Very rarely do I find myself super excited after playing a game. Often times I play games because I’m bored or because I’m familiar with them, not because I find them to be interesting or challenging. See, when you get older, the whole concept of “challenging” changes. Bullet storms and killer enemies aren’t the challenge that I’m looking for anymore, instead I’m looking for a game that challenges me in different ways. That’s exactly what I found in Consortium.
For many, the last title in Deep Silver's clone-turned-parody franchise is old news. It's been available for some time on all the relevant platforms, and the people that purchased the title have gotten their jollies out of it for the most part. For me, Saint’s Row IV scratches that same itch that Movies like John Dies at the End, Evil Dead 2, and Samurai Cop might for film buffs. Its writing and storyline fall squarely between GTA V and Borderlands 2 in an incredibly satisfying way. Enough camp to keep me entertained without sacrificing gameplay, and just enough self-awareness and fan-service to avoid presenting like Gearbox's calculated meme dictionary. The reason my attentions have shifted to Saint's Row IV isn't because I enjoy it more than my core game library, it's because I recently moved my work machine over to Linux. To my surprise, there was a native port available, and I downloaded it out of curiosity. The experience changed the way I think about PC gaming, and the sacrifices PC gamers take for granted nowadays.
Before I acquired a copy of EA UFC 2 this week I had no interest in that game whatsoever. As a former MMA superfan, writer and podcaster I feel like I’ve run the gambit of emotions when it comes to that sport and I can pretty much say that it has passed me by and that I’ve made my peace with it. People tell me that it’ll pass, that I’ll be able to get back into it or that maybe it’ll be fun again to just watch a few fights, but that feeling simply isn’t there. That’s why getting a copy of EA UFC 2 was just so strange. A friend had an extra copy and there I was, downloading it and wondering what the hell I was doing with my life.
The term “cord cutting” has been around for as long as services like Hulu and Netflix have been around and offering streaming video services. Things really started to pick up steam in this department in the mid-00’s, around 2008 or so, and now over eight years later I’ve finally become one of those people. I’ve had cable or satellite on-and-off for most of my adult life, but recently was subscribing to Comcast for what was a whopping $180 a month for what was sub-par service. We’re talking half the channels being pixelated garbage because they bury their lines out here and it has happened to be extremely rainy for the desert, meaning that their lines get soaked and have blown out a number of times.
If there’s been any defining factor for the latest trend in virtual reality, it would have to be that people just really, genuinely want this to become the next big thing. How much so? At first this generation of VR was seen as a risk, with the Oculus Kickstarter coming out of nowhere and captivating consumers into tossing money at them. Then again, it was a sort of new technology and that can always find early adopters. But then it kept gathering momentum, to the point where a company like Facebook decided to invest in Oculus. Then stuff got real.
The beginning of my disdain for Pokemon started with my Canadian ex-girlfriend. Actually it started with my Canadian ex-girlfriend's adopted cat.
When I first put together my new PC one of the first games that I played was the 2012 release Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Chivalry is a brutish, gory depiction of medieval combat that focuses on fast-paced, first person action without a ton of refinement. This was a follow-up to an earlier mod for Half-Life 2 called Age of Chivalry, only pushed as a commercial product. The relative success of 2010’s Mount & Blade: Warband was the catalyst of sort for this genre of games, which has included games like War of the Roses, War of the Vikings and the Chivalry expansion Deadliest Warrior.
If you were to ask me if the Witness was a retro throwback game I’d probably say no, as would creator Jonathan Blow. According to what the industry deems as a “retro throwback” games need to be heavily stylized like the games of yesteryear, looking like they were ripped from the NES or SNES, featuring chiptune tracks and simple mechanics. Because really, that’s what old games were, right? Old games were platformers, top down shooters, side scrollers and whatever else we’ve gotten from indie developers trying to recapture their collective youths. Yet, the deluge of these throwbacks has left me with a bit of retrovertigo. I’m over it. Every month’s PlayStation Plus offerings get added to my library but rarely ever downloaded because, seriously, I don’t need to keep snidely revisiting my childhood at this point. I’ve done it and been doing it for years.
The first expansion pack of the Magic: The Gathering series I purchased was Fallen Empires back in 1994. Yeah, that's how long I've been playing. That's two years after Shaquille O'Neal was drafted to the NBA -- and for some odd reason Shaq being drafted has been my reference point to everything that happened in the 90s.
There were a lot of us born in the 80’s and raised in the 90’s, in fact, sometimes we get labeled with weird generational names that don’t seem to really fit, or be told how we may or may not act. I’m probably too old to be a Millennial, but weird thinkpieces describe me as falling within some sort of constrained generational structure, but whatever. What many who are now in their early 30’s or late 20’s will have in common is that Nintendo meant something to a lot of us growing up. In fact, Nintendo was an integral part in how we were raised. Somewhere along the way that changed, though, we grew up, still played games, but the monolithic Nintendo logo no longer mattered.
I sit on my couch and CNN is projecting that Donald Trump is winning Florida with 32% of the vote already in. He’s up by nearly 100,000 votes and I can only assume that Donald will win the delegates from America's most fucked up state. Wolf Blitzer keeps giving me “Key Race Alerts” with even single increase in the percents. Clinton is winning, too. With all this bad news, my mind wanders to my gaming past. It causes me to think of my gaming present and future and how all of this could’ve never happened if it wasn’t for my wife -- my ‘azucar morena’ --- and somewhat my brother.
Interviewing Van Orton and getting to publish their art on The Stoned Gamer has to be one of the most fulfilling things we've ever done. Their work is basically the dreams of every 80s kid condensed to a style of art that can only be described as Analogpunk. Yeah, we invented that word -- heck we even registered AnalogPunk.net. Just imagine humanity never got passed the analog-centric time of 1987 and the digital age never occurred. At the same time, technology is equivalent with our current technology. In an Analogpunk world, smart phones come equipped with tubed TV monitors instead of LCDs and everything is controlled through knobs and switches -- touch screens are non-existent. Walkmans and car tape decks reign supreme, and the internet can only be accessed at a 56k baud speed due to analog modems. Oh, and everyone's computer looks like this.
Back in the 90’s, a time before the internet reigned supreme over everything and opinions were rampant, determining the quality of a game was next to impossible. Growing up whenever I’d get dragged to a store with my mom I’d run off towards the electronics section of said store and immerse myself in whatever was available to me. Some stores had kiosks set up where you could play games, others would have magazine racks chock full of gaming magazines. This was a time before gaming websites with daily update schedules and confusing #ethics.
The GDC has been stealing headlines this week and with it has been a lot of talk about Virtual Reality. VR is predicted to be the next hotness in not only gaming, but the entertainment world as a whole. Without a doubt VR has some incredible possible applications that could change the way that we live our lives. That sounds like crazy talk, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Who needs an 80” television when you can sit in a goddamned movie theater in your VR headset? But yet, all of this talk about VR isn’t making me think of the future as much as it’s making me think of the past. My past, in particular.
When trying to encapsulate a lot of the “movements” that have been happening in gaming recently, I’ve at times had difficulty finding the words. A part of that is because when I was growing up gaming was still very much a niche thing. Sure, Nintendo caught on like wildfire in the 90’s and names like Mario, Zelda and Sonic became commonplace, but for children. Now, no doubt, adults played games as well. Parties at my parents’ friends’ homes with their families usually involved us playing videogames with other kids and usually the dads, sometimes the moms and any other stray adults that were around.
It’s funny, the first story that resonated with me on this website was a piece by Zeus who spoke in detail about his battle with debilitating anxiety and the positive effect that gaming played in his life.
Most of us who have been playing games for a while know that feeling of a video game high. In fact, it’s fairly similar to that same high you can get from being immersed in a really great book. The first time that I ever felt that high is actually kind of embarrassing, really. You see, I learned to read at a young age, but it wasn’t really out of love for reading or whatever, it was to read the bible. My mom truly believed that strongly in assuring that if something happened I wouldn’t go to hell that I learned to read early because of the bible. But that, sure as hell, wasn’t my first book high. My first book high came from -- okay this is really embarrassing -- a Ninja Turtles book. Not a comic book, like, a children’s book that we had hanging around my classroom in Kindergarten.
For those psychonauts out there that were brave enough to take enough LSD to the point in which they sincerely questioned if they took too much, there needs to be some type of trophy to salute you. We all know it's impossible to overdose on LSD, unless you fear death from sheer astonishment.
I’ve always been an advocate for leaving home, for packing your shit up and moving as far away from home as you can manage to fend for yourself. Something about the concept of home and having people that you know and love around can serve as a bit of a safety net. I’m not saying that if you don’t leave home you’ve somehow done something wrong, but if there is even a minor nomadic urge inside of you, there’s really no choice. You have to leave. That’s what I did in late 2006 at the tender age of 23. I packed up my clothes, my guitar, my modded PS2 with a few spindles of discs ranging from games to movies to burned data, a laptop and $300. Okay, maybe there is a Nintendo DS in there as well, but it’s a lot less romantic to list everything.
Okay, so I'm not going to talk about being a chick in the gamer world - because I'm not. I'm not a competitive gamer. I'm a non-male with an Xbox One who finds modern gaming bloody complex and often impossible. Shall we go to an example?