Tag Archives: Video Games

High Score episode 6

Introduction

We have arrived at High Score episode 6. The last episode of the first season. I say first season because I remain hopeful that there will at least be a second season. More on the episode later, of course, but let’s talk about why there should be at least one more season for a bit. Naturally, the first reason is because the show was very good. Honestly, do you need another reason? Fine, way to make me do my job.

Except this isn’t my job. It’s my hobby. And I might not even be all that good at it.

Aside from the fact that the series was entertaining and I’d like to continue to be entertained by nostalgia, they stopped with the advent of the 3D era. The last game they talk about is DOOM. That game came out when I was in high school. I’m not going to go into how long ago that was, but I often talk about being an old man gamer, so you can do the math. No mention of the N64 or Sony vs. Microsoft. Granted, that wasn’t as exciting as Nintendo vs. Sega, but it bears mentioning at the least.

Heck, they only gave passing mention to some of the greatest games of the era and missed the boat on others, like Metroid. Maybe there will be a special episode or season 3? That’s probably asking too much.

Into…the 3rd dimension! (On Game Boy?)

We start our journey on the Game Boy. Yes, that Game Boy. The very same one that you remember (or probably don’t unless you are old like me) from your childhood. The green and black monochrome dot matrix screen. 8 bit graphics and midi sound effects. Also, like I mentioned in a previous article about episode 3, it had one of the best Final Fantasy games in the series.

Speaking of Tetris, this was actually my introduction to the game.

Well, this company was attempting to show that you could do 3D graphics on current technology. I’m not sure why they chose the Game Boy. Hey, I was watching while working out. So, some of the details are missing. The point is that they got a working demo on the Game Boy.

They so impressed Nintendo with their work that they offered them a job to bring a similar experience to the SNES. I may be missing critical information. However, the overarching theme is there. Argonaut begat Game Boy 3D which begat the SNES and Pilotwings. In turn, Pilotwings begat Wolfenstein that begat…

Can you play DOOM on this thing?

The majority of the episode revolved around DOOM. I even got a bit of a nerdgasm when they revealed that they talked to the man, John Romero, for pretty much the whole segment. You young nerds might not know. But, for us oldbies, John Romero is a legend.

Some of y’all have grown up with consistent broadband internet on which to embarrass your friends and enemies. Not so for us. We had to “dial in” on a “phone line” and were excited when the speed increased almost two fold from 33.6k to 56k. None of us knew what those numbers meant, but we knew that 56 > 33.6.

And, we liked it! Yep, really leaning into that old man demo with a relevant cultural image here.

Aside from ushering in the age of online gaming, DOOM and id Software helped to popularize other trends like shareware. They gave you part of hte game for free, got you hooked, and then made you pay for the rest. No, they’re really not doing much for the old video games as a proxy for drugs narrative.

But, on a more positive note, they did open the code of the game. I know I’ve talked about this before. But, if you’ve ever played DOOM or its various clones or even World of Warcraft, you know that the games can be modded. (Can’t forget about my favorite recent moddable game, Minecraft.) Having that sort of control over a game gives it infinite replay value.

Heck, entire new games have been developed as mods to existing games.

The Verdict (High Score episode 6 is an awesome conclusion to the season)

Yes, you can tell from that subtitle that I’m tipping my hand yet again. I want another season of this show. I mean, who wouldn’t? Other than episode two, which was a bit slow (and I now understand that might have been a by design), the show was solid from beginning to end. Sure, High Score episode 6 ended it with DOOM, which is right in my wheelhouse. Nevertheless, if you are an oldbie nerd like me, you will enjoy this series. If you haven’t already.

HIgh Score Episode 4

Introduction

High Score episode 4 out of 6. I said it several times in the article, but thank goodness for episode 3. It renewed my faith in the series that I thought was going to end up being a one hit wonder. I know that sounds harsh, potentially jettisoning a series because of only one episode.

I mean, there’s precedent for such a thing. I stopped watching Walking Dead after a particularly violent opening scene. I think it was the season premiere for season 3. I’m not entirely sure. But, I haven’t been back since. It’s worth noting that I did the same with the comic. No, not Glenn. I stopped long before Glenn. Like most of this “shock factor” entertainment, it just becomes too much at some point.

Who knows? Maybe I will go back at some point to finish the series.

Nintendo – “The 900 lb Gorilla”

So, I mentioned in the Nintendo episode review (that’s the one that was so bad that I thought I’d have to avoid the rest of the series, or at least endure it simply to talk about how bad it was) that they never mentioned Sega. I think I said something at the time about them wanting to give Sega their own episode.

Now, of course, I know that part was true. I also understand that it might have been a conscious decision on their part to set it up that way. For those of us who didn’t care much about market share, we had no idea that Nintendo was the “big bad” in the scenario. To have mentioned Sega in their episode would have been punching down. More on the console wars later.

Sega Guy – “Rock the Rock”

I made the mistake of calling the Nintendo World Champion “Nintendude” and it’s not just because there’s a contemporary streamer named that today. He just wasn’t much of a “dude”. His whole story had the antiseptic feel of the rest of the episode.

Not so for Chris Tang or his conquest of “The Rock”. True to form, Segga went over the top for their championship. It was held on Alcatraz. MTV was there with Bill Bellamy and Daisy Fuentes. I watched with bated breath at the thrilling conclusion. Our hero was the underdog in the final round! What isn’t there to love about Sega? More on that in a bit.

You can watch the whole thing on YouTube. (Hint: Click the green YouTube.)

Gordon Bellamy – “True Gamer Inspiration”

In keeping with both underdog stories and, “Hey, I know that name!” recognition, I present the story of Gordon Bellamy. The story started with Trip Hawkins, a name that most from the 90s will recognize. I never played the original Maddens on consoles. It wasn’t until the Playstation that I discovered sports games. I did play Madden on my Commodore 64 (yeah, any of you who question my OG gaming credentials can kindly Eff off) and discovered a glitch that allowed me to score a touchdown every time I touched the ball.

Okay, enough of that. Let’s talk about Gordon Bellamy. He basically got his job by annoying the developers at EA until they gave him a chance. He repaid them by changing video game history for the better. He introduced alternate skin colors into Maden so that all of the players weren’t white anymore.

That’s right, mad nerds. Your precious Madden was touched forever by a black, gay man. Stay mad.

Sonic the Hedgehog – SEGA!

During the great console wars of the 1990s, I was a definite Sega guy. Sure, Nintendo always speaks to the child inside of me. But, Sega screams at the reckless teenager. Let me start by saying that I’m generally unimpressed by marketing.

However, watching the plan that Sega put together to “take down” Nintendo and then watching that plan unfold before my eyes was pure nostalgic bliss. I know that people think there are console wars these days and there are. But, it’s mostly just fan boys screaming at each other on message boards. Sony and Microsoft feel like co-conspirators in the whole charade. Yes, get off my lawn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh5eis0sMHI

For some reason, it won’t let me embed, but I did go into Quinn’s room to scream “Sega!” at him, so marketing does work on some level.

The Verdict – “High Score episode 4 is awesome

The subtitle is the TLDR of this one. Sorry it took so long to get around to it. But, it makes it no less true. High Score episode 4 is amazing. It reaches the lofty heights set by episode 1 and makes me excited for the rest of the series again. Join me in a couple of days for episode 5.

High Score Episode 3

Introduction

Thank goodness for High Score episode 3. After episode 2, I was worried that it was a one hit fluke. Even early in this episode, I started to wonder if it was going to be worth my time. Even though it took a bit to warm, up, eventually I was sold again. Plus, it looks like episode 4 is about SEGA!

This one centered around role playing games and their impact on video gaming history. I have been a role playing game enthusiast since I discovered Dungeons and Dragons through The Elven Nations trilogy. I then read the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends and I was hooked.

Ken and Roberta Williams – “Nerds in Love”

This is the part of the episode that I thought was going to continue the slide into mediocrity. It was a story of a man and a woman who bonded over their mutual love for both role playing games and programming. Actually, I think only one of them was a programmer. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised.

I don’t know if I just had a hangover from the Nintendo episode or what. But, initially, I reacted quite viscerally to this love story. However, as they both told their story and the episode incorporated more stories into the tapestry and I walked out with a warm and fuzzy feeling for these two people. Good story and great story telling.

Dungeons and Dragons – “Cult Following”

As soon as they mentioned Dungeons and Dragons in the episode, I knew they’d drag up the old Satanist fears. Granted, they telegraphed their move a bit by calling it a “game with a cult following”. Plus, the mention was minor and barely even registered. I was much more bothered by their coverage of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. I don’t mean how they covered it. Simply, it brought up bad memories and made me realize, yet again, that we simply don’t learn from our pasts.

Random Fact: It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these. But, it’s one of the few “fun” facts that I have from the wild and crazy D&D games of my youth that people will actually care to hear. The “Satanic cult” rumors about the game traveled so far and wide that the company (TSR at the time) chose to change the name of their Wicca to Wokani out of respect to the witches. So, those of you who say that WotC are being to PC. They might be, but D&D has a long history of being inclusive.

Checkmate, mad nerds.

Final Fantasy – “Born of Art”

Final Fantasy has been with me almost as long as Dungeons and Dragons. I played the original Final Fantasy Legend I and II on the original Game Boy. Yes, that green screened monolith of portable gaming entertainment. The Final Fantasy Legend I, along with Final Fantasy 3 (V in Japan, I think…nope, VI), are two of the best games that I’ve ever played. I don’t know if I’d put them both in my top 5, but they’re definitely top 10.

The most interesting part of this story was the way that they introduced the game. They showed and talked to an artist. Even though I didn’t remember his name, I knew as soon as I saw his art exactly what game they were talking about. It’s just so iconic. Even though back in the 8-bit days, it barely did him any justice, you could still see the seeds of that art in those tiny sprites. Also, he was a good sport about it and said the conversion process made them “cute”.

Who can beat the twist of the Creator ending? Plus, he is cute for a murderous demagogue.

Gay Blade – “The Game is the Quest”

I alluded to this section earlier when I talked about their coverage of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It is told through the context of a gay and lesbian RPG created by a programmer named Ryan Best. I’d never heard of the game before, so the entire story behind the creation, loss, and subsequent discovery of the game again was truly inspiring. I’ve found a link to the game, so I’m probably going to download and play through.

Well, during the story, they went through the 1980s and the reaction to the AIDS crisis. There was the whole gamut of the “AIDS is God’s retribution for homosexuality” from the right wing nutters of the day. Note: Many of those nutters or their proteges are still alive today. So, I’m not sure why I expected things to have changed. But, this story affected me deeply and I found myself crying during the telling.

I mean, simply the quote at the top, “Vaporize politicians! Zap skinheads!” makes it worth the download.

The Verdict (High Score episode 3 is a redemption)

After the let down of episode 2, I was questioning my undying support of the series. Even early in High Score episode 3, I wondered if the first episode was just a fluke. I’m glad that I didn’t overreact and turn it off. This episode was amazing. And, I can say with utmost confidence that episode 4 is fun as hell, too. Join me next time when I review probably my favorite time in history, the Sega/Nintendo rivalry.

High Score Episode 2

Introduction

A word of warning about High Score episode 2. I didn’t find it as entertaining or engaging as episode 1. In fact, the episode was so uninteresting to me that I’m reconsidering my effusive praise after the first episode. I appreciate that they’re trying to mix lesser known stories with the history that we probably all know. However, something was missing from that mix in episode 2.

I’m not entirely sure what went wrong. I can say for certain that one big name was missing from the episode. As far as I saw, there was no mention of Sega. I assume that’s because they are waiting to give Sega their own episode. I thought they might start with the Sega/Nintendo rivalry. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

I mean, how do you have one without the other?

Jeff Hansen – “I’ve Seen This Story Before, But Better”

High Score episode 2 follows the same formula as episode 1 in at least one way. They chronicle Jeff Hansen through his experience as a competitor in the first Nintendo World Championships just like they did Rebecca Heineman in her pursuit of Space Invaders glory. But, here’s where the theme of the episode comes into play again.

His story just wasn’t as interesting as hers. They tried to play him out as an underdog. He didn’t advance in his first attempt and then he had to travel to Tampa Bay for one “last chance”. But, he just wasn’t as much of a personality as she was. It was just weird overall to follow up with almost the exact same storyline only not as interesting.

Also, the guy struggled with Tetris, which is just a cardinal sin as far as I’m concerned.

Gail Tilden – “Dragon Lady”

I had a feeling that I might not enjoy this episode as much when they first introduced Gail Tilden. She worked in some department or another for Nintendo. Advertising, maybe? Who the hell knows. She was titer testing wine in her first scene. Yeah…

But, they pulled off the seemingly impossible. Even after I rolled my eyes so hard, I thought they might get stuck there at her introduction, they made me sympathize for her. Granted, it is probably just my personal bias against even casual misogyny. However, one of the guys called her the “Dragon Lady” and then they showed her as overbearing and intimidating. *sigh*

I mean, she helped launch Nintendo Power and that magazine ran for 20? 25? Years. Clearly, she knew what she was doing, but that kind of talk is just so frustrating.

Shaun Bloom – “Nintendude”

Speaking of Nintendo Power, before the magazine, there were the Nintendudes. That wasn’t their actual name, but that’s a missed opportunity for sure. In my opinion, the most entertaining part of the episode was the story of Shaun Bloom. Shaun is just an entertaining guy.

I mean, he lived during a time before streaming and YouTube influencers. It was a time of, “Dude, I can get paid to play video games!” I mean, there’s still some of that, but it was truly a time where such a career path was enough to blow your mind. And, Mr. Bloom played that part perfectly. Even if you don’t watch the rest of the episode, definitely fast forward for his part.

Apparently there’s a guy who plays Smash that is called “Nintendude”. Maybe he will sue the page and we can get famous that way. This strategy hasn’t worked so far, but it has to eventually, right?

Super Mario is everywhere (But where is Miyamoto?)

One of the major complaints that I have about episode 2 is that Shigeru Miyamoto plays only a minor role. I get that they are trying to focus more on some of the lesser known stories in video games. However, if you are going to use Mario to sell the episode, you have to give his creator more than just a passing mention.

Look, I get that you are probably still “Yeah, but”ing me. And, that’s fine. Everyone has a big but. We can talk about your big but. My big but is “But, having Miyamoto in the episode more would have made it infinitely more entertaining.”

The Verdict – High Score episode 2 makes me less excited to watch the rest of the series

I was very high on this series after the first episode. It was just the right amount of information and entertainment. Episode 2 fell off a bit for the reasons I listed. I’m still going to give it a second, third, and however many more episodes there are, chance. It’s just too tempting to not watch. I especially want to see if they do an episode on Sega since they missed the opportunity to talk about the great console wars of that time. Join me in a couple of days for episode 3!

High Score Episode 1

Introduction

I watched “High Score” Episode 1 yesterday while I was working out. It was suggested to me by Netflix when I logged into the account to watch another docuseries I had been watching, “Champions”. Well, not one to pass up history of video games, I switched for the next week or so. Look, I realize that this isn’t at all related to Nintendo or Pokemon, as promised earlier in the week. However, TLDR, it was good enough to inspire me to write this review.

Space Invaders – “Grandpa”

There’s a reason that I went gender specific with the subtitle and it isn’t strictly personal bias. They mention in the episode that women felt left out of the realm of video games. I think the exact quote was, “There are no games for women.” That’s not a surprise. For much of the history of math and related subjects, women have been a footnote of that history. Unless, they are seen as consumers to be exploited. But, more on that in the next section.

My favorite part of the Space Invaders story is that a woman became the first Space Invaders world champion. And so, once again, a woman ignored the restrictions placed on her by society and proved herself as the “best man for the job”. Congrats, Rebecca Heineman, your story was inspiring and I genuinely smiled at the conclusion.

Before we move on, a couple of notable factoids. The game was so popular that arcades were often called “Invader houses”. Also, Japan suffered a 100-yen coin shortage because of that popularity. Crazy.

Pac Man Google doodle. Yes, it’s playable. Not here, but on Google.

Pac-Man – “A little somethin somethin for the ladies”

I will give the compsci nerds credit. When they realized that women weren’t playing video games, they tried to do something about it. Generally speaking, that segment of the population (be it women or men like me) aren’t attracted to games that are simply shooting at things. Enter Pac-Man.

The creator of the game insists that the iconic shape is, in fact, inspired by a pizza with one slice missing. No idea if that’s actually true, but it does validate years of speculation. During the segment, they talk to two teenage girls from the time that seem to uphold the theory that Pac-Man brought girls into video games. I’m not sure what it says about me that I’ve always preferred Pac-Man from that generation of video games.

I hadn’t planned on ending each section with a random factoid, but I have one for our round yellow friend. His name was originally Puck Man, which makes more sense. However, as Puck very easily becomes a well know obscenity, they changed it.

Father of the Cartridge – Jerry Lawson

They interviewed his kids in High Score episode 1. Unfortunately, he passed away about 10 years ago. However, when his son said his name, I paused briefly and said, “Hey, I know that name.” It’s no wonder why. For a generation of gamers my age, he revolutionized the way we played. No longer were consoles restricted to one game any more.

With cartridges, as his son says, your library increased exponentially. Alas, other than video game historian nerds like me, his name has been relegated to an afterthought. Once Atari got into the cartridge business, nobody else stood a chance. More on that 900-lb gorilla in the next section.

Random Factoid: When I was younger, I split my head open and had to get 14 stitches. My parents, so impressed by my handling of the situation, let me get a gift. I chose Jungle Hunt because I played the game in the arcade and enjoyed it so much. Incidentally, when we got the Atari 7800, I bought the game again, making it the first game I purchased more than once.

Atari – “Big Bad”

Like most people at the time, I loved Atari. Even after they crashed and burned with ET (see next section), I still loved the company and support them even today. I haven’t ordered their new console, yet. However, one of the first things I do when I get a new computer is download Stella and a few of my favorite games.

I probably should have, but I had no idea that they were such bullies in the industry. It started innocently enough as a bunch of guys making video games. Then, the company sold to Warner and its a tale as old as time. The suits tried to squeeze every last penny out of the company. They sued a bunch of college kids for making improvements to their games. They bullied Midway into allowing them to release a version of Pac-Man using pretty much the same technology that they attempted to end with the lawsuit. And then, their come uppance.

Random Factoid: I promised a conversation about ET in the next section. Before that, I did want to speak on the process. Apparently, the programmer had 5 weeks to program the game. At the time, it took anywhere from 6-8 months to develop a game. Also, when meeting with Steven Spielberg (after only 36 hours to develop a pitch), the programmer said that Spielberg wanted the game to be more like Pac-Man. See, it could have been worse.

ET – What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Apparently, you can’t have a video game documentary without mentioning ET. Hell, they made a whole movie about that single game. As is often the case, the story is a bit more complicated than just ET killed Atari.

But, for the sake of this article, I’m choosing to be poetic about it. Karma can be swift and furious vengeance. Atari paid for their hubris when they made the “worst game ever.

Random Factoid: I know I’ve told this story before, but here goes. I liked the ET game. Yes, the controls are frustrating. Sure, given more time, they could have polished it a bit more. But, I played the hell out of it and beat the game. Hell, it is one of the games that I download first after configuring Stella. It certainly doesn’t deserve the reputation it’s gotten. Alas, that’s how myths grow.

The Verdict – High Score episode 1 makes me want to watch the rest of the series

If you read the TLDR at the beginning of the article and you are still here, it bears repeating. High Score episode 1 is entertaining and engaging. I’m looking forward to watching the other five episodes. If you like human interest stories or video games, then I think you’ll like this series. Come watch with me!

MK11 Aftermath Gameplay/Friendship Reaction

Thanks for watching my MK11 Aftermath gameplay/friendship reaction video. A friend mentioned the gameplay video and warned me against spoiling myself. Those of you who regularly visit the page know that I care nothing about spoilers, so I immediately searched up the trailer to watch. When the friendship trailer then released, I knew I’d have to do a video. These reaction videos seem to be my thing right now.

They’ve been good for me to get comfortable in front of the camera and make more content over the last few months as I’ve been at home from work. I’ve been consistently updating the web page with articles, but podcasts and videos have been slower in happening. I think this makes 3 weeks in a row that I’ve produced at least one video and I do have a list of others that I’d like to finish.

Those will most likely happen after next week, as school ends then. As usual, I offer no promises. However, as I said earlier, I have been much more consistent with content recently so, *fingers crossed*, that will continue as I continue to expand into video.

The only potential “problem” I see is that everyone else will still be in “school” until the middle of June. They’ve been spreading out throughout the house. So, I might not be able to find a quiet place to record the videos. I might just have to do them later in the day or at night when everyone is asleep. Okay, that’s neither here nor there. You don’t really need to know my plans going forward.

Instead, let’s focus on the MK11 Aftermath gameplay/friendship reaction. I always hated animalities. Then again, I’m on board as MK3 being perhaps my least favorite Mortal Kombat game ever. I was fine with Babalities at first but they got old quickly. Friendships, on the other hand, are just as inspired as fatalities a lot of the time. It allows the developers to consider the personalities of the fighters when designing the moves.

Also, for you people who were complaining about the price of the expansion, you get the friendships for free. That’s a damn good deal. Stop complaining. And, for the love of god, get over Mileena already.

First Impressions Pokemon Sword/Shield

Introduction

Thanks for reading my “First Impressions Pokemon Sword/Shield” article. It’s been a while since I’ve played a Pokemon video game other than Pokemon Go. The last one that I purchased was Pokemon Sun and I only played through the first island on that one before Quinn took it over from me and probably beat the game. No, I just checked with him and he hasn’t beaten it because “something, something the Tapus”. I have no idea what that even means.

However, since there’s a new Pokemon game coming to the Switch (?!, more on that in a bit), I thought this would be a good time to focus on Pokemon for a couple of weeks as a preview to the game. I hope to even record a podcast with at least Liam to preview the game as he probably knows more about it than I do. I did do a bit of research on Bulbapedia about the game, so I’ll give some of my impressions in this article.

Notable Notes

Nintendo Switch: The first thing that I noticed and surprised me is that the game is coming on to the Switch. Now that I think about it, Liam probably told me this at some point. It’s just not information that I internalized. However, this changes everything. I thought it would be a 3DS game again and we have two 3DS systems. We only have one Switch. There’s going be a battle daily for who gets to play their Pokemon game come November.

Also, Nintendo, can we finally get multiple save slots?

Gyms are back: So, guys, apparently gyms are back? I never played either of the Let’s Go games. I found out that they were a different design from traditional games. Granted, I should have known by the name and the fact that Nintendo likes to live by the motto, “If it’s not broke, let’s break it and see if it makes it better. If not, we can always go back to the original and nobody will fault us for our decision to break this thing they loved.” And, it works every single time for them.

Battling is back: Hey guys, battling is back in the game, too. The Let’s Go series worked more like Pokemon Go where you encounter Pokemon and can only catch them. Now, it will be like the older games where you randomly encounter and battle Pokemon. I mean, that just makes sense. Since battling is 99% of the game, I don’t understand the decision use Pokemon Go encounters with the main series. But, like I said, we will forgive them come release.

Me too, Kid. Me too.

New Evolutions: I know a bit about the new types of evolutions that they’ve been releasing in the games. Mostly, I only know them from the card game. Again, as I mentioned in my first cube article, we don’t play the card game much, either. However, I do watch the stream and have seen cards with GX and such on them. I don’t know how it affects game play in the video game. Perhaps Liam will enlighten me when we sit down to record.

The Verdict

I’m always excited when a new Pokemon game releases. I rarely ever play them, but it is one of the series that I’ve been interested in since the beginning. My children have helped to keep me interested in the game by collecting cards and playing themselves. I’m a little worried about the switch to the, uh, Switch. But, Nintendo usually knows what they are doing. And, who knows, they might even port it to the 3DS at some point in time. I doubt that will actually happen now that I given it some consideration. They seem to be consolidating so that the Switch is their only console. Oh well, I can dream.

However, I am excited about the games. I usually buy the one that Liam doesn’t. Therefore, I’ll have more information about that during the podcast. Thanks for reading my “First Impressions Sword/Shield” article. Let us know what you think about the new games and if you’re planning to buy one of them in November.

As long as the professor asks me if I’m a boy or a girl, I’m sold.

Aging Out of Video Games

Introduction

I don’t remember how or why we got on the topic. I know that it started as a text conversation with Chris. We talked about the new Pokemon Go crossover game for the Switch, moved on to Street Fighter collection, and ended with some unnecessary Fortnite bashing. It was about then that we came to the conclusion that we may be getting to old for the current generation of video games.

Get off my lawn.

I think I’ve known about this issue for some time. I never considered that it might be a symptom of something larger until Chris and I talked. Now it all makes sense. We just have to fast track the plan of converting the podcast to 2 Old Guys Gaming. We can complain about kids these days, eat dinner at 4 in the afternoon, and argue with Gamestop clerks about out of date coupons. Come to think of it, we already do 2 out of three of those things.

A Note About Repetition in Video Games

On the podcast, we talked about two topics that I want to clarify. Both were addressed but, as usual, I have more to say. The topic of repetition came up a few times in the context of current shooters. The one quote that stuck with me was from Chris’s dad who said something along the lines of, “Now you’re shooting zombies. Now you’re shooting aliens. Now you’re shooting bugs.” I immediately pushed against the argument that repetition is the enemy of games.

The point that I made and reiterate for the sake of clarity here is that repetition is the backbone of video games. Due to the restrictions of the power of any given system and the storage of media, the game play of most games is limited in the things you can do. Some of my favorite games like Mario mentioned in the podcast and Minecraft are considered boring and repetitive by many. When we, and anyone else, complain about repetition, we are complaining about the type of repetition in the game and that it isn’t anything that we’d want to repeat over and over.

After all, I once heard Minecraft as “you mine stuff and then craft things” early in it’s life cycle and that’s exactly it.

A Note about Trash Talk in Video Games

Chris and I fully sounded like two old guys shouting at clouds on this podcast. As I edited it, i kept hearing, “but it’s different” and it caused me to wonder how it was different. I finally came to a similar conclusion as I did in the podcast. Trash talk was different then because it was in person. Furthermore, you mostly just trash talked people you knew. Maybe they weren’t friends, necessarily, but you saw them around the arcade. Now there’s some anonymous chump telling you things about your mother you never knew. Also, like I said in the show, the other person always had the option to forgo the video game and just punch you directly in the face if you went too far with your mouth.

Staying Current with Video Games

I promised myself after buying an original PlayStation only to see the price drop a few weeks later that it would be the last time I’d pay full price for a console. It is a promise I’ve kept except for buying a Wii U a few years ago to keep the Santa delusion alive. Seems reasonable, right? What does that have to do with getting old? Well, one of the comforting lies we tell ourselves to make getting old more bearable is that it imbues us with wisdom.

And, we’ve got a lot of old morons out there.

The thing about it is that my commitment to being current has gotten less and less, well, committed. I mentioned on the podcast that the PS2 was the last console that I bought relatively early in its life. My wife got me an XBox 360 for Christmas one year. I bought an XBox One only this year and really only for Minecraft. I just bought a used PS3 last year. I don’t own, nor do I see myself buying unless maybe to play against Chris, a PS4. I might buy a Switch, but that’s different and will be covered at a later time.

Get All These Shooter Video Games Off My Lawn

I’ve been trying to figure out when my hate for shooters appeared. In fact, DOOM and Hexen are two of my favorite gaming franchises of all time. It became a running gag in my house that I’d ask of every electronics gift I received, “Can you play DOOM on it?” The new version of DOOM was a driving force in my decision to finally get an XBox One.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Yes, that’s an inkjet printer touch screen.

I think it goes back to when the games became more military focused. Without going into too  much detail, I’ve never been a fan of war as entertainment. So Call of Duty and World at War and Battlefield and Battlefront and Black Ops–and some or all of these might be the same game which shows my ignorance–just don’t appeal to me in the slightest. The fact that I’ll still play Gears of War and games where you shoot zombies acts as further evidence to support this theory.

The current generation of shooters is well beyond my capacity to understand. I mean, I get the point of the games. I just don’t understand the point of the games, if that makes any sense. PUBG was a novelty. Fortnite was an unnecessary inevitability and now the whole landscape is lousy with these games. No thanks, no way, no how. I will gladly concede that I’m too old for this stuff, to paraphrase Danny Glover from Lethal Weapon.

Conclusion (or is it a Eulogy in this case?)

Mourn not for me, new generations of nerds. Not that you will. Those who benefit from progress rarely consider those that came before. I never considered nor mourned for the old guys who used to play Pac-Man and Donkey Kong for high scores when Super Mario, Metroid, and Zelda became the games of choice. As I’m sure that they never mourned for the folks who grew up with Pong as the pinnacle of technological advancement.

I will wait on the sideline for retro to be “it” again. I know that there is always a segment of the population that will always consider retro to be “it”. But, they are usually the old farts who have been left behind. Then we just have to hope that the youths get bored of the new hotness and our old ways will be there waiting.

Geeks Unite!

(Editor’s Note: A�Are you or do you know someone who identifies as a nerd, gamer, geek, dork, dweeb, or freak? A�If so, this is the place for you. A�Come on in and make yourself comfortable)

Non-tenured adjunct professor? Sounds like you're almost as important as the assistant to the regional manager.
Non-tenured adjunct professor? Sounds like you’re almost as important as the assistant to the regional manager.

As I’ve mentioned more than once, I’m a teacher. A�Technically, right now, I am a non-tenured adjunct professor at two community colleges. A�Who cares about titles, though, right? A�If this article is your introduction to the page, welcome! A�I hope you enjoy your stay. A�Either way, the point is that underneath the sometimes gamer rage filled geek persona is a possibly respectable adult with a respectable job, a loving family, and all of the sitcom style hilarity that ensues.

You hear that Hollywood? My life is a movie or TV show waiting to happen.
You hear that Hollywood? My life is a movie or TV show waiting to happen.

Two weeks ago we were supposed to take a field trip with our classes. A�Never mind the comments that I got from friends and family about how weird field trips in college sound and what a waste of time the class was. A�Maybe I will talk more about those on my soon to be web page, “1 Middle Aged Guy Seeks Therapy”. A�The trip and the class aren’t ultimately important to the story. A�I am using a writing technique known as “setting the stage”.

Well, the field trip never happened to due a miscommunication. A�Due to no adequate back up plan on my part, we ended up wasting our time watching Gravity. A�Decent movie, by the way, if you’re perpetually behind the times in pop culture, like I am.

A movie based entirely on the premise of "what else can go wrong?"
A movie based entirely on the premise of “what else can go wrong?”

Waiting an hour and a half for a bus that ultimately will never show gives you ample time for idle conversation. A�Bus and train stops (and the vehicles themselves), airports, and even elevators (if you’re brave enough to say “Hi” instead of staring straight ahead trying to pretend that there isn’t other people in there until it arrives at your stop) are all weirdly intimate. A�People will not only talk. A�They will often share surprisingly intimate details of their lives with you. A�The internet has had a similar effect on many people.

Hell, this guy told anyone who would listen about his dead friend in the war, his mom sleeping with strangers to pay the mortgage, his dead girlfriend and wife, and every other damn thing.
Hell, this guy told anyone who would listen about his dead friend in the war, his mom sleeping with strangers to pay the mortgage, his dead girlfriend and wife, and every other damn thing.

As we waited, I learned quite a bit about both my students and the students in the class being run concurrent to ours. A�They also learned some things about me. A�The conversation that led to much of this discovery started with an innocent observation and question. A�I noticed that one of the students from the other class was wearing a shirt with the design below.

&

 

If you are like me and you spend your formative teenage years in basements rolling dice instead of joints, you recognize that ampersand immediately. A�It took some courage to ask the obvious question. A�While wearing a D&D T-shirt is more an admission of your status, some people want to keep such topics secret in mixed company. A�I ultimately decided to just put it out there and deal with the consequences.

“Do you play?” A�I pointed at the shirt.

“I do.” A�The student responded.

We then went on to discuss Roll 20 because that was her preferred method to play the game. A�I replied that a friend and I tried to get a game going through the site, but it fell apart. A�She plays Roll 20 mostly because the local play groups (that I’ve considered joining) are not very open to new members. A�What did I say? A�Some geeks are just very protective of their culture. A�We may have ultimately won the war, but those battle wounds from wedgies and swirlies run deep.

We discussed World of Warcraft briefly. A�We both came to the conclusion that 5 million others have. A�Fifteen dollars a month isn’t much, but it is more than we are willing to pay grinding the same content with different skins over and over again. A�During this part of the conversation, one of my own students interjected with, “You game? A�I never expected that.”

That, folks, as I often feel the need to explain, is the point of the article. A�People who play games are all around us. A�Geek culture has infiltrated pop culture to such a degree that the two are virtually indistinguishable. A�However, the willingness to admit that you play games or read comics in mixed company is still low. A�As I said, the scars of the past run deep.

I'm not sure why we're so skittish about our passions.  Hell, we even got this guy on our side now.
I’m not sure why we’re so skittish about our passions. Hell, we even got this guy on our side now.

Nevertheless, as we talked about on the most recent podcast, we are the first generation to grow up with video game and, to an extent, games like D&D. A�Previous generations mostly only had comic books as their escape (and later D&D) if they didn’t quite fit the mold. A�Some parents and teachersA�did a good job of branding both comic books and RPGs as only for kids or otherwise unsuitable for polite society. A�The same was almost done for video games. A�Thankfully, video games came of age at a time when the internet was gaining popularity. A�Geeks that once suffered in silence alone or in their small circle of friends could now congregate and battle as a team. A�It may have been this development that also saved comics and led to the explosion of comic themed pop culture we see today.

Don't you see now, Dave?  We make the perfect team.
Don’t you see now, Dave? We make the perfect team. A�We are meant for each other. A�I dare say, “I love you.” A�

Why, then, do we find ourselves still unwilling to admit our enjoyment of these things? A�Sure, some people look down on them as diversions or a complete waste of time. A�Nerds and geeks are shunned from some groups and jokes of social awkwardness are widely accepted. A�I actually don’t mind the jokes much. Some of them are even funny and are the basis of a once upon a time very funny TV show. A�I haven’t checked in lately, but I hear that its not the same, which is to be expected after so many years.

What I’m trying to say is that we’re everywhere. A�You never know when or where you will meet another comic fan, Magic player, Twitch chat user (actually, they are easy to spot, especially Hearthstone viewers, by their casual use of words like “Kappa” in every day conversation), XBox or Playstation owner, WoW addict, or other kindred spirit. A�We are Legion. A�We are many.

Then again, perhaps that's not the best quote to represent us.
Then again, perhaps that’s not the best quote to identify us.

Fly your geek flag high and proud.

Yeah, that's better.
Yeah, that’s better.