7 I spent on it I was very very well pleased.

I just picked up the Novelization from Sean Williams from the library and ran through it. It’s been over a year since I read the comic or played the game. I enjoy the story so much that it was a joy to get back into it in a different way. As a book it is a quick read. The only thing that might slow someone down is the rare use of made up Star Wars words. The game talks a lot about the different Jedi Fighting styles which don’t mean ANYTHING to people who have seen the sun in the past forty years. It really is kind of dumb. They’re brief mentions, and I guess if you are familiar with all those fake martial arts terms then it’ll help paint a visual, but otherwise it’s all gobblygook.

Williams does do a nice job of showing instead of telling. Which is a hard thing to explain in novels. I was afraid that the novelization would fall into the trap that most video game adaptations fall into, which is just bullet point telling you what happened in the game. They don’t actually convey the plot as a story.

The biggest downfall to this book is that it is ultimately based on a video game. Some of the conceits you give to a game because you know what you’re working with there you may not give to a book. I LOVE adventure stories. I love the notion of exploration and finding new environments. I also understand that costs A LOT of money to develop in a game. Building new worlds from the ground up isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. So if during a game you change an environment some so that when I revisit it I feel it’s a little different, but not terrible I’m okay with that.

When I’m reading a book, that is not what I want to have happen. I don’t want to go all fetch questy. I don’t want to end up where I just was an hour ago. Not enough time passes while reading a book to really warrant seeing three of the same places twice.  It just feels kind of funny. I wonder if people unfamiliar with the game will feel the same way, though. Or will they just not understand what’s happening or why it’s happening.  It’s possible you’ll be more accepting of it than I am.

That complaint aside the characterizations here are spot on. This story is really about Darth Vader’s secret apprentice’s movement from being an unknowing pawn in a grand game to a knowing pawn trying to move himself on the board. Maybe even being a rook or a bishop or something cooler than a pawn. The Apprentice, No Name Starkiller, starts off as a nondescript evil person sent on a series of errands to blow fools up. Through various interactions with his pilot, Juno Eclipse, and is trusty droid, Proxy, he quickly becomes someone fun to follow, if not quite sympathetic. PROXY isn’t as loveable here as he is in the game, but that’s to be expected. (I apologize in advance for the following phrase) the nuance of his character work in the game is just pretty close to imposible to catch in words. Williams trys, but you never get the full fun sense of a robot’s who’s primary job is to kill his master in the book. Imagine Cato Fong, but going for blood instead of goofily flustering Inspector Clouseau.

The book moves along under the motivation that The Apprentice is working with Vader and eventually Vader will topple the emperor with Starkiller at his side.  The book really gets moving once all of that is thrown out of the window. Unfortunately you realize that you only have 100 pages or so to go at this point. You want so much more. Now that Starkiller is someone you feel for you understand that absolutely nothing good can happen the rest of the story.

My second big complaint is the stories biggest strength. That’s how tightly it ties into Episode IV. While it gives you some sort of emotional tether, the first half of the story that didn’t have any of that worked great anyway. When you bring in Mon Mothma, Bail and Leia Organa, and characters like that, even in cameo roles we as readers/viewers/players all know they don’t die here. They can’t die. The goal is to make us wonder how they get out of whatever predicaments they’re in. I also wonder how other characters are moved out of play from the end of this story to the beginning of Episode IV.

Essentially though none of that is really important. The important thing is that we got a cool look at a part of the timeline that wasn’t filled in before, and it was done well. Minor complaints aside the book is a decent read. I’m thinking about telling my little brother to check it out just to get a different point of view on it from  someone much younger and someone who hasn’t played the game.

 

An open letter to game publishers

Quit your bitching.

That is all.

Okay, that’s not all at all.

I find it amazing how often you see video game publishers bitching and moaning about used game sales. They make it out to be the worst thing in the history of human kind. In fact, it’s just a way that common people save money.

The gaming industry is experiencing something that they’ve not had to deal with yet because they’re so young. Just as few as ten years ago the market was completely different. Gamestop and EB were different companies. Babbages, funco land, and software etc. were all different companies. They all actually existed, so used games were around. The difference is, the market was much smaller. The sales of games were all hardcore. The notion of the casual market didn’t make sense to most people. Yes, we knew about the  people that bought a ps2 and only played madden and GTA, but we didn’t talk to them. We didn’t see them. We saw the people that bought a new $50 game every month. That was all of us.
Who cared about the fringe people that couldn’t afford that? They weren’t gamers, they were just there.  Then over time they became a huge segment of the market. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot more people that can’t afford to keep up with the rat race than can. I use to be able to and now I just absolutely can’t. So I pulled back. I refuse to buy games at $50 and $60. That’s just not for me. I still like games. I want to play them, I just can’t afford them out of the gate. So I wait. After all t he waiting is done I find the game at a cheaper price. For instance I found Super Street Fighter IV for $25 when the game was still at $40. That’s in my price range and I get a lot out of that game. I saved $80 on six games during a b2g1 free sale at Gamestop.

What the publishers hate is that they’re not seeing a dime of that money. Not one dime. That is entirely their fault. All I want to do is be able to enjoy my entertainment. I do the same with movies and music. Whatever the cheapest way for  me to get it, that’s the way I go. It’s all about the financial bottom  line. I only have so much to spend on entertainment and I’ll maximize that money. Why spend $60 on one when I can spend $60 on three or four?

On a similar end of the argument, I recently spent over $100 on PC games during Steam’s summer sale. Games were anywhere from 50%-90% off. Companies like Codemasters, Lucas Arts, Sidhe, Atari, PoGo, Infinite Interactive, Bioware, and so many more received money from me, no matter how  little, that they would NEVER have gotten. Why? Because the games were affordable. There was a value to me.

That’s the crux of the issue. Used games exist only because there is a demand for them. There is a great incentive to consumers to get things cheaper. It provides them money to buy other stuff. Or maybe they only have so much money and it provides them a chance to buy something they wouldn’t ordinarily get. Give the consumer the chance to give you money for their product and they’ll do it. Give them the chance to give someone else less money for your product and they’ll definitely do that. That’s just the way of the world. You want to maximize product. Consumers are holding to the same code. Don’t be mad at them.