Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Case Against Gamerism

Sad to say, not only does the world at large continue to have prejudices, but so does the gaming world. I can't say that I haven't been guilty of it myself, and I'm certainly not trying to start any type of movement, but I thought I'd just discuss my feelings about what I call 'gamerism', or the disdain that 'hardcore' gamers may have for 'casual' gamers (admittedly, it goes the other way too).

'Casual gamer' means something different now than it did ten years ago. Back then, a casual gamer was just what the individual words mean: it's a gamer who plays occasionally and is not always up to date on gaming news. Nowadays with mobile and online gaming and consoles like the Wii and DS being marketed toward a family friendly gaming experience, there are a lot more opportunities to be a casual gamer, so there are more of them out there (myself included, in case I haven't mentioned my freelance writing job at JayisGames.com enough).

A 'hardcore gamer', on the other hand, is someone whose gaming is much more prominent in their day-to-day life. It has little to do with what genres they prefer (the same is true with a casual gamer) and more to do with . . . how they game, I suppose is an appropriate way of saying it.

As the title of this blog suggests, I am against this type of discrimination and don't understand the feelings behind it. Do hardcore gamers feel their images are threatened when casual gamers call themselves 'gamers'? Maybe despite the prejudices between gamers and non-gamers, hardcore gamers like the separation and don't want their way of life to enter mainstream society in any way.

Can't we all just be Friends?
Hmm . . . I think that last statement is where my theory stands. At least to me, casual gamers are a step between non-gamers and hardcore gamers. They still enjoy the entertainment proved by the electronic device of their choice without feeling like they need to spend much more of their free time gaming. Can't we all just share in the joy video games bring us? Can't we all just accept one another however many hours we devote to our common hobby? Can't we all just get . . . No, I'll just stop right there . . .

Please, if you're a hardcore gamer reading this, reach out to your casual brethren and accept them. I'm not expecting you to do so with open arms, just maybe a friendly wave. If not that, then at least keep your feelings to yourself from time to time. I'd be happy if I never heard a hardcore gamer look the other way at a casual game just because it's a casual game. Yeah, that's right, I'm scoffing at you! Psh!

[Disclaimer: Just my opinions, duh. I know I could've dug deeper into the issue and I didn't even try to define a 'gamer' in the first place, but I hate overly long blogs. So there ya go.]

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ideas, Ideas Everywhere . . .

As I delve deeper into my creative wants and needs, I have a strong desire to give more than just my words. I have dreams of videos and podcasts and the like. If I ever moved to the San Francisco area (a future possibility), I would certainly try jumping into the video game journalism niche. Ooh, please, someone, send me to a convention! (cheapass)

My claw-like hand at ready.
I visit far too many video game-related websites and spend far too much time on them, but one good thing that comes of it is I am more aware of contribution opportunities. Right now I know of a website, The Punk Effect, that is looking for both writing and video contributors. There's no word as to whether or not it's paid, but really, for me it's just exciting to think I could be a contributor to a website I enjoy so much (much like for my current freelance job).

I think that having discovered just how much joy I get from my hobby/obsession, I want so badly to put all my creative juices into it. I even have ideas for video game-related crafts! Sadly, the issue is with time. I happen to have a 'real' job, a 'fake' freelance writing job, a husband, a kid, two cats, a dog, etc. aka 'a life'. I'm not saying that people who are able to put the efforts into their hobbies don't have a life, just that I understand that they're more dedicated than perhaps I. But I'm determined to change!

Perhaps one of the biggest problems I face is the simple fact that many of my ideas are too big for myself. In that I mean that what I would like to do would require too much time to put together (effects, desire of quality and whatnot). So much so that it just ends up scaring me away from it. 'Oh, I don't want to start that project cause I know I only have half an hour to work right now. I'll start it later when I have more time.'

Where the magic happens.
I have this weird belief that if I tell someone about what I'm going to do, then I'll actually get it done. Unfortunately, that hasn't worked in the past (I've given up training for a marathon, though I continue to run) and it's hardly pushing me now (I actually have a person lined up and ready to do music for me). Perhaps this post will help me along my desired path. I'll deal with my overly big ideas, and how about you help me with the encouragement? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below or in a private message or however. I know it even if you don't say anything. After all, Blogger tells me every time you visit >:)

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Too-Much-of-the-Same-Thing Towers

Hey, my first review! Huzzah! . . . ?

I recently played through Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for GameBoy Advance, which I had picked up on Ebay for $3.03 with free shipping. Not taking into account the whole Naruto debacle, this was my first GBA game.

It's your basic action RPG with a character you move around and enemies to chase down and hack. Each enemy gives you some experience and leveling up allows you to put more points into both your stats and skills. I do not have the manual for this game, so I can only guess that you can also earn skill points from killing a certain amount of enemies (at least that's the only thing I could guess since it otherwise seemed at random that I had more points to distribute).

While it has admittedly been a few years since I've seen the movie, the game seemed to follow the storyline really well, hitting all the key locations and even including a few screenshots and clips from the movie in all its pixelated glory!

Ahhh, Ebay . . .
At the beginning you can choose which of the five main characters you'd like to play as: Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Frodo or Eowyn. Each has different skill trees, different weapons they can wield and different artifacts they can discover. Probably the main change between the characters is in the locations you progress through throughout the game. As I stated before, it follows the storyline from the movie. This is the biggest aspect going for the game as far as replay value is concerned. It's interesting to cross paths of the character you had previously played through as and seeing how far along you are in your story now as compared to then.

I'll skip going into detail about the colorful graphics or well-suited music to keep this article a reasonable length, and dive right into what I didn't like. If you can't tell from the title of this article, as much fun as it may seem to play through again as a different character, I found the game much too repetitive to bother to do so. Maybe in a couple of months after I've had enough time away from it, I can come back and try it again, but without enough newness to the experience, I'm too bored with it.

Here are some suggestions I have for improvements that could have been made:
1) More puzzles! Sure, every now and then you came across an area where you had to pull a lever to get into a new area or figure out that a certain monster had to be killed, but it certainly wasn't enough to keep my brain engaged beyond the hack 'n' slash.
2) More healing stuffs! Each character starts with a healing spell, and consumables randomly appear to help out with that, but I often found myself standing around waiting for my energy to regenerate so I could cast the heal spell a few times before moving onto the next area. In conjunction with this, I usually ended up putting more points into the heal ability rather than cool fighting moves because of my disinterest in standing around waiting.
What kind of map is this?!
3) A map screen! When standing still for a while, often an arrow will appear to let you know what direction to go toward the exit of the level. While this may be good enough for most gamers, for those more OCD-inclined as to searching every inch to find every last treasure chest, it irks me not to know where I haven't been yet. And the map from the main menu doesn't count!

Overall, I really do think this is a good game and a great experience for fans of the movie (I'd like to say "book" as well, but I've only read Fellowship of the Ring, so can't speak as to that). I realize that many of my complaints are a bit nitpicky and may have to do more with the type of gamer I am than with the game itself. To sum up: good graphics and music, fun to play as characters you know and love, intuitive gameplay and controls. I say, if you come across it at a good price, go for it!