Comparison: The Meta Boss

The Toxic Wasteland

If you’ve read my blog …or whatever this is, you probably already know that I like to play single player games.  I’m not a competitive person.  Or…rather I should say, I hate comparing myself to other people.  It always ends up being a bunch of self-deprecating madness.  But…every time I am playing a game that has stats I open it up and check on it often.  Why do I do that?  Why is that so important?  Am I insecure?  What the world is going on and why, why does this have to be a thing?  Today, I’m going to look into that.  I’m Elise.  This is Game Praisers Deep Dive.

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Instagram is a deadly place.  As an artist, it can be extremely inspiring.  It can also be one of the absolute worst things to look at before heading into a new project.  There have been many times where I just feel totally horrible after just having improved the night before, because I decided it would be a good idea to look at some “inspirational” pictures.  That was not a good idea.

But, these pictures can inspire me.  I know they can because they have.  This is a competition.  And you know what makes it harder?  In games, it’s worse.  In video games I can look at the scoreboard and say, “Wow, I am just bringing my whole team down.”  If I look at the top player on my team, I don’t receive inspiration.  I don’t look at an amazing kill-death ratio / KDR, or as I feel many games see it now, kill-death-assists / KDA and feel inspired.  Maybe I can see inspiration when I watch professional games like ESL or Homestory Cup in Starcraft 2.  Yeah, I can, but never can I look at the people I am directly competing against and feel inspiration.  I have never, unless I personally know that player, ever gained some sort of encouragement by looking at another top player even if they’re on my side.

When we compare ourselves to others, it is usually us on the lower end of the comparison.  We’re the ones who are insufficient.1  And in the case of video games, it doesn’t matter if they’re on our side or not, these carriers are evidence that we are a weak link.  And although it has happened before, you don’t hear a lot of encouragement from your teammates when you’re not doing well.  Few competitive environments are more toxic than the video game ones.  I once played a game against medium difficulty bots in League of Legends because I wanted to see a character’s animations without going to a blurry Youtube video.  Someone was absolutely furious that someone else was in the same lane as them.  They started feeding the enemy team and then half way through the match they left.  This was a bot game.  It wasn’t even on the hardest difficulty of bots.  This is an example of the kind of people we deal with.

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But I never feel that in Guild Wars 2.  When I see someone with amazing equipment I never think, “Gosh, I wish I was as diligent and focused as that player.”  Maybe to a small extent, but never to an effect.  Nowadays it would be more like I wish I had time, which is a whole different problem.  There they are though, walking around with all their cool gear.   Guild Wars 2 is a social game, and it’s been shown that spending time on social networking things tends to make people more depressed.2  Except… there is a context we’re missing here.  Guild Wars 2 does not place me in competition, especially concerning that most of it is PvE for me.  Social networking does.  By the nature of what I do, what I like, who I choose to hang out with, they all point towards things similar to me.  So of course I’m going to end up with other artists on Instagram.  Of course I will end up with other people who play games on Facebook until I purged it of every acquaintance and false friend.  And of course there is the whole entirety of women, including women characters, that make me feel in competition with being attractive.  I don’t think I need to tell you that it does not help.3  That’s the whole point.  And when it comes down to performing well in the context of others… that’s the whole point of competitive gaming.

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It’s very difficult to pinpoint this because it’s such a specific social thing.  There aren’t that many studies that directly correlate to this.  I found a thesis on it, and while it has some nice insights, it’s just one study.  The writers themselves have noted that it is possible, and needs looking into, that playing PvP/competitive games can detract from the positive social aspects of video games.4   Self-determination theory claims that humans need a feeling of competence, autonomy, and relatedness.5  These are underlying things that help increase self-esteem and more so, motivation.  Random and unprompted positive feedback helps people feel competent and motivates them to work hard.  Relatedness as well.  Both things that are…lacking in the environment of competitive video gaming.  

Personally, I believe that to combat this we need self control and self esteem.  Self control to understand our needs concerning our games that we play.  Don’t play a competitive game to blow off steam if you know it’s going to make you upset.  Some people can play competitive games to calm down, but be sure that you are one of those people if you’re going to do it.  Think about what games would best fit for however you’re feeling.  My experience with video games has gotten a little better since I’ve tried to adjust myself to playing what would be best in the moment.  Sometimes it’s just whatever I feel like.  Gatekeeping myself from playing something else because I have to finish another game has almost always resulted in a less than optimal experience.  Though admittedly it’s not super bad, it is sometimes significant which affects how I feel about a game.  This is something I do not want just because I made myself more depressed or something.   

Then there is self esteem, which is a difficult thing for me.  I’m still working on this, and will likely be working on this my whole life.  Learning to be okay where we are as we try to improve is a big thing.  Sometimes it’s okay to not perform well some days.  What is important is that we are willing and trying to improve.  We can be happy with where we are now without compromising who we are trying to become.  But…easier said than done, right?

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So why do players still seek it out?  When Battlefield 2042 was released with a limited scoreboard people kept requesting and asking for a full scoreboard it until it finally was added, and it ended up being an announcement on many gaming sites.7, 8, 9, 10  And IGN’s subheader is literally a reference to what I’m talking about, saying, “Finally, proof my K/D ratio is trash.”11  While it is a joke, it is still frustrating to come back at the end of a long work day to play Valorant or something and then get frustrated not only because you feel like you’re letting down your team, but also because they’re yelling at you.  

For me, the extent was that I sought out these games because it could fulfill that feeling of competency and possibly even camaraderie.  It could, and when it did, it felt great.  Of course it felt great when I turned to Battlefield V after a long day and I was one of the top players on my team.  But these methods are reliant on volatile results and variables that may be outside our control.  They depend on whether or not you win, which in a team game, is very dangerous.  It could depend on either side’s attitude.  It depends on your performance, and that alone could be dangerous.  It could feel self-deprecating to see yourself not performing well.  And that one is possibly even more dangerous, because it is applicable to single player games.  And most importantly, it’s applicable to life.  If how we feel about ourselves and whether or not we’re happy with ourselves is dependent on performances, it could be a dreadful life.  

Comparison fulfills something in us, but it’s also something that is very easily out of our control.  Sometimes we just don’t do well.  Sometimes we make mistakes.  That is life.  This is not to say we shouldn’t try at all, or we shouldn’t be happy when we do well, but we cannot tie our intrinsic feeling of self worth because someone else performed well enough not only to destroy us on a bad day, but also teabag us after they did so.

Thanks for reading, stay safe, and I hope to see you again here at Game Praisers.

Elise

Citations:

  1. Gerber, J. P., Wheeler, L., & Suls, J. (2018). A social comparison theory meta-analysis 60+ years on. Psychological Bulletin, 144(2), 177–197. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000127
  2. Sunkyung Yoon, Mary Kleinman, Jessica Mertz, Michael Brannick, Is social network site usage related to depression? A meta-analysis of Facebook–depression relations, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 248, 2019, Pages 65-72, ISSN 0165-0327,  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.01.026.(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032718321700)
  3. Jacqueline V. Hogue, Jennifer S. Mills, The effects of active social media engagement with peers on body image in young women, Body Image, Volume 28, 2019, Pages 1-5, ISSN 1740-1445, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.11.002.(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S174014451730517X)
  4. Zhao, F. (2022). The role of social video game play and relatedness in players’ well-being [Master’s thesis]. University of Oxford.
  5. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory. Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness.
  6. Vallerand, Robert & Reid, Greg. (1984). On the Causal Effects of Perceived Competence on Intrinsic Motivation: A Test of Cognitive Evaluation Theory. Journal of Sport Psychology. 6. 94-102. 10.1123/jsp.6.1.94. 
  7. https://www.polygon.com/22891186/battlefield-2042-scoreboard-patch-update
  8. https://www.gamespot.com/articles/battlefield-2042-is-finally-adding-new-scoreboard-see-it-here/1100-6499759/
  9. https://www.thegamer.com/battlefield-2042-scoreboard-update-live/
  10. https://www.pcgamer.com/battlefield-2042-new-scoreboard/
  11. https://www.ign.com/articles/battlefield-2042-update-scoreboard

Top 25 Pieces of Media of 2022

This is taken from another writing thing that I do, so it’s copy-pasted, but it should still be relevant.

Hey everyone!  This is an EXTREMELY LONG post that contains the Top 25 pieces of media I’ve consumed this year (there is a TLDR at the bottom). This is anything that I’ve finished or finished consuming within the year 2022.  This includes movies, music, tv shows, books, and any other thing that…I will consider media.  Things that were released in 2022 are marked with an *.  Other markers such as seasonal markers for TV shows like (1) are still used here.  For convenience I am not going to bother with the archiving/ULTRA format concerning languages for most of them because I’m lazy.

 I’ve also been asked if I get any money for advertising games and stuff.  I don’t.  I just want you guys to be able to have access to them.  I’m not listing all the accessibilities.  These are just off the top of my head, so keep in mind there may be other ways to access the given media.  Alright.  Let’s start with some honorable mentions:

Game: Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons:*

I don’t know why but I wasn’t super impressed with End of Dragons.  I still love Guild Wars, and it’s still great, but something about End of Dragons just felt very off.  It probably doesn’t help that it was developed during Covid’s biggest damage.  The most impressive thing though are the new subclasses from this expansion.  They’ve all been great.  The base game is on PC for free.

Film: The Bad Guys*

A delightful movie that came from a book that I had no idea about.  The film is very cute and well done.  Definitely worth a watch.  I think it’s still on Netflix.

Film: The Black Phone*

A very good horror film that feels good.  I mean, it feels like the crew really cared about this film.  It’s different and the actors do a very good job.  It’s a weird idea, but it is executed well.  I’m not going to say much about the contents, I suggest going for it and just watching it.  It’s good.

Anime: Lupin the Third (1)

The first season of such an old anime.  It’s definitely old, because it’s got racist stuff, but it’s also interesting to see how much anime has changed, as well as how much this anime still stands.  It’s still really funny, and the characters are still great.  It’s just crazy to see how things have changed socially since then.  Also goes to show that just ‘cause something’s old doesn’t mean it is bad.

Game: Path of Exile and Genshin Impact

I will never stop playing these and Path of Exile 2 (when it releases) until I evaporate.

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Now for the actual Top 25.

#25.  (Song) 轉圈圈 – Crispy 脆樂團

The second this song hits, it’s like a chef’s kiss.  It still has that delicious feeling of city pop that I grew up with, and the theme of going in circles was a huge thing for me with me and my vices.  This year has been all about breaking the vicious cycles that I’ve been through, and listening to this song at the beginning of the year was like a final wave goodbye as I started a new character arc in life.  Also the music video of the woman doing the hula hoop in various places doing nothing but staring at the screen for some reason always gets me.

#24 (Game) Going Under

I did not know that this random rogue-lite satire about the working industry was going to hit this hard.  The game pokes at all the stupid stuff that offices and typical workplaces have flowed into.  Artistically this game is extreme graphic design, also in the way that it pokes at graphic design.  The humor is very good and I feel like pretty much all the satire hits all the right notes.  Camera and combat are a tad janky, but you get used to it.  You can pick up nearly everything in the rooms and use them as weapons, with puns related to office objects and other stuff.  There’s an entire dungeon that is about stock and bitcoin.  Soundtrack is a bop too. Get it on Steam.

#23 (Anime(?)) The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System

I know people will try to say donghua, but no, I’m going to call it anime.  This is a 3D anime about a guy that is making fun of how dumb a web novel is, only to be reborn as the villain of the novel.  Since he knows he’s gonna get it at the end, he has to try and maneuver his way out of a bad ending, but the meta system prevents him from straight up being good, since he’s supposed to be a villain.  He has to play the system in this ridiculous and funny anime.  The budget for this is very low, so expect the animations to be… well, not high-budgeted.  We’re hoping for a second season that has a better budget, but it’s hard to survive in China as media.  Ugh.  It was on YouTube, I’m not sure where to watch it now.  It might still be there?  It is on Prime, but not if you’re in the USA.  =_=

#22 (Game) Assassin’s Creed: Origins

I played through all the Assassin’s Creed games up to Origins so far.  And finally.  Finally Ubisoft made an Assassin’s Creed game that was just…good.  Ironically, it’s higher up than Going Under, but it didn’t get on my top 12.  There are still huge chunks of it that still have that weird Ubisoft game feel that is slimy to me.  But they portrayed Egypt very, very well and the assassin Bayek is a really awesome character.  While I do like the more RPG-ish system, the way the different locations felt were all the same, even if they looked different.  For some reason the game just felt…so…the same the whole time even though the world was so big.  But still, it’s a beautiful world.  The expansions are very good as well.

You can play it on Uplay, Steam, and other major consoles excluding Switch.

#21 (Album) Further Joy, by the Regrettes*

The Regrettes’ songs are always so darn catchy.  They almost always have the f-word in it, which is a bummer.  But this album has like one third of the songs that don’t have it, and those are all REALLY GOOD.  Subtleties, La Di Da, Rosy, Step 9, and Nowhere are all just really really good.  Darn it.  

#20 (Book) Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? By Michael J. Sandel

I tend to read books that are sociology related, but here is one that is…never mind this can also count as sociology related.  This is a really darn good book that goes through what justice is like for different viewpoints.  I’m all for learning and listening for understanding and it’s very interesting seeing how my views correlate with parts of other things set by people like Kant, Aristotle, and more.  It’s a shame that students consider it just another GE book just for class, because it’s definitely worth keeping on the shelf.

#19 (Game)Final Fantasy VIII

SPOILERS

Final Fantasy does it again.  And by does it again I mean I couldn’t finish it again.  (I never actually finished III).  Games that require you to adopt a specific way of play in order to win really, really, really, turn me off.   Everything about this game is fantastic, except near the very end where if you weren’t playing the most “efficient” way of playing you’re …you’re gonna have a really hard time if you don’t cheese.  And that doesn’t stand with me.  It would be a lot higher on this list if it wasn’t for this.  

SPOILERS END

It’s on Steam now if you want to play it though.

#18 (Song) 光の方へ – Ayano Kaneko

A song about …well, it’s more thoughts to music.  All nostalgic.  You don’t really even need to understand the lyrics.  Just know that it’s nostalgic thoughts.  This takes me back to driving in the parts of Asia you don’t usually see.  The rice fields.  The small roads with the little tiny family owned breakfast place that has the friggin best sandwiches in the world.  Festivals. The rocky shores with only a few people wandering around.  The alleyways in East Asia that people walk on that all look the same.  If you know you know.  This song is that. This song is all those things and thoughts liquefied into song form.  Frick.  It’s good.  Also her voice is phenomenal.

#17 (Anime) Sailor Moon (1)

…I really loved Sailor Moon.  I said “I loved” because I felt pressured not to show that for obvious social reasons.  But as you can see from my name now, I don’t friggin’ care about that anymore.  I love Sailor Moon.  Yeah, it’s still a cheesy kids show but it hits all the teenage girl motifs that I totally missed out on in life.  Some things are crazily outdated, but it still ends up being a fun and extremely historic anime that should not be unknown.  Some of the villains would give kids nightmares though.  Goodness.

#16 (Film) Minari

What is with this year?  This film about a Korean family moving around and trying to get their hold in rural United States is painfully real.  The feeling of getting kicked down by the strange world and trying to operate in a way that lives in both worlds.  I always love films that don’t have conventional story movement, and this one is one of those.  If you’re an immigrant to the United States or have some history being in between two worlds, this is the film to watch.  Just again, be aware it’s not normal Hollywood.  It almost travels near the shallow ends of art house film.  Not sure where to watch this.  Obviously, digitally you can get it on Prime.  

#15 (Film) Turning Red*

Dang it, Elise.  Seriously?  Yes.  Another thing about being Asian.  I love this movie.  I admit the first time didn’t hit me as hard, but the second time I watched it it hit me hard.  I was bawling.  It gets so many things right about what it was like being Chinese in white North America.  Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, it was riddled with criticisms from all over the spectrum.  Doesn’t matter.  This film was good and I stand by it.  You can watch it through Disney+.

#14 (Album) PEP by Lights*

Another album with some f-words in it.  Sorry about that.  But Prodigal Daughter, Salt & Vinegar, Beside Myself and especially Money in the Bag are so DARN GOOD.  Lights has consistently been one of the best musicians I’ve listened to and while I am steering away from the increasing amount of bad worded songs, she still does an amazing job with…everything.  It helps that she’s not always singing about love.  Ever since her EP she’s been one of the singers on the playlists.  She was also my most listened to artist on Spotify this year.  

#13 (Anime) When They Cry / ひぐらしのなく頃に (1)

A violent anime about a town where people go crazy?  Sign me up!  At first it seems like a weird repeating trip of who dunnit and violent people, but the further it goes the more heart it has and you realize people…deal with stuff mentally.  There are a few arcs where it really highlights how painful it is to go through trauma without emotional support.  And while these are extreme cases heightened by the scenario given in the series, the pain is no less valid by those who go through it in real life.  There is a lot of child violence that is pretty visceral, so be aware of that if you’re going to go in.  For me, I feel a lot of heart in this anime because I feel so much empathy for what the characters go through and I wish better for them.  Well…most of them.  

#12 (Anime) Scissor Seven (1-3)

A Chinese anime that is kiiinda weird.  But in a really good way.  Although it starts out seemingly silly, it starts getting serious…er.  It’s still hilarious but the plot gets going.  As with most anime, I just love all the heart in it.  I mean, also it’s Chinese, and seeing Chinese media well received is so nice.  I just wish it came with even more understanding and acceptance in the community as well.  It’s done something though, so I can’t complain.  The animation is really awesome and well done while also being able to play off some great humor.  You can watch it on Netflix.  A film is also going to be released.  Cola.

#11 (Film) It’s a Wonderful Life

I just watched this film like a week ago and it’s really darn good.  It’s nothing like I thought it was going to be (I always dodged any info on it) and people said it was amazing so on a whim I watched it and I LOVE IT.  IT’S SO GOOD.  This really is such a good film and I’ll definitely stuff into the sack of what to watch for Christmas now.  Why didn’t I watch it sooner?  Why!?  Not sure I want to say anything about it because I love blindly walking in, but if you need to know it’s about a guy named George Bailey who is a hard working guy and crap keeps going on in his life.  Go watch it to learn what I mean by this.  I watched it on Amazon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up on other stuff during the holidays.

#10 (TV Show) Oni: Thunder God’s Tale*

I have no idea what genre to call this.  Some people call it anime but…I…I don’t know what it is.  Pseudo stop-motion animated thingy.  Anyway, it’s by Tonko House, so I already expected a lot, but holy crap this is really well done.  It’s a short four episode series that can be watched more like a long film if you want.  The voice actors did really well and the animation and story are just heart-melting.  It’s cute darn it.  It’s on Netflix.

#9: (Anime/Film) A Silent Voice

Death.  I mean, this film slaughtered my soul.  It’s hard to cram a whole series of trauma and life lessons into a film, and they tried here.  They did well.  If you’ve dealt with bullying, trauma, or disability, this is a good film to watch.  It might kick you in the guts though.  I was just weeping.  I missed out on some because it was all blurry and I couldn’t see but it was good.  It was good.  Films like this are good to help us take another perspective into what life is like for others and learn sympathy or empathy.  Oh, the story, right.  A young man who was a bully to a deaf girl ends up being outcast himself.  Later through his interactions with the girl, he learns to grow out of his trauma while she struggles with her deafness.  It’s very psychologically heavy.  It was on Netflix last I saw. 

#8 (Film) Nobody

Bob Odenkirk is a bada** and awesome in this film.  Enough said.  But seriously, for a film all about action and fun craziness, it’s still really well done as a film.  That only adds to how fricking fun this film is.  I think it’s on HBOMax right now.

#7 (Game) Prey

Arkane Studios is such a darn good studio.  They made the Dishonored series, and while this isn’t as good as Dishonored, it’s still really, really well done.  They’re so good at writing about a world.  It’s a horror game that is more actiony, but definitely still has some good scares.  Arkane once again writes an amazing world where it questions what it means to be good, but now with a sci-fi setting.  I accidentally almost 100%ed the game.  Yes.  Accidentally.  That’s how good it is.

#6 (Film) The Batman*

I was super hyped for this, and I was not disappointed.  Other than the fact that I had to go the bathroom for like two hours in the theater, this film was very well done.  Batman is always a great hero because he tends to be pretty human, even if he is rich, but in this one I think it probably is one of the most vulnerable showings of what Batman and his identity is.  Everything feels real and gloomy.  We may not live in a world of superheroes and supervillains, but the commentary of what this film says about life shows that people can definitely act like either one.

#5 (Film) All Quiet on the Western Front*

Uhm…this is a really good film.  You likely know the classic World War I story about the innocence of young boys strangled out by war.  This film is brutal, intense, and extremely well executed.  Another film that shows us just how sad and messed up war is while remembering what it is like to be human.  It’s on Netflix.

#4 (TV Show) Reservation Dogs (1)

A comedy-drama show about life on the Native American reservation.  The pacing is great, and it has a setting that isn’t visited enough.  I mean, mostly because this show is super well executed.  It’s super hilarious and really touching, but it also has a TON of f-words.  All over the place.  Frick.  It’s on Hulu.

#3 (TV Show) Better Call Saul (1-3)

Man, I’m not even done with this series.  It’s so darn good.  Who would’ve thought that a spin off could be so darn solid as its own series?  It’s less unnecessarily boob-swinging and inappropriate as it’s main show Breaking Bad, and it’s shot and written in a way that just shows what it’s like to make a masterpiece.  Definitely worth watching.  I’m not even done, so it’s probably going to show up on Top 25 Media of 2023 with the rest of the seasons.  Ha!  It’s on Netflix right now.

#2 (Anime/Film) Whisper of the Heart

Am I cheating here?  Yes.  Totally.  This film was already on the Top 12, but was re-reviewed.  I totally thought I was overrating this.  But I watched it again and I was beaten to death.  Yeah, I’m totally cheating by putting this on here again.  I just love it so much.  A very heartfelt and cute coming of age film about two youngsters finding out who they are to themselves.  It’s very…normal.  It feels like us trying to reach for nostalgia in a world that doesn’t exist and failing.  It feels like that as a film.  Yeah, I cried.  Heh, no surprise.

#1 (Game) Kentucky Route Zero

THIS. FRIGGIN. MASTERPIECE.  This is an audio/visual novel masterpiece that rocked me.  I can’t.  It’s so darn good.  This Americana fantasy realism adventure is so good.  Sometimes I am just speechless.  Ugh, I remember looking at this game and thinking, what the crap is so good that critics are saying about this weird lookin’ game?  

No.  I was wrong.  It’s so so so so soooo good.  Treat it like an experience, because that’s kinda what it is.  Sometimes the sound design is like wow.  I am…living a book right now.  It hits all the weird spiritual, ethereal notes that I love about Americana that I loved in Over the Garden Wall.  Its tone is much more serious and heavy, but man it’s so good.  The fantasy parts don’t even matter that it’s fantasy because it might as well be real.  All the experiences that we have in them might as well be real.  As you travel and learn more about the mysterious Route Zero, you’ll find yourself in head spaces that make you think and feel what it’s like to be in between spaces and existence.  I don’t know how to explain it.  Actually I do, I’m writing a review for it that will be more in depth.  However, it will have spoilers, and I definitely don’t want to spoil this for you.  Even if you’re not someone who plays games, this is a classic adventure game that will not rely on your gaming skills.  It’s simply an experience.  And it’s a darn good one. The writing is fantastic.  Just fantastic.  Okay, I’m done.  It’s good.  

It’s very…art house.  So I’m sorry if you play it and it just doesn’t connect well.  But I’m going to stand by this and say Kentucky Route Zero was easily the best piece of media I consumed this year.  It landed on #9 on the ULTRA.  It’s on Steam.

Thanks for reading all this.  Tell me some of your favorite media below!  I would love to hear from you and your recommendations!  And if you wanted a TLDR, here’s the list below:

  1. Kentucky Route Zero
  2. Whisper of the Heart
  3. Better Call Saul (1, 2)
  4. Reservation Dogs (1)
  5. All Quiet on the Western Front
  6. The Batman
  7. Prey
  8. Nobody
  9. A Silent Voice
  10. Oni: Thundergod’s Tale (1)
  11. It’s a Wonderful Life
  12. Scissor Seven
  13. Higurashi
  14. PEP, by lights
  15. Turning Red
  16. Minari
  17. Sailor Moon (1)
  18. 光の方へ – Ayano Kaneko
  19. Final Fantasy VIII
  20. Justice
  21. Further Joy, by The Regrettes
  22. Assassin’s Creed: Origins
  23. Scumbag
  24. Going Under
  25. 轉圈圈 – Crispy 脆樂團

Honorable Mentions:

  • Lupin III (1)
  • The Bad Guys
  • Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons
  • The Black Phone
  • Genshin Impact and Path of Exile

The Apex of the Classroom

“Just” a demo

In a high school classroom, there sits a bunch of students.  This is a computer room.  This is an idle time for some of the students who have finished early.  Some of them start the 3D pinball game that used to be available on Windows back then.  It’s normal.  The teacher doesn’t care.  But then one of them starts a game that is also already on the computer, and the teacher gets up to try and stop them.

It’s the demo for Halo: Combat Evolved.

One of the cool things about radical or restricted parts of society is how it evolves.  Just like in evolutionary biology, isolated groups can result in very interesting cultures.  We can think of how the Hardy-Weinberg Principle of population genetics being broken can affect the way cultures evolve and grow.  I think one of the difficult things about that now is that games take place in the virtual internet and chats.  Although it is far more difficult for this to happen, evolution in the folk tales of gamers can still happen.  It’s just that in a more radical situation like a classroom, it evolves in a crazier way.

These days things can blow up really easily.  We have social media and ease of access to thank for that.  But in an isolated setting, even if temporary like a classroom, new cultures coming in have to adapt.  The culture specifically being boredom in the classroom. We see isolated cultures have pretty big effects such as being in the military, being a monk in a monastery, or in a creepy cult that is practicing suspicious activities.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of speech and slang, but other times it becomes weird actions and hideaways.  That’s what Halo was.  

You’d see people gathering at the computer rooms to play Halo during lunchtime.  I don’t know what it’s like now, but back then most classrooms didn’t have computers in them.  During that time the teachers really didn’t care, because they wanted to eat lunch.  Some of them did, because the game exhibited violence.  Remember this was the 2000s, people were more worried about that back then.  But most of the time the teachers were okay and so there they were.  Sometimes the teacher would play with them.

But here’s the thing, the people playing, they weren’t playing because they were gamers.  No, they were playing because there were only a few other options worth going for.  Minesweeper, which some people didn’t want to learn how to understand, and the 3D pinball game.  So…the third option was Halo.  Yes, I know there was solitaire, freecell, and some others, but only the teachers seemed to play those.  Back then not everyone had phones, and the internet was being watched over so most websites like MySpace were blocked.  

You want to know the best part?  The teacher that came over to turn off the game then tried to find a way to remove it off the computer.  Tried being the keyword.  Computers were still a new concept to people, and they didn’t know how to get rid of it.  And even if they could, it didn’t matter.  The game was a demo, and demos are free.  It would pop up again.  It was unstoppable and insatiable.  It was going to be there whether you liked it or not. In this case, games, uh, find a way.  

I personally don’t feel like it was any harm.  Most of the time the students playing were doing so at lunch or after they were done with their work.  I just find it so interesting that they would eke out this existence every time.  It was consistent.  The computers of classrooms with unrelated subjects had the game on it.  Every. Single. Time.  Like in biology, it was selected for.  The competition was removed.  Other games have tried popping up to no avail.  Finding workarounds to visit flash game websites were uncommon, although I did find a way to do that.  It was just this silly demo of a sci-fi game that was strong and able enough to stay the course.

I think a lot of the evolution in the folklore of video games is usually pretty negative.  I attribute this to the fact that most video game stuff that goes to mainstream news are the ones that involve the outliers and scary people that do horrible things concerning video games.  Either that or video games cause violence…again.  But little bits like this Halo or people donating money for someone to get a stranger a new gaming computer.  I see no rules being broken, just people trying to have some fun.  Stories of the few or the generous, that is like sweet, delicious honey to my soul.  

I hope that the holidays are treating you well, and that we can remember how grateful we are to even be able to play the things we can now.  Thanks video games, and thank you to all of you who read this who are like that sweet honey, bringing joy through video games.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see you next time.

Elise

I’m Concerned for You VR

Do you want me to leave the door open or closed?

I’ve been thinking about this over the past year.  I’ve always been a bit concerned about VR.  Initially, I didn’t like VR.  I mean, the concept I absolutely love.  It’s a very typical gaming dream, but there are always a few things that always make me reconsider what VR is like for everyone.

I was always worried because I wear glasses, but that concern was easily thrown out the window since many devices’ official releases.  I’m not too worried about that now.  I was also worried about feeling sick from the movement, but that’s also a lesser concern now for me.  However, that’s not always a small concern for everyone else.  Some people will not be able to get over it very easily, and moreover some people may not even be able to control that.  It’s like how some people feel sick on airplanes or boats.  I don’t blame them for how their body reacts to such things.  I think that may be an oft forgotten concern that really does affect a few people.


The two biggest concerns I have though are the ones that are definitely more of an effect on people as a whole.  

The first thing is just plain access to VR.  I’ve seen VR arcades and shops that are entirely set up for VR.  It’s that expensive and unwieldy.  It’s like how most people in the world don’t build roller coasters in the backyard.  It’s something we pay to have someone host that.  And the fact that we can have that for VR is telling.  However, the same can be said for arcades, but that is a symptom of how gaming was in the retro days.  It’s very possible that the VRcades…if that is what we’re calling them, are for a similar reason, but I can’t help but think it’s also because it’s just plain expensive.  Most VR headsets also require a good computer to play them, and that’s not necessarily as accessible, or perhaps even realized by those who purchase it.  Thanks to alternatives though, like PSVR, it should be easier for some.  

Safety is a part of this concern as well, as that is access that is not easy to create.  Unless you’re willing to move some furniture every time, having a safe space to play VR could be annoying.  If you don’t live in a large house and live in a dense city area in places like Taiwan or Japan where the rooms are not big, VR can be troubling.  It’s similar to how when the Xbox Kinect came out, it was a hassle to play in a small room.  The same can be said for Wiimotes, but with VR you literally can’t see where you are in the room so that is even more dangerous. 

I feel like these can be financial blocks for some people.  Blocks that are not easily affordable.  We can’t just knock down some walls and say we can use VR now.  (Well, I guess we could but that’s a whole different thing going on there.)  And some places like New York City or a tiny flat in England just aren’t fit for good VR.  There better be pillows and stuff all around because with my luck I will fall on like, the sharp edge of a table.  Ouch.


The second and even greater concern I’ve had for VR ever since its inception is physical accessibility.  I’ve already talked about motion sickness.  That belongs in this category.  Other things like physical disabilities will make VR impossible for them.  We’ve already come a long way with things like the Xbox Adaptive Controller and groups like GameBlast that I’m very happy to see pointed out by gamers.  

With VR I feel like these are further steps away for those gamers to have to reach for.  It’s possible for a few cases for it to actually be easier for those with physical disabilities to use VR, but I’m sure there are a good amount that feel even more restricted.  Some games that are exclusive to VR are now out of reach for those players.   Imagine playing through Half-Life and then stopping at Half-Life: Alyx because of your physical disabilities.  That’s not fun.  Although there is a conversion mod for that, the reality is that the VR experience is just inaccessible for those gamers.


I’m not saying that we aren’t allowed to enjoy VR for those of us that can, but it’s just something that I think about for my friends that are limited in what they’re allowed to play.  It’s already difficult for me when I have friends that can’t play because motion sickness is a thing, even after we’ve adjusted the field of view and effects as much as we can.  It’s heartbreaking when something that may be even more severe like a disability further dampens their ability to enjoy things like games.  I’m always grateful to see things like colorblind correction, subtitles, and even things like Bayonetta’s family friendly mode to make sure that we’re allowed to play what we want when we want.  I just feel like VR is going to be an even tougher mountain to climb for those who already cannot.

I’m extremely grateful that we can enjoy video games.  If I really do enjoy games as much as I say I do, I feel it is only right for me to want that joy to be passed on to as many people as possible.  

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see you next time.

Elise

Why I Love: Resident Evil 4

Conquer the darkness

Okay, I think for most people who play horror games, Resident Evil 4 is not really that scary.  But it’s scary enough to be called a horror game.  I think some people consider Bioshock to be a horror game, but I wasn’t ever really scared in that for some reason.  …maybe.

I get really scared in games.  Super easily scared.  (I know, Bioshock does have some scary moments.)  But like, this is how scared I was: I couldn’t get past, like, the first few cabin areas at the literal start of the game.  I think the biggest problem for me in horror games is anticipation.  I always think it’s going to be way scarier than it’s actually going to be.  My imagination goes wild and it’s never even close to what the actual scary thing is.  But that’s good.  I like games that create an environment that really scares me.

What really brings it up technically are two things which I was totally not expecting:

Inventory Management

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this made me really grateful for inventory management.  I’ve already played things like the Deus Ex series that has this, but for some reason Resident Evil 4 really helped me realize how much I do enjoy resource management.  I do like not having enough ammo at times.  Making difficult decisions with what I have in the inventory turned out to be really fun!  It makes it feel rewarding and risky, and for some reason I never really recognized that.  I probably felt it in Deus Ex, but I only realized it for what it was here, and looking at the time this game was released, it probably was the same for others as well.

Oh wait, I played Resident Evil 1.   And that was a nightmare.  Pun intended.

For me, it was Resident Evil 4.  It feels rewarding when I save something for later and it turns out to be useful, and it feels like there are consequences if I hoard and it turns out to be detrimental.  I like it.   Resident Evil 1 was a little too punishing in inventory management for me.

Gunplay

This is probably…the best third person gunplay I’ve had.  It feels so good.  It really feels like I’m aiming the gun.  I mean, obviously that’s what we do in shooting games, but it feels so natural here.  When I initially saw it for what it was, again I was really doubtful.  I was like, “This is not going to be great.”  But…every time I had an encounter and I had to shoot, it was fun.  Um…it’s really…it.  That’s it.  

———————

For me, this was also a turning point where horror games changed.  I became more willing to play them.  Which is good, because there are so many horror games that I want to play for the story, but still want to experience the original form of the game.  It’s because of Resident Evil 4 that I played Alan Wake, and then continued on with other horror games.  

Emotionally I really like Resident Evil 4 because I love the characters in it.  I love that Leon doesn’t really care about people being flirty or romantic with him.  He just brushes it off.  I really like that a lot.  I hate forced romance or obvious push for romance.  I like that allied NPCs don’t feel stupid.  And it’s interesting that the graphics still somehow hold up today. Which is kind of weird.

These things in Resident Evil 4 are present in other games, but I think the little nuances of a lot of eastern style approach to storytelling, character design, and enemy design really attract me.  I admit it.  This isn’t to say that western versions of the same are bad, they’re just different, and for the most part each does not have entire exclusivity. Again, there’s some cheesiness in all games, but there’s something both endearing and paradoxically profound about the way it is done in Resident Evil 4.  Most of the people throw it off as only cheesiness and maybe even cringiness.  I don’t know, because my approach to media is different.  I don’t see things like anime as cringy (I mean, unless it’s legitimate like, cringe).  I think it’s partially the culture I grew up in, but it’s also just…I don’t know.  I honestly haven’t found why this happens or where it comes from.

I think part of it is my whole view of treating these worlds and characters with a certain reality and respect.  I see them as people, even if their worlds have some cheese in it or are super fantastical, and they’re still people and worlds with backgrounds unbeknownst to me.  There will be bad parts and characters, this we know for sure, but for the most part I want to respect the strangers I meet here.  It’s more likely that I’m a guest in their world that doesn’t know enough, than for me to be arrogant to judge them with a personal ideal.

I wanted to see what I would write for a Why l Love for a game that has a greater emotional tie, and I don’t know if it was any good.  Heh.  But I would like to thank you for reading.  
Thanks for your support!  I hope you’re having a wonderful spooky season.  Stay safe, but don’t forget to enjoy the wonderful mise-en-scène of Halloween!

Elise

Yes. I’m totally going to get the remake.

The Restricted Audience

Ratings for you, not the game

I think it’s easy to forget how restricted rating systems in games work.  In North America we tend to see the Entertainment Software Rating Board / ESRB ratings.  And in Europe you tend to see Pan-European Game Information / PEGI ratings.  In Japan it’s the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization / CERO.  I’m not going to list all of the audience ratings, but those are the three most common ones around me.

And I did say audience ratings.  I think people misunderstand that the ratings are not necessarily about dangerous content.  It’s about content that is dangerous if handled immaturely.  Nearly every single type of restricted content in video games is dangerous if approached incorrectly.  We’re saying rated M for mature audiences, because if you are playing this content you should be mature about it.  

Foul language is something that most people speak, but it’s a matter of when we say it and when it’s appropriate.  If you stub your toe and swear, alright.  But if you’re in a church or in an interview maybe don’t swear outright.  For this one, it’s about reading the context, but that requires some amount of maturity. 

Every time we move further down the list with things like gambling, violence, nudity, and discrimination, each subject must be approached with maturity.  And the truth is that most people who play mature rated or PEGI 18 games aren’t really that mature.  I’ve gotten the response that it’s about whether or not you can “handle” that amount of violence.  I don’t think it’s about “handling” violence.  It’s about how we approach, treat, and respect the events.  People are not mature for watching ultra violence or looking at sexual content, especially if they give the same immature approach to similar situations in real life.  

One thing I found very interesting is that the PEGI ratings have “Discrimination” as one of the factors and it’s noted as a PEGI 18 rating.  I think ethics are something very important in video games.  I mean, we’ve noted how a lot of character development is literally about growth and ethics, and people are not without them in real life.  Some people say that because it’s just a game you can just ignore everything, but that’s not true.  If that were true, trauma wouldn’t happen to people.  Trauma is when unexpected events shatter paradigms and the securities of someone’s life.  You can’t just undo an experience.  Unless there is some sort of brain damage or memory loss involved, what you experience, watch, and play in video games will affect you.  

This is not to deny the studies that people who play violent video games become violent, but it can still affect you if not taken maturely.  Again, it is whether or not you let that become an enabling factor.  Some people use video games as a way to let off steam.  To yell and have a safe place to trash talk and banter.  And that’s okay, because they’re using it as a way to ameliorate the stress and anger.  But I also know people who, when playing video games, become violent.  Most of the time they already are, but enabling them or enticing this kind of temperament is also not okay.

There are mature ways to approach sexual content, and all of them need to be approached maturely.  I don’t want rated M games to be like some sort of light to attract all the bug people who just want to objectify women.  I mean, unfortunately, there are games with that kind of approach in mind, and honestly I don’t find that for mature audiences at all when the whole set of creation is immature.  Perhaps, and this might be sharp to say but, there are some games that shouldn’t be played because the basis of the whole game is not conducive to proper behavior.  I’m not trying to be some sort of policing writer.  I’m just stating the reality that some things will affect people in a negative way and it’s not about being progressive or being “tough”, it’s about teaching people, not just kids, that some things need to be respected.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the same people who sexually harrassed me at school are the same people who play those games that disrespect women.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the people who say that video games don’t affect them are the same people bullying others.  We as the players are supposed to be mature about this all.  The people who know that the violence stays in the game.  The people who recognize that war and discrimination are real, terrible things.  The people that recognize that a character is a sex worker not because she is a bad person, but because she is having a hard time in life.  To learn this empathy, to learn this understanding, that’s what maturity is about.  

I’m not saying that we’re stiff and not having fun while shooting enemies and slicing baddies.  Rated M for Mature just means that when it gets down to it, we understand that we must treat these subjects with respect and understanding.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again soon.

Elise

A Raft Made of Backlogs

Lost in the dream sea

The backlog list is so big.  I love media, but this is getting ridiculous.   Disney announced a ton of stuff, and now a gigantic swathe of games just popped up for Nintendo, SEGA, and Sony.  There is also that pile of books I should read as well.  But is this…bad?

Sometimes I think back on my teenage years when getting more than one game a year was like a miracle.  If you look back on play time for games in my teens, those games had hundreds of hours in them, mostly because they were the only thing for that year.  There are more games than I could ever play in multiple lifetimes now.  

Moreover, I don’t think I ever would’ve thought I would be able to play through the series that I’ve dreamed of, but that has become a reality.  Since I like playing things in chronological release order, some of these games either never get released in English or fade away to time and become very difficult to obtain.  Now, I’ve been able to play through all the Final Fantasy’s up to VII, and games like Yakuza have been entirely ported to PC.  I’ve been able to go back and go through all the Kirby games and with Return to Dreamland’s remake I can fill that hole that was left behind because that game got real expensive real quick.  

This is…the dream.  I’m so grateful for where gaming has gone right now.  I mean, I can choose to be a strong female character in my games.  I can customize the crap out of them as well.  Free games show up so often I could play those and never worry about it all.  Not only is this a good time to be a gamer, it is a good time to be a gamer who grew up in the 90s and 2000s.  Being able to play the games I thought would be lost to me is very much a dream come true for me.

I know there are still things to hash out with the gaming community and how Nintendo games aren’t well preserved to be played again.  There will always be a few things here and there that go unaccomplished for now, but still.  Things are so wonderful now and I am very happy with the games being released. 

Are there any games that you were able to play that you thought you wouldn’t get to growing up?  Or games you feel like you missed out on due to the passage of time? I’m very content with the idea that I am lost in the sea now, because this raft of games that I’ve made was the dream cruise I was thinking of when I was younger. I am so grateful to be lost at sea on a raft made of backlogged games.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again.

Elise

There is No Status Quo

Glow in the dark

There are going to be a fair bit of spoilers for these titles: 
Parks and Recreation, the TV show: major spoilers
Super Mario RPG: Major spoilers
Marvel Cinematic Universe Infinity Saga: Major spoilers
Final Fantasy VIII: First 13 hours spoilers

Although I spoil things, I am still purposely very vague.  This doesn’t mean they aren’t spoilery though, so be warned.

Long article time!

Character development works in the same way that people develop.  Whether you like it or not, that’s how some of the best character development works.  And a more turbulent thing that is also true is that it is almost always cheesy.  It’s the cheesy stuff that are the real lessons in life.  When writing character development, it’s important to recognize how and when paradigm shifts in perspective happen.  And we can also, again, skeletonize it to cheesy things, but we’re going to keep it at a complicated level for the sake of showing the individuality of developments.


First I’m going to establish the basic point that my title has made.  There is no status quo.  Characters are like glow sticks, they won’t really shine until you break them.  In Parks and Recreation the character Andy has one of the best developments because the events that happen to him actually change and cause him to grow.  It’s very simple and logical stuff.  Most people know that, but actually having that implemented is a different thing.  He actually does change as his love for April grows.  He really does learn from his time at community college.  He really does start finding footing for where he feels comfortable in his place in society.  These things are actually happening to him and the show acts like it.  This doesn’t mean he can’t be the same goofy character, but it means that he will not return to the original goofy character before.  You cannot return to the status quo, else it seems like nothing significant happened at all.

This happens in all sorts of TV shows where things return completely to normal.  I’m not saying that this is bad, because it fits some shows very well that things always return to normal.  Sometimes these kinds of series will do major shifts to show that something has changed.  This can be something that happens at the end of a season or in preparation for a change of casting.  Super Mario RPG’s Mallow has an identity crisis because he thinks he is a frog.  I’m…pretty sure we all can recognize that he is totally not.  Some character developments happen in drastic shifts like this.  This happens in real life as well, so it makes sense.  

What’s interesting about Mallow’s shift is that he doesn’t really change much, except for his self-confidence, which was an issue for a while.  He doesn’t really mind that he thought he was a frog this whole time.  The big shift wasn’t the fact that he was having an identity crisis, but rather that he needed to come to terms with how he feels about himself.  These aren’t huge lines in the story by the way.  Mallow doesn’t always talk about this, but it feels significant enough.  


Here’s one that I have thought a lot about from the Infinity Saga in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically Thor.  Thor’s development is mostly about who he believes he is and his worthiness.  He goes through a lot of this and it develops on itself multiple times.  In Thor: Ragnarok, he really comes to terms with himself after his father’s “passing”.  Now normally this is it.  But after his failure to kill Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, he actually returns to what he was previously where he didn’t believe in himself.  This is not a return to the status quo.  This is usually only obtainable through story writing that is extended over time.  I think this is a rare opportunity to recognize how some people struggle to change over time.  He had such a big revelation in Thor: Ragnarok and now he is back to where he was before because of yet another shift.  This new development is no longer about coming to terms with himself, it is about the failure of doing so in a difficult time.  I love the writing of this because sometimes we have big life events happen to us and when it gets hard we do fall back down and we do struggle.


Lastly, Final Fantasy VIII.  Just to be clear, this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the different kinds of development.  Final Fantasy VIII just happens to be the final one on this list.  I love Final Fantasy to death, so maybe I’m a bit biased.  I haven’t finished VIII yet, so this is just what I know so far from the game.  I’ve played 13-ish hours.

Most of the game’s characters are teenagers, and I think it’s a very good opportunity to talk about the small world of the mind.  There are a lot of times where the main character, Squall, says some really angsty stuff.  Same with Rinoa.  There are tons of times where you could ask why the world they make the choices they make or how something they said was ridiculous or immature, but that’s just it.  They’re teenagers.  I think one of the more difficult parts of writing is not only understanding how much your character’s know, but also how much they can interpret.  When Squall is threatened by death he does the most teenager thing and runs away.  I’m not saying all teeangers do this, but it’s been established that he is an angsty teen, so what he is doing is in line with that.  He is so determined to not be something left in the past because someone he is close with may have died.

Having death hit you at such a young age affects you differently than if you were older.  This whole time Squall has set up a tough exterior, but it really breaks when he just runs.   His paradigm has shifted, and he has to come to terms with it.  This doesn’t fully absolve itself immediately though, which I like.  Rinoa also goes through a series of similar rash actions where she wants to try and suppress the evil Sorceress on her own.  This seems so foolish, but remember that her world consists of living in rebellion.  She has been fighting government oppression her whole life and her relationship with her father is not great.  This is what her world consists of: fighting back, no matter how small you feel.  When she fails to suppress the Sorceress, she nearly dies.  

Squall and Rinoa both argue over how serious these missions are taken.  This back and forth starts pretty early on.  Both Squall and Rinoa’s growth intertwine when Rinoa realizes just how dangerous all of this is and Squall feels what the fear of death is like in someone else as Rinoa literally clings to him.  This is further emphasized when he sees how scared Irvine is moments later.  Their small worlds grow larger with every shift.  He is changing how he feels about death, his mission, and what to do.  You see this in how he tells Irvine that it’s going to be okay, no matter the results.

Remember when I said Squall hated that idea of death?  Well, at this point some time later, he fights the Sorceress for the sake of the people and …dies.  Now hold on, this is where I’m at in the story.  So, very likely he’s not actually dead, but the action of this is significant, because now his paradigm has completely shifted.  He has voluntarily given his life for the sake of the people.  The world of his mind has grown.  He is no longer Squall as he was…however many hours ago in the game.  Unfortunately, for the sake of story he is likely still alive, so that status quo is probably still here.  I…I can’t say for sure.  I’m excited to see what happens next.

Not all teenagers and people will develop like this.  That’s fine.  But each has their own views and shifts.  Squall’s tough exterior has been well established by this point, but it is so fluid in his change over time.  His is not an immediate change, and that’s why I really like his development so far.  His “death” could also be just his desire to fulfill objectives for his organization, but he ran away last time.  He literally ran, and now he died.


Maybe I’m getting this all totally wrong.  I could totally, totally be getting all of this wrong.  But I’m still very happy with how they show the perspective of the small worlds Squall and Rinoa both live in.  It’s easiest to see these kinds of things in the main character who starts in humble beginnings, except it’s usually more literal in that the world they fight for gets bigger and bigger as you explore more places.  But for what I can see in Squall and Rinoa right now, is the change in the mind, and I really, really like that.  

Why is this so important to me?  I mean, other than good character development, this helps me recognize people’s perspectives and how they see the world.  To be less at conflict with others, I need to be more understanding of their perspectives and what their mind-world’s look like.  What I look like in their world.  

Things are not always black and white, and seeing character growth like this is a good way to better understand how some people might make bad decisions when they’re just trying to be good people.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time.
Elise

My Natural Attraction

No, I’m not talking about people.

I was thinking that with the ULTRA, I should be able to compile a list of what genres I tend to be attracted to.  After making an Excel sheet and messing around with stuff in there I created this table. 


Explanation from left to right: First Person Shooter (FPS), Third Person Shooter (TPS), Turn-based RPG (TBRPG), Turn-based Strategy (TBS), Real Time Strategy (RTS), Racing (RC), Action Adventure (AA), Classic Adventure (CA), Puzzle (PZ), Action RPG (ARPG), Platformer/Platforming (PLAT), MMORPG, Fighting (FG), Simulation (SIM), Survival (SURV), MOBA, Music (MUS), Metroidvania (VANIA).

Two notes:

  • I separated RPGs and Shooters in general to create large, chunked versions to compare those two genres because I knew they would be the highest numbers.  
  • And through this second, improved version (I had another excel sheet that was not as good), I was able to have games count as multiple genres.

The lowest count genres are Turn-Based Strategy, Real Time Strategy, MMORPGS, and music.  Even combining strategy genres, it still isn’t that much of a count.  I grew up in the era when strategy games were huge, and now, other than a couple of grand strategy games, it really has dwindled.  It’s being kept alive by things like Civilization, Total War, and maybe Age of Empires II and IV.  It’s really sad.  Starcraft and Starcraft II still live on for me though.  Very typically Asian of me.

MMORPGs are low count because it takes so long to invest in one to really recognize whether or not it’s a good MMO, so that would explain that.  I have played a ton of MMOs though, and let’s be honest the era of 2000s for MMOs were not that great.  It was ruled by like…World of Warcraft and Maplestory.  Most everything else was mediocre or way too filled with pay to win elements, which is what Maplestory has become now.

Unfortunately, Classic Adventure games are also low in count, but those have been some really great experiences, and I feel like they’re kind of niche even now.  Yet today there are some really good classic adventure releases that have dominated charts: games like Norco, Disco Elysium, and Kentucky Route Zero.  And I’ve only played one of those!

I was originally surprised by the amount of Fighting Games on there but then I realized half of them are probably Super Smash Bros.  Haha!  Puzzle games are also pretty low on the list, probably because I’m…not very good at them.  Oh wait, I realize I’m not good at fighting games or puzzle games, so that explains both!

I think Shooter games are so high on the list because I grew up with my brothers playing first person shooters a lot, so I’ve inherited a lot of that, and there are a lot of platforming games as well because I grew up with the SNES and the N64.  It also helps that those are the two genres I’m most proficient at, so of course I can enjoy them well.

RPGs are in such a large amount likely because of how emotional they tend to be.  They usually have good writing, or at least fun writing.  I also like games that tend to have political commentary on the sad state of things like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided or Path of Exile.  These games point out how grey the spectrum of human morality can be.  Sometimes there are no good choices and sometimes good people get caught up in bad things.  Some people really just want to be bad, but there are some people who just want to do good.  And some people in between, like in Baldur’s Gate or Mass Effect.  Oh darn it, I just chose two Bioware titles.  Okay, um, Guild Wars 2.   I love storylines that get caught up in the small nuances in life as well as the real and cheesy lessons.  I’ve stated before and I’ll say it again, the important lessons in life tend to be cheesy.  Games like Genshin Impact, Kentucky Route Zero, or Final Fantasy VI have these elements and help me reflect on myself.  

The final two reasons are very polar.  I like games that I have an emotional connection to.  I love Control, Perfect Dark, and Celeste.  I also love games that are extremely well designed.  Games like Dishonored 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Konquest, and Hollow Knight.  This isn’t to say I have no emotional connection to them, but a huge chunk of the enjoyment I received in addition to my personal experience was because of how well they were made.  The disparity between emotion and technical don’t negatively affect each other, but the objective difference is huge.  

Enough about me.  What genres do you lean towards?  And what are some examples from those genres that you really like?  Are there any games that helped you become a better person or helped you get through a difficult time in life?

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you find more games to put into your lists of favorites!

Elise

Note: My work will continue to be pretty intense so my posts will be scarce until about September 12th.  I will still try to post at least once a week, but we’ll see. 

Genshin Impact: 2 Years

Cultural Impact…for better or worse?

Warning: This is a bit rantish and raw.  

Wow.  It has already been two years since Genshin Impact was released.  Time flies, but life hasn’t been really fun.  Luckily, Genshin has been.

I’m just going to take this time to talk about a couple of things in my experiences of Genshin Impact.  

Point 1: The Mobile Game

Genshin Impact changed my view of the mobile game.  I think I became looser about how I feel about games that eat time and demand.  I’m still, like, super upset that things like dailies and stuff vie for my time, but underneath all that junk is a really good game.  And the more I think about it, the more I realize that a lot of mobile games are like that.  The okay junk, like dailies, show up in other games too.  I guess that doesn’t make it that much better.  And the advanced junk like gacha mechanics are still just that: junk.

But good mobile games are out there, and the artists and programmers really just want it to be good.  I can definitely say that with Genshin Impact.  The music is phenomenal.  The gameplay is great fun.  I love the lore!  This is just something that I feel like really…impacted my view.  

Point 2: Representation

I’m not talking about the representation of the people in the game and how each region in the world of Teyvat kind of represents a place on Earth.  I mean just the representation of Chinese video game development.  It has been up and down.  It’s been up because people can see that Chinese developers can make something original.  Down, because there is still a lot of ignorance in some of the ways they represent some peoples.  I don’t just mean stereotypes.  I mean like how in the new region coming out today, Sumeru, the people…really should have darker skin.  

Nontraditional story arcs or character developments are also something that you see.  A lot of Chinese stories end unfairly and things don’t have a happy ending.  A bit of a spoiler, but some arcs don’t end in a resolution.  They always say “to be continued”, so eventually I’m sure they’ll do something, but to have an entire series of quests just end, that’s normal.  Tragic endings that feel like they’re unnecessary are rooted in real life problems.  Sometimes people make bad choices when there are obviously good ones.  Sometimes time takes its toll on people and there won’t be a good ending.  Even the way certain jokes present themselves feels more familiar to me.  Several times these came up as negative points for my United States acquaintances.  (I’m not going to say friends.)  This kind of brings me to my last point.

Point 3: Racism

Uh oh.  Yeah, I bring this up a lot, for obvious reasons.  Perhaps I’m putting myself at risk for this, but…I have to say something. I really thought that having Chinese names in the game would help people be a little more understanding.  And while this has brought a lot of people more willing to be more respectful to things like names and stuff, it also has revealed how some of the people who are my…”acquaintances” just don’t really care about their approach to my, or maybe any, culture.  Ah, scratch that.   In this anime context, it’s mine specifically.

There is a subcategory of racism as a Chinese person that you realize growing up in a place that isn’t Chinese.  If you’re not one of the “popular” or even unfortunately, “fetishized” categories of Asian, then you’re not “as good”.   If you’re not Korean or Japanese.  I can’t tell you how awkward it is to have people be disappointed because they found out I wasn’t either of the two.  And yet, somehow we’re praised on very specific things about our culture: things like martial arts, being studious, and our cuisine.  It just makes us feel very exoticized.  The moment it encroaches on things like anime, suddenly we have to be separated.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to anime fans about Chinese anime, and they absolutely must point out that it’s not anime, it’s donghua.  Or how they just need to play Genshin or watch anime in Japanese because they can’t bear the Chinese.  According to them, they’re not racist or anything.  Sure.  Keep in mind these are not people that understand Japanese.  They just need Japanese over Chinese.  

I’ve experienced a lot of mispronunciation of names in my lifetime, and seeing it happen in Genshin is kind of a bummer.  I was with a group of Genshin players chatting around and they would use some nickname or joke name for the Liyue characters, but when someone pronounced one of the Inazuma character’s name wrong, they were corrected and taught how to say it correctly.  Why the double standard?  It always reminds me of that kids book, That’s Not My Name!, I see on Instagram by Anoosha Syed.  Now, maybe people think, well we don’t even say Chinese names often, that’s why!  Well, if you never try in the first place, how are you ever going to get to the point of often?  

Do you want to know what the saddest part is?  Even the Hoyoverse, the developers, know all this Chinese-Japanese stuff.  They always state the Japanese voice actors/actresses for the English audience.  They know that feeling like a Japanese game is part of its selling point.  You could say it’s “just marketing”, but that’s also saying “that’s the current reality and I don’t want to deal with it.”  That’s just the hard truth.  And unfortunately I don’t have the choice of not dealing with it.  



Sorry.  Well, I really shouldn’t have to say sorry at all actually.  After all these years of playing video games I was just hoping that for once something would go right for Chinese-based things without exoticisms, colonialism, or that kind of stuff.  Maybe I expected too much of the community, which is a really sad thing to say.  

But.  The few individuals that I meet that have changed because of this…  maybe it makes it all worth it?  I’ve left all the Genshin groups that I was a part of, and I have once again become a hermit after trying to join a community.  Burn all the bridges.  This happens all the time.  So I’m pretty certain to some extent, it’s just me.  A lot of the negative is probably just me, right?  But when I walk out of the virtual door and into the community I think, it can’t just be me.

Genshin Impact.  You’re a really great game.  But for this person who lives under a rock, I guess it is too much to wish for a community I didn’t feel like I have to walk away from for the most unfortunate of reasons.  Once again, I’ll be playing solo.


Sorry.  I had to say something.  These next two or three weeks will have work getting intense, so forgive me if I don’t pop in as I usually do.  And thanks for enduring all that.  Keep in mind that I do have severe anxiety and depression, so perhaps this is just a side effect of my mind against the community, but writing it off because of that doesn’t really seem like the healthy or right thing to do either.  

If I haven’t run you off, thanks for staying.  I’ll see you again soon.

Elise