Monthly Archives: October 2012

On Two Academic Things

If you enjoyed the “God of Weird Social Structure” post, you should go back and look at it again. Some of the people we wrote about in that post came and left comments. Lots of comments, in fact. Differing opinions are shared, mud is slung, and our site traffic continues to increase. Everyone wins.

In the spirit of Halloween, we’re typing this post while watching The Crow, because Brandon Lee was awesome. The world lost a treasure when he died. Our wife is convinced that he was a major influence for Heath Ledger’s Joker. That’s not entirely unreasonable! Lots of movies and actors are better than they get credit for.

Did you know someone made a video game adaptation of the sequel to The Crow? According to this bearded gentleman, the Saturn port was real bad:

Anyways, on to our two Academic Things we learned recently, which are decidedly not scary. They are interesting though! We’ve been reading some video game theory books of late, and that’s where we learned our Things. It’s exciting when things you’ve always known about and quantified and given a name. We’re just defining them very briefly here so that we can use them in the future! Here goes:

Gamer Capital

This is the amount of credibility someone has when they talk about a certain video game or video games in general. You could think of this in relation to just about any hobby or Thing That You Do, but it’s interesting because you really can’t “spend” it around people that don’t care about what you have capital in. In short, even though we were really excited about getting through Ninja Gaiden Sigma‘s Master Ninja difficulty, pretty much no one we know was impressed. That’s because most of the people we know are either cooler than us or archivists or both, so no one we know likes video games.

The Crow really is amazing. “Is that gasoline I smell?” BOOM. Also, this man in this movie is snorting a PILE of coke. They really went through that stuff in the ’80s.

Paratext

This is more related to textual studies, but textual studies people are slowly warming up to video games, so there you are. The paratext is everything that has to do with a given text or, in this case, game, except for the game itself. This includes reviews, guides, articles, interviews, etc. All of these things shape your experience with a game however a gamer’s expectations for a game, and consequently they shape the gamer’s experience with the game.

This made us immediately think of the recent WoW hack that killed everyone on several servers. Watch this humorous video:

We’ve never played WoW , but due to all the traffic this incident got on various blogs, we were well aware of it. Incidents like this increase the awareness and mythology about a certain game among everyone in the active community. Exciting!

Anyways, those are our two Academic Things we learned about and can now use in future posts.

The cop in The Crow has a basketball and a trombone in his living room! To close, here’s a video of Brandon Lee in one of our favorite roles of his, complimenting the size of Dolph Lungren’s penis in Showdown in Little Tokyo:

New Links Page

Hey look up there! There’s a new links page. You should go and go click on the link that’s there. The guy over at VGJUNK was kind enough to let us put his site up and it’s real good. We’ve got some additional feelers out and hopefully we’ll be putting more links up for you to visit very soon!

Criminal Minds

Here’s something. We’ve been playing Far Cry 2 lately on our XBox 360, and it’s phenomenal, but that’s beside the point for now.

Let it be known that story in the most conventional sense is definitely not the strong point of this game. Let’s just say it’s alright in video game terms. One of the strong points of the story is that the antagonist, an arms dealer known only as The Jackal, turns out to be more layered and easier to empathize with than the average video game villain. In other words, he’s not a complete loon. Also, awesome:

Now, everyone likes a loony villain, but if you’re looking for a complex and layered story, one helpful thing to have is a non-loony villain doing things for what might turn out to be Alright Reasons.

Gamers in general, or at least the ones that review things casually or professionally, often use “story” as one metric to score a game overall, and they often want something that’s riveting and not easy to predict.

That is why we were surprised to be reading a list GamesRadar’s “Top 7 Most incredibly exciting games still coming out this holiday season” and find a dumb sentence about Far Cry 2. We shouldn’t have been…we were reading a stupid list on a stupid-er web site, but there we were. And gosh darn it, we’re bored over lunch at work sometimes. Anyways, here’s the offending sentence, written about Far Cry 2 as it relates to Far Cry 3:

“One such problem was the lack of a true antagonist–early on, the Jackal is revealed to be more of a conflicted protagonist than a true foe, something Far Cry 3 fixes by introducing an enemy that’s as crazy as they come.”

This is, in a word, poppycock. We’re not usually of a nit-picky sort, but this is frustrating coming from a publication that some people read. Why, if so many people are always wishing that stories in video games weren’t boring like an old boot, are we so excited about a return to the illogically insane villain with this game?  We can appreciate crazy:

Using your jump to conclusions mat is usually. We don’t mean to make it look like we’re assuming that the story in Far Cry 3 will be awful. Vaas and Buck could be handled perfectly and set about life changing epiphanies for all of us. See? They’re pretty BA, if you know how we mean:

We’re pretty jazzed about the whole thing to be honest and we may even save our allowance to buy it at full price. We would just appreciate if we could all get excited about the Tiger Attacks or something rather than what could very easily be a step back  from one of the strong points of the story from the previous game.

God of Weird Social Structure

Let’s talk for a moment about why we sometimes have a hard time being associated with what is broadly known as the video game community. This term is meant to include anyone who plays video games, which is as absurdly broad as it is absurdly easy to stereotype. You know the stereotype. The one where the controller is caked in Cheeto dust and you can’t see the carpet for the discarded soda bottles and pizza boxes. Or maybe the one where our XBox achievement score only serves to underscore the combination or mediocrity and misery that we struggle through our days with.

Well, while those stereotypes are not true in Most Cases, we have stumbled upon an Opportunity to show why they exist. Prepare to wretch violently.

You’ll recall from last week that we were playing God of War III. When we’re playing a game, especially one we’ve beaten before, it’s fun and sometimes informative to go to the GameFAQs message boards and see what the people there are talking about. While we’ve never actually participated on the board, it’s still pretty easy to learn from the constantly changing conversations there, particularly for popular AAA titles.

We went to the GOWIII message board and stumbled into some kind of bizarre social hierarchy full of bullys and masochists. Mostly just three bullys and one masochist, but it’s still Extremely Fucking Bizarre. See, for example, this thread. Here, the masochist, W_R, has created a thread to track his progress in the game, itself a bizarre thing to do. Why does anyone care what your run progress is?

If you continue to look around, you’ll notice that the reason he’s doing it is because our three bullies, MrStarkiller, ClassyGent, and Hotel_Security, actually act as some kind of self-appointed triumvirate for this board. They actually give people permission to start certain kinds of challenge runs like no chest, no upgrade, etc. They GIVE PEOPLE  PERMISSION to play the game a certain way. You have to fill out this run skeleton, they’ll evaluate your tactics, and then they tell if you’re good enough to move on to a harder difficulty.

We simply cannot describe the number of ways that this is horrible, but we’ll try:

  1. GOWIII is completely offline and completely single player, so nothing a given player does in their gameworld will affect another player’s gameworld. Consequently, there’s no reason for anyone to care about what another player is doing. Some logic fun: IF there’s no reason for someone to care about what you’re doing, THEN there’s no reason for them to have reign over what you’re doing. Now that we’ve typed that last sentence, it could be a window into an nightmare of existential conversation through insults and name calling, but that’s not what we’re here for.
  2. There are people on this board who, if you abbreviate the title of this game as GOW3, will ask you why you’re talking about Gears of War 3 on the God of War III board. The people who point this out have clearly not realized that they are, in fact, insufferable pedants.
  3. See this thread. The Big Cheese of the three bullies, MrStarkiller, really flexes his muscles here. It’s entirely possible that he’s flexing his noodly arms too, but it’s hard to tell through the Internet. He calls the user W_R “Waffles” and starts a fake poll wondering whether W_R will ever fill out this run skeleton thing of his. We could write a separate post about this, but JEEPERS CATS. Flame wars on the Internet are bad enough, but MrStarkiller has actually started a thread on a video game board specifically to antagonize another user. Is there a GameFAQs moderator somewhere? We’ve never seen a place where the banning of a post is more necessary.
  4. MrStarkiller frequently refers to W_R in other threads as either “Waffles” or “boy” and refers to himself as a “teacher”. Somehow, he never  refers to himself as an asshole.The other two are like those little lackies that say “Yeah” all the time.
  5. This user named W_R seems completely oblivious to the abuse he’s taking, which seems weird, but whatevs. The fact remains that he’s being abused.
  6. Someone has taken to making fake accounts with names like “Waterlogged_Ron” and asking silly questions that promptly get mocked by the other people on the board.
  7. The two points above make us think that there’s something up and maybe the whole thing is manufactured, which is still Extremely Fucking Weird. Why would you post questions under one account and then insult them from another account on a relatively dead board? Why would you do that on a video game board of all places? Why would you do that at all? What would make you think that “MrStarkiller” is the name of the account that you should do the insulting from? Why does MrStarkiller type like he’s wearing a monocle? Do these four people know each other? Is this funny to someone?

Suffice to say, the whole thing is bizarre no matter what the explanation is. It’s given us something to think about at work, but that’s a pretty small benefit to society given the amount of time that these four (3?) (2?) (Most horrifyingly, 1?) people have apparently put into this board.

We realize that there’s maybe a bit of hypocrisy in this post when we say these people are assholes for insulting people on the Internet when that’s sort of what we’re doing. The noodly arms remark was maybe a bit uncalled for too. But come on man.

In conclusion, the God of War III message board on GameFAQs is unpleasant and we would advise you not to visit it. It’s not anywhere near as bad as the Men Going Their Own Way forums, but it’s still an uncomfortable way to spend your leisure time.

We suppose that the point of all of this is that this is the Internet, and you’ll get a lot of shut-ins.