I figured it out!

You see, I am passionate about not being super passionate about video games.

I think gaming is a fine leisure activity that can provide a warm, cozy source of stress relief and simple enjoyment. It can even be an cathartic outlet, a social catalyst, and enhance one’s mental faculties. Gaming is capable of greatness.

I like video games!

I tweeted this image earlier today, and got quite a wide range of responses:

clippy_tweet

The ones that fascinated me were the people getting defensive. Often, this was due to misinterpretation; I mean, honestly, the image I created isn’t saying “never tweet angrily,” or “games are completely unimportant,” etc. — the point, more so, is that considering your words is a valuable act, and often in the gaming hobby I notice people getting upset over stuff that… well, they just shouldn’t be upset about.

Other times, though, I was being met with people really, truly trying to evangelize me on how utterly significant video games are, and that getting angry about their issues is a truly noble cause. Actually, I am going to go ahead and single out one reply in particular, just to try and show how bizarre this was (to me?).

Keep in mind, I am a fairly average, non-notable guy overall. I am 30 years old. I have a job, a wife, a kid. I am taking a college course this summer to further my career. I am a Christian. I enjoy other hobbies, such as writing, and playing basketball. I have dreams, goals, and fears. I have anxieties. I have a lawn I have to mow. I shower every morning. I need glasses. There’s a roll of duct tape on my desk right now and I’m not 100% sure why. I just had a snack of cashews and granola mixed in a small bowl. I watch stuff on Netflix. I am a Star Wars fan. I frequently tweet about coffee and bad jokes.

Considering all of this, and my fully-vivid big-picture experience of Life, I said this phrase to a couple people in the mentions fallout of the above tweet: “It is difficult for me to imagine a gaming issue worth being angry over.” And that’s true: I just, to try and put it as simply as possible, have other stuff to worry about.

So then someone, this actually happened, someone started giving examples of gaming-related items that might make me upset. Like, his point is to try and give me an example of a gaming-related issue that I would get emotionally torn up over. Here is his attempt:

mother_3

Now, okay, I’m trying to imagine this.

I’m trying to imagine a typical day, in my real life. I have a solid, productive day at work. I get home, and greet my wife, and my kid, and my kid smiles at me and gives me a hug and melts my heart. I catch up with how my wife’s day has gone, and it has been kinda frustrating, so I listen attentively and, although I cannot relate this day in particular, I can nonetheless empathize and have compassion. I try my best to help out with dinner preparation, but mostly just get in the way and try to wrangle the kid instead, since I suck at cooking in a huge way. Me and the kid go outside, and I find joy in her curiosity about the world around here, and am amused at how she stops to look at some dog poop. I have to prevent her from grabbing it, because she is so curious. We go back inside, eventually, and the wife has made her famous chili, and it is delightful, it is hot and hearty and tasty all around — but we are not eating alone, as soon two of our friends arrive, with their own daughter. They are expecting their second kid soon. We talk about that, but we also discuss happenings at church, and how his job is going as an English teacher, and what card game we are going to play after dinner, and who we should all hang out with soon. I offer my friend a beer.

Then I lean over, and with my brow furrowed in a genuine anger, I bellow, “Ugh, isn’t it awful how Mother 3 is not getting a proper Western release due to ‘concerns’ in some of the chapters?!” I make my anger clear: I bang my fist on the table. The children are startled. A glass falls over, spilling a beverage. My friends look horrified.

I don’t sound reasonable, I sound insane.

Try it sometime: The next time you’re in a public place, like a fast-food restaurant or a concert or a park or whatever, just approach a random stranger and ask them: “Aren’t YOU pissed off at how Polygon couldn’t get an expert FPS player for their Doom preview video?

Let me know what kind of reaction you get.

And, the thing is, like, I get being annoyed about this stuff, and I’m not saying that all the gaming stuff is good and you should be glad for it, and awful stuff truly does happen in any subject that one can make a good case for — but, oh my gosh, these are video games. They are a leisure activity; or, at least, they should be, I would say.

Video games!

Like, really? You’re saying I should be upset because I may never get to play one of them the same way they got to play it in Japan? How… how is that important? Why is that something worth getting emotionally invested in? When I wake up in the morning, why would video games be the thing I would be concerned about?

That’s… that’s really your example of something I should care about strongly? Of everything in the world?

And, as a couple people said, “But Eric, aren’t you kinda a hypocrite, by talking/tweeting/blogging about this?”

Well, sure! I kinda suck! You’re right, I should probably step back, huh? I am way too deep in gaming, and it would be wise to take steps back from it. No, really, I’m an awful person in general. I know I’m far from perfect — can you say the same?

Thus, my announcement: I am officially a hardcore casual gamer. I am hardcore about being casual. I am passionate about not being too passionate.

So if you see me actually getting angry about a translation/localization/whatever-the-hell else, please, reel me back in, and say, “dude, you’re being irrational. That issue literally doesn’t affect your life. Your priorities are truly messed up.”

###

Really, though, just know that every once in a while, this idea (you can be into video games too much) is something I’ll be vocal about. Consider finding something bigger and better to get emotionally involved with, if you haven’t already. Lord knows I’ve wasted enough time on it.

 

I am launching a new blog called Faith, Family, Fun. It even has a fun URL: FaithFamilyFun.Life. And, of course, the Twitter account exists, if you want to follow @FFF_Blog.

faith_family_fun_life

This blog will be more personal. If you are not into that, cool, that makes sense to me. My old-video-games shenanigans will continue as usual, I am not stepping away from the hobby or anything like that.

I just want to write about other stuff, too. This new blog will be fun for me, because instead of developing a Vast Land of the Internet sort of following, it is the one I will be sharing with my out-of-state grandparents, my childhood friends, my church family.

I’m just doing the courtesy of mentioning it here, too, so that if you were for whatever reason interested in seeing me write about Other Stuff in Life besides old video games, hey, I am mentioning it here so you can do that.

From this point forward, there won’t be a huge amount of cross-promotion or anything like that, so it’s just a heads-up, a ground-floor opportunity to take a peek, if you wish.

I think that’s it?

Thanks for your time!

top-100-rpgs_phantasy-star-iv

The Dragon Quest franchise of video games has amassed a sizable number of fans throughout decades of history and dozens of titles. But: What do we really know about the Dragon Quest series?

• In the early 1980’s, now-legendary video game designer Gunpei Yokoi began working on what he believed to be a concept with promising potential. He felt that the world audience was ready for a proper medieval adventure, taken off the pen-and-paper scene and into pixel gameplay. His tile-based role-playing game would come to be known as Dragon Quest, and its mechanic of capturing slime enemies of different colors would birth an entire movement of similar games, including the explosively popular Monsters In My Pockets for Game Boy.

• There have been over 6,000 different Dragon Quest games released, leading to entire subcultures of hardcore fans dedicated to maintaining semi-official lists of releases. Their exploits are often livestreamed on Twitch, discussed on social media and across various subreddits, and occasionally make headline news on all the big gaming websites. Since new games keep releasing, the question remains perpetually relevant, “Is this a Dragon Quest game?”

• There has been some confusion over the years regarding the naming conventions of the Dragon Quest franchise and how this differs regionally. For example, the game known in North America as Dragon Quest II is very different from the game of the same title in Japan. In fact, in Japan, the game Dragon Quest IV is the one that matches the North American experience of Dragon Quest III. This is because the Japanese versions of Dragon Quest II and Dragon Quest III never released in North American, so the decision was made to artificially continue the titling sequence for an audience that was thus largely unaware that they were missing any Dragon Quest gaming experiences. Later, the two regions would “unite” in their titling, but confusion still arises occasionally.

• The Animatrix is great, yo.

• For years, Dragon Quest fans delighted in sharing their own theories as to how the timelines of the various entries fit together. When Konami released an official timeline in early 2011, not only were such fan efforts quashed,  but many regarded this as a poor move simply because it removed much of the mystery and intrigue of the fantastical canon.

• While the World of Dragon Quest MMORPG remains arguably the most visible game in the franchise, many forget that the “World” offshoot was predated by QuestCraft, a real-time strategy game that spawned a couple of sequels before fading into the void and itself spawned the spin-off SpaceCraft, which still enjoys competitive popularity today.

• The makers of Shovel Knight delighted countless enthusiasts when they announced in late 2014 that the popular Dragon Quest XXV protagonist, Rita, would be added as a playable character, along with her loyal puppy Lorenzo.

• One of the more fervent debates among the Dragon Quest fandom surrounds Dragon Quest 4, which switched to a more action-oriented gameplay than its predecessors. Some say that the game after 4 are no longer “real” Dragon Quest games, while others point to 4 as the pinnacle of the franchise altogether.

There might even be more facts out there to know about the Dragon Quest series.

What do we really know about Nintendo’s gaming renaissance?

Few brands have managed to capture gamers’ imagination as much as Nintendo. But in the past few years it seems that the company has struggled to keep up with the impressive next-gen capabilities of the PS4 and Xbox One.

However, there are signs that Nintendo could be on the crest of a promising comeback thanks to the surprising popularity of retro gaming, the rise of mobile games, and Nintendo’s highly secretive new console.

Retro gaming

stardew_valley

Many gamers were raised on the likes of Mario Kart and Super Mario Brothers, and the endless series of online resources that promise to deliver browser-based simulations of these titles is just a fraction of the evidence of Nintendo’s timeless appeal.

Even classic Nintendo titles such as the Harvest Moon farm simulation game have found new life and acclaim as Stardew Valley, and the simple aesthetics of many retro games offer a welcoming antidote to the processor-taxing graphics of many more modern titles. Even the incredibly popular Pokemon title has managed to find favour with a new audience thanks to its simple gaming concept and endlessly appealing aesthetics.

Mobile futures

miitomo

This week will also see Nintendo making its first venture into the massively popular mobile gaming market when Miitomo finally launches in the US. It will be an attempt to regain lost ground to wildly popular and innovative mobile games such as Minecraft that managed to attract an entire new generation of gamers, much in the way that many SNES titles did in the 1990s.

Many of the current range of mobile gaming heavy-hitters such as Terraria seem to revel in the 2D aesthetics of yesteryear. But because most online casinos feature HD graphics and brands such as Betway offer some impressive payouts, it’s thought that Miitomo will try and offer a similarly advanced gaming format that blends high quality graphics and surprising real-life innovations.

Console comeback

Nintendo_office

A big part of Miitomo’s appeal lies in the way that it’s expected to use avatars as a way of blending the worlds of gaming with social media. Nintendo has always thrived upon their brand’s legendary innovation, and this is expected to be furthered with the arrival of the highly mysterious Nintendo NX console later this year.

 

So far it’s been rumoured that the console will be a handheld hybrid, and that it will feature controllers with in-built screens. But with unverified reports that the Nintendo NX could eclipse the PlayStation 4 due to a phenomenally advanced processing power, it looks that, much like the online casinos, Nintendo’s futures could soon be on the rise.

What do we really know about Princess Pleach?

Princess Pleach isn’t even a video game character.

This is not an image of Princess Pleach.

This is not an image of Princess Pleach.

• Princess Pleach counts her shoulders every night.

• Princess Pleach returns library books weeks overdue.

• Princess Pleach is a worker that owns the means of production.

• Princess Pleach is wailing in the woods.

• Princess Pleach prefers non-skid paperclips, and rightly so.

• Princess Pleach once had an awkward dream in which RoboCop was an aggressive Ghostbuster.

• Princess Pleach has never even heard of Dark Souls III.

• Princess Pleach prefers field hockey over mountain hockey.

This has been something written about Princess Pleach.

dark_souls_iii

The Dark Souls series of video games has inspired much in the way of aggravation, enjoyment, zeal – and rampant speculation, as we near the release of the franchise’s next chapter.

But: What do we really know about Dark Souls III?

• We were able to contact Nicole Fodran at EA Sports for some insider info on the upcoming release of Dark Souls III, which has some very high expectations to live up to. “I’m sorry Eric, I think there’s been some kind of miscommunication! I mostly just distribute PR info for EA’s PopCap titles nowadays,” Fodran said to us via email.

• To say that previous entries in the Dark Souls brand have been successful would be a bit of an understatement, considering their reputation that is nothing short of lofty. “Oh I’m not sure if you didn’t read my other email but I’m not the right person to get in touch with about this,” Fodran relayed to us in an email.

• The Dark Souls titles have been lauded for their difficulty, although some question whether or not we are supposed to take their 1800’s prospecting theme at face value. “Okay I don’t know if this is a joke or something but I am blocking you now thanks!” Fodran said in another email.

• While the graphics are expected to be gorgeous as usual, there are questions about the soundtrack for Dark Souls III, and how heavily it will feature the ukulele. “Hello, this is Nicole?” Fodran began when we finally convinced a human being to transfer our call.

• Then again, the most worrisome concerns around Dark Souls III center around a controversy involved an early version of the script that was leaked, which seems to feature an unusual emphasis on Alan Greenspan. “… are you serious? Is this the same guy who’s been emailing me all morning?” Fodran continued on our phone call. She hung up soon afterward.

• Many members of the games press have already made their excitement clear for the oncoming release of Dark Souls 3: Disco Explosion. “I don’t know if I’m really the right person for that but sure!” Fodran replied when we sent her a new email, a few days after the phone call, from a different address, with an innocuous message about taking part in a survey for people who work for some of the world’s biggest video game publishers.

• Some of the more-fun predictions have been on this idea of a “CaptureView” system that has been teased for months now, in which players will be able to livestream their player-character’s attempts at livestreaming in-game games. “Are you the same guy that was asking me about this earlier in the week? … Eric? Is that you? Eric Bailey?” said Fodran in a reply email to our reply email.

• According to other rumors, Dark Souls III is supposed to support up to 64 players on one screen in a new twist on couch co-op mode. “Eric, listen, I don’t have much time,” a hushed voice said to us in a voicemail, a voice we believe to be that of Nicole Fodran, “But they’re onto you and you need to stop contacting me. They have, they have these new drones now, they’re so small… I don’t know what to do but I hope you figure this out soon. Please.”

For reasons I cannot disclose I must conclude this Dark Souls III preview.

However, if you have read the words above, you have already internalized select term-sequence neural encodings, and since certain repercussions are now inevitable I feel obligated to share the following information:

Tonight, when you are in bed, if you are woken up by a loud noise in another room, like something large falling to the floor, do not investigate the sound.

It is crucial that instead you, without hesitation, grab your phone and exit out the nearest window. Head away from your home as quickly and quietly as possible.

Find shelter. A trusted neighbor’s home should be suitable.

Open the keypad of your phone. Dial “8.”

Do not complete a call. Do not complete a text. Just leave your keypad open with the numeral “8” entered.

You will receive a call with further instructions.

Godspeed.

This is not an image of Blades of Steel, the NES video game.

This is not an image of Blades of Steel, the NES video game.

Blades of Steel was an iconic ice hockey video game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console which has become as famous for its fighting mechanics as it was for its classic voice samples. It is a fun game, to put it simply, and well-remembered by many.

One odd note from its legacy is the lingering air of intrigue behind one of the teams featured on the cartridge: Ottawa. This mysterious faction has proven to be quite an anomaly over the years. Even the most passionate Blades players have yet to uncover all of the Senators’ secrets, but I can at least include a sampling of our findings here.

• The stories are endless, in amount and variation alike. For example: To say the Ottawans’ team bus was ‘haunted’ was an understatement, if you listen to the team members tell it. “Oh yeah, there’s definitely somethin’ spooky going on,” point guard Leveon Bell said to a Nintendo Power correspondent in early 1992. “Last week, one of the seats smelled like onions and salami for the whole trip to Miami. We didn’t even stop for Subway that time. I don’t care if I get traded, I’ll say it, ownership needs to write the check and get us a jet ‘cause I ain’t sittin’ next to a f——- poltergeist anymore.”

• The Senator roster was full of larger-than-life characters. Take Skip Tamblyke, for instance. Teammate Richard Strongworth recalls his antics at a Marriott hotel during a stay in Orlando. “Instead of using the shower in his room, he’d just jump in the public pool every morning,” he explained. “Soap, shampoo and all. I guess he got in trouble when he went up the ladder, butt-naked, and exposed himself to some kids. The mom complained. It was a real mess for him after that.”

• By any objective measure, the team was awful in its actual hockey prowess. However, what they lacked in skill they seemed to make up for in chemistry and the fun they had regardless. “Yeah, we were what you might call a party team,” said Gogo Namblin, co-captain, in an ESPN documentary filmed with an old box of novelty LED watches. “I mean, let’s be honest, we were all cashing in six-figure paychecks per year for playing a children’s game. Who cares who wins? I could sit on the bench all game and still pick out which girls I wanted to bring up to my room afterward. And people wanted us to be role models? That’s the dumbest thing, right there. We weren’t helping anyone. We weren’t doing anything noble, anything that would leave an impact on the world. We played a damn game,” he says with emphasis, “And we were worshiped for it. That tells you everything you need to know about capitalist society, right there. We’re doomed. We’re just another line of coke snorted off the back of the universe, man. You’re all idiots, wasting your lives living vicariously through the empty triumphs of an arbitrary scoreboard. Whatever.” The documentary is called Laser Eyes 4, and is not available on Netflix in most countries.

• They may have not been very good at their sport, but the Ottawa Senators made up for their ineptitude with an abundance of creativity in how they tried to cheat their way to victories. “Oh sure, we tried all sorts of crazy schemes,” recalls Jack Talbot, famed linebacker of the 1904 squad. “I think my favorite was when we had our division rival, Jacksonville, coming into town. About a week before the game, we put a lot of effort into Facebook-stalking the family members of the other team’s players. We figured out when they were going on vacation, what their favorite things were, who they really valued. We set up believable sockpuppet accounts posing as the names of the players’ agents. We enacted some really nice blackmail schemes. One family actually did go on vacation soon after, so we were able to break into their house and steal a bunch of real high-quality goods, like jewelry and electronics, and, you have to understand, electronics were huge back then, real premium. We sent real creepy messages, tried to get some of them to not show up for a game, everything short of actually murdering their mothers or what-have-you. I think we stressed ’em out pretty good, but we still got walloped when the puck dropped for the actual match. Oh well. I think my lawyer’s still dealing with some of the fallout over it all and it’s been, what, 20 years? Thirty? Hell if I know. Oh wait, no, that’s not right, I did the time for it already. Yeah, I had to put in a few months. It’s cool.”

• We were unable to reach former Ottawa coach Jim “Big Fingers Jim” Roddard for comment, but most fans of the era will remember him for his unusual pregame rituals. “Roddard was a real creep,” former second baseman Lefty Tripp remembers. He was adamant that we mention that, unlike Roddard, Tripp is always available for interviews for anyone who wants them. He was very insistent that we mention this. “Yeah, Coach only lasted a few games because the league took issue with his firestarting habits. One of them got out of hand and did some real damage to one of the arenas back then, I think it was Punta Gorda. Oh, the smoke was terrible. Just terrible.”

• But not all was tragedy and terror, as batsman Trycob Phyroxia recounts. “I think my favorite part of that season was celebrating the wedding anniversary.” He is talking about his teammate, Lilly Rubberknees, and the 35th anniversary she celebrated that year of her marriage to a man most believe to have been named Quantum Malarkey at the time. “We hosted a party, it was supposed to just be a little thing, but I think it got out of hand when two of the circus elephants started trampling the dessert table. People were pissed. Obviously.”

Those are just some of the chapters in the endless source of fascinating lore that we have come to know as the Ottawa Senators team from Blades of Steel (NES). There are many others, of course. Which ones have you heard of, and which are your favorite? Please be sure to like, comment, subscribe!

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