RBI

2014 World Series, Game 2, Bottom of the 6th: Billy Butler’s single brings Lorenzo Cain home, putting the Royals in the lead 3-2, kicking off an inning long rally that would lead to a game winning victory.

Watching this, I was immediately reminded of the wave of pride felt when landing Little League RBIs. The pride was not from the run per se. In my 11th Little League season, I averaged .016 at the plate. I wasn’t expected to hit. I was a decent fielder and had a good arm. It’s likely I was left in to bat simply because I was not the worst of the 10-12 man team. Close, but not the worst.

I’m not sure what it was about specifically about Butler’s RBI, but the memory of this feeling came racing back the way they do when the smell of ABS hits your nose after opening up your first action figure since 1992. There was something potent about it.

In an instant, I was reminded that I’ve always been a supporter. Whether it is acting as consigliere, assisting behind an email account, or starting a record label solely because I believed in the record, I’ve always been one to recognize deserving talent and do my best to help said talent get where they need to be. Even with a .016 batting average, I never tired of trying to get my teammates home. And there was no better feeling than getting the star player across the plate. For a moment, Number 1 needed Number 9. Bunting with a man on was infinitely more fulfilling than swinging for the fences with none. (Yes, even I expected to put one over. Every kid does.)

Thanks for the sense of identity, Butler. Congrats on the win.

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Chris Kluwe’s #Gamergate Piece

Chris Kluwe:

All the real gamers? They’re the developers now, the reviewers, the writers and the players who remember a time when you couldn’t download a virtual copy of your game, but instead had to go to a Toys“R”Us and hope they had it in stock. The real gamers, both men and women, look at your frantic rantings about “ethics in videogame journalism,” and they shake their heads sadly, wondering how you could get sucked in by some script-kiddie /b/tards and conspiracy-nut celebrities gleefully using you as a smokescreen for misogynistic hate. They look at the rich diversity of games that exist now, and they are THRILLED, because no one ever thought we’d get this far, and real gamers like PLAYING GAMES.

I know game developers, personally. I know game reviewers, personally. You know what else I know? That both developers and reviewers know each other quite well, because this industry used to be very small. One where you had to be a gamer to want to make a game, or to write reviews, because the money certainly wasn’t NFL money. It absolutely wasn’t the billion-dollar industry it is now, with games pulling in just as much as blockbuster movies. It was a group of people, doing what they loved, making games, and playing games, and a lot of them are still there, and they’re friends!

In true Kluwe fashion, this piece is delightfully entertaining, well written, and cuts the bullshit.

Speaking of Toys”R”Us, remember these things? Am I dating myself?

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Official Elder Scrolls Books Coming March 2015

Official Bethesda Blog:

Not since Encyclopedia Britannica’s heyday have volumes of books looked this cool and demanded to be on your bookshelf. With The Elder Scrolls Online, two volumes covering “The Land” and “The Lore” feature never-before-seen art and extensive lore surrounding the game. Meanwhile, by popular demand, the Skyrim series offers the first opportunity to get all of the game’s in-game text across three volumes.

I always thought it would be great to read written versions of heavy-narrative games. Even with multiple “choose-your-own-adventure” storylines, the writers could choose a plot line to get the point across.

There are plenty of game universes I want to explore (Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, and World of Warcraft to name a few), but don’t have 60+ hours to spare on side-quests, menu navigation, and controller mechanics. Don’t even get me started on the time dolled out to obsessive character creation.

While these Elder Scrolls “lore” books may not be my ideal solution, they are certainly a better intro to the universes than spin-off, expanded, and/or non-canon storylines.

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The Verge Reviews the New Nintendo 3DS

Sam Byford, The Verge:

The 3DS is worth owning for the same reason the Wii U is: its software library is spearheaded by Nintendo, one of the most consistent and talented developers in the world. There’s no doubt that smartphones have taken a big chunk out of the DS’ user base, but all that proves is that a whole lot of people bought a DS because it was first to what we would now call smartphone-style games. In 2014, many smartphone games are fantastic; very few of the fantastic ones are traditional video games. And if you like traditional video games, you should absolutely own a 3DS.

I love my Wii U. Really looking forward to owning a New Nintendo 3DS.

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‘My opinion is I hate it.’

Dialog between Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) and Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Midnight in Paris:

GP: Would you read it?

EH: Your novel?

GP: Yeah, it’s about 400 pages long, and I’m just looking for an opinion.

EH: My opinion is I hate it.

GP: Well you haven’t even read it yet.

EH: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

If you’re not sold on this exchange, I’ll do you one better. A beautiful film. Made for nostalgists like myself.

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‘An irredeemably dark version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’

T.C. Sottek writing for The Verge:

Still, it’s important for reasonable people to speak up, if only to set the terms of reality — something Gamergate’s most hardcore supporters don’t even seem to grasp. Gamergate’s echo chamber is an endless rabbit hole of paranoia, like an irredeemably dark version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The entire affair is built on trolling, counter-trolling, anger, and ignorance; Gamergate’s forums exhibit deranged skepticism in almost everything, including vicious doubts about every woman who speaks up against harassment and threats. Entire threads have been devoted to accusing Sarkeesian and other recipients of hatred and violence of running false-flag campaigns to elevate their own status. In their world, everyone who’s not on their side is a “shill” who’s lying for attention.

Not long ago, I was celebrating the social brilliance of Twitch Plays Pokémon; a weeks-long, virtual slog with an estimated 658,000 participants that, looking back, actually had tremendous potential for mass frustration, intimidation, and organized harassment. Instead, the community-at-large generated spontaneous and fascinating politics, factions, deities, usurpers, and home-brewed mythology that eventually panned in favor of progress and the completion of the game.

Needless to say, I am completely floored by the idiocy and insanity of Gamergate.

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‘How Reviews Impact Those Who Create’

Speaking of reviews, here’s a interesting follow-up from the side of developers.

Brian P. Shea, IGN:

Ultimately, reviews should never be viewed as the final word on a game. Instead, they’re guidelines for readers to apply to their own personal taste. If a review gives a game a 7.0 and cites poor multiplayer a one of the game’s issues, but you don’t intend on playing the multiplayer, you can synthesize that review and conclude that you might be very likely to enjoy the game more than the critic – and that’s OK.

A worthwhile read but I maintain that a 7.0 persists as a flag. It is likely going to deter consumers from a $60 gamble “to apply their own personal taste.”

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A $60 Gamble

Host of the DLC podcast Jeff Cannata to co-host Christian Spicer regarding the Driveclub launch:

I think you brought up a really interesting point in saying, “we should be able to return these games.” The idea that this industry as a whole has figured out a way to convince the public that they can’t return broken products, that you buy it and you’re screwed, that there’s no lemon law for software, is a little bit ridiculous.

After hearing this, I was immediately reminded of why I continue to base my video game purchases on reviews. If a return policy and/or less expensive price-tag was put in place, would I be willing to take more chances? I’m not entirely sure. But as it stands, I am not willing to take, as DLC guest Brian Brushwood put it, “a $60 gamble.”

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‘Why the Two-Hour Game is the Future’

A great article by Colin Campbell at IGN exploring the gaming community’s need and desire for shorter yet emotionally fulfilling games such as Journey, Limbo, and Dear Esther:

[...] the two-hour narrative game has arrived as something with a definite beginning, middle, and end. It’s a story that is designed to be played through entirely in one sitting. It does not demand the kind of time-investment of a game like Mass Effect 3, nor does it attempt to persuade you to join a sub-culture of online enthusiasts like Call of Duty. Nor is it crafted to ensnare you with addictive tricks, like Angry Birds. It is downloadable and priced at the cost of a movie ticket and a bag of popcorn.

The article includes interviews with game developers Jenova Chen (Journey), Dan Pinchbeck (Dear Esther), Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy), and Dino Patti (Limbo).

Dan Pinchbeck:

[...] we’ve got this slightly weird situation where it’s all or nothing, right? It either has to be something that basically takes you the amount of time it takes you to have a bowel movement or it’s got to last you for six months. There’s nothing in the middle and that just seems weird and crazy.

The article also explores developer’s desires to work on smaller games due to the developer’s ability to experience creativity more freely rather than be pressured by massive, corporate controlled budgets and large, separated development teams.

Jenova Chen:

If you make something artistic you need to reach a very strong coherence in the development team so the game has a singular voice. A very clear vision, so that the audience who experience the game can clearly get that voice or get the vision. If you have hundreds of people working on something there’s no way of working on the game towards the same direction. When you have three hundred people working on something the game just felt like a huge crowd of people singing but they’re not well orchestrated. It sounds loud, it sounds impressive, but you don’t know what they are singing. You don’t know what the game is about.

A worthwhile read that I can get behind!

Recently, I have found that I have very little time to invest in gaming. When I do find that time, I do not want to attempt jumping into a massive story, knowing I’ll likely forget what was going on, forget how the mechanics work the next time I play it, or never finish the game, nor do I want waste my time on grinding in an MMO or flinging birds into bricks.

—–

[This was originally posted on 4/18/12 on my previous thestarrlist.tumblr.com blog; reblogged in regard to Ben Kuchera's piece To hell with longer games, tell me how SHORT your game is.]

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‘Exercising With Nothing But An Xbox’

Stephie Grob Plante, writing for xoJane:

The free songs — including “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic and “#thatPower” by will.i.am ft. Justin Bieber — are not necessarily my jam(s), but it’s hard to complain about free. As I scroll through the song purchase options, I grumble at the glut of current(ish) tracks and dearth of classics. Swipe, swipe, swipe — WAIT: “Creep” by TLC for $1.99?! I hadn’t planned on buying anything, but…sold.

With one solid tune and a wealth of moves like “Niece,” “Rejectin,” and “Pros and Cons,” my childhood aspiration of becoming an In Living Color Fly Girl — a very real, very unattainable dream — feels within reach, at least from the confines of my 12×16 living room.

Hilarious read, surprising results.

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