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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

5 More Creepy Places That Should Be in Games

Last year, around this time, I posted a blog about five creepy places that would make great settings in video games. That post got front-paged, so like a savvy Hollywood producer, I went back to the well and created a sequel.  Enjoy!

5. Moosham Castle, Unternberg, Austria

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Moosham is a silly name and it’s not scary at all, but that’s okay, because this stately castle also goes by another name. The Witch Castle. The only way to make that sound even more creepy and foreboding is to say it in German, a language that’s perfectly suited for unsettling people. So go ahead and say it out loud Hexe Schloss.

Starting in 1680, the castle was the site of witch trials.  Back then, if the accused just didn’t confess to being a witch outright, you can go ahead and torture a confession out of them.  Go ahead and weigh the accused down with some rocks and toss her in a lake. If the accused survives the attempted drowning, then she’s a witch and you can burn her alive with confidence. If she drowns, then she’s innocent, but it’s totally okay, because now she’s in heaven with Jesus. EVERYBODY WINS!

I’m just kidding, the accused weren’t drowned, they were beheaded. So now, there are a bunch of pissed off headless ghost women roaming the property, who may or may not be witches.

It doesn’t stop there though. In the 1800’s large numbers of eviscerated deer and cattle were found near castle grounds. This was obviously the work of a werewolf. The villagers followed up by doing what they did best. They rounded up a bunch of dudes and tortured confessions out of them before beheading them. Now there’s a bunch of pissed off headless dudes roaming the castle who may or may not be werewolves.

Or Aliens.

Or Aliens.

Moosham Castle would be a great stage in the Wolfenstein series. Let’s assume the Nazis resurrected the witches and werewolves through satanic rituals and BJ Blaskowitz needs to send them back to hell with bullets and face punches.

4. Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada

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Canada? There nothing scary about Canada? They have Mounties, Tim Hortons, and nationalized healthcare. Also, Randy Quaid came back to America, so Canada now has one less crazy person to worry about.


The Banff Springs, situated in the picturesque Canadian Rockies would be a pretty nice place to stay, if it wasn’t ridiculously haunted.

The Banff Springs has covered all off the haunted hotel requisites. It has one room that is more haunted than the others, where an entire family was brutally murdered. It has a ghost bride, who tripped on her own wedding dress while walking down the stairs, causing her to fall and break her neck. It even has a mischievous ghost bellhop.

What makes the Banff Springs unique is the supposed “secret room.” The first iteration of the Banff Springs was a wooden structure that burned down 1926. The hotel was quickly rebuilt into the castle like structure that we know today. However, when the charred remains of the original building were surveyed, a secret room was discovered that had no door, window, or entry point of any kind. Many speculate that this was a simple error from the original builders.

Creepily enough, workers of the hotel have been claiming for years that they hear weird noises and see apparitions in the hotel near the exact location where secret room once existed. So obviously, this secret room was a portal to hell that was opened when the first Banff Springs burned down. SCIENCE!

I think the Banff Springs would be perfect for a Fatal Frame game. I would have the main characters play out the entire game from the get go in their underwear. I WILL NOT BE CENSORED!

3. The Paris Catacombs

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I have never been to Paris. I’ve been to Vienna, which I’ve been told is like Paris, but better, as there are no Parisians. Visiting Paris is on my bucket list and when I do go, checking out the catacombs will be on my checklist.

In the 18th century, cemeteries in and around Paris were severely overcrowded. A plan was put in place to remove tens of thousands of bodies and re-inter them in the abandoned and haphazard limestone tunnel mines.  It was an elegant solution that killed to birds with one stone.

Oui Oui, this gives us plenty of time to drink wine, eat fromage, smoke, and read Satre.

Oui Oui, this gives us plenty of time to drink wine, eat fromage, smoke, and read Satre.

Many of the bones found in the catacombs are laid out in beautiful, if not morbid arrangements, but don’t get too confortable while down there. There are many stories of angry spirits that haunt the tunnels. Many visitors report seeing apparitions and getting poked or pushed by an angry spirit is apparently not uncommon. Not to mention, some people have become lost and disoriented while down in the catacombs and there are a few unfortunate folks who have gone down and are never seen or heard of again.

I think the Paris Catacombs, or something like it, would be a cool addition to a game series like Elder Scrolls, where you see a lot Skeleton Warriors. Can you imagine all the bones in the Paris Catacombs reanimating to for a massive skeleton army? That would be pants shittingly awesome.

2. Edinburgh, Scotland

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Scotland must be like Florida for ghosts. They just all go there when they retire from haunting random houses around the world. Not only that, but Edinburgh might as well be themed as the world’s largest haunted house. When someone goes to Edinburg it’s apparently easier to ask the locals what places are NOT haunted as places that do not have malevolent spirits are the true novelties here. It’s probably the reason why the Scots invented quilts, as it’s easier to clean up when you inevitably shit yourself when a ghost startles you.

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There’s the Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery where not too long ago, back in 1999, a homeless man decided that breaking open a coffin and sleeping in it was a perfectly fine idea. Very soon after the incident, visitors to the cemetery reported being attacked by unseen forces. Common complaints of the visitors were scratches and even broken fingers. More disconcerting is the fact that over the years, approximately 140 people collapsed while touring the supposed cursed cemetery. It got so bad that the city council closed of the cemetery to all visitors.

THE REAL MARY KING'S CLOSE 28/06/06 PICTURE BY GARY DOAK tel.+44 (0)7836 255 728 garydoak@blueyonder.co.uk
Also in Edinburgh one can visit Mary King’s Close, a subterranean collection of various streets, shops and homes. I suppose you can call this your standard underground labyrinth, with an interesting and dark backstory.  It’s like one big basement that you should totally not go down into when you are home by yourself.

In 1645 the close was abandoned when an outbreak of the plague broke out.  Those who were infected were left behind to fend for themselves, which pretty much means they died alone and afraid while the plague consumed them. Ever since the Close has garnered a reputation of being haunted, going back to the early 1700’s.

Visitors today claim to have seen the ghosts a small child who follows them around, a worried looking old women, seeing stones skip on there own down alleyways, and hearing the sounds of footsteps following them when there is no one behind them.

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Lastly, no visit would be complete without a jaunt at Edinburgh Castle. Visitors here have claimed to be touched and pulled by unseen entities as well as seeing various apparitions, like a bagpiper, an old man wearing an apron, and a headless drummer boy.

Of course, no haunted castle would be complete with your standard haunting necessities like unexplained shadowy figures, sudden drops in temperature for no apparent reason, strange manifestations of mist, and of course, having sudden intense feelings of dread, sadness, and despair. However, feelings of dread, sadness, and despair can be explained by the fact that you are in Scotland. ZING!

Scotland would make a good stage or location in the latest Assassin Creed game. Ubisoft can add a haunted Scotland DLC. I also hear that the latest installment takes place in London, which is not far from Scotland.

1. Island of the Dolls, Xochimilco, Mexico

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Unlike the German language, when something is translated into a romance language, like French, Italian, or in this case, Spanish—things just seem so much more exotic and pleasant.  La Isla de las Muñecas sounds like a place where I can get served a fruity rum-based beverage out of coconut while lounging on the beach, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Legend has it, not too long ago in the 1950’s, a man moved to the island to simply get away and live life alone in isolation. He quickly learned that something is not quite right on his island. He believes that he is being haunted by the ghost of a little girl who drowned on the island years before his arrival.

To appease the ghost, the man would go into town to find dolls and he would tie them onto the trees on his island, like deranged Christmas ornaments. Over time, the man felt that the ghost of the little girl was no longer satisfied with the dolls and she wanted a more permanent companion. The man mentioned this fear to a relative who came to check on him and few days later, when the relative returned, he found the man floating facedown in the what many believe to be the same lagoon that the little girl drowned in.

To this day, visitors to the island have claimed to see the ghosts of the man and the little girl. If that is not freaky enough, many claim that the dolls, which have been hung on the trees by the man and more recent visitors whisper to you when you walk by. (Promptly shits pants.)

When reading about the Island of the Dolls, I can’t help to feel like this would be a real kick ass place in the Far Cry series. Forget cavemen and saber tooth tigers Ubisoft, a super natural Far Cry would be amazing.

Do you know of a creepy place that would make a good setting in a video game? Let me know in the comments.

And for those of you who celebrate Halloween, enjoy the festivities.. Dress up, get drunk, and eat candy.

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If You Need to Ask, Then You Can’t Afford It

When I was a young boy, around the age of 9 or 10, I used to dream of one day being rich and powerful. I wasn’t just going to be your run-of-the-mill wealthy mind you, but obscenely, filthy, Bond villain-esque, Middle Eastern sheikh wealthy.

In a perfect world, I would be a wealthy Middle Eastern Sheikh and professional wrestler.

In a perfect world, I would be a wealthy Middle Eastern Sheikh and professional wrestler.

I actually used to watch The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and think, one day that will be me, but I wasn’t just going to own boring yachts, jets, and private islands, I was going to own a flying yacht that could turn into a private island. Hot supermodel quality guards would also staff my flying, floating, private island paradise, because when 10-year-old boys think of anything, it inevitably devolves into sex… and boobies.

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…AND GUNS!

I vividly recall drawing extensive diagrams of some of my various yachts, jets, and mansions that I would one day own during my free time at grade school. Of course, as the years went by, I didn’t become insanely wealthy, and this memory started to fade away. That is, until recently.

All these old memories began to bubble back up to the surface again after logging in a lot of hours in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and seeing my Mother Base in the Seychelles expand from one platform into many interconnected structures that stretched out into the horizon in all directions.

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At first, I found this concept to be ridiculous, but as my base grew in size and function, the 9-year-old boy in my subconscious began to take notice. This imaginary base, out in the great blue sea is the stuff that dreams are made of.  Growing this base became not just a small part of this sprawling, complex game, but an obsession.

There is just one small problem. Mother Base in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a bit too industrial and militaristic for my tastes. I’m older now and more experienced. Industrial orange paint and no frills sensibility is fine for Big Boss, Revolver Ocelot, and a private mercenary force, but I require something more refined.

That is why I was delighted to find out that building a private floating island like Mother Base was not just possible, but it didn’t have to look like an offshore oil rig. BEHOLD!

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Migaloo, an Australian company that apparently builds luxury submarines and submersibles for the insanely wealthy will also build for you what they call a Kokomo Ailand, which is a private floating habitat based on semi-submersible platforms. It’s just like Mother Base, but with CLASS!

Go ahead and take a gander at the promotional video below, and do your best to not fuck the first person you see when you hear the sweet sounds of generic porn music that accompanies it.


So what exactly are you getting with you purchase your very own Kokomo Ailand? LUXURY, that’s what! See below:

  • Private owners penthouse 80 M above sea level
  • Jungle deck with palm trees and vertical gardens
  • Beach deck with entertainment pool & barbecue area
  • Garden deck with al-fresco outdoor dining
  • Spa deck with spa and beauty saloons
  • Large pool areas and waterfalls
  • Two beach clubs including beach gym
  • Underwater dining saloon, shark-feeding station (No mention if the sharks have frickin’ laser beams.)
  • Outdoor cinema
  • Helideck
  • Massive storage for tender & toys

Eat your heart out Diamond Dogs. Mother Base sounds like a total shit hole compare to this place.

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I especially like the last bullet point stating that Kokomo Ailand has massive storage for tender and toys. I’m assuming that the folks are referring to massive stockpiles of cash when they say tender. I’m talking Scrooge McDuck, swimming in massive piles of tender.

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It also goes without saying that when you have your own Ailand, pesky laws that regular losers have to follow on the mainland simply do not apply when you’re in international waters. Go ahead and eat an endangered species like a Galapagos sea turtle then do massive amounts of blow of a hooker’s ass. Who’s going to stop you?

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All in all, I like how there is no mention on how much it actually costs to purchase your very own Kokomo Ailand on the Migaloo website. Well, as the old saying goes, if you have to ask how much it costs, then you can’t afford it.