Monday, June 29, 2009

That's Not Me

A narcissistic aside: My message board alter ego is mentioned on this lovely podcast featuring lovely 1UP people (that's 6/22/2009), at about 25 minutes in (but you can wait while the good folks talk about other things, surely?). The ribbing I got I will take like a man.

So, with death in the news recently, I really must ask: when it comes to well-known people biting it, which was a better: this month, or this time last year?

June 2009 leads in sheer volume: David Carradine kills himself while jerking off to start off the summer, and then Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and now Billy Mays (why is he mentioned alongside everyone else? Fuck if I know) all expire within days of each other. There really is no competition here.

But what about in quality? This designation is a bit more contentious. June 2008 had the deaths of three giants: Bo Diddley, George Carlin, and Stan Winston (he is a major figure for nerds, you see). The major ones, BD and Carlin, I'd say at least come close to equaling the entirety of this month's stiffs, they being examples of superior human beings. Sure, a lot more people are probably sad to see Jackson or McMahon go (and not to diminish the work of either, although Jackson was far far far far far far past his prime), but my personal bias (and objective fact) say that last year's stiffs can edge 'em out. Note: Billy Mays is a non-factor.

How about the shock factor? This also gives the edge to this month, because the thing about last year was that, while losing those people was incredibly sad, they were all old, and its not like we don't think anyone past 70 isn't as good as dead (Winston is the exception). So, while McMahon falls under this, the rest of them were still unexpected. Bonus points for Carradine's bizarre wanking death in Bangkok, of all places.

My decision? Well, most of the facts point to this month being the better of the two months worth of deaths, but my own personal opinions still point me in favour of last year. Surely, that is what will determine it for most people. Who can stay objective in a field such as this?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nobody's Fault But My Own

Here's something that's been nagging at me: Am I mean online for no reason?

Just as a preface, I can tell you straight away that my online 'voice' is not really much like my real 'voice'. Shocking, I know. As far as I can tell, my voice is based on my main sources of reading, which is very acerbic and opinionated, as well as prone to non sequiturs. While the non sequitur part is recognizably me, I can say that the rest only exists within my everyday speech as vague attempts, which I am prone to stumble over (much like everything else). Since online writing gives me more time to think over my words, it ends up sounding a lot cleaner than IRL.

In conclusion, I am a lot more caustic online than I am in real life. Is this the dreaded anonymity protection concept, where I feel free to be an asshole because it lacks real consequences? It is a definite possibility, I must say. Then again, I don't think I've ever had a real forum where I could speak of the same things - but, that could be because I just avoid them, out of fear. I try to assert myself when the opportunity pops up, but I'm still not sure its on the same level as I do in an online discussion. So I am not discounting that solution, it being one of the obvious ones. But there's got to be something more to it, surely? I still have some level of caution that makes it so even the great anonymity shield isn't enough to make me feel safe to express myself all of tume. So what other reasons could there be?

It could be that I am raging against the world I see, whether or not an it's appropriate setting for that rage. I know a lot of people say they think everything kinda sucks now, but I have come to observe many things that do really infuriate me on some level, to the point that even mild cases get me riled up. So I might be mean because I am just SO FUCKING MAD. But really, I don't think I am, at least not all the time. I mean, when it comes to certain issues (for example, my hatred of rampant proud ignorance that is, like fear-free posting, a trademark of online discussion) it really gets me in righteous fury mode, but in the smaller cases, is it really justified? Am I just making up an issue so I can get mad about it? I'd say that's a possibility, too.

At this point, I can say that I have answered my initial question. I am not mean online for no reason: I am mean online (possibly) because (a)I read a lot of things that are mean online and emulate them, (b)I feel free to be mean online because wheeeee nothing is gonna stop me, and (c)I have things that get me mad, and I sometimes carry that sense of anger into all sorts of conversations. Well, that's the one side of the 'why'; the psychological half. But what about the practical half? Is there really any reason for me to be mean online? What does it get me?

A lot of my reads grapple with this question as well. After all, as the tired cliche goes, you catch more dopes with free food than a punch in the face. But do I really want to 'catch' them? Do I really go out to convert a ton of people to my 'side'? I think that's the crux of the practicality argument, and this is where I really disagree with it.

A lot of people think that you're never going to educate anyone by being snarky. But is that really true? For one, addressing an issue on a more emotional level can grab attention, and I'd say that's a pretty essential step in a persuasive argument. That's huckstering tactics used often by the lowest of the low, I know, but I can't say it doesn't work. Second, going for an emotional response has a greater chance of getting the audience to know the issue at hand, which is ALSO an important part of a persuasive argument. It doesn't matter if they like me, or what my take is, but if they get the IDEA, that's a good thing, and even better if (even if only for a short while) I get the person to really take that idea and think about what it means. To paraphrase Alan Moore (to a considerable degree): I don't care if they agree with me, as long as they think about what I say.

But, one may ask, wouldn't the anger bit get in the way of that goal? If someone just sees you as a ranting, opinionated jackass, won't they just ignore what you have to say completely? Yes, more than likely, that will happen. Just look at PETA, who are so completely out there that any legitimate issues they may have (and they do have some) are completely smothered by provocation. On the other hand, going completely neutral on a subject likely won't get you anywhere as well, as people will just gloss over the entire thing like a weather report. It's a difficult task figuring out what level of ferocity is needed to attract attention without making you the spectacle rather than the issue.

On a more personal note, I don't like the argument because I don't think I should water down who I am and what I believe just so I can be appealing. I mean, we're all bound to do that, as it comes naturally, I think. But, especially when dealing with something very important to me, asking me to not actually share my opinions just feels wrong. I am intelligent enough to know when to apply temperance, and I am completely willing to use trial-and-error to figure out how to do this right, so don't be telling ME what's the right way to get MY views across. Not only that, but do you really think I'm less likely to engage an audience by showing how something really makes me feel (and thus allowing them to see what the weight of the topic might be) instead of treating the argument like some hashed-together high school science project, or compromising my view to such a degree that it loses all impact, and goes for the tiny and easier victories over the more difficult and important ones? I know the people who want the mean guys to tone it down often have good intentions, but good intentions don't always lead to good results.

In the end, I am more willing to stay myself and be able to reach a few than I am to compromise and have a vague hope that I've reached more. I want people to know what I think, that I'm not afraid to say what I think, and that I want them to know why I think that way. If that makes me come across as mean, spiteful, ranting, crazy, be it. If that causes a few to ignore me completely, so be it (chances are they are just as convinced of their position as I am of mine, so trying to preach to them them is about as worthless as preaching to the choir). I refuse to constantly play nice so that I can possibly score a few more points. It's just not who I am (online...and hopefully offline as well).


Monday, June 22, 2009

Mutilated Lips

I find this amusing.

This may also be a challenge to my friends, BTW.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Movie Theme

You know what I haven't done in a while? Made a post that just linked to something amusing, a standard among blogs. Guess what I'm not going to be doing. Come on, guess.

I like summer. I like warm weather, and the outdoors being inviting. You know what I don't like, though? Constant, creeping heat. I've tried many things to get my room to cool down a tad, none of them working. I'm very picky, as you can see: I like heat, but only when it's working FOR me.


Friday, June 12, 2009

The End

You don't actually want me to talk about video games, do you? Good, because I won't. I'll take about tabletop games instead.

I've been reading card game rules for a while now, trying to find the intricacies of the game mechanics. The best ones always have that one ingenious thing about them, stuff like Lord of The Rings' Free Peoples/Shadow concept, or Doomtown's poker hand decisions, or even Shadowfist's general chaotic atmosphere. You don't necessarily need a great innovative mechanic to make your game good, but it does mean games of the 'Russian fist fighting' variety need to really try hard to be interesting. And some have: I mean, Magic did it, and Raw Deal did it. And for the unpretentious, there have been a few successful bare-bones games, like Pokemon. But the challenge is trying to make it seem like a game of its own, and not just a rehash of another game, or even worse, a game you could easily make just using a deck of playing cards.

As an example: one of the newer games on the block (and one with an innovative distribution method, something for game publishers to consider in modern times), Decipher's Fight Klub falls into RFF. How does it fair? It does have some interesting elements to it (some of them borrowed from Decipher's other games, even the names), and it is obviously going for the Raw Deal style. I can't say its the greatest game ever (or that it really lends itself to new ideas being implemented), but it should be enjoyable for those who pick it up, and I guess it works well with the new sale model it's trying. My only other complaint would be that the cards look like a photoshopped mess at times...a real shame considering the high quality of Decipher's card design in the past.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Little Wonder

I know I don't need to say this, but online nerd communities need to stop finding and overusing dumb buzzwords.

The current target of my ire is the term 'IP'. When online game nerds use the term 'IP', they are referring to a game or game series. They will often use this when they talk about a game company creating new games or series. For example: "I was hoping Nintendo would reveal some new IPs at E3 this year". This term is idiotic.

Now, I don't know exactly where it originated, but chances it came from the mouth of a PR hack, like most buzzwords (for example 'casual/core', another one that gets my goat)and was picked up by gamers. So it is a marketing term, and for whatever reason gamers latch onto marketing terms. That by itself is reason enough to hate its usage: as a symbol of our continuing spiral into pure consumer horror.

In a marketing sense, it makes sense to a degree. To the people making money, acquiring copyrights (the 'Intellectual Property') is a good business decision, especially now that past experience has shown them that they need to viciously stake their creative claims for good, lest they end up like that Lovercraft fellow (Did you know any Joe Moron on the street can write books about Hastur and the man and/or his estate wouldn't get a penny? MONSTROUS!) But game nerds aren't the people who make money off of copyrights, so why would they adopt the lingo? Even worse, using a term like 'IP' to describe creative output makes it sound a lot more...soulless. They may, in the end, be consumer products, but the people who put their time and effort into making them deserve some sort of respect...most of the time.

Besides, I thought gamers wanted their hobby to be treated as art (I'm not one of them, for your information)? You don't see people describing the latest books an author's 'IP', nor do you see movie studios 'creating new IPs'. Even the most hacked-out works get some level of respect on the artistic level. So why can't games?

Of course, I completely overlook the fact that the term is short and catchy, and hey if everyone else is doing it...You know, the reasons why things become common slang. And why do I care so much? I can't answer that; I honestly don't know my own motives.

I'm just a bitter person. That is all.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

One After 909

I'll write something big about videogames when I feel like it.

I am sort of a repeated viewer of the Law & Order series. I remember that, not long ago, I wouldn't miss a single nightly rerun of the original series. And off and on, I will catch parts of the spin-offs. Oh lordy, the spin-offs.

I don't have much to say about Criminal Intent, as I watch it the least of the three, although the main cop (who is essentially a dumber version of Columbo) sticks with me for some reason. SVU is a whole other thing, though. It basically takes the L&O formula and never rests until there are at least a dozen insane plot twists during the hour. It's shit that MUST BE STACKED FOREVER.

The last episode I watched just kept changing directions for no reason whatsoever. First, we got the case, but oh no there's more to it! Than there's even more to it! Than this plot line comes in out of nowhere! And look, just to end it off, we got one more surprise! Combined with the generally preachy and hysterical nature of the 'ripped from the headline' approach generally gives it, and we got a show that is hilariously dumb, but never really boring, despite following formula to a T. And if that wasn't enough, we also have Ice-T getting in witty one-liners, when he's not going insane.

Consider this another guilty pleasure.

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