In the last week, I've spent far more hours than I expected firing arrows and using gadgets to overcome humongous creatures. I've explored dark caves and a vast open world through lush forests and towering mountains. I've stopped and enjoyed gorgeous vistas, marveled at detailed inclement weather, and slowly learned how to survive in a video game version of the wild. Wild... where have I heard that before?|
Wait! Not that! Is that what you though I was talking about? I mean, that one is great, but I've hardly played it since I've been sinking all my free time (and then some) into this:
Continue reading On the Problem of Quantitative Metrics
Pic from technobuffalo.com, puppyface from Nintendo
This is a transcript of an actual text exchange from a friend:
Him: I was in no way excited or have any interest in the Nintendo Switch. Having watched all the videos and read multiple articles I can confidently say my interest sits at 0%.
Me: Got one reserved, looks like a lot of fun
Him: I figured you'd be into it. Pass but have fun
Me: We do B)
This conversation can be an example of more than just a lack of interest juxtaposed with an expectant happiness. Here we have a beautiful component of modern gaming; the wide range of options, opinions, and interests spread over a massive and growing gamer populace. One man's Dark Souls is another's Splatoon. And our gaming industry is big enough for it all.
Continue reading We Don't All Have To Switch Sides
So as mentioned by myself and others, 2016 has been a tough year. But you know what? (And if you do, why are you wasting your psychic talents on a blog instead of using your superhero powers for the good of mankind?) 2016 has also been a good year. In fact, as I look around, I get dizzy. But I also see how my gaming life in the here and now, when taken as a whole, is very much a fantastical realization of so many childhood dreams.
Continue reading In 2016 Gaming Is Something I Could Only Imagine As A Kid
Pic from advancehappynewyear2017.com
For many of us, to say the year 2016 has been difficult would be an understatement on par with mentioning the N-Gage never quite surpassed the Game Boy Advance. It seems everyone I know had a tough year for several reasons, and I spent quite a bit of it with family members in hospitals or medical appointments. Many good things happened, but it seemed every week the idea of a return to some 'normal' got pushed further and further out. I think I see some disadvantages to this whole 'being the adult' thing that never got spelled out alongside the whole cookies-and-bedtime-whenever-I-want setup. Or maybe it was spelled out and I was too busy drawing plans for my future home, complete with helipad and shopping mall in the backyard. (Was I the only kid who drew that up?)
Oh, and I guess some famous family is moving out of a nice house near Virginia and the new family moving in is making the neighbors nervous or something? We live in a strange country. And it's not even Canada! (Although I hear they have some nifty retro-stocked video game stores up there.) And apparently some Brexfast thing happened and now importing games is all confusing and/or tasty? Crazy world.
Most folks on this site likely play games to unwind, unless you play games to get mad, in which case I recommend Carrier Command for Xbox 360. For the rest of us, it's good to have our go-to games for decompression.* You know what I mean; those games you aren't necessarily playing to complete, but rather to mentally unfurl and let the stresses of the day process somewhere in the back of your mind.
Continue reading On Video Games as a Processing Tool During Tough Times
There's something inherently natural about the desire to make rhythm. Leave a conga drum out in the open, and it's guaranteed to get bopped a bit by random folks passing by. We may not all have perfect timing, but thumping hands in a percussive manner comes as natural as whistling or toe-tapping to pretty much everyone.
In that sense, the real surprise isn't so much the recent rise and fall of music video games, but rather that they haven't had more of a longstanding presence alongside other classic genres. We've pretty much always seen some variant; sound and pattern recognition (endless runners like Temple Run), instrument training (Miracle Piano, Rocksmith), exercise and dancing (Dance Dance Revolution, Pump It Up), abstract music integration and layering (Frequency, Amplitude, Rock Band Blitz) and of course, the playful guitar/band sims (Rock Band, Guitar Hero).
Continue reading Spooky Plays: Thumper
If you have yet to play it, you probably know No Man's Sky for two things. First, for the gigantic expectations surrounding it. And two, if you believe a collective online mantra, an apparently gigantic let-down.
I'll be direct; if you are caught up in the first, you may fall into the second. Not because No Man's Sky is not worthwhile, but because that's just how expectations tend to play out. Considering four out of five members of our family are hooked on No Man's Sky (and the fifth is too young to play, so he just watches) it is safe to say our house has an incredibly positive opinion of the game.
But I'm not writing this to repeat Crabby's excellent article about enjoying a game despite a common antagonistic theme against it. And anyway, No Man's Sky is doing well and already has some ardent defenders. I'd like to write about what my boss said when I asked if he had yet played No Man's Sky: "Yes," he sighed, "Way too much. I've spent so long playing that game already. I don't know why I keep playing it." He's also said the same of his time in World of Warcraft and a few mobile games he plays frequently.
Continue reading I Don't Know Why I Play This: How Modern Gamification and Groupthink Change Our Play
If you're as old as I am, go take a nap. Are you back yet? Sorry, I didn't want you falling asleep while reading, as folks our age tend to do. I may have yet to hit the big four-oh, but it feels like the world is a different place than in my youth, and it sure is spinning faster these days. Yeah, when you've been into video games this long, you see quite a few things change over time.
For example, it doesn't seem like too long ago that once a game was released, it was as simple as walking into any major retailer to nab a copy. Sure there have always been obscure titles with small print runs, but preordering felt like an extravagance, online retailers felt like they had unlimited inventory, and unless you were importing or looking for a game more than a few years old, most relatively modern games seemed pretty easy to get. Although I do remember the challenge of trying to ask for Katamari Damacy at a GameStop during the week of release (or just explaining what the game was.)
Continue reading Gaming Retail Ain't What It Used To Be
Really? You can say no to this man?
I want to talk about E3, but not about specific games. I want to bring up other events of that week, but not get into an argument. And I want to make a very important plea.
Ever see Tomorrowland?
If not, I think you should. I found it to be a fantastic movie, though I am partial to Brad Bird's work. But anyway, without delving too much into spoilers, the main theme of the movie boils down to a choice for the future; hope or despair. Optimism or pessimism. Fighting for light versus accepting the dark.
Sure, a great deal of media concerns this dichotomy. It is a near-universal theme. And while Tomorrowland isn't the first or best representation of this struggle, I watched it directly after this year's E3 so it is the freshest in my mind. And it does a great job of encapsulating the roller-coaster ride of the few days around E3.
Continue reading Which Wolf Will We Feed?
pic from Bo News
So for the first time, you see this very attractive and interesting person from a distance. Later you find yourself with the good fortune to begin a conversation with this person, and also find that they are fun to talk to and seem to have some points worth considering. Things are going great, and you are considering arranging time to hang out more with this new person. And then, in the middle of the conversation, for no discernable reason, they quickly rabbit-punch you in the nose and continue talking as if nothing just happened.
Blinking, disoriented, and in at least a little pain, you are confused as to what just happened. But you continue the conversation, desiring to dismiss the random event in light of how well everything else is going. Besides, maybe it was an accident or easily explained later. You reinvest your attention into the other person, a short time passes, and your concerns start to assuage, then *BAM*! Again on the nose.
It doesn't take much more time for you to seriously question if investing in this relationship is at all worth it. And sure enough, this becomes a pattern, an understood factor to any time you spend with this person: interesting conversation, some fun thoughts, and then sharp, immediate, frustrating pain for no real reason.
Continue reading Video Game Narratives and the Face Punching Problem
Photo from Playbuzz.com, not actually me. But I'd play it.
It is often argued that the video game industry has both 'grown up' and yet still needs to do so. I'm not going to bring up any such topics specifically (as that would defeat the point I'm making) and I'm not implying some of these subjects aren't worth discussion and exploration. I will sadly say that when I read about our industry nowadays, much of the sense of awe, fun, and playfulness of just the very existence of video games genuinely feels thin or absent altogether.
I miss the reviews from older game magazines. Nintendo Power, EGM, Game Players, Game Pro, and their contemporaries oozed enthusiasm, passion, and a positive lightheartedness sorely missed in gaming today. I still rifle through our stacks of these on occasion and it really helps re-center my love of the hobby. There are stabs of appropriate criticism of course, but the tenor, the joy of video games bounces off the pages.
Continue reading Slackur's Gaming Cycle: Reviews From The Stationary Bike
Now that, my friends, is box art. If it can't scare the cat, get a new picture. (Pic from mobygames.com)
From Space Invaders to Gradius V, the "little ship/guy/thingie dodging bullets and firing back" genre has been with us since the beginning and is just a hair younger than the "Avoid Missing Ball For High Score" genre. And in the same way that Virtua Tennis is no longer king of the hill, the shoot-'em-up or 'shmup' has gone from expected staple to rare appearance.
Though they have never disappeared altogether, shmups are definitely now a fringe category. No longer considered financially viable where less-than-an-hour gameplay is relegated to free or fleeting dollar distractions, new additions to the shmup genre are usually danmaku ("Bullet Hell") or indie homages. Long gone are the glory days of new masterpieces like Axelay or Einhander. Or are they?
Continue reading Slackur's Obscure Gaming Theatre: Shoot the Modern Core
Being a little kid means having lots of free time and an unrealistic understanding of how the world works. Especially when it comes to money, economics, and practicality.
Since I was a little kid, I had an ambitious goal.
Not pictured; me or my panicked mom. Pic from timpickens.com
And once I realized how terrible an idea it was to attach rocket boosters to my bicycle, I got another bicycle and a new goal; the ability to play any video game my nerdy heart desired, be it an arcade machine, home console game, or PC title.
Fast-forward many decades and hoping my back doesn't go out due to whiplash, and I still can't shake that little-kid voice. Especially after sharing so many games with so many people over the years. If I see a game for a few bucks that we don't own, my natural inclination is to pick it up for our collection or run through a list of folks I think may appreciate it.
Continue reading Thoughts And Suggestions About Collecting On Modern Systems
And now I want a Mega Man vs. Fallout game. Pic from Fallout4.com.
In an interesting sequencing of events, I was planning on writing an article on role playing and Fallout 4 when our own SirPsycho wrote a well-thought out and researched article of his own.
And first, let me say I like the article and it has many points with which I agree, and my own article is not to argue or counter-point. Rather, I'd like to explore my own thoughts on the matter, some of which parallels SirPsycho and some that go in another direction.
But first please allow me to drone on for a bit in the name of context.
Continue reading A Reflection On The Roles We Play
Image source: imgarcade gallery for Frictional Games (SOMA)
Lists. Everybody loves lists. And subjective numbers attached to opinions. Fun to read and argue over, sure. But here at RFGeneration, we're cooler than that. (And more humble!) So here I'm gonna list some games that aren't necessarily GOTY-type stuff (though some are, certainly.) But if you're like me, then I'm glad my beloved wife met me first, and also you like to dig through articles to find random gems you weren't aware of or some thoughts on a game that may make you give it a chance instead of otherwise dismissing it. So here goes, a slackur's suggestions from the last year of gaming good times.
Continue reading Slackur's Two-Oh-One Fiver Gaming Thoughts
Pic Source: technologytell.com
It wasn't very long ago that the only hope to get some gaming in during the holidays involved a Game Boy and any time you could snag away from relatives. Then the Wii came along, followed by smart phone apps, and now 'non-gamers' are about as common as folks who 'don't watch movies/listen to music'. That being said, there's a huge gap between Angry Birds Go! and Fallout 4, and that divide may make it feel as if there's still no games that everyone can enjoy, now that Wii Sports has worn thin.
Au Contraire, mon ami! There are many many many great suggestions, depending what you have kicking at home of course. Given how many collectors hang around RFG, you may already have some of these, but many can be found at reasonable prices (with some exceptions!) and have the potential to become annual favorites. In fact, there's a good chance a few are old favorites already, and just need to be dusted off and popped in again. Keep in mind, the following suggestions are based off of two key criteria; playing in a group (generally multiplayer, sometimes score challenge) and ease-of-play (Helldivers is a house favorite, but rather 'hardcore' in challenge and not catered to 'pick-up-and-play.')
So without further ado, if you have these respective systems kicking around, why not fire 'em up and play:
Continue reading Gaming And Holidays; What To Play When Those NonGamers Are Over