Archive for February, 2014

Surprise…then Disappointment

Posted: February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

HankReactionHype can be a ruinous force.

I think that we’ve all had an experience where everyone- the critics and our friends alike- tells us something is good. And then we check it out and it’s just not what we were expecting. Humans in general are bad about hyperbole. I’ve seen my share of Academy Award winners and played my share of Game of the Year titles that left me cold. Arguably, part of the problem is my admittedly high and occasionally arbitrary standards for what I think is good (in some cases there is a certain je ne sais quos where I’ll like something or dislike something, and I won’t really know why); but another part of the problem is that if people like something, there aren’t any grayscale tones, just “I love this and it’s the best thing invented since ever!” or “Oh my god, this is an atrocity!”.

Now, in gaming culture, this sort of thing has been fostered by many of the gaming sites that hand out 8/10 and 9/10 scores to games with even the barest quantum of polish, with anything getting a 7/10 or lower being cast into gaming’s unofficial Pit of Carkoon. Of course, it’s also not helped by gaming’s rampant fanboy contingent ready to rain down hell anytime the object of their fandom doesn’t get a passable score. Few games should qualify for those 80 and 90 percent scores. You buy one because you’re promised the next big thing…and you may not get it. There’s not really any accountability.

But I’m getting away from my topic. Which is disappointment due to overpraise.

In any case, this is why some things are “Overrated”. They’ve received so much praise that you’re expecting them to be life-changing, amazing pieces of work but…they turn out to be less than that. All of this thought comes after reading the aftermath of the DICE awards. The Last of Us swept the awards (which I don’t consider to be fair; if a game wins Game of the Year I believe that it ought to be disqualified for other awards to allow other titles a chance to shine), and I’ve been told by trusted friends that it’s a fantastic game in addition to all the critical acclaim. Yet since it’s built up so much- I’m hesitant to play it. When there’s that much hype behind something, there’s bound to be disappointment.

I’m not fond of that feeling. It’s rather alienating to see something that’s universally praised but you only thought it was mediocre, or worse yet, you thought it was awful. It makes me ask myself, what did I miss? What’s so wrong with me that I don’t understand why everyone else is gushing with praise for this work?

It is possible to over praise something. Sometimes it’s necessary to dial the enthusiasm back a few notches and just say “You should check it out.” instead of “It’s the greatest thing ever!”. Where it might be life-changing for you, it might be a diversion for someone else. I’ve grown leery of gushing praise. So many in my generation adore the Harry Potter books; I think they’re good entertainment but nothing more. I thought Portal was a fair if unimpressive game…after I’d heard all of its memes thousands of times before so much as booting up the game. I probably would have enjoyed these more if everyone hadn’t positively exploded with praise for them. Conversely, I may have never heard of either of them had they not been so universally popular with their audiences.

But remember, when you’re telling someone else how great something is- your experience with it is entirely subjective. ┬áRemember, that though for you, Final Fantasy X was the most important game of your life…

For me, it was Tuesday.

For me it was Tuesday.

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I’ve Got Your Back

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

I guess I don’t talk much about my football days.

That surprises some people. I guess considering my hobbies and interests and the fact that I get antsy just watching sports, a lot of people don’t take me for a football player. Other people see the way I’m built (I’m a big dude- broad shoulders and all that) and don’t have too much difficulty accepting the fact.

So yes, I did play football, for one season, in my Freshman year of High School.

Anyway. It’s not like I was a star player or anything. Naw, I was solidly 4th string. I was only on the field during a game for two downs in the last quarter of the last game- when my intense lack of anything resembling skill or even knowledge of the game’s rules could no longer do any harm to our perfect 10 and 0 winning streak season. But still, I was part of the team. I was there for Hell Week. I was at almost every practice (barring this one time someone sent a kneecap into the meaty part of my thigh playing flag football during Phys Ed). And I was at every game, except for one up in L.A. or somewhere where the coaches were like, “You know, maybe we’ll just leave the 3rd and 4th string at home.

Anyway, prepare the inspiring music, here’s my uplifting sports story moment.

At the end of every practice we ran conditioning drills. This could be a variety of things- crabwalks, windsprints, but I think the one we dreaded most was the serpentine or something (I think that’s what we called it) where we all got in a big long line and jogged the field across the yard lines, and back, and it was just a pain in the ass. So anyway, one day I was a little more beat up than usual at the end of practice. And I literally collapsed during the run. I was lagging behind to begin with and then boom, faceplant. I was tired. I didn’t want to move. I would have been happy to turn in my pads and helmet right then and there. And then a few of the 1st stringers ran back and told me to get up.

Not in a harsh, “we’re going to upholster a bucket seat with the skin from your ass if you don’t get up” tone. But in a “come on, let’s finish this. Teammate.” sense. I mean, I meant nothing to the 1st string. I was just one of the 60 or so skill-deprived sons of bitches that showed up with no prior experience- I’d never watched a football game in its entirety or finished a game of Madden, even- who wanted to play football. But I was there day-in, day-out at practice, same as they were. I may not have been playing in the game or doing anything notable, but I was part of the team nonetheless.

I’ve always liked that kind of camaraderie. In football, on a team, it didn’t matter if you hung out with the 1st stringers at lunch. I didn’t. On the field, at practice, we’re all there, going through the same thing. We all weathered the sadistic whims of the coaches, we ran the same conditioning. It’s like that with the best teams I’ve worked with. It was like that with the BNBGaming team, as well. We may have been from different parts of the country and even world, but we had that camaraderie forged by being in the trenches of game journalism together. We all took a bite of the same shit sandwich.

If I may briefly quote from Henry V:

“For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother;…”

It’s an overdramatic example, to be sure. But knowing you can depend on your teammates- it’s a good feeling.

 

HanWhen in the course of human events it becomes necessary to…pick a new theme and change your header.

So I think we can all agree that that “Horror in Gaming”, Haunted Pixels thing didn’t really pan out. It was a good idea, sure- but good ideas don’t always mean good execution. To be perfectly honest, I get kind of bored if I stick to one genre for too long. I drift between horror and fantasy and science fiction and all the combinations and subgenres in between them. It keeps me from getting Too Many Elves Syndrome or Slasher Fasciitis.

And frankly, I find it pretty constraining. Hell, even when I was keeping the Haunted Pixels name (it’s still the URL, but that’s only until I have the money to purchase the Morelock’s Lair domain and start selling t-shirts and snow globes with my ugly mug on them) I was drifting away from horror. It’s important to diversify sometimes.

So I’m sort of retooling the page into my personal blog. Not restricting myself to any one subject. So I might talk about video games or tabletop games, or what books I’m reading, or my frustrations with Algebra, or beautiful works of engineering (like cars). I’ll certainly talk about King of the Hill at some point. Maybe review Battlestar Galactica, which I’m currently in the process of watching (I’m only on the first season. Don’t spoil it for me.) I’ve got some projects in the works, too. It’s gonna be an interesting year.

In any case- it’s almost 5 AM. I’ve got a paper due at 11:00 PM and I could use a little shut eye before the Klendathu Drop.