Much Belated Thoughts on: E3 2017 & Modern Gaming In General

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Back in the middle part of June the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) took place to both the delight and anger of millions of gamers around the world. And like with every year there were good showing, bad showings, and a dash of controversy.  So how did this years E3 go and what does it say about the state of modern gaming and its community?

 

 

 

As I have said before I have never really considered myself a “Gamer”.  While it is true that like most millennials I grew up playing video games through the various Nintendo, SEGA & Sony systems over the years, outside of my undying love and admiration for the Big N I have never really obsessed over video games to quite the same degree I have comic books.   That said like everyone else I do enjoy tuning in to E3 this year to see what’s up, and I always find at least a few surprises to enjoy.  So here is my take on this years presentations.

 

Microsoft

I will be honest, I like Microsoft’s computers but I have never cared for their video game systems.  The XBOX and the culture around it has always felt off to be, ranging from juvenile frat boy to techie elitists, XBOX has always seemed from both a corporate and community perspective to be the brand equivalent to that jerky kid in high school that claimed to be your friend but still treated you like crap.  The fact  that the main selling point of their overpriced XBOX-ONE X is just simply “how powerful it is” doesn’t help things much in this regard either.  Xbox also like to tout the “Exclusive” title to many games that will also end up on Sony systems, albeit on a later date, but still, a timed exclusive arguably isn’t really an exclusive as it will eventually be playable on other consoles and outlets.  Microsoft is a tech giant so I understand them focusing on how advanced or powerful their hardware is, but for me a video game should be about fun above all.  What can I say, I’m just old fashioned like that.

 

I will give Microsoft some positive progressive points though for being cool and adding more diversity to their avatar creation with the ability to make your avatar have a wheelchair or prosthetic.  It is important to make players of all types feel welcome and included in your community.

 

Nintendo

Nintendo has had a rough couple of years. The WiiU despite being a solid system didn’t do as well as they had hoped and took a bit to long to get a solid software lineup.  And despite the continued success of the 3DS they needed something big to help them get back on top.  Thankfully with the advent of the Nintendo Switch the company seems to be on their way back to the top of the mountain.  The system launched with the highly anticipated  Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and has had a nice steady trickle of enjoyable 1st and 3rd party games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and PuyoPuyo Tetris since its release and March.  And with he release of games like Splatoon2 & Mario+Rabbids right around the corner and Mario Odyssey coming this Fall the system seems like it will have an excellent first year overall.  As for Nintendo’s E3 showing, it was a pretty solid one, we got what we expected as well as a few surprises with the announcement of new Metroid games for 3DS & Switch as well as some more info on things like Fire Emblem Warriors and confirmation on  Kirby , Yoshi and main series Pokémon games coming to The Switch in the near future.

 

Nintendo is also doing a great job improving on the diversity in their properties.  Gen 7 of Pokémon has many new characters that are their world’s equivalent to native Hawaiian/Polynesian,  BOTW gave a more bigger role to the Gerudo by making one of their own, Urbosa a great hero, ARMS gave us Twintelle, though there was some arguably justified minor controversy surrounding her hair and her sexualized character design.  And most recently Splatoon gave us Marina who is not only a woman of color but also an Octling who is bandmate and friends with the white mouse-like Inkling Pearl showing that even fictional rifts like the ones between the inklings & octlings can heal over time.  Nintendo’s new stance to widen its audience and promote more diversity in its titles is a good one and one that I hope people will support so we can get more diverse and creative characters and titles in the future.

 

Though on the downside I will say it stinks the Big N didn’t hire actual women of color to voice Twintelle & Urbosa.

 

Sony

 

Honestly, not much to say here. They gave a solid conference, sure I may have found it pretty boring myself as very few of the games were of personal interest to me, but overall I am glad that like Nintendo they made the big focus the actual games as opposed to just bragging about how strong their hardware was.

 

Though I will say at this point I am starting to believe the human race will go extinct before Kingdom Hearts III or the Final Fantasy VII remake actually get around to coming out.

 

 

The Controversy

So apparently some people got mad that Wolfenstein, a game about killing Nazis is about well, killing Nazis…. There really are no words to describe how ridiculous this is or how equally ridiculous being offended that backwoods evangelical rednecks are the villains for FarCry 5.  And lets not forget people are still mad you can play as a woman in Star Wars: Battlefront II.

 

Overall the thing that bothers me the most about all this is it shows how completely insane/sexist/racist/etc so many people in the gaming community are.  Yet another reason I am only into games to have fun and not get super serious about something that is meant to be interactive art & storytelling for fun, frolic, & fantasy

 

At the end of the day, gaming has its fair share of problems but we have seen the industry is willing to move forward not just in technological advancement but also while admitingly slower than many would like in accepting a more diverse audience for its products.  And well if that makes some people angry, then maybe its fine for the industry to leave you behind.

Thoughts On: Building Better Fanbases

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One of the most common complaints in the digital age and even before is how insane and down right toxic fandoms for everything from Comics to Cartoons, Film to television to video games can and have been.  One thing I always find myself wondering is why things are like this and really there is no easy singular answer to this question but today I will be doing the best I can to from my perspective point out the various flaws in the way we as both groups and individuals portray ourselves as fans.  So without further hesitation I ask if you will please humor me and see what you think, am I spot on or way off the mark?

 

 

I. The Psychology of A Fan

1: Fulfilling A Need:  Before one can ask what is wrong with fandom we must first ask why we become a fan of something in the first place?  There is of course no right or wrong answer, different people gain or lose interest in things for different reasons.  However in base psychological terms one could argue that we become a fan because we feel the thing we gain interest in fulfills a psychological &/or emotional need that was previously missing in our lives or was not present to a degree that we were satisfied with.  Whether it is  being inspired by superheroes, letting animation tug at your heartstrings or satisfying your adrenaline rush with certain scifi and horror franchises we all have our own reasons for partaking in the fictions we choose as they give us something we feel everyday life doesn’t and if we like what we partake in well enough, and if we feel it can help fulfill what we see as a gap in our emotional and psychological needs we will justifiably become a long time fan.

2: Obsession:  This is one step that every fan enters to some degree during their lives and it is arguably the most dangerous one to navigate through.  After we get our first hit of something we keep coming back for more, like an addict we can become increasingly obsessed with a character/series/franchise of choice to where it can consume every facet of our lives and we think about it every waking moment of our existence, we branch out from just casual enjoyment to a more hardcore endearment towards our new found obsession.  While this in and of itself is not always a bad thing and may just result in joining a forum or two, occasionally drawing some fan art, watching some Youtube videos and getting a couple of knick-knacks here and there for others and can become an extreme it can result in doing everything you do, every action being about or for this thing you now love to a point to where like any other addict it can interfere with your real life and the relationships with in it.  If left unchecked obsession can lead to an individual being unable to handle any form of criticism towards the thing they like taking a general critique of it as a personal attack on their honor and person which can lead to never ending ever increasing extreme and ridiculous arguments between different factions both within and outside of fan communities.  This is the most dangerous part of the fan life because it can easily lead fans to extremist levels of overreliance of the thing the love and lead them to be so out of touch with reality that they would openly threaten the life of another person for merely having a different opinion or viewpoint than them on it.  Thankfully though many of us grow out of this phase and slowly learn that not every negative word given is an attack on their person.

3: Control & Reconciliation VS Submission:

If you manage to wade through the sea of obsession you will eventually find yourself at the shores of sanity once more.  You can acknowledge that you are a fan of something, accept you may be a fan of this thing for the rest of your lifetime, but you also accept that it is merely an interest a hobby, just one part of your character and psyche and not the totality of your being.  You realize that it is OK if not everyone else has the same interests as you and that it is OK if people like the things you like for different reasons. You learn to control yourself and only indulge in excess content related to this thing you love in moderation over reasonable periods of time and within reasonable expense.   You know there will always be people that both like and dislike your thing and that’s OK.  However if you don’t eventually get to a point where you break free of the bright and shiny lights of obsession you in a way are submitting to something, letting this thing that doesn’t even exist on the same plane as you, letting a mere idea and dream, a metaphysical existence control you and your actions.  Instead of being a mere fan you are now a servant to this force with no will of your own and like a cultist you blindly follow it wherever it goes and whatever the hive mind of the community says.   This is a very dangerous path to tread down as it can stunt personal growth not only as a fan of something but as a person as well.  At the end of the day we have to stand tall and say that we control our interests and that they do not control us.

 

In closing while being a fan can be a very satisfying experience we need to like with any other aspect of our lives practice these things in moderation and sensibility.  We are the ones responsible for our actions both good and bad while participating in a fan community and no level of delusion or obsession can ever justify treating a fictional character or creature with more decency and respect than a living one.  We must learn to keep ourselves in check and not overact to every thing said about our interests we dislike.

 

II. Fixing The Cracks

 

  1. Acknowledging Alternative Views:  While it is true that many sites and critics will be purposely overly negative or unprofessional to rile-up controversy just to get easy clicks and advertisement we should realize that not everyone who has a view differing from our own is out to harm or demonize the things you enjoy, in the wise words of the great sage Linkara “Get over yourself internet, not everyone has the same interests as you!”

2. Putting The Pro Back in Professional:  The advent of the digital age has arguably caused critics both young and old to get a bit lackadaisical in their practices, far too many critics online and in print form have taken a more hostile and troll like approach to their job.  Given this smug sense of elitism has always existed in the profession to a degree but we have known for decades you can dissect a film or any work of art and storytelling without being cruel even if most of your conclusions of it are negative ones.  Critics may be getting paid or praised for their word but at the end of the day they are also a type of fan and it is important to be aware of ones own confirmation biases both positive and negative when going into a review and still trying to give everything you view an even shake and letting each individual work stand or fall on its own legs.

 

3. Talking about the issues:  Whether we like to admit it or not things like Toxic Masculinity, Mental Instability,  Exclusivist mindsets, Sexism, Racism, Homophobia and every other nasty part of human nature can and do butt their ugly heads into fan communities.  It is important we continue to discuss these issues and call out those guilty of these practices to help make a better and safer fan community for those from all walks of life.

 

III. Final Thoughts

Overall the points and topics presented here are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the complexity of human interaction and how fans and fanbases/communities view one another.  In truth you could write an entire series of books about the psychology of the various fanbases on the internet and it could take a lifetime to even get everyone on board to consider addressing the problems inherent in their communities but I do believe that if we are willing to acknowledge the faults both within ourselves and the communities both online and off that we partake in we can make better more professional, mature, caring and empathetic fans in the future.  Or who knows maybe i’m just a madman.

Thoughts On: The Nintendo Switch

 

 

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Nintendo has been a household name in video games for over 30 years, throughout the company has its highs and lows and dealt with competition from SEGA, Sony, Microsoft and more.  Despite this they have endured and continued to create new, fun and innovative ways to play.  Today we take a look at Nintend0’s latest video game system, the Nintendo Switch.

 

In truth I am not much of a gamer, while I have been playing video games since I was a kid and clocked in a fair share of hours on my Nintendo 64 back in the day, I have never spent as much time on video games as I have things like cartoons and comics.  Because of this I have become arguably become fairly critical of which systems I even consider buying.   Microsoft and Sony systems don’t have much of anything that appeals to me personally, and my interest in virtual reality is fairly minimal, so for me Nintendo has been my go to avenue for most video games throughout my life.   They however are not without flaws, The Gamecube had some decent titles but compared to past systems it didn’t really stand out, The Wii while fun was plagued with shovelware and the WiiU while a decent console in its own right, and the generation that brought us such great games as Super Mario Maker & Splatoon just hadn’t hit with audiences the way prior systems had.  Thankfully Nintendo’s latest outing the Switch seems to solve the problems of these past systems by having a useful gimmick that can appeal to a wide array of fans.  The switch is both a console and a handheld, you now can take the same Legend of Zelda, Mario, Splatoon, etc adventures you play on your big screen on your small screen.   The only thing I am not to fond of is that as others have stated taking the Switch in and out of the dock it can scratch the screen!   Other then that the system is pretty sleek.

 

In terms of games, Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild alone is a massive game and a worthy launch title, as slow as some people, such as myself are at video games many could very well get years of entertainment value out of it.  Other then that popular titles like Mario Kart and Splatoon are coming to the console in the coming months, as well as new IPs like ARMS.   Third party and indie support seems decent with popular titles like Shovel Knight and The Binding of Isaac being available for the system and games from series like Sonic, Street Fighter and PuyoPuyo/Tetris will be coming soon, and more titles are slated to be announced released as the year goes on.

 

Overall the Switch is a solid System, its not perfect and like with any new console it may take awhile to get games for every genre and type of gamer out, but overall I would say it is a worthwhile investment.  Though I do agree with those who are a bit disappointed it didn’t come with apps like Netflix at launch.