Holding Hands

She asked us out for a drink
After work
Long day
Sounded like a great idea

Perfect evening
Restaurant is fun
We only have a couple
Gotta drive home

She gets white girl wasted
So much fun
No fucks to give
All the barriers are down

Decides to stop
Good girl
But what now?
Can’t go home this buzzed

Family there
Doubles as landlords
Asks me to drive around
We can shoot the shit until it wears off

As we drive, she has idea
Takes phone out and starts shooting video
So much fun
Narrating the drive and being ridiculous

Such a fun night
Don’t want it to end
She’s so much fun!
A crazy idea, I have

A dare – livestream this!
She does it!
This night is so insane!
Might be bad, but who cares?

Then, gets more serious
We start talking about other things
And that’s when it happens
She holds my hand

Her fingers lock with mine
It’s a lover’s grip
She leans against my arm
What’s going on here?

Asking more serious questions
Asks if I love her
What can I say?
What can I possibly say?

This is wrong
She’s involved
She’s loyal
What is happening here?

We hold hands, talk into the phone camera
Goes on for hours
Why don’t I want this to end?
Feels so good

It can’t go on
When the buzz wears off, the loyalty returns
She realizes the truth
What’s happening here is wrong

We get to her home
Ask her what it meant
Holds our clutched hand to her face
Says she doesn’t know

Doesn’t know?
We’ve been holding each other like lovers for hours!
Why doesn’t she have some idea?
So damn confused

Next day, tries to avoid it
Don’t want to tell the truth
What happened between us
Who is helped by the truth

Truth comes out
She tells us the truth
Was using us
Used our loneliness to get what she wanted

It hurts, but it doesn’t
In fact, it’s still just confusing
I still loved that night
Would do it all over again in a heartbeat

However, the damage is done
She is ashamed of herself
Become awkward and distant
What has happened to us?

She’s putting distance between us
No!
Not now!
Not after what has just been shared!

That night, and her gentle clutching hand
Will stay with me forever
But here’s the worrying part
Will I stay with her that long?

I held her hand
She held mine
She held it to her face
It was like a kiss

I don’t know what this means
Nor does she
Get the feeling everything hinges on us figuring the answer out
The question she wanted to ask

Was afraid to
Might not like the answer
Wanted to know anyway – do I love her
Answer is, maybe

She held my hand
I held hers
It was enough
For two hours, it was enough

Peace out,

Maverick

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What You Could Have Said (A response to Anita Sarkeesian)

Another day, another piece of bad propaganda, straight from the mouth of probably the greatest con artist of our time.  A con artist who has got the entire left-leaning media on her side, while having broken her Kickstarter promises (she has not kept a single one), lied about her being a gamer (Santa Monica 2010 lecture), not even finished the video series that she was paid $160,000 for and asking money for a new one, all while not answering a single piece of criticism.  This woman is a marvel.  An absolute marvel.  Now, as always, another video has been made where she plays the victim card and makes all her detractors sound like would-be terrorists.  The video is called “What I Couldn’t Say.”  I hate that title, namely because it is very close to a piece from the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack that hits home with me.  Ugh.  Alright, let’s respond to her.

What I couldn’t say is, ‘fuck you!’

Actually, in a way, that’s all you’ve been saying, to the many people who have leveled honest, fair criticism of you and the work you do.  Like so many, I am waiting to hear you have to answer for that.

To the thousands of men who turned their misogyny a game.  A game in which gendered slurs, death and rape threats are turned into weapons to try and take down the big bad villain.

*obligatory statement that I, in no way, support death threats, so as to not get attacked by the Tumblr and Twitter snowflakes*

Anita, there are so many people who have leveled legitimate criticism of you, without once threatening you.  Myself included.  I have never condoned threats against you.  I never will.  I think you are a terrible person, and are manipulating people toward your own ends, but I don’t condone death and rape threats.  You come right out and make it sound like all criticism of you is nothing but threats, and that is repulsive, to me.  It’s not even seconds into your speech, and you are making yourself out to be the victim, when there are real things to talk about.  Are you so lacking in any argument that you have to make sure that people know that you’re a victim before you even begin the conversation?  Not to mention – there are plenty of women who have leveled criticisms of you as well.

Which, in this case, is me.  My life is not a game.

With the amount of money you’re bringing in, I don’t believe that for a moment.

I’ve been harassed and threatened every day, for going on three years, with no end in sight.

For crying out loud!  Do you think that you are Salmon Rushdie, Anita?!  That was a person in REAL danger from REAL people who, as we saw with Charlie Hebdo, will kill people to protect their religion from any kind of negative criticism.  You’re not him!  You’re a “pop culture critic” on the Internet!  That harassment is not something that you should take seriously!  There’s a reason that people like me were laughing at the Law & Order: Stupid Voters Unit episode, “Intimidation Game.”  This idea that online trolls are going to become like ISIS is absurd!  Can you please STOP putting yourself on a pedestal?!  It’s getting really old.

And all because I started to question the self-evident, obvious sexism running rampant in the games industry.

Which, if you watched her videos, you would see was not backed up with credible evidence or showed any signs of real-world connection.  Not one time, in any over her videos, has she been able to show a real-world correlation between sexism and the gaming industry.  From development to effects on gamers, it’s not there.  Not to mention, she has clearly displayed either a willful lack of concern as to the sexual attraction of lesbian and bisexual women, whom she subsequently uses as a shield to deflect criticism.  Screw this point.  Anita, we don’t take umbrage with you speaking.  We take umbrage with what you have to say.  Freedom of speech works both ways.

Nothing about my experience is a  game.  What I couldn’t say is – I’m angry.  When people who know what I go through on a daily bases meet me in person, they often react with some surprise when they see me and say things like, “I don’t understand why you’re not more angry.”

What have you got to be angry about?  In the last few months, your non-profit organization has gotten over $300,000 in donations.  Yeah, your life is really hard.

Because I’m just me.  I’m generally kind of charming and nice to people.

Really?  You’ve blocked every single person who has disagreed with you.  That’s not a nice thing to do.  Not to mentioned the aforementioned using of LGBT people as a shield, while ignoring what the women in that segment of the population might find attractive.  That’s not very nice either.  And charming?  Yeah, because I can totally see that in your dead-pan, emotionless reads of your prompt on your videos.  Your allies are people in your echo chamber, who won’t ever publicly disagree with you, for fear of reprisal from your army of white knights.  See, this is how scrutiny works.  Once you start scratching below the surface, who knows what you’ll dig up!

But I respond saying that ‘I am angry.’  That I am furious.

About what?  For real, what on Earth do you have to be angry about?  You make a six-figure salary being a professional victim.  You have the easiest job on Earth!  What do you have, you upper-middle class white female, to be angry about?

I’m angry that we live in a society where online harassment is tolerated, accepted and excused.

Stop!  Stop right there!  Who is excusing it?!  For real, aside from the trolls themselves, what people are like, “You know what would really help right now?  Seeing a woman get harassed!”  Next, plenty of sites have mods.  With some sites, that’s harder than others.  Modding things on 4chan, 8chan, Reddit or Twitter can be very difficult, because of the nature of the sites.  There are plenty of sites where you can report harassment and it gets dealt with.  Where is all this problem that you talk about coming from?

Where web services and law enforcement are not taking responsibility for the online harassment that women suffer everyday online.

Anita, I’m getting sick of saying this – not all criticism is harassment.  Next, law enforcement does take stuff seriously.  When a conference you would be at got threatened in Utah, they analyzed the threat, and concluded that it wasn’t credible.  That was something they took very seriously.  Do you want the police to arrest every person who doesn’t agree with you?  Sorry, lady, but that’s not how free speech works!  For every mean Tweet you can find, I can find dozens that are people actually trying to level with you.  What are you going on about?

I’m angry that I’m expected to accept online harassment like it’s the price of being a woman with an opinion.

Who is saying this?!  I really wanna know.  It’s so annoying that you talk about online harassment like that’s all you get!  Are you so desperate to have people treat any dissension like abuse that you will try to paint the Scarlet Letter on every detractor you have?  That’s pathetic, Anita.  It’s one thing to just give the finger to your critics and blow them off.  Uwe Bowl does that.  It’s another to passively try and get everyone to put you on a higher level and make yourself out to be the victim.  You use your gender also like a shield, painting yourself as a damsel in need of rescuing, while calling out that kind of behavior in the media.  Your hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

What I couldn’t say was anything funny.  Most of my friends would describe me as a little bit snarky and a little sarcastic.  And you can occasionally glimpse those bits of my personality in my earlier criticism videos.

You mean there are actually videos where you don’t speak off a prompt?  Where you emote?  That’s just nuts…

But I almost never make jokes anymore on YouTube.  Even though humor can be humanizing, and I like using it, I don’t often use it, because viewers often interpret humor and sarcasm as ignorance.

What?  Um…no..  I don’t hear someone make a joke and think, “wow, what an idiot.”  Unless it’s a really bad joke or something.  I may think that someone is a little off-color, depending on the joke.  Like, someone make a joke about cops beating a room for being black.  But that makes no sense.  There are plenty of informed people who can make jokes about stuff.  John Oliver does it every week on HBO.  Jon Stewart is going to not be doing it at the end of this year.  Stephen Colbert did it for years.  That is so dumb.

Especially if those viewers are male, and the ones make the jokes happen to be female.

Again, no.  I think that you’re ignorant because you steal people’s Let’s Play footage and don’t credit them.  You have stolen a fan-made drawing to use in your company’s logo.  You have lied about your history as a gamer (though don’t tell Stephen Totilo that.  He worked so hard to kiss Anita’s ass about it and make sure we knew that that wasn’t true).  The men like me, who take umbrage with what you say and what you’ve done, do so based on evidence.  I get why that would be difficult for you to get.  After all, your videos have a disturbing lack of it.  You know, the ones that aren’t using people’s Let’s Play footage.

You would not believe the amount of times that jokes are taken as ‘proof’ that I don’t know what I’m talking about.  Or that I’m not a real gamer.

Ah!  I see what you did there!  So, that whole thing in Santa Monica was a joke, eh?  When you told people that you have never been a fan of video games, that was in jest!  You saying that you had to learn a lot to make the video you were showing (in that video.  Videoception) wasn’t true!  You lied to that audience!  Very smooth.  You know, in that dishonest sort of way.

Even when those jokes rely on a deep knowledge of the source material.

What source material?

So, as a result, I intentionally leave that more humorous side of my personality out of my current video presentations.  I rarely feel like spontaneously speaking in public spaces.

No surprise there.  You’ve worked very hard to create the image of yourself as a damsel in need of saving, while also as a warrior fighting against the enemy.  To have that be questioned outside of a set narrative would be damaging to the con you are running.  After all, when Colbert put you on the spot and asked you to name 3 video games that cause violence and misogyny, you couldn’t do it.

I’m intentional and careful about the media interviews I do.

Also true.  You’re a con artist.  If you left something to chance, then your con might start to come apart.  Can’t have that.

I decline most invitations to be on podcasts of webshows.  I carefully consider the wording of every Tweet to make sure it’s clear and can’t be misconstrued.

Ooo!  Like that one where men are the reason behind all school shootings?!  Like that?!  Or how about those ones where it has been shown that you took Johnny McIntosh’s Tweets and reworded them slightly?  How about that?

Over the last several years, I’ve become hyper-vigilant.  My life, my words and my actions are placed under a magnifying glass.

Anita, anyone who has name-recognition in this world is under a magnifying glass.  It’s called celebrity status.  Don’t like it?  Well, don’t become an Internet celebrity.  Oh, right, it’s too late.  You’re complaining about this like you haven’t worked to make it this way.  You’re mad about that?  Well, too fucking bad!  Don’t blame us for what you helped engineer.  What’s more, if you would just fess up and actually talk about shit with people, then we wouldn’t be digging the way we are!  When you work hard to build a wall around yourself, and get a garrison to protect you from anyone who could speak out against you, you have to expect that there will be some dust that gets kicked up.  For all of this, you have nobody to blame but yourself.  All of this could be stopped if you addressed some of the honest criticism you’ve received.  It’s just that easy.

Every day, I see my words scrutinized, twisted and distorted by thousands of men, hell-bent on destroying and silencing you.

It’s nice to see that when women can’t be your shield, their words mean absolutely nothing to you.  Nothing at all.  You are so sexist, Anita.  You really are.  You are one of the most sexist people I have ever seen.  Because, I know that you don’t buy into this SJW shit that you spew.  I’m certain beyond any doubt.  You only care about the money.  So, when you have women who are going after what you say, you can’t attack that like you do men, because then you’d have to actually talk about stuff.  That can be icky.

What I couldn’t say is – I’m a human being.

Yeah, you are.  I totally agree.  You are a human being, capable of making dumb decision and poor choices, just like the rest of us.  And you are a human being who is choosing to ignore her detractors, because of the chance that you will be proven to be wrong.  You have worked so hard to create an iron fortress around yourself, while you have skilled and smart detractors who are finding weaknesses in your defenses.  It’s sad, but it’s true.

I don’t get to publicly express sadness or rage or exhaustion or anxiety or depression.

Actually, yeah.  You could do that.  We wouldn’t ridicule you.  I wouldn’t.  If you were to come out and make a video saying just about anything.  You can talk about whatever you want.  But when you make videos with the levels of dishonesty that you have shown, while doing everything your power to silence dissent, then we will reply.  All you have to do to end the problem is just talk candidly with your detractors.  That’s it.

I can’t say that sometimes, the harassment really gets to me.  Or conversely, that the harassment has become so normal that sometimes, I don’t feel anything at all.

Not for a second do I buy that the harassment gets to you.  You’ve made a career on the back of it.  I don’t believe that it upsets you.  One of the many things you could clear up by actually having a candid conversation with people.  Not one that is tightly scripted and controlled.

The death threats come through on my social media, and it’s just become a routine.  Screen-cap, forward to the FBI, blah, blah, blah.  I don’t get to express feelings of fear or how tiring it can get to be constantly vigilant of my physical and digital surroundings.  How I don’t go to certain events because I don’t feel safe.

Give me 10 instances where online harassment manifested into real-world violence, Anita.  Just 10.

Or how I sit in the backs of restaurants or coffee shops so the least amount of people can recognize me.  I can’t show my embarrassment when I have to ask someone who recognized me as my local grocery store to please not mention the location where they met me.  Somehow, we fooled ourselves into believing that by expressing human emotions, it means that the harassers have won.

By hiding from criticism, of any kind, that is proving that the harassers have won, Anita.  If you wanted to stand tall to the people who say terrible things, you would actually talk candidly with people.  You’d be amazed how open we would be to listening, if you actually talked, and didn’t have a script telling you want to say.

This false belief is largely because, in our society, women are not allowed to express feelings without being characterized as hysterical or erratic and bitchy.  Highly emotional or overly sensitive.

Where is this belief coming from?  I watch YouTubers like Jaclyn Glenn, and I don’t think that she is bitchy or hysterical because she expresses emotion.  I watched the emotional video that Mercedes Carrera made, getting angry at the silence that you and yours had about people like her friend Cytherea, who was the victim of actual violence, as opposed to online harassment.  Why are you trying to sell this image?

Our expressions of insecurity, doubt, anger or sadness are all policed and often used against us.

By who?

But by denying ourselves this space to feel and to share those feelings, we’re just perpetuating this feeling that we should all suffer alone.

You are making more in a year than most people ever will.  Do tell me how you “suffer.”

That we should all just toughen up and grow a thicker skin.  Which we shouldn’t have to do!

I’m about to have a serious moment with you, Anita – yes you should.  Look, you never really leave high school.  That’s the thing about life.  You know those people who get bullied for being fat?  They’re still gonna get bullied.  Only this time, it’s gonna be at their job, in a really snide way.  You know that girl who got picked on for being a pale nerd?  She’ll still get picked on, until she makes a shit-ton of money and then can use it as power over people.  There was that whole “It Gets Better” campaign, and I called that out for the bullshit that it was.  You know why it was bullshit – because it really doesn’t get better.  You have to get tougher.  That’s how you deal with what life throws at you.  If that’s too hard for you, then you shouldn’t be in the position that you are in.  And I find it odd that it is too hard for you, considering how hard you’ve worked to make this performance piece that you do.

What I couldn’t say is – I don’t even want to be saying any of this!  Largely because I still feel fear that expressing human emotions publicly will make me feel insecure.

It’s funny – I recently watched a stream where a new friend of mine, Shadowpaint Lisa, got really pissed at someone who said some really unpleasant shit to her and got her all emotional, because the people she had met and befriended in connection to GamerGate helped her through stuff, and she didn’t like hearing about how awful we are.  Did I think that she was insecure when she starts crying and leaves the stream?  No.  I thought it was sad and, because I’m just a nice guy like that, I wished I had been there because I would have tried to help.  Granted, I could only have helped in Chat, but I still try.  You saying that you think that you will look insecure, that sounds like an excuse, to me.

The truth is that women who persevere and retain some measure of their humanity are not expressing weakness.  They’re demonstrating courage.

What are you talking about?  That feels lifted right out of an inspirational book.

In all the different, messy, honest ways that we respond to harassment, we actually demonstrate how much humanity we all still have in the face of such cruelty and injustice.

Says the woman who has blocked every single person with a legitimate complaint with the things she has said and done.

Thank you

You know, Anita, I got my Bachelor’s in Journalism and Public Communication.  I would like nothing better than to sit down and actually have a conversation where we address some stuff.  Where we can actually talk about things, instead of hiding from them.  The thing that you have been doing for years now.  Hiding from the truth.  I haven’t done a post like this in years, because I actually wanted to give all the context I could, so you could see that I mean to really talk about this.  Because I think that’s important.

You have worked, for years, to build a wall around yourself to keep out criticism, using that wall to claim that any and all disagreement is harassment and you are a victim and need to be protected.  I’m sorry, Anita, but until you actually do have a conversation with someone, anyone, who has real complaints and is willing to listen to your side of the story (as I am), then we will keep working to find weaknesses in your arguments and destroying the house of cards that you have made for yourself.  If that’s too much to handle, then so be it.  The next move is yours.

Until next time, a quote,

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”  -Albert Einstein

Peace out,

Maverick

The Parameters of Love

There is a concept that I have been debating, for a very long time – what is love?  I keep hearing so many conflicting definitions.  Maybe it’s because my overwhelming depression has made it so that I don’t know what it’s like to be happy, but the truth is – I don’t know what love is anymore.  I want to know.  I want to know what love is.  Now, the obligatory song by Foreigner (which I actually love, by the way.  Totally bring emotions welling up, each time) –

Still, love has so many parameters, and it all makes me confused.  There is the romantic love.  That kind is the easiest to understand.  At least for me, anyway.  Romantic love is an attachment that makes the most simple of things have the most meaning.  It is when you have an emotional commitment to a person that transcends all your other commitments.  That kind makes sense.  Even think I’ve felt that, once or twice.  Always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, because it is has always ended poorly.  Never in my life has love done right by me.  Never.  It’s always found time to fuck me.  That’s life, right?  In any case, nothing one can do but keep rolling with it.

But then there is the love of family.  First, a little bit of context.  I had a head injury when I was 14.  I came out of that and was a totally different person.  The world of the life beforehand was alien to me.  I didn’t know the person whose name they called me.  It was all completely alien to me, and I didn’t honestly like being referred to by that name.  I still don’t.  So, yeah, these people were alien to me.  I knew who each of their names were.  I knew what their relation to me was.  I knew that they would never leave my fucking hospital room, when all I wanted most of the time was some privacy.  There was ALWAYS someone in there.  That still has a bitter taste, to me.

As time went on, I gained remarkably-different emotions toward these various family members.  For the most part, I felt nothing toward them.  Not negative or positive.  Just, nothing.  To this day, that’s how I feel about most of them.  There are some whose company I would rather avoid, but there isn’t enough negative emotion there for me to truly care about them one way or the other.

There is, however, one family member who I am being told that love is a given for, yet I can’t understand why I should do so.  It is a person who clearly doesn’t like me.  They continually rail on me for how many awful behaviors I have, and have even threatened me with physical violence (that I feel very certain was genuine, as they were moving to attack).  Why on Earth am I supposed to “love” that person?  What does that even mean?  I am trying to wrap my head around it, but I can’t.  My vast intellect can’t seem to process something that I am told is simple.

This isn’t the first time that it’s come up.  I have heard family members do nothing but trash-talk other ones behind their back, and I think to myself – what is love to people who clearly have nothing but negative emotions toward a person?  What does that mean?  On a philosophical level, how on Earth can that be explained?  Is there something wrong with me by not getting this?  It is a mystery, and one that I wouldn’t mind a little help solving.  I have thought about this, for hours.  Yet the more I try to wrap my mind around it, the less it makes sense.  After all, isn’t love a positive emotion?  If all you are able to express about or to a person is negative emotions about said person, then what is this “love” that you have for them?

For real, audience input.  What is love in the familial sense, toward people with whom all interactions are negative?  Am I just a sociopath or something?  I don’t think so.  There are several people in my family who I care a great deal about.  Some who I have some begrudging respect for.  Others who I have some more convoluted feelings about.  Still, we have emotions.  It’s not like I’m going to harm anyone or anything.  I’m not a lunatic.  This just doesn’t make any sense to me.

My coma destroyed the connections I made with people.  I knew who they were on an intellectual level. On an emotional one, it was a blank page.  Now, I am very confused.  Very, very confused.  Maybe, if I could remember that person who they all call me, it would be simpler.  But I don’t.  His memories are mud, having been replaced by new ones.

So yeah, a question for you – what is love between family members, to you.  Is my viewpoint totally effed?  Let me know, because I might have stumbled on to a fascinating question.  Or proved that I’m an effing lunatic.  Unknown.  Let me know in the comments section.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’ll start working on an answer.  Just give me a few hundred years.”  -Cortana, in response to the query – what is love?

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONL: Why I Love the Citadel DLC

I’ve talked about this before.  I did a review of the Citadel DLC in Mass Effect 3.  It was the ultimate culmination of the series.  It was a proper send-off that had so much heart.  It made me think – if only the rest of this game had even a third of the heart that that DLC did.  Part of me kind of hates that the thing that ME3 will be remembered for is the terrible ending.  Don’t get me wrong, I viscerally hate it too.  I hate everything that happens after the Victory Fleet returns to Earth.  I spent a whole game making that army!  Let me fight with them!  What the hell?!  Still, this DLC was amazing, and it was everything I could have ever wanted.

I wrote a post on how I would have done this DLC.  Brief summary – I would have had it happen after the end of the game.  If the game had had a better ending, that is.  I would have had this be a comedic way to wrap everything up.  It would have been with Shepard and the surviving crew of the Normandy going back to the Citadel, having beaten the Reapers and looking forward to some R&R.  Anderson would give his old place to Shepard, and now they get to finally chill.  But just as things are going well, in drops a new problem.  If you’ve played the DLC, you know what I mean.  Wouldn’t that have been perfect?  Then the series would end with that party.  It would have involved everybody in the game.  It would have been the culmination of three games of relationship-building and character development.  Granted, that would have made the DLC huge, but admit it – it would have been amazing.

Why did this DLC work?  I think the answer is simple – because it felt good.  Through the course of three games, we came to know and care about the characters in the story.  We had fought beside them, gotten to care for their problems.  Some of them we watched sacrifice their lives, in a way that felt important.  All of these characters mattered to us.  Now, we got to have a moment with them that was stupid, silly and overall pointless.  But that’s fine.  Because we still wanted to do it all the same.  They were our friends.

You know what it reminded me of?  That episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender where they watch the play about themselves.  It was like a comedic roast, with each of the characters getting burned in their own special way,  But we still liked it.  It was willing to poke fun at itself.  The characters gave each other shit.  We got to see them not as comrades, but friends.  Friends who came to know about each other and care deeply for one-another.  The same happened in the Citadel DLC.  And you know what – it is something that I think needs to happen more often.  There is nothing wrong with a pointless episode of a show or a pointless add-on to a game, if it is meant to be stupid and fun.  This works best with a series of games like Mass Effect.  Where you have choices, and those choices matter.  It allows you to get invested in the game, and that makes things so much better.

And it doesn’t have to be all pointless.  I remember actually getting a little choked up when you saw the funeral for Thane.  For real, that was hard stuff!  He was a good ally and a friend to Shepard.  Watching the tribute for him was a powerful moment.  Then there are the messages that he left Shepard, and oh my god!  That was so sad!  So yeah, it can have serious bits.  The aforementioned episode of Avatar had a couple of serious moments.  Like when Aang confronted Katara about them sharing a kiss, which had never been addressed before then, or when Zuko has to confront the guilt he has been feeling regarding his uncle Iroh and how he had turned his back on him.  Serious moments can be a part of something silly.  When you care about the characters, it makes the moments that much more poignant.

A lot of people gave the game Gone Home a lot of shit.  I’m not among them.  I kind of like a game that is exploring emotions or playing to nostalgia.  Truth be told, I knew how that character felt.  I still have my collection of Pogs, somewhere.  Not sure where, but they exist.  My old cassette tapes are around my parents place somewhere, too.  A game that allowed you to explore the emotional depths of a character is a good thing.  So long as you get the emotions right.  I also liked Dear Esther for that same reason.  Both of them explored emotions.  Same with one of my favorite games of all time – Journey.  All of those games explored emotions that we could attach to, and all of them got a reaction.

My only regret about the Citadel DLC is that the actual end to the game didn’t have half the heart that this did.  That was a real shame.  But hey, we got the Citadel, and that is where I truly believe the game ends.  Screw what happens back on Earth.  That’s all bullshit that I redconned from my life.  Also the reason why I am never playing Mass Effect 4, but whatever.

There is a lesson to be learned in letting players bond with characters and be able to see where that would go outside of the serious story missions.  With gaming becoming as complex as it is, it is time we see more of this kind of stuff.  At least, that’s what I think.  Let me know your opinions in the comments section.

Until next time, a quote,

“Wait, job?  You mean the rest of you are getting paid?”  -Garrus Vakarian, Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC

Peace out,

Maverick

Cold and Rainy Thoughts

Passing Storm Over the Sierra Nevadas by Albert BierstadtAs the rain falls outside (the kind of weather we love), we sit here and think about life and how we are feeling right about now.  Summer is almost over and I will be heading back to college soon.  Of this, I am so grateful.  There are a couple reasons why, but the biggest one has been an on-going plot thread in my life for a long time.

I am so tired of being the villainous foil in this family.  And while that sounds like the pun of a bad joke, the fact is that that is how I am seen.  Almost every single day, I am reminded of how my family looks down on me and how I am viewed as nothing but a tall parasite.

I was asked to come into the garage today and then I was given an all-out “you kids are nothing but a problem” lecture, insinuating that I am not going to be able to survive once the parents croak.  I did as I always do and just said nothing.  Didn’t even nod.  I just didn’t speak.  I’ve learned better.  Every time I try and defend myself from their onslaught, it usually ends with me being threatened with violence.  After all, that has been one of the parents ONLY teaching tools growing up.  But since violence isn’t the best tool now that I am older (and slowly losing my self-control when it comes to my own violent thoughts.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Another reason I don’t want to have kids), they have decided to take a new approach.

Almost every day, without fail, I am reminded of just how little I give to the family.  My sister and I are now seen, from where I’m sitting, as the thing that this family regrets.  They regret having us.  They regret raising us and they especially seem to regret us being older.

Of course, later, the conversation continued.  This time, I actually did try and defend myself.  It took all the strength I had to keep it contained as I explained that I am VERY aware of what the future holds for me.

Here are my prospects for the future – I am a titan.  Being massively taller than my peers was fun as a kid.  Now, growing up, it is a curse.  See, when you are a titan, you can’t survive like most people can.  So, my budget looks worse and worse every single day.  The complications are as followed – food, for one.  While I am a little overweight, a buddy of mine who is soon to be a surgeon (one of the youngest in the country, because he busted some serious ass in a way you and I can’t imagine) told me that I am still within range of what is considered healthy.  But, with that said, my intake is going to be more even if I wasn’t.  See, if I did live an incredibly active and healthy lifestyle, my food budget would be astronomical.  The engine of a giant can’t be fueled by an apple in the morning and some yogurt.  Next, there is clothes.  I am too tall for conventional stores, so almost everything I wear has to come from the internet.  As you can imagine, this is NOT cheap.  Then, there is a vehicle.  I don’t fit in most cars.  With the new move to higher gas mileage in vehicles, along with electric vehicles, this problem is getting worse, as they are all getting streamlined.  This does not bode well for the poor titan, does it?  And I’m not talking about my mental health.  I’m talking about my finances.  I am poor now, and that is part of my prospects.

The job market is shit.  I tried, in vain, to explain this to the old man.  Naturally, he just said that I’m wrong and that I’m not working hard enough.  Most people of his generation believe this.  But being a journalism major has led me to be informed.  Being informed has never felt much like a victory.  The job market in this country is shit, and isn’t looking to get better anytime soon.  America has fallen into where Japan was 20 years ago, with a recession that ended in the stagnation of their economy.  That is where we are.  So, while things don’t look to get a whole lot of worse quickly, they aren’t going to get better quickly, either.  So, I am going to be fighting tooth and claw to get whatever job I can, living paycheck-to-paycheck.  Again, the old man doesn’t believe this.  He chooses to believe that all the poor people are just too lazy to do the work.  Ignorance sure is easy, isn’t it?

Another prospect is my loans.  I am going to be graduating from college with roughly $50,000 in loan debt.  This is a disaster for me, because I don’t have a solid path to anywhere.  I shot myself in the foot with my department (for what I still believe is a good cause), so now I am going to be having to scrounge up work wherever I can find it.  A smart mind that will be wasted on jobs that have me stocking shelves or worse – helping customers with orders at a Taco Bell near you.  Jobs that are slave-wages and that sometimes openly say that you need a second job (as McDonald’s recently advocated for their employees to do instead of giving them better wages).

But the thing that hangs above my head the most, that feels like the Reaper poised over me, scythe in hand, is my medical problems.  I am one NEW medical problem away from financial ruin, in every form.  I have no illusions about my medical situation – I was supposed to have died in that bike wreck 10 years ago.  My body is a lemon.  It is slowly falling apart, all due to stuff I can’t change.  Hell, my brain is even on the fritz with the damage from the aforementioned head injury.  My intellectual faculties are intact, but my emotional centers are a mess.  Leading to a depression that is slowly getting worse.  The parents want me to medicate the problem away.  Yeah, because if I start shoving pills in myself to force my system to be happy, that will be better, right?  Right?

My future is foremost at my mind.  I think about it every single day.  I think about what is to come and what I am going to do.  After getting passive-aggressively yelled at by the old man, I went back into my room and did something I no longer thought I was able to do – I cried.  I feel so lost, so insecure and so alone, and what’s more, I am finding that I have no one to be there for me.

Because, as I found out later, when I tried to defend myself, after the old man realized that he couldn’t hold my lack of preparedness for my future over my head, I then found out the truth – it was NEVER about me.  Not for one second.  It was about them.  Apparently, because I don’t say that I am grateful often enough, the parents see my sister and I as the bane of their existence, because we are just ungrateful jerks.  And because they have to ask us to do things, we obviously don’t care.  And because I don’t personally throw all the praises on Sally (the mother-unit), I obviously don’t care about her.  She has, naturally, endorsed this view.

And this is what it is.  Every single fucking day.  I wake up, I am being told about how I don’t do enough.  I go through my day, being told about how I am ungrateful and don’t care.  I go to sleep, being reminded, once-again, that I am just the worst and how they were so much better than me and my age.

Something I have never told them, and probably never will, is that when I woke up from my coma, I was a different person.  I knew who each and every person in the room (there were a TON of family there, all the time) was, what their relation to me was and how they were personally.  But there was something missing – I didn’t care about any of them.  I didn’t have hard feelings.  I didn’t have any feelings at all.  Something about that accident robbed me of the connections that I once had.  So, I was nice, because they were being nice.  I was in a lot of pain then, in a humiliating position of not being able to do anything (for real, I was being handled like a baby.  It was the most humiliating point of my entire life that I still have some bad feelings about) and having them expecting me to love them all so much, because they are family.  But deep down, I felt nothing.

Over time, I got some of the connections back.  I will admit that that number was small.  Very small.  And some connections became something I didn’t expect.  But a connection that got very unpleasantly mixed-up was with the parentals.  And with the endless war to make me feel like shit every day, that is a connection that I doubt will ever come back.  And that is sad because they aren’t bad people, underneath it all.  Having been able to see this objectively, I now can say that they aren’t bad people, they just weren’t meant to be parents.

Into the Mist, by Greg MartinAnd if, by some chance, one of them reads this post, I know how they will react.  They will get mad, blaming me, telling me about how little I appreciate them and how ungrateful I am.  Every single existential expression I have, they have found a way to twist it into being about them.  Every single time I have an opinion about something, it is a reflection on them.  But I’m hoping that the rest of you can understand that I am writing this because I have nowhere else.  As I said, me trying to stand up for myself or having an opinion that they don’t like often ends with anger and/or threats of violence on their part.  I am trapped here.  And that is EXACTLY why I am kind of glad to be back at college.  I need a break.  Ironic that I think of school as a break.  But in a lot of ways, it is.  And that is why I am so lost in the world.  Just like the rest of my generation.

So, have I depressed you enough for today?  I guess so.  I think I’ll leave this on a quote that actually does make me feel good, along with a link to the video it comes from.  Watch it, if you are ever feeling bad.

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with your life.  The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives.  Some of the most interesting 40 years olds I know still don’t.”  -Baz Luhrmann, Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)

Peace out,

Maverick

The Fallen Warrior

Another attempt at poetry.  Wish me luck.

Broken, beaten against the walls
On the cold floor, staring at the wall
Nowhere to go
No one to see
A warrior without a cause to fight for

The soft echoes of twilight
The bitter dawn
The beautiful midnight
Time blends together
Easy when one doesn’t sleep

Believed in something
A strong code beneath unrelenting cynicism
Walling off the heart
Believed that if one was good, it would matter
So ignorant

Noises filter through the muffled thoughts
Noises of battles fought
Not with guns or blades
Battles of the heart
Conviction vs. the real world

Conviction holds
Not well, but it holds
So often, conviction comes back as pain
Claims of friendship thrown away
Love is the worst emotion that humanity has

What is a cause worth fighting for?
Love and country is a joke
No gods or heavens to cling to
Friendship is less and less worthy
What is the right thing to do?

It seems to grow, this feeling
As the reasons to hold back disappear, conviction holds
Conviction holds, no matter what the loss
Honorable
Honor is what a warrior should have

This warrior would die for his convictions
He is not a warrior who has attained glory in battle
This glory comes from standing by convictions
Not an easy thing to do
So much easier to sell out

No future
Past is ugly
Fighting against the world, but for how long?
One can’t fight forever
Not alone

Yet the battle continues
Even if it is all for nothing, it continues
Glory is never achieved, but it continues
Worth something more
A sign

A sign that this warrior is stronger than everyone else
This warrior stood by their integrity
Fought for it
Would die for it
Won’t bend it, no matter the cost

Better the world should burn before becoming who I’m not

Until next time, a quote,

“There’s only so much fight in a person.”  -Commander Shepard, Mass Effect 3

Peace out,

Maverick

Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdlove: The Last of Us’ Plot

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

I love this game.  Having finally gotten all the way through the single-player campaign, I have seen what this game was trying to be, and I love it.  The plot of this game and how it is used is something that I think is going to be talked about for years to come.  This is a trend-setting game.  This is a game that is going to set the standard for great stories of this kind.  While I am saying that, let me point out that not all games should follow this format.  Some games, like the Mass Effect Series, don’t follow this kind of format of very centralized plot at all.  And for the better.  Free range of choice and learning about a world is a good thing.  But for this kind of game (survival-horror or action adventure, of which this game is a merger of both), this level of emotional commitment and emotional climax that leaves the player feeling so many things at once by the end should be taken to heart.

The thing that truly makes this story is that it isn’t large.  For real, for as heavy as some of the subject matter can be, it is never, ever large.  It isn’t about the world and this infection.  It isn’t about the fact that Ellie has the cure for it inside of her and what it can do for the human race.  It isn’t about the time that Joel has spent becoming part of the life he leads.  It is about the Joel and Ellie’s journey.  But the destination isn’t the point of this journey.  In fact, the destination is almost superfluous.  Truly, it is about the personal journey that these two characters take when they are heading toward a future unknown.

Let me clarify.  This game opens with Joel coming home from work.  His daughter is on the couch, up past her bedtime to give her dad a present for his birthday.  Where is the mother?  Who knows.  What is their relationship?  They don’t clarify.  You get the feeling that the two are close and get along.  Joel is doing his best to make a good life for the two of them, but it doesn’t go beyond that.  It just shows these two have a night together.  Very quickly, things go horribly wrong.  After his daughter is killed, the game jumps ahead 20 years.  What happened in that time?  While you are given bits and pieces of what happened, the total story is never given to you.  There is not a single point in this game where it goes into a broad exposition-dump.  Again, that isn’t what this game is about.

The reason that they don’t force these unnatural conversations is because the goal of this game was simple – making it feel organic.  I mean, who just talks about where their mother is if they don’t live with them anymore on a given night?  Almost nobody.  Who talks about what they have been doing for the last 20 years with a person they just met?  You see that Joel tells Ellie more and more as time goes by, but since these conversations would naturally happen at random times and wouldn’t be often, it is only natural that the player wouldn’t be privy to when they talk about all of this.  Again, it feels organic.

That is one thing that I absolutely love.  But the other thing is the emotional levels that they go to in this game, and they do it by not letting the game’s grim tone get lost.  Not for a second.  My personal favorite parts in the game were when Ellie gets kidnapped.  Alone, she doesn’t flinch.  She fights until she has nothing left, because she doesn’t want to die, and she doesn’t want to leave Joel, the only friend she truly has.  He is also something of a father-figure by that point as well.  The final scene in the restaurant when you kill the bandit leader, and you see how destroyed Ellie is by the fact that she is fighting for her life against a monster that wanted to kill and cut her up into parts to be eaten by the bandit group.  All of the ugliness of her situation, along with her inner desperation at what she faces, comes to a head at that point.  She keeps on striking and striking the man with a machete, crying the whole time.  When Joel pulls her off him, she sobs in his arms.  That scene was beyond powerful.  It was downright heart-breaking to watch.

The second scene that has stuck with me the most is (for real, if you haven’t finished the campaign, stop reading, right now.  Don’t let me spoil this.  You have to see this for yourself) when Joel and Ellie finally reach their destination.  Joel is confronted with the fact that the cure that Ellie has in her body can’t be made into a cure in a large-scale without killing her.  Now, Ellie has become the thing that makes his life worth living.  You have seen how broken and alone Joel has become since the death of his daughter.  You see him being given his reason to live back, and now he is faced with it being taken away and there is nothing he can do about it.  That is, if he wants a cure for humanity.  Without even a second thought, Joel kills the guard who is leading him out, then goes on a rampage, killing all the rest of the guards, to get the only person on Earth who matters to him back.  Now, I don’t know if you could have just taken Ellie when you got to the surgical wing, but I didn’t tempt fate.  I killed all the surgeons in there.  Blew away the first one with El Diablo.  Took out my small semi-automatic pistol and blew away the second.  The third is crying on the floor, but you get so caught up in how desperate Joel is, I killed her too.  She is on the ground, saying you are a monster when I shot her the first time.  I finished her off.  No reason to make her suffer.

But the thing that has stuck with me is after that.  Joel picks up the tiny body of his young companion on the operating table, hauling her out as fast as he can.  He gets to the base of the elevator and is greeted by the woman who paired them up.  She gave him this job.  She tells him that this is how it has to be.  She can save so many.  And what future is there for her if she doesn’t?  The future is vile, ugly and filled with pain.  What kind of life can this little girl expect?  She puts that to Joel, and you can see that he is wrestling with it.  But, in the end, he decides to kill the woman and take Ellie back to where his brother lives.

As they are are arriving, Joel is confronted by Ellie.  He told her a massive lie to get her to not question going back.  She is a smart kid.  She confronts this man who means everything to her about the fact that life has been nothing but death and pain, leaving her to wonder when her turn is coming.  Then she tells you to do something.

“Swear to me that everything you told me is true.”  Without missing a beat, Joel says that he swears.  He made his peace with what is happening.  Then, comes the single-greatest moment in the game.  You can see on her face that she knows he’s lying.  But, in the end, it is easier for her to be with the person she cares about and accept ignorance than to fight against it.  If that doesn’t make you think, especially about what you would do in her or his place, then there is something wrong with you.

I am not against Joel’s decision to take her away.  After all, humanity is already dead.  He chooses to fight for the friendships and the love he has, rather than embrace a hope that means nothing at this point, because without her, he has nothing.  They have taken care of each other.  They are all each other has, and it has made his life worth living.  The dedication it takes to fight and kill people you called allies in order to save the life of someone you love must be respected.  Similarly, I see where Ellie is coming from.

Let’s all admit that we embrace ignorance when it makes life better.  There isn’t a human relationship that doesn’t do this.  Romantic, family, you name it.  We all do it, and we all try and make it sound like it is noble.  It’s not noble, it is just better, for us.  I’m not hating on this, but I do recognize this.

This is a game that has stuck with me.  I am still thinking about it.  The scene when I walked in to the operating room and then saw all three surgeons look up in fear.  It literally was a reflex at that point.  I didn’t test and see if I didn’t have to kill them to take her.  I just blasted the first, then the second and finally the third.  Because this game connected with me.  I wanted to see Joel end up okay.  I wanted to see these two find some resolution.  And that is why this game is great.  That’s life.  We all want there to be some catharsis to it all.  We all want everything to mean something, because without that meaning, what do we have?  In a way, we are all Joel and Ellie, trying to get through life.

And that is my nerdlove for the weekend.  For all those who read this, I hope you enjoyed this game as much as I have.

Until next time, a quote,

“You’re gonna go in there?!” -Ellie
“I just wanna know what we’re gonna find.” -Joel
“You’re gonna find my body when I die from a heart attack.” -Ellie, The Last of Us

Peace out,

Maverick