Buying Games Used to be Convoluted, but Magical

Buying a game today is a non-event. You simply go to a store, pick up the game, walk to the checkout and pay for it. Some retailers, like Target or Walmart, keep them behind a display (CLASSY), which requires the extra step of asking a kind associate for assistance, that is if you can find one.

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GameStop keeps their games behind the checkout, so you need to ask for a copy, which in return they would ask if you pre-ordered it, which my response is was, NO I DIDN’T FUCKING PRE-ORDER IT, BUT YOU HAVE A STACK OF 100 OF THEM BACK THERE SO GIVE ME ONE GODDAMNIT! I have a love/hate relationship with GameStop. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t buy physical copies of games anymore and just download them, like a civilized person. I have also been told that I have a tendency of over reacting.

Back in the day however, there was a process that must be followed when purchasing a game. This was especially the case at Toys R Us, which was my retailer of choice to buy games when I was a kid.

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This unique process, employed by Toys R Us, has been embedded and buried into the depths of my mind. This memory was only uncovered recently after watching a documentary about Tony Robbins on Netflix late one evening.

During this documentary, Tony Robbins, motivational speaker, life coach, self-help guru, and cosmetic dentistry enthusiast, demonstrated an exercise that helps uncover long lost memories. These memories, often times deeply buried, are both positive and negative, but none-the-less, make you the person that you are today. These memories can be very powerful and one can harness them, helping to make you a stronger person.

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With that said, after trying this memory dredging exercise myself, I have no fucking idea why I remembered, and quite vividly I might add, the convoluted and confusing video game buying process employed by Toys R Us from when I was a child.  It’s apparent that my brain is broken. No memories of early vacations, or interactions with my grandparents, birthdays, holidays, or even traumatic events. Nope, I remembered how Toys R Us made the process of buying video games akin to a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

For those of you who are too young to remember, or may have forgotten, back in the 80’s and the early to mid-90’s, Toys R Us used a ticketing system for the majority of their large and or expensive products. One would walk down the aisle, find a display of the product they wanted to purchase, select a ticket, take it to the register, pay, and then someone would get you the product you purchased.  If you bought a bicycle, someone would bring you a box of an unassembled bicycle. If you bought swing set, someone would bring you a swing set, et cetera.

Many Toys R Us stores still employ this method, as it does make sense, and it is efficient for large bulky items. Toys R Us used this method for pricier things as well years ago, such as electronics and especially video games.

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As a child, I remember going down the video game aisle and seeing rows and rows of plastic flip cards for games.  The front had the box art and the back had some screen shots and a description. Essentially, it was a representation of the box.  And just below each game, there was a pouch with the fabled Toys R Us item ticket.

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I have vivid memories of going into Toys R Us with my mom or dad to pick up a particular game, only to encounter an empty ticket pouch stating that the game was out of stock and be an utterly devastated 8-year-old. Perhaps it was a mistake. Maybe some asshole took all the tickets and hid them somewhere in the store for some nefarious reason?  Maybe the store just got more in stock and didn’t replenish the tickets? A quick trip to customer service would always validate my fears. The game was indeed sold out.

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More often than not, the game that I wanted was in stock, and I would select my ticket and excitedly go to the front cash registers, like a demented Charlie Bucket, but instead of a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, I was buying what was most likely a forgettable and utterly average NES side scroller.

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After paying for the game at one of the cash registers, the cashier would staple your receipt to the ticket and that is where the magic begins. You then head off to what appeared to be as an excitable child, a plexiglass monolith of electronic and video game goodness. Sadly, all images of this structure no longer exists.  All my image searches came up empty. The image below is the closest representation I could find.

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Within the confines of this structure were stacks of every gaming console imaginable—NESs, Sega Master Systems, Gameboys, and random Atari garbage. Later on there would be the Genesis, SNES, TurboGrafx 16, and holy shit, was that a Neo Geo? Also housed in the clear monolith were games. Stacks upon stacks of games.

Eventually, a sales associate would be called down to get the game that you payed for. A lethargic and disinterested looking teenager would unlock the door, take your ticket, and then attempt to locate your purchased game among the stacks of other games. I say attempt, because they would inevitably pass over your game a half dozen times before zeroing in on it.

IT’S RIGHT OVER THERE MOTHERFUCKER!

…I totally would have said that—if my father wasn’t standing there and would have totally beaten the shit out of me, right there in the store. Remember, this was the 1980’s, parents got away with doing that, and if he got tired slapping me around in public, another parent would have come over and beat me while my father caught his breath.  It takes a village to raise children properly, you know.

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Eventually, the teenager would locate your game and hand it over.  I would stare at the box the entire car ride home.  Sometimes, I could not help myself and I would open it up to flip through the instruction manual. Those were the good old days, when games had instruction manuals. The best games had meaty manuals, that contained some back story and a list of enemies.

On a slightly darker side, I also clearly remembered how my friends and I used to scheme during lunch on an Ocean’s 11 caliber plan to infiltrate that plexiglass fortress and make off with all the goodies inside. It was our casino bank vault, ripe for the picking, that is of course if you had a good plan, the right people, and the guts to pull it off such an amazing heist.

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I bet you thought the Clooney version, right? Nope, I’m talking about the infinitely cooler Rat Pack Ocean’s 11.

There were even legends of kids who had found a way in and made off with a handful of carts (or even consoles, depending on who you asked).  These kids then conveniently moved away to other towns, cities and even states, so it could never be confirmed or denied if the story was true or even learn how they pulled it off. Sometimes the tales were cautionary and the kid got caught, sent to juvey and became a hardened criminal. These stories were all legends, who knew if there was any shred of truth to them. (DEFINITELY NOT)

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Risks of juvenile detention aside, my friends and I would speak in hushed tones and plan our caper. Danny would buy a cheap game so that someone would need to unlock the booth. Brucie would wait by the booth and fake a heart attack when the sales associate unlocks the door, causing a commotion and a distraction. Johnny would then go into the booth with a garbage bag and take as much as he can. He’ll then hand the haul off to Jimmy, who’s waiting outside on his bike. It was so crazy; it just might work!  SHHHHHHHH. A teacher’s aid was walking by, she’s onto us. CHANGE THE SUBJECT!

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Also, in the 80’s all of my friend’s names had to end in “-y” or ”-ie” for some reason.

We never did follow through with our plan. It was too risky, and too stupid. Deep down inside, we knew it would never work. We would have been caught in an instant, and our parents would have been called. They would then take turns beating the shit out of us in public.

It was the 80’s, after all. That’s how things were. It takes a village to raise children properly, you know.

I Played the Hillary 2016 Video Game, Now I Have Even Less Confidence in American Politics

As some of you may have heard, there’s a presidential election in the works here in the U.S. Things are going to get really heated between now and November 8.  The candidates are pulling out all the stops to get the vote, and some of them are going high tech.

This is the most interesting election I have ever encountered and not because we have two upstanding social servants vying for the highest office in the land.  Never in my life have I seen two candidates that are more unlikable and unqualified. On one end, there is the tallest and most aggressive Oompa Loompa the world has ever seen. On the other, there is a corrupt, untrustworthy, career politician, and carpet bagger. It doesn’t matter what happens in November, because the U.S. is doomed.

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But enough doom and gloom.  There is a bright side to all this.  Hillary’s campaign just released a video game for mobile devices. Everyone knows millennials love video games, just look at the Pokémon Go phenomenon. So those in Hillary’s campaign took five minutes (probably literally) to create a mobile game.

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Like most mobile games today, after downloading the game and launching it for the first time, you’re asked to create an account.

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No thanks. I’m good. I’d rather just play. I don’t want to get bombarded by spam.

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Then the game gently reminds you that if you want to play, you must create an account…

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Christ, you’re a pushy bastard, but if I must…

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All that the back and forth about creating an account was well worth it however.  Had I decided to simply decline and delete the game and move on with my life, then I would not have had the opportunity to witness the splendor of a virtual Hillary Clinton 2016 Campaign Office. Also, I used to burner Yahoo e-mail account because I’m not stupid.

Okay. Fake Yahoo e-mail address entered. Let’s get campaigning…. GODDAMMIT!

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Looks like I’m finally ready to play this game. Let’s get acquainted with my new campaign office. Just swipe up to turn on the lights. This is actually the first time I get to interact with this game.  This is also the pinnacle of the type of interactivity one can expect with this game.

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There’s not a lot going on in here.  I would expect to see more people working. Why am I here all alone? Where is everyone? Am I in some 28 Days Later post-apocalyptic zombie infested wasteland and I’m the last person alive? That sounds sweet!

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I’ve been playing for 15 minutes and my campaign office was never attacked by zombies. Perhaps I should find something to do.  How about a game of Trump or False?

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That sure was fun. Oh look, a plant needs watering. I can’t take the excitement!

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Oh look! There’s a store front.  I can buy some furniture, new walls, and posters for my campaign office. Posters that no one except me will ever see, and chairs that no one will ever sit it, sofas that no one will ever lounge in, and walls that no one will never, erm… be walled in by.

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I’m depressed now. I think I’m going to go take a nap.

During my nap I dreamed of a better world. A world that was peaceful and everyone was happy. I’m roused from my slumber by a chime from my phone. Looking at my phone, I noticed that I had a Push Notification from the Clinton 2016 app.  I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and opened the app, curious as to what the news may be.

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I’m confused. The app that I downloaded yesterday and have played for 20 minutes (which felt like an eternity) is now telling me to download the app. I’m reading this in the app’s news feed. What kind of Bizzaro World black magic is this?  Is this some kind of elaborate psychological experiment from some secret CIA Black Ops program meant to break my will? What is the ultimate goal of this app?

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Well that explains it.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here, nor am I ignorant as to what the ultimate goal of this app is.  The issue here is this app is a flaming pile of garbage and it has no redeeming qualities. This app makes the Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood game look like a masterpiece.

Even if you’re a Hillary supporter, I cannot recommend it. That’s why I give this one sad Robin Hood hat wearing Bernie Sanders supporter out of five.

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Enjoy the election!

Game Protagonists Are Old Farts Now and That’s Okay

Getting older is not as bad as people make it out to be. Take it from me, as someone who has been on this merry-go-round called earth over thirty-six times. Complaining about it is so cliché anyway.

Sure, my muscles ache a bit more than they used to, and my peaches hang down a little lower, and my beard has a touch of grey here and there, but you learn to deal.  Perhaps the worst part was the thinning of my long beautiful mane of hair, but I just started shaving all that shit off. Now I’m a sexy bald man, like the late great Telly Savalas.

I’m also wiser now.  I know stuff just because I have been alive longer than other people. Want proof? Read my 100 Blog Post Fapstravaganza AMA and be enlightened.

Know what else is great about getting older? I now have more in common with the protagonists in the video games I play. Believe it or not, many of the main characters of games are getting older, and the reason for this is because apparently the people who are creating the games are getting older.

This was brought to my attention awhile back in a promo from Sony for Unchartered 4, where Nathan Drake is no longer a spring chicken destroying future UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but rather a 30-something who destroys future UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the video, which I embedded below, there is some interesting commentary from the game’s makers on how they grew up designing Nathan Drake and in turn, Nathan has grown up with them.

However, games protagonists have been skewing older for some time now. I first noticed this awhile back when playing Max Payne 3. When I think of Max Payne, I used to picture a young man with a perpetual “who farted face” with questionable style choices.

Boy was I surprised when I first started up Max Payne 3 to see a man that looks surprisingly similar to me, with a shaved head and beard. It’s eerie, like looking into a mirror.

However, I would never be caught dead in a Hawaiian print shirt. It’s obvious that Max Payne still suffers from questionable style choices.

Then, towards the end of the last generation of consoles, the amazing and in my opinion, groundbreaking The Last of Us was released, featuring a protagonist that’s touched with a bit of grey, just like yours truly.

Joel is a little worse for the wear, and has a greying beard, which I can relate to. But, look at that thick head of hair he has. FUCK YOU JOEL! Why do you still have so much hair? What is your secret? I HOPE ALL THAT BEAUTIFUL HAIR FALLS OUT AND YOU BECOME A BALDIE LIKE ME!

Getting back on track — I especially liked Joel, because he’s a father figure, and as a dad myself, I empathized with his struggle in this game and can understand the reasons for the actions he takes. That’s a powerful thing for me and it’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed and remember this game so fondly.

On a side note, The Last of Us was developed by Naughty Dog, the same folks behind the Unchartered series, so they are apparently attempting to corner the market on games featuring older, aching, grey haired male main characters.

Grand Theft Auto 5 also has its fair share of more experienced leads. Matter of fact, two out of three of the main characters can be considered old farts. Trevor Phillips, reminds me of that crazy uncle that every family has and tolerates during extremely awkward conversations around the dinner table during the holidays.

Michael De Santa (nee Townley) is a well-to-do man, who’s married to an attractive woman that may be porking her tennis instructor and a father to two pain in the ass kids.  It’s obvious that he’s undergoing some sort of midlife crisis, and going back into a life of crime is both a necessity in order to pay off debts, an outlet for his internalized rage, and a longing for his younger days full of excitement.

According to some armchair hack psychotherapist on Wikipedia individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis may feel:

  • A deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
  • Fear of humiliation among more successful colleagues
  • Longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
  • Need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
  • Heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof
  • Ennui, confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status
  • Ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life

Now, tell me that doesn’t essentially sum up Michael De Santa’s story arc.

Speaking of people having a midlife crisis, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Bruce Wayne/Batman can be diagnosed with this condition.

It seems that for the past few Batman movies and games, the story has centered around how Wayne/Batman is getting old and his decrepit body can longer hold up to the stresses of being a winged vigilante detective face puncher.

One of the main frustrations of getting older is noticing that your body is not able to perform in the same ways as it had in the past.  It takes a little longer to get loosened up, after workouts you stay sore a little longer, and when you get banged up, it takes a little longer to heal. This is my experience as someone that is in relatively good shape.

Also, let us not forget that in Arkham Knight, Batman was rolling around in his fancy new Batmobile. This is important, because everyone knows buying a fancy car is the first thing a man does when he’s suffering from a midlife crisis.

It’s getting obvious that this is not a coincidence that game characters are getting older. Another recent example is Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

If memory serves, Big Boss was the main character in Metal Gear Solid 3: Sneak Eater, where he’s a relatively young man. The Phantom Pain takes place in 1984, approximately twenty years after the events of Snake Eater takes place, so of course Big Boss is older, wiser, greyer, and worse for the wear.

He still has a thick head of hair, so I hate him. No way he still has all that hair after years of stress. I say it’s hair plugs or a really good toupée. Look at the technology that he has it his disposable. They are probably light years ahead of everyone in toupée technology.

And yes, I do realize that Big Boss is an integral character in many Metal Gear games, but on this case, I’m referring to playable old Big Boss.

When I first started writing this blog, my plan was to stop at Big Boss, but recent develops have required me to make one more addition. Thanks to Sony, we are in store for a new God of War game, where an older, grumpier, and bearded Kratos battles Norse gods.

This time, Kratos will be accompanied by his young son, and if the E3 gameplay trailer is any indication, Kratos is the type of dad who yells at his son during Little League baseball games. I imagine he’s like that dick dad from the original Bad News Bears.

So as you can see, this trend of older lead characters in games is going to continue and I think that’s brilliant. Sorry young whippersnappers, but the people who make games are getting older along with the people who play games and we like playing as old people and it’s only going to get worse.  Soon, Batman will be in his Batmobile doing 25 mph in the fast lane with his left turn signal on, Kratos will sit on his porch yelling at Norse monsters to get off of his lawn, and Nathan and Elena Drake will settle in a nice condo in Boca Raton, Florida. I can’t wait.

 

Thanks for Ruining My Summer, Video Game Industry

Summer is a time of year that I look forward to.  The long days are perfect for spending time outside being active and on hot days I look forward to taking a ride to the beach, or down the shore, as we say in the Jerz.

Of course, the best thing about summer is grilling large amounts of red meat outside then trying to shove as much of as possible into my face while washing it down with a refreshing cold beer.

Because of all the outdoor activities that become available during the summer months, playing video games usually becomes a low priority. It also helps that video game makers avoid releasing video games during the summer months. It’s as if doing so would make them susceptible to bad humors which will give them the plague.

I never understood why publishers don’t release games during the summer months. Students who are in school are either on break or have greatly reduced schedules.  Those who are working can also expect additional time off for holidays, summer Fridays, and folks generally take time off for vacations. For the most part, people have more time in the summer, so one would think that publishers would take advantage of that.

The movie industry certainly takes advantage of this.  Summers are when big blockbusters are released. Big, stupid, action oriented popcorn flicks are a summertime staple as the studios generally save the more serious stuff for the holidays, which makes sense, right?

The gaming industry however, has been stuck in a rut of releasing everything worthwhile in this tiny 4-month window between September and December. Sure, you’ll want to capitalize on holiday gift giving, but all these big releases so close together causes cannibalization among the big budget titles and smaller titles get lost in the shuffle.

You would think that publishers would want to spread out their release calendar a bit. Why not give the consumer a steady stream of titles throughout the year, instead of a glut all at one time? It just makes sense. Who are these amazingly smart executives making the decisions at these big companies anyway?

Okay, that’s not fair, but I can’t help myself.

This year, however, I’ve noticed a shift. There are a decent amount of good games coming out this spring which is going to force me to play throughout the summer.

Uncharted 4, Doom, and Battleborn have already been released and are solid if not exceptional games. However, just over the horizon we have Overwatch coming out in late May, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst in early June, No Man’s Sky in late June, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in late August.  All of these games are AAA titles, which is a rarity for the summer months.

Uncharted 4 is an awesome game that his lived up to all the hype and I’m thoroughly enjoying it right now.  Doom, a game in which many thought was going to be pure shit due to a review embargo has actually turned out to be more than decent and warrants a purchase. Not to mention, Doom and especially Overwatch, are solid multiplayer titles that will have long life spans.

Also, all the hype and general high praise for Overwatch during its beta has piqued my interest, and not just because Tracer has a beautiful rear end. I wonder what my good friend Pacino thinks?

Doom and Overwatch alone would have taken up my entire summer, but I had no idea that No Man’s Sky was scheduled for the summer. This title alone appears to be a total time suck just by the nature of this game’s style alone.

It’s actually a good thing that there are no big trips scheduled this summer and we just have “staycations” planned. Of course, my wife can make an executive decision at any time and pile us all into the car for a leisurely 26-hour road trip to god’s waiting room.

My plan is to lock myself into my game room, crank up the air conditioning and draw the blinds. Who knows, I may even take a break every once in a while to stuff grilled meats into my face and drink cold beer outside.

100 Blog Post Fapstravaganza

A couple of weeks ago, I was pretending to work and was clicking around the recently redesigned Destructoid marveling at how good it looks and wondering when it will cease being broken.  It was during this random web browsing when I noticed that I had logged 99 blog posts.  This called for a celebration and I asked you to be part of it. You didn’t disappoint.

I have never done an AMA before and figured that post 100 is just as good as any to finally have one. So without further ado, I give you my 100 Blog Post Fapstravaganza!

Does Spielerdad dream of electric lizard people? – GajKnight

So this question comes about from the fact that my co-workers at the office are not actually human, but Lizard People or Reptilians. I’m not the only one to posit that shape shifting Reptilian aliens have invaded earth and are just biding their time before taking over. David Icke, who is not crazy in any way, claims shape-shifting reptilian aliens have already taken control of Earth since many of our leaders are indeed, REPTILIAN.

My co-workers are a strange lot. At first I was of the belief that all of my co-workers were just highly functioning individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. They all have questionable social skills and poor communication skills, which are key indicators of Asperger’s Syndrome. That slowly changed over time when I realized that they lack other key symptoms.

There is something inhuman and uncanny about them that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Many times they make me feel uncomfortable.  I think they know that I know. I will try to continue being nice to them, so that when they do take over, I can become some sort of pet. Like a pampered lap dog.

So to answer your question, yes, I do dream about them. However, instead of dreams, it’s more like nightmares.

Bloomers or Spats? – Parismio

I knew what bloomers were and can say without any doubt that I would not wear them. I did have to look up spats though…

These are cool and I approve.  Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel that Brooklyn hipsters are going to appropriate these and ruin this rediscovered style for everyone.  Hipsters suck.

You know how having sex on a plane is called “the mile-high club?” I call masturbating on a plane, “the mile-low club.” Are you a member of either distinguished organization? –  weslikestacos

I disagree wholeheartedly in referring to masturbation on a plane as the “the mile-low club.” There is nothing wrong with rubbing one out. IT’S NATURAL! Therefore, I’m providing you with more apt names for self-gratification while on an airline:

  1. Flying Solo
  2. Self calibrating your flight stick
  3. Auto piloting
  4. Jet streaming
  5. Checking your heading

With that said I haven’t performed any of the above on myself nor am I a member of the mile high club. I’m a tall guy and flying is generally a very uncomfortable exercise for me.  Trying to be intimate, with either myself or someone else on an airplane is going to be an exercise in extreme aggravation and disappointment, which is already the case in any of my attempts in intimacy in the best-case scenarios.

What do queefs smell like? – Ein on Shrooms

The short answer to this is that queefs should smell like nothing.  A queef is simply air trapped in a vagina. Unlike a fart, which is gas formed in the gut during digestion and then released out of the anus which does indeed have an odor.

If you’re with a girl and she lets out a stinky one and then tries to pass it off as a queef then it can be one of two things.

1.    She may have a medical condition and needs to go to a gynecologist ASAP. A cheesy smelling queef should set off alarm bells for you.

OR

2.    She’s a fucking liar and you should dump her right away, because relationships are based on trust and she can no longer be trusted.

Can you fly using your dick as a propeller? – Luca Blight

No, I cannot, nor anyone for that matter, use their phallus as a propeller to achieve flight. That’s just plain silly.

With that said, I posit that a penis can be used for propulsion in a vacuum. I hypothesize that in space, an astronaut can propel himself by urination, as long as there is a way to develop a way to safely expose his wang into the vacuum of space. Just think what a majestic sight that would be.

Occams Electric Toothbrush checked in with multiple questions, so let’s do these rapid fire.

1.    Do you like your mother-in-law?

Yes, but she doesn’t make it easy.

2.    Most interesting place you’ve ever had an orgasm?

New Jersey Turnpike.

3.    Favorite meal ever?

On our honeymoon to Austria, my wife and I ate at the St. Peter Stiftkeller in Salzburg. It’s known as one of the oldest restaurants in Central Europe and rumor has it that Mephistopheles met Faust there, which is probably bullshit. The food and atmosphere was amazing though.

4.    What song would you want played at your funeral?

I’ve never given this much thought to be totally honest.  My desire is to be cremated when I shuffle off. As a full blooded Sicilian, I’ve been to my fair share of Italian funerals and the whole spectacle of multiple days of viewings with all the sobbing and wailing, then a church service, then the burial, then a lunch is exhausting. I have prepared specific instructions to not make a fuss when my time comes. Italians make a really big fucking deal about death.

With that out of the way, I would play something tasteful, like Black Sabbath’s N.I.B.

5.    Favorite work of art?

La Pietà. Regardless of your religious affiliation, it is by far one of the most amazing sculptures I have ever seen.

Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle? – SrChurros

Full disclosure, I know nothing about Pokemon. I’ve never played Pokemon and never watched any of the shows. If I had to choose one, I would say Squirtle, as it sounds sexual in nature.

Another set of multiple questions, this time from ACESandEIGHTS.

1.    What is your favorite bourbon for under $50?

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey.

2.    How long should a man grow his beard?

As long as he pleases, but he should keep it clean and well groomed.

3.    How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

58

4.    Was “Star Wars” the /real/ masterpiece, with its non-stop action and make-up-lore-as-you-go-along and Empire kind of a corny fanservice bullshit placeholder that was just a cliffhanger for the ultimately disappointing Jedi? Basically: Did Lucas peak super early and just start descending into lameness circa 1980?

Yes. But, Lucas did not direct Empire, and this is my favorite out of all 3 of the original trilogy, so there.

Which of the blogs you’ve written do you like the most and why? – SirDavies

This is a tough one and a bit of a toss-up, but if I had to choose, then I’d say the “5 Spooky Places that Should be in a Video Game” post. I generally enjoy reading about history and I’m fascinated by the macabre, so researching and penning this was a lot of fun.

What do you do when you’re seemingly underqualified for jobs you want, yet seemingly overqualified for jobs you don’t want? – Inquisitive Ravenclaw

This question was the most sincere of everything I received and I will try to answer it seriously.

I’m making assumptions here, but it sounds like you hit a plateau in your career advancement, which happens to pretty much everyone, including myself. When I first started my career, I worked at decent places, but they didn’t offer much in the way of career development our upward mobility. Because of this, the only way to get a bit of raise and more responsibility, was to jump ship to another company, which is okay. Remember, companies will cut you when times get tough and they don’t show loyalty towards employees when it comes to their bottom line, so employees should act accordingly knowing this fact. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that’s reality. So moving on when they are not paying you what you deserve or giving you what you want is okay.

However, jumping from job to job can only take you so far before you hit a point where the jump becomes a bit too profound. When you hit this point, you need to do two things; lie to future employers saying that you know said skills and then work hard as fuck in training and teaching yourself on how to actually do it.

A former boss that I look up to as a mentor taught me this years ago. I was complaining that all the positions I wanted required knowledge of a particular type of design software and he said that I should just put it on my resume and say that I knew how to use it in interviews and to begin applying to jobs while I self-taught. I did what he said and it worked.  Sure it was risky and could have blown up in my face, but life is about taking risks.

When I started at the new job, I was out of my comfort zone, but I got better over time. Being uncomfortable is how you get better and stronger. I’ll use a gym metaphor since I’m a formal jock. When the weight you’re lifting starts to feel light, then you add more weight. If you use the same weight to the point when you’re comfortable, then you’re not getting any stronger. When you become comfortable in something, that’s when you stop growing. Same in the gym as it is in life.

Now, I realize that this won’t work if you’re a foot doctor and want to become a brain surgeon. I suppose you can teach yourself how to operate on brains by kidnapping and experimenting on vagrants and hobos, but the authorities will look down on this.

I would like to thank the community of misfits here for giving me a forum to express myself and save the incoherent thoughts pinging around in my head. It has been a blast and I’m looking forward to posting 100 more blogs.

 

The FBI Wasted My Tax Dollars on a Video Game

The wife and I got a jump on our taxes this year. All of our tax forms from our employers, banks, and creditors have been sent off to our accountant. Hopefully, we get a decent return this year, which is never a guarantee. My hope is that it’s enough to put a stripper pole in the basement.

Every year, for eight years, when we send all of the forms to our accountant, I tell him to get me big refund by COOKING THE BOOKS. He then cordially reminds me that he is a reputable CPA. I also have no idea what cooking the books entails, but it sounds cool.

Eventually, we’ll get completed tax forms from the accountant to sign before submitting to Uncle Sam, and I marvel at how much money I paid in taxes both to the state as well as the federal government.

Where does all this money go?

Well, a portion of it went to the FBI, who spent it designing a website and a “video game,” with the aim of teaching teens the dangers of violent extremism. The money would have gone to better use if the feds used it to wipe their asses and then setting it on fire.

Have you ever encountered an instances where someone shows you something that they are very proud of, and you just smile, grit you teeth and nod, because you’re afraid to tell them that in actuality it’s total shit?  That’s the feeling I get when visiting the FBI website and right up front, on the page’s main carousel you’ll see “Don’t Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism.”

FBI Home Page

According to the FBI, “today like never before, violent extremists of all kinds are deliberately targeting our nation’s young people with poisonous propaganda—especially in cyberspace, where they are flooding social media with slick recruiting videos and persuasive calls to action.”

This is very true and terrifying. So the FBI’s plan to counter this is with a website using the slickest imagery and styles from 2003.

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The goal of the site, which can be viewed here, is to “teach teens recognize violent extremist messaging and become more resistant to self-radicalization and possible recruitment, through the use of activities, quizzes, videos, and other materials.”

This is a noble goal and it’s a shame that it was squandered on a such a horrible site that appears to be an perfect example of what out of touch beltway pundits believe teens find “cool.”

The ultimate goal for the user is to click on each section and complete small tasks.  These tasks are actually very informative and one can learn quite a bit.  After each task is completed, a string is cut on the puppet, freeing an appendage. Ultimately, you must free the puppet, so he can go home to his father, Geppetto and eventually become a REAL BOY…. probably.

Puppet What Is

I’m not even sure what’s going on here. Where are we supposed to be? Is this some kind of post-apocalyptic safe house? I’m getting a Myst vibe. Click on any of the boxes and you’ll zoom into that area and get a definition and a task.

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That’s a sweet ass rig there. What is that? A 486 tower with floppy and CD-ROM! Damn, we’re going to be playing some original Wolfenstein tonight, kids.

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Holy shit that’s an original Gameboy! Do teens today even know what an original Gameboy is? I like to imagine that a group of old grizzled G-men sitting at a meeting and one them say, “When my son was teenager, he used to love playing with something called a Gameboy. Let make sure we have one on the site because teens love those things.”

It just so happens that this area will also allow you to play a game called “Slippery Slope” on that Gameboy.

Slippery Slope Game

You play as a goat that must dodge obstacles and make it to the finish line. Make it to the finish line and you’ll get a message.

Slippery Slope ActionSlippery Slope Game Over

Wow, that sure came out of nowhere. How does one go from playing, as a happy goat traipsing through the countryside avoiding obstacles to what appears to be a quote from Conan the Barbarian? That escalated quickly—slippery slope indeed.

In the end, I really didn’t want to shit all over this site, as it does have a noble goal. Terrorism and extremism is real and it is scary, and yes, they are targeting teenagers, who may vulnerable and can be impressionable.

But here’s the thing, teens may be impressionable, but they are not stupid. A site like this panders to them in a condescending way.  You don’t have to make things edgy, cool, or fun to get through to youth. This was the case when I was a teenager and it’s true today.

5 Things To Do in Amsterdam Other than Playing Games at Your Hotel

In full disclosure, I have never visited Amsterdam. I came close to going a couple of times, and my wife and I almost honeymooned there, before deciding on going elsewhere. Suffice it to say, going to Amsterdam is on my bucket list.

Before my wife and I decided to stay exclusively in Austria for our honeymoon, we did have a rough itinerary planned for Amsterdam.  There is a lot going on in that bohemian city. So why would anyone decided to hole themselves up in a hotel and play video games when there is so much more worthwhile things to do?

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The folks at the Arcade Hotel, however hope that’s exactly what you would do. To their credit, the place does sound cool and the price for a stay is reasonable with rates starting at about $70 per night. Its location appears to be on the outskirts of the city center in a trendy and hip area where the streets are named for Dutch master painters.

The hotel also appears to be relatively small with only 36 rooms, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Each room comes with a console and some games. Guests of the hotel can also borrow a handheld if that tickles their fancy or peruse the comic book library. The Arcade Hotel also maintains a fleet of loaner bikes, which is apparently the preferred mode of travel in Amsterdam.

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I certainly don’t want to poo poo this establishment, because it sounds appealing to me personally as a gamer. The problem is that I can’t see myself taking full advantage of this establishment when visiting a city with such an amazing reputation as Amsterdam.

This is sound like your typical Catch-22. Put a hotel like this out in the middle of nowhere, and you will fail because who want to be out in the middle of nowhere.  Put this hotel in an amazing city like Amsterdam, and people don’t take advantage of the amenities because who want to be holed up in a room playing games when they are vacationing.

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I hope that this place succeeds, and who know, maybe one day my wife and I will make it out to Amsterdam and get to stay at this place. We already have a list of things we wanted to see on our Honeymoon, such as:

5. Visit the Anne Frank House

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4. Go on a canal boat tour

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3. Go to various museums

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2. Go to a “Coffee Shop”

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1. Shop at the many open-air markets

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BONUS: Red Light District

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On a side note, my wife and I have this on-going debate that originated when we were considering going to Amsterdam on our honeymoon and I mentioned that we should visit the Red Light district. I believed (AND STILL DO) that a hand job from a lady of the night is fine as long as no kissing is involved. It’s essentially a massage right?  I don’t give her crap when some dude gives her a massage when she and her friends have one their spa days.

She disagreed and says that if I did, she would have our marriage annulled as soon as we got back from our honeymoon. In the end, it was one of the main reasons why she decided we would go to Vienna and Salzburg instead of Amsterdam.

 

Selling Games Online is Like the Wild West – But I Can’t Shoot Anyone

It truly is amazing the amount of crap I have accumulated over the years. You find that special someone, move in together, eventually get married, and one day, you realize that you have no more room to store all your stuff.

When I moved in with the girl who would eventually become my wife, we lived in a tiny fourth floor walk-up in Manhattan. There was room for the barest essentials. Not like it mattered—rent was expensive and we were just starting our careers, so we didn’t have much to begin with.

However, we climbed that corporate ladder, started making some more money, and were able to afford bigger places and the ability to buy things—Many, many things. We moved into a bigger apartment, and after a few years, an even bigger apartment. A few years later, we bought an actual house, just like grownups.

Houses, by their nature, have multiple rooms, even our quaint one. My wife and I proceed to fill those rooms with even more things. Finally, one day, the wife and I were struck at all the shit we accumulated.  We felt cramped and suffocated. It was time to unload. We made a conscience effort to de-clutter and downsize. We wanted our space again. We wanted to simplify.

Furniture, appliances, clothes, accessories, electronics, and various sundries were listed online. We became experts of Craig’s List, eBay, and our personal favorite, Facebook Virtual Garage Sales.

It’s amazing what people will buy on a Facebook Virtual Sale. Things we were willing to throw away, were listed for shits and giggles for a few dollars and to our surprise, people would buy them. People purchased things like old coffee machines, tattered rugs, scratched furniture, and all things we considered garbage. Folks were literally buying our trash.

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Simplifying our space even galvanized us to simplify our budget. We took the leap and cut the chord, forgoing cable for just the Internet, and we have not missed it one bit. We became a streamlined household, physically and fiscally and it feels great.

Of course, I did my part as well.  There were many gaming related items that I decided to unload. Old physical copies of games, various accessories, consoles, you name it—they were going to be put up for sale.

Selling games and hardware online was not something entirely new to me.  I’ve done it a few times before, but I was more apt to trade things in at GameStop for credit. This time around though, I was going to attempt to get top dollar online for cold hard cash. CAPITALISM!

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The first thing I noticed is that selling games is going to attract a very different audience than selling a coffee table. Soccer mom’s are interested in coffee tables, because they read an article in Better Homes and Gardens on how to turn old furniture into shabby chic masterpieces and they are looking to do a project. Meanwhile, freaks, mouth breathers, criminals, and generally people without a modicum of social skill came out of the woodwork for my gaming stuff.

Take the PlayStation TV I listed for example. I got guys who wanted me to deliver the item to them, 50 miles from my house. I got guys who wanted me to ship it to them. I got guys who acted seemingly normally, until it was time to arrange for a place to meet and then got cold feet when I said to meet me at a public place, perhaps because their master plan involved stabbing me in the face.

I eventually sold it to a guy who refused to get out of his car, I had to hand the PlayStation TV to him through the window and he handed me cash. If the police drove by, they would have thought that I was selling this guy crack or a blowjob.

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Then there was the guy who wanted to buy a PS4 controller.  I was selling the controller for just $30 and it was like new and hardly used, but he kept trying to talk me down. I finally told him that the price was firm and I was moving on to the next person. He capitulated and agreed to meet at a public place. After showing up 30 minutes late, he looked over the controller, and asked if I’d take $25, I took it back and began to walk out when he agreed to pay the agreed upon price.

The weirdos really came out though when I listed my Xbox One Elite controller. I used it only a couple of times and realized that my meat hooks and sausage fingers were just too large. I kept hitting the bumpers accidentally and removed them. I paid a premium for what is essentially a nicer Xbox One controller, so I decided to pack it all up, put it back in the box and listed it on Craig’s List. This was a mistake.

The Elite controller is a hot item apparently. It’s pretty much sold out everywhere. Not to mention, the one I was selling was practically new and listed for $125 a savings of $25. I started getting responses immediately.

Craig’s List, is supposed to act like a local classified. I would post to the North Jersey page and people from North Jersey would find my post and then contact me, right? Why then, are there people from the next fucking state responding to my classified?

Will you Ship

This guy was my first respondent, so I was relatively nice to him and simply told him no. He tried to get someone local to meet me, but could not work it out, which is a shame, because the guy seemed normal, so I moved on.

The next guy was possibly illiterate, as he kept asking me questions that would have been answered if he simply read my post. He also was trying to lower the price, which was firm.

He finally agrees on the $125 price, and we make arrangements to meet, and then I get the following text.

Buyer Text

What’s funny is after all this back and forth; he flakes out and asks to meet at later times twice. I know that shit happens, but this deal became to sour in my book and I moved on to the next person. What’s funny is that this flake never contacted me again. It was like I dreamed the entire thing.

Luckily, the next person in line was normal. He agreed on the price and location, got there early, and was pleasant. No muss, no fuss.

So, happy ending, right? Not necessarily. I forgot to delete my Craig’s List post and got a few more responses, including this gem.

You Take 80

This dude struck a nerve with me. I love the written word and take umbrage when people butcher it.

Also, how does distance impact the price of something? Where the fuck did you learn how to haggle? How does distance impact the price? How is where you live my problem? Why don’t you go ahead and watch more American Pickers or Pawn Stars on the History Channel, because all of the sudden, everyone is an expert in dickering.

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I especially like how in the end, he throws in how he already bought one for $70 and was no longer interested, all this in a span of eleven hours, in the middle of the night. Some people just feel the need to make it seem like they won. So I did what I do best. I gave a passive aggressive sarcastic response.

Fortunately, I think I’m done selling stuff, at least for a little while. The wife and I feel like we purged enough. When the time does come to unload more stuff, I think I’ll avoid Craig’s List. It’s not worth the aggravation. Simply put, it’s a wretched hive of scum and villainy. (Gratuitous Star Wars Quote)

Have any horror stories of selling used games online? Let me know in the comments.

 

Last Minute Gaming Gifts to Give to People You Hate – Holiday 2015

The holidays are here and my wife is spending us into oblivion. I don’t see why we have to buy presents for EVERYONE. Isn’t Christmas supposed to be just for the children?

And no, my wife’s cousins, who are in their late teens and twenties DO NOT fucking count as children anymore. They are in college, or recently graduated and have jobs. If anything, they should be buying my 3 year-old daughter Christmas presents now. The statute of limitations (or something) of buying Christmas presents for them is over. Oh, they made a Christmas list? So did I, and there is only one thing on it, and that is:

“Santa, please don’t let the bank foreclose on my house when my wife spends the mortgage payment on Christmas gifts.”

Christmas has become overly commercialized and tiresome, but if I have to buy a gift, then you better believe that I’m going to buy you something horrible and passive aggressive. With that said, here’s my top five gaming gifts to give to people you hate. Merry fucking Christmas

5. Kinect for Xbox One or the Xbox 360

kinect-xbox-one1For all the impressive technology housed within a Kinect, boy does this thing suck. No one knows how to actually make interesting games for this thing, INCLUDING Microsoft.

The Kinect is actually one of the main contributors to Microsoft losing its lead to Sony when they launched the Xbox One. The act of including a Kinect in the box made the Xbox One $100 more expensive than the PS4. Also, the Xbox One, which is already negligibly inferior graphically to the PS4 was further hampered by the fact that developers were locked out of hardware resources specifically set aside to support Kinect. What dipshit actually thought this was a good idea?

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Oh that’s right. I forgot.

I recently disconnected the Kinect from my Xbox One and sold it off to someone for $50 on a Facebook virtual garage sale. I feel like I took advantage of this person. I feel dirty and ashamed. The only way I could have made this worse is if I followed this guy home, broke into his house and kicked his dog. I used the $50 from this sale to buy a bottle of Scotch and washed away the shame.

4. X360 Special Forces Headset

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The promotional copy for this product states that you will “Communicate with precision and style with the Special Forces Headset for Xbox 360 from CTA Digital. What makes this headset unique is its throat microphone, which is sensitive enough to pick up a whisper yet clear enough for everyone to hear you in the game environment.”

Indeed, nothing is more stylish than a “throat microphone.” All the racist 12-year-olds online, who can’t see you anyway, will be mightily impressed and jealous while they teabag your lifeless body.

I am assuming that this will help the mouth breathers out there, who can’t help exhaling into their microphones. Sometimes when I’m playing online I’m not sure if the heavily breathing person who I’m playing with is a fat Halo fanboy or some creep masturbating to the sound of my voice. Perhaps it’s both?

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The user reviews for this product have not been kind. My favorite is from OgreKing on GameStop.com who writes:

“People have no trouble hearing me, but they can’t understand what im [sic] saying. It sounds like your [sic] talking through a kinect mic. Other than that it works as intended.

So essentially, OgreKing (if that’s your REAL NAME) believes that the X360 Special Forces Headset works like shit, which is exactly what the manufacturer intended.

3. “2 in 1” Comfort Grip for PS4

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This product confuses me on many levels. First of all, I have no idea what this product looks like.  There are no images of it on the GameStop.com website, so I provided a picture of a bear on a bicycle, because I’ve always wanted to and never had a reason to, until now.

Reading the promotional copy does not provide any more insight as to what this product is supposed to do either.

Cut fatigue and keep your controller in great shape. Custom cutouts fit like a glove, No more excuses!
•    Custom textured joystick covers
•    Protect your controller from dust and scratches
•    Precision cutouts for each button, joystick and the D-Pad
•    Non-slip material with ribbed grip for better control & enhanced gaming performance
•    Soft-touch silicone material

The good news is that this product is dirt cheap at just $9.99 (or £5,000,000… probably). The bad news is that this is probably a repurposed sex toy given that it has a “ribbed grip” and “soft-touch silicone.”

2. Toad Wii U Fight Pad Controller

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BECAUSE NO ONE LIKES YOU TOAD!

1. Pyramat Video Game Lounger

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Folks, don’t buy video game furniture for yourself. If you receive video game furniture from a friend or family member, you should question your relationship with them, because they secretly hate you.

Gentlemen, video game furniture are vagina repellents. Girls will leave Back to the Future quality flaming tire marks out of your house if they see this thing in your living room or bedroom.

 

Ladies, honestly it doesn’t matter if you own this thing or not, because guys will pretty much screw anything.

The promotional copy is also hilarious:

“Take your gaming experience to the next level! Reclining in comfort while listening to powerful built-in speakers and a subwoofer you’ll hear and feel your games as never before! Easy to use audio controls and easy access inputs and multiplayer connection allow you to tailor the experience and bring your friends along for the ride! Sturdy construction ensures excellent comfort and a long life!”

First of all, if you own this thing, you will have no friends. Secondly, it’s good that this thing is built “sturdily” because you will be using it a lot, by yourself.

All in all, the Pyramat Video Game Lounger is the best gift to get someone you hate. It’s relatively cheap, takes up a lot of space, and will ruin their sex life. It’s scores the Christmas trifecta in passive aggressive resentment.

Have your own ideas on what gifts to get people you hate. Let me know in the comments.

Have a happy, healthy, and safe Holiday.

Better with Age: Classic Games Just Look Better… For Now

I’m not a big fan of the term ‘better with age’ since many things are simply not better than age. Sure, things like wine, scotch, and some cheeses are better with some age. Technology? Not so much.

Ever notice that no one ever yearns for medicine of yesteryear? I’ve never met a person who looked fondly at the time when doctor’s prescribed Camel cigarettes for weight loss and bled people with leeches to release the body of bad humors.

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I’m not one to look back at videogames with rose-colored glasses either. Many folks make a big deal about how games were simply better than current generation titles, but that is not entirely true either. Also, many people who claim that that older games are just better dress like lumberjacks and like in Brooklyn. I don’t believe anything these people say.

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Take the original PlayStation, Saturn, and Nintendo 64 as examples. For the most part, the games on these systems don’t hold up well visually. At the time, we thought they looked amazing, as they were in 3D and everything was built on millions of polygons, but this was just a novelty as it was new and fresh after years of gaming on a 2D plane. Simply put, early 3D games looked horrible.

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Take Mario 64 for example. The game itself was amazing as it was the first iteration of a platformer to make the leap from 2D to 3D and not muck it up. It was groundbreaking, but looking at the game today, the years have not been kind. I’d rather look at Super Mario World on the SNES than Mario 64.

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And that’s the crux of it. Older games do look better, but you have to go back further to see it. In my humble opinion, the games from the 16-bit era, especially as that era was coming to close looked visually unique and amazing. The large colorful sprites really popped.

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Again, I’m not saying that games from the initial PlayStation to today are garbage, but quite the contrary actually. The PlayStation, Saturn, and Nintendo 64 took gaming into what I like to believe is the modern era of gaming, where 3D, innovative mechanics, story, and high production values became the norm. Unfortunately, it took some time for the visuals to catch up.

Personally speaking, even though classic games, in which I like to define as the 16-bit era and earlier, are more visually pleasing than the early 32-bit era of games, game play wise however, they have not held up very well.

From time to time, I’ll pick up a classic game, either running on an original console or emulated on a modern machine and I’m surprised at how bad I am at playing them. Keep in mind that many of these games are titles that I played years ago as a child and could run through them at ease. Maybe I’m really becoming an old man and my reflexes are going to shit? Or perhaps I’m just not as patient as I used to be and I’m not willing to put in the time to perfect my run through or memorize the maps.

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I remembered all the strategies and secrets, but could no longer execute them. I then become easily frustrated by the pixel perfect timed jumps, or the questionable hit detection and quickly return to more modern games. I find this a bit ironic actually. I’d rather look at a classic game than play it.

I suppose that this is not an extraordinary breakthrough. It’s not too dissimilar from classic movies actually. Take Citizen Kane as an example. Everyone agrees that this movie was groundbreaking and a classic, but ask me to watch it and I’ll cordially decline.

It took some time, but I would argue that we’re coming to a new golden age of gaming. We have gotten to the point where visually, gaming is getting near its apex. I say this because the leap in visuals from last generation to current generation was not all that groundbreaking. Yes, current generation games look amazing, but compare to last generation, the change in visuals are more evolutionary than revolutionary.

Take EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront as an example. It is perhaps one of the most visually impressive games I have ever scene, even though game play wise, the game is infuriatingly mediocre. It’s almost as if we’ve reached a point where creating a beautiful looking game is the easy part, yet making it innovative, fun, and memorable is where the true challenge lies.

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I reckon time will tell if my theory holds true. In the meantime, I’ll stick to watching people speed run through classics games. I’m retiring from playing the classics. I’ll leave that to the young whippersnappers.