Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdrage: Always-Online DRM

I was watching random videos, passing the time, when I came across one on one of my favorite gaming websites – Gametrailers.  Their reviews are some of the best I have seen, and I often agree with them.  However, I came across the latest episode of their show “Bonus Round.”  In it, we have Geoff Keighley, who has already proven himself to be nothing but a corporate shill.  The video of him in front of a thing of Doritos and Mountain Dew, with a totally blank stare, talking about the gaming media industry perfectly capsulized the view that people have of this guy, and always will.  For real, Keighley, you are never coming back from that.  You are a corporate shill, and always will be.

With him, he had a panel of three other people.  The first was David Jaffee.  He was the creator of the God of War series and is still a game designer.  Then there was Michael McWhertor, who is a gaming journalist for Polygon.com.  The final member was some guy named Jeff Cannata from a group called Newest Latest Best.

The first big panel question was – what’s the deal with the controversy behind always-online DRM?  And what I got to see what three guys who literally just did not get it and were quick to defend the corporations.  For real, only one guy got why people have a problem with this.  One panel member got pretty close to what people’s problem with this is.

The first major problem is that not everybody has internet.  I don’t know if Keighley and Jaffee (the two most outspoken critics of the critics) know this, but America is getting this HUGE divide between the lower and upper class.  There used to be this cozy place called the middle class, but that has now divided into the middle-upper and middle-lower classes, and the divide is growing every single day.  Money isn’t just raining out of the sky for us.  So there are a lot of gamers who have their systems never hooked up to the internet.  Myself among them.

The next big problem is that it isn’t just the internet connection itself.  Most internet plans in this country come with a data usage limit.  It’s one of the many reasons why America has the worst internet of the developed world.  We can thank the corporate overlords that this group of panelists are clearly shills for for that.  And guess what can just eat through a person’s data usage?  Online gaming.  If an internet connection is needed to play, then you bet your ass that there is a data transfers, which eats up data usage.  And the fees that one gets when one goes over their data limits are hardcore steep.

In the video, however, you hear these talking heads not only not getting why people may have a problem with this, but also mocking the complaints that gamers have with this issue.  Which, by the way, are very legitimate complaints.  Basically doing nothing but calling the people who buy these products whiny brats.  Yeah, that’s a great way to expand your customer base.

This sort of thing is yet-another reason why I am starting to think that the gaming companies don’t give a shit about their consumers.  And that is NOT a good way to play this.  For real, let’s look at the evidence.  The new SimCity releases, and when the always-online DRM leads to server problems, the game goes dark for the majority of players.  They can’t even play single player.  Previously, Blizzard has the exact same problem with Diablo III.  But whereas Blizzard quickly worked on patches for this problem, EA doubled-down.  They basically just told the consumers to shut up and go away.  This trend of always-online DRM has never once done any good.

More evidence of the lack of respect for their customers was with the handling of the Mass Effect 3 debacle.  EA held firm right until the point where consumer rage reached critical-mass.  Disney decided to close up Lucasarts after buying the Star Wars license.  When consumer backlash went critical mass, there was almost nothing heard from Disney.  Square Enix has shown nothing but contempt for their consumers, pandering to the fans of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts to keep the capital still flowing in.  And how well is that working out?  Then Capcom had the brilliant idea to decide to make a bad joke in the new Devil May Cry which was mocking the previous games.  I’m not insulting the new DmC.  I love that game.  Ninja Theory did a damn good job.  But giving the finger to the fan base when you make a new game is NOT how you keep consumer loyalty.

The gaming companies need to stop abusing the loyalty of their customers.  This kind of thing needs to stop.  In an age when consumer backlash is so easily amalgamated, gaming companies need to stop spitting in the face of their consumers.  You can only insult the people who are being asked to buy your products so much before it comes back to bite you right in the ass.  It’s happening already.

The crowds who want a new Final Fantasy games are becoming nil in the US.  In Japan, there is still a lot of loyalty, but that market alone won’t save them, and they know it.  I could go on all day about how Capcom has fucked up and how people don’t like seeing their name on new games.  EA has been labeled the worst company in the US (a designation that is hyperbole, by the way) because of their business practices.

But the reason that this issue is as controversial as it is is because of the fact that it shows just how detached the corporate side of gaming is with the consumers and how little they care.  When the consumers point out the mistakes, they simply brush us off or worse, insult us.  This is a major issue, and the fact that people like Jaffee or Keighley just want to brush us off and tell us to just shut up is beyond insulting.  This is how you lose customer loyalty.

And for the major gaming companies, I want you to think LONG and HARD about this.  Because the Indie market is growing every day.  New and better ways are being made to reach consumers.  What side of this do you REALLY want to be on?

Until next time, a quote,

“We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” -G.K. Chesterton

Peace out,

Maverick

America Cares! You Know, Unless You Have an Actual Problem

Read a rather fascinating article in Mother Jones today.  It was a young woman telling the story of her cousin, who was schizophrenic and killed his father by brutally stabbing him.  She also talked about her aunt, who had problems of her own, but got treatment.  It was a rather cold look at the absolute failure of the current American mental health care systems.  The staggering statistics of people who need help and aren’t getting it in this country is almost terrifying.  The people who are ignoring this overwhelming statistic are so surprised when shootings like Newtown and Virginia Tech happen.  Why that is the case is genuinely beyond me.

As a journalism major, I hear much on the news.  So much gnashing of teeth after shootings like this.  “It’s because we don’t have strict enough regulations on guns!”  “It’s because the public doesn’t have enough guns!”  “It’s because of violent video games!”  Lots of talk, but the elephant in the room is becoming overwhelming.  America simply doesn’t care about people with actual problems.  Our country can cry the blues all day about how this is bad or that is bad, but when we are faced with a genuine dilemma, what do we do?  We start talking about budget problems, logistical problems, how it can’t be dealt with right now.  Reason after reason why we can’t handle this problem now, but will handle it later.  It’s almost kind of touching.

I read another fascinating article that was written about a new breed of people in this country – tunnel people.  See, it turns out that there are massive underground networks of people in this country.  Almost every major city has them.  Groups of people with nowhere to go and no help to be found, making a life for themselves however they can.  Some of these communities have actual camaraderie.  Most of them don’t.  The truly saddest part about that is that police who have found evidence of these communities (which is surprisingly harder than you’d think) have found something very tragic – diapers.  A lot of the trash in these places is diapers.  Babies and small children are being brought up in underground communities.  This is happening here, folks!  Right here in the good-ol’ USA.

And while we’re talking about things in the US, here’s a neat statistic – there are over a million children right now, in schools, who have no home.  There are children who lie to their friends about where they live, because they don’t want to tell them that they go home to their family’s car at night.  This is happening, right now, in America.  And how much do the pseudo-celebrity jackasses we put in Congress care?  Not at all.  Hell, even the President of this fucking country doesn’t care!  After all, he is embracing the austerity that has been destroying the EU.  Cutting massive chunks from our nation’s social safety net.  Our President has shown himself to be a turncoat for EVERY single thing that he said he stood for.  I hope that the blue-dog liberals are proud.  After all, they have yet to say that he is a bad guy about anything.  Same way that the Republicans sucked Bush’s cock.  Well, every side has a fanbase, doesn’t it?

The reality getting lost in all of this political bullshit is this – America doesn’t care about the people who have actual problems.  I wish that someday, somebody in the media would see that they are the single greatest contributor to all the mass shootings in this country.  When you have people who have nobody to help them, nobody who will listen and  who are having some severe mental issues, what do you think happens when they see the news?  They see some other mentally-unstable person who has done something horrible.  They see the news and the general public wanting to know everything about them.  Everything they said, wrote or may have been a part of.  The public is absolutely swarming with people who will listen, where nobody listened before.  You don’t think that that sort of coverage has an effect?  When we care more about the killers than their victims, you don’t think that that makes a difference?  If you honestly don’t, then please, leave the gene pool.  You aren’t worth the genetic material that made you.

If there is an afterlife, Mr. Rogers must be looking down right now and wanting to cry.  His entire message was about taking care of each other, because it makes the world a better place.  That people should care about one-another, because being hateful and divided just makes everybody hurt.  But what have I been hearing my entire adult life?  Something along the lines of – you gotta look after yourself!  Don’t help nobody because if you do, they will become losers!  On and on it goes, with everybody finding more and more ways to justify not helping people.  Because they really do seem not to care.

What hurts me most about this is that I keep wanting to believe that there is something redeemable about this species.  That we aren’t just wild and filthy animals that can occasionally aspire to something OTHER than pure evil.  But over and over again, humanity gets more opportunities to prove me wrong.  And they take advantage of all of them.

You know, if we are going to be the evil empire, could we please just drop the fucking pretense?  Could we just man-up and admit that we are evil?  If this country is going to give fuck-all about the fact that we are using drones to kill innocent people overseas and not care that over a million kids in this country go to school and have no home, could we just accept that premise?  For real, can we just fucking stop pretending to be so good, when we’re anything but.  See, here in America, we trample upon the people who can’t stand up and fight for themselves.  A pity that the people who did all these mass-killings didn’t get the memo about that.  If only they had known that, they could have done what they want with impunity!

Until next time, a quote,

“But we’re fucked.  Because it’s too easy, in nature, for evil to conquer good.  For force to conquer peace.  Because the tranquility of 20 people at a picnic can be destroyed by one maniac, wielding an automatic weapon.”  -TJ Kirk

Peace out,

Maverick

Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdlove: Journey’s Ending

*Warning!  There are going to be metric ton of spoilers!  If you have not played this game, don’t read further!*

JourneyFor those of you who don’t know, the Indie game Journey is my favorite game of all time.  The absolute brilliance with which it presents its atmosphere, the character development that occurs without a single word of spoken dialogue, the tapestries that paint their history, it is all brilliant.  The best part about the tapestries is that they are totally open to interpretation.  This game really was made to be seen through the player’s point of view.  That aspect alone makes it truly brilliant.  It’s something that not nearly enough game developers are doing these days.  It has a level of emotional intensity which makes its relatively short length feel like you really did go on a journey with the main character, who has no name, no identity and never speaks, yet you feel like you know this character and can bond with his struggle.

There has been a lot of debate about the final area of this game.  See, in the previous section, you have finally made it to the mountain that you are so desperate to climb.  Almost at the peak which is your destination.  The road has been long and hard.  This mountain is unbelievably brutal.  The cold is clearly chilling your character.  What makes it worse is that you seem to be at the mercy of the winds.  It is brutalizing him.  Finally, you get to the final ascent.  It is clear that no other has made it past this.  Gravestones mark so many that have fallen.  And there is a good reason why – the winds get even worse.  They throw you everywhere, brutalizing your entire body.  Your character is getting more and more frozen, desperate to make that final leg.  It is an incredibly intense moment when you see him barely able to move.  His body is freezing, and it is too much.  The final part of that segment, you see him crash to the ground, look up, as if to continue, but then flop down and die.  It is incredibly powerful.

But then, something happens.  A being who is implied to be a sagely creature, from a race that came before, appears.  It reaches down, breathing life back into you.  The character gets up, and takes off into the sky.  It is on a mission to overcome its own fears and to go to where it is called.  The moment you rise above the dark clouds, the monsters you were running from become companions, with you as you make your way to the top, the way home.

Here is where the debate is – did your character die and is his vision of reaching the top of the mountain merely their perception of going to the afterlife?  The reason that this has been debated is that this game doesn’t straight-up tell you anything.  That’s part of the reason that I love it.  It’s openness to interpretation makes it so that everybody’s perception is different.  That is something that the gaming industry DESPERATELY needs.  And I’m not talking the bullshit argument about how the ending to Mass Effect 3 was open to interpretation.  No, that was just people’s attempts to defend it.  Because this game plays on the fact that people don’t know the details, it is made to be given a lot of thought.  The emotional levels it reaches, through visuals and music is amazing.

So, you are probably wondering what my position is.  Did this character truly die and make his way to the afterlife, or is he reborn and makes it home?  Well, to be honest, I think people who are talking about this seriously are missing the point.  It isn’t about the fact that this character gets to the top of the mountain.  It is the journey that got them there, along with what they saw and experienced along the way.

That’s the other great thing about that final ascent – the music.  It builds and builds, as you get higher and higher.  All the pain, suffering and seeing loss, and you get to rise to where you were always trying to go.  The music truly is the best part of that final ascent.  Here, listen for yourself.

Journey does in two hours what most games can’t do with an entire series.  The Indie group thatgamecompany did an amazing job, with a small budget and a few dedicated people.  I will be watching closely for EVERY SINGLE game that they make from here on.  This is the single gaming studio that I watch with diligence, because they have yet to fail me.  They are taking risks, trying new things and trying to expand a medium with new ideas.  If you haven’t played Journey yet, you simply must.  It is an emotional experience.  It is a visual masterpiece.  It is a subtle telling of a beautiful and tragic story of growth, power, greed, decline and the hope for tomorrow.

And it is my favorite game, of all time.

Until next time, a quote,

“I Was Born For This”  -name of the track of the ending credits of Journey

Peace out,

Maverick

Rush Limbaugh: America’s Intellectual Trash Can (Part 3)

I was reading an article in today’s issue of The New York Times about the tragedy in Boston.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the photos from that event are nominated for the Pulitzer Prize this year.  There were some truly amazing displays of heroism as people who were exhausted from running a marathon went charging in to try and help people.  Truly, the very best of humanity was shown.

But then I came across a lovely little bit of horrible use of a tragedy to promote one’s ideology.  It should come as no surprise that this use of bloodshed for personal gain came from the king of tragedy-milking and drug-addiction himself, Rush Limbaugh.  This guy is such a piece of shit.  I’m going to do a kind of post that I haven’t done in a while – a response.  Here’s a link to the where he said this stupid shit, and I will respond back-to-back.  Here we go.

You know, this is how Bill Ayers got his start.  Bill Ayers was a principal for ‘educating’ American kids.  He got his start blowing up the pentagon.

From a mile away, I can see where this is going.  He’s going to do a guilt-by-association argument.  But wait, it gets worse.

Ditto his wife.

Because, you know, we totally needed to hear about how his wife is bad too.  That was pertinent information.

We just learned that Kathy Boden, or Bowden, who what, murdered a cop?  She’s now a professor at Columbia.

See where this is going?  So subtly, too.  I mean, if this were any more thoughtful and intellectually deep, I would to be totally lost.

So could we say that whoever did this has just helped their effort to get hired by a major university.

Okay, Limbaugh, fuck you!  For real, how do you feel good at night milking this tragedy for the express purpose of fueling your ideology?  You don’t have anything remotely intelligent to say, so you simply decide to pander to prejudice.  It’s not a big secret that most conservatives view colleges are just liberal recruiting stations.  Knowledge has always been the enemy of conservatism in this country.  The reason why is simple – probably a good 80-90% of conservatives are very religious.  Knowledge is the #1 enemy of religion.  But this is a profound new low, even for you, Rush!  Literally having a guilt-by-association argument in reference to a bomber.  You are a disgusting human being.  No, you aren’t a human being.  You’re less than that.  You’re a disease that we have to deal with, feeding neckbeard white guys fuel to make them think that they are just the most awesome thing ever.  But wait, there’s more.

But wait, that’s how Billy Ayers got his start!

Yeah, and the man who committed the worst school attack in history (with a bomb, not a gun), got his start as a labor worker.  You don’t know shit about shit.

That’s how Kathy Bowden got her start.  There are plenty of celebrated Americans today, former terrorists, Bill Ayers, Kathy Bowden.  Any number of them who began just this way.

And yet you can only think of two.  Doesn’t help your argument much.

And they are now herald.  They are exalted.  The left politicizes everything.

You got no fucking room to talk!  You’re using a tragedy, right now, to politicize that the left is evil, and the right is good.  How DARE you!  How dare you sit your fat ass on your high horse and tell the rest of us that you are so correct!  This is beyond offensive.  But you know what the best part is – if you go to his radio’s web page, here has plenty of idiots who are posting “I agree!” to his vacuous and exploitative bullshit.  His audience is too stupid to understand when he is belittling their intelligence and doing the exact same thing that he is claiming that his enemies do.

That’s the absolute worst thing about modern conservatives.  They are so hypocritical, and they don’t even know it.  Their audience doesn’t care.  They simply want to be told every single day that they are the greatest thing in the history of ever, so that they don’t have to actually wonder if that theory is wrong.  It’s the easiest thing in the world.

Underneath it all, I don’t think that Limbaugh actually buys into his bullshit.  This guy is a brilliant con artist.  He has found a mostly-ignorant audience who will follow whatever he says like it’s biblical.  He knows that if he keeps feeding them their self-indulgent rhetoric, they won’t ever question it.  This man has grown incredibly rich on the fact that he knows exactly what to say to make his audience get itself a big boner.  Since it’s all white men, yeah, it’s just boners.  This man’s rate of buying wives says that he can’t make women want him.  What’s more, he has this magical gift of being able to not lose credibility.  No matter what horribly racist, misogynistic or bigoted thing he says, his audience is loyal to the end.  So yeah, Rush doesn’t buy into his crap.  He knows that he doesn’t have to.  He’s going to make money either way.  And metric tons of it.

Until next time, a quote,

“I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It’s still my symbol of rebellion — against a stagnant status quo, against our hypocritical houses of God, against people whose minds are closed to others’ ideas.” -Johnny Cash

Peace out,

Maverick

Musical Insanity: Jesus Christ Is My Nigga

And Christians don’t get why the rest of us tell them to stay as far away from music as possible. This is so funny. It’s so awful, so out of touch with what good music or even good rap is that it makes me smile. For real, I should hate how racist and stupid this song is, but I just can’t. It’s so bad that it’s awesome.

Did you enjoy that as much as I did? I hope so. But if you found it horrible racist and offensive, I totally get where you’re coming from. I apologize on behalf of all white people.

Peace out,

Maverick

The Westboro Baptist Church is Pure Evil!

Let me just get this out in the open – fuck these people.  For real, fuck them!  If there is a group of people in existence that is more evil or more determined to spread hatred, I have yet to meet them.  And don’t go saying that the Nazis or Stalin’s regime were worse.  They were.  But I am talking about in my lifetime.  In my current existence.  These people have no equal.  Every time a tragedy happens, these people are there.  Whenever innocent people die, this group of fucking bigots decides that they need to make themselves heard.  And now, in the wake of the tragedy in Boston, the WBC immediately took to Twitter, saying that they are going to go and protest at the funerals of the dead.

I feel bad for the cops who are going to have to probably hold back the violent masses of Bostonians who are going to want to wring the fucking necks of Fred Phelps and his little merry band of pieces of shit.  I have no doubt that this will get ugly, very quickly, if the WBC descend on this unbelievably tragic event to help spread their message that America deserved this and that gay people are making things like this happen.

It’s kind of ironic – this group of people is probably the only group in existence that is getting Christians, atheists and almost every other religious group to band together.  I mean, is there really no tragedy that these people won’t exploit?  Time after time, they have come out and shown the very worst of human nature, all for the express purpose of creating more bigotry toward a group they don’t like – the LGBT community.  But of course, it isn’t lesbians that they have a problem with.

Before I get too far into my lambasting of merciless piece-of-shit bigots, I feel that I should take some time out and point out that the people who hate the LGBT community don’t hate lesbians.  That is NEVER what it is about.  In modern society, two chicks making out his hot!  Hell, I bet half of Phelps “fag-bashers” spend a lot of their weekends jerking off to lesbian porn.  It is almost exclusively the man-on-man action that they are against. (counting down minutes until I get a comment about how gross two dudes doing it is…) I bring this up because I just wish that one of these pathetic Christards would man-up and accept their premise – I hate gay people because I find them icky.  It has nothing to do with the stupid bullshit in Leviticus.  That’s just what they draw on so as not to have to admit their own bigotry.  The reality is that 100% of why they don’t like gay men is because they find their act gross.  That’s it.  That’s the entire reason.  I know somebody who has pretty much admitted that that is why he doesn’t like the gay community.  I disagree with his position, but I do respect his honesty.  Rare quality, these days.  But yeah, if you bigots would just please accept your premise, that would make tuning out your stupidity SO much easier.

The Westboro Baptist Church is scum.  Not one person in their ranks is a good person.  I make a point of pardoning those who have left.  Phelps’ own kid ditched their ranks recently.  I respect that.  Kid even apologized for how awful the father is.  A lot nicer than I would have been.  I would have gone on about what a piece of shit he is.  And on the off-chance that there is a God, and a heaven and hell, I have no doubt that there is a special place in Hell reserved for people just like him.

But, with that said, I will now get off my soap box and admit say plainly that these pieces of shit have the right to be pieces of shit.  Don’t get me wrong – if there is a fight that is started because these fucking cowards want to make themselves heard, I won’t feel bad.  If Fred Phelps gets the ever-loving shit kicked out of him, I won’t shed any tears.  But I do NOT condone censoring them.  Believe me, I wish I could.  But I am a journalism major.  I am a student of history.  The moment that we censor out one opinion that we view as wrong, where does it stop?  Does it stop at just these people?  Does it stop with the people that the majority thinks is wrong next?  The First Amendment is there to protect the minority opinion.  It is there to protect the people who cannot stand up about this themselves.

After mentioning that, I now point out that it goes both ways.  It lets me stand here on my blogging soap box and say back them them – fuck you!  You people are a symbol of everything that is wrong with the human race!  You are the embodiment of hate and intolerance!  Your entire existence hinges on the fact that you are able to hate and want to spread that hate everywhere you go.  Every single thing that you do makes the rest of the human race want to just hide in shame.  Your tribalism mentality that says that every group who disagrees with you should be hated is part of what is going to drive humanity into the ground!  I couldn’t possibly hate you people more!  You milk tragedy to get attention.  Your desperate attempts at validation make me want to kick a small child.  I hope each and every one of you gets to suffer some kind of horrible tragedy in your lives, and then get a group just like you to tell you that it is all your fault for not being hateful enough toward the group they hate.

Fuck this religion-devoted horseshit, and fuck you!

Until next time, a quote,

“Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told.  Think about it – religion has actually convinced people that there is an invisible man, living in the sky, who watches everything you do, every minute of every day.  And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do.  And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish.  Where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry, forever and ever until the end of time!  But he loves you!”  -George Carlin

Peace out,

Maverick