Tag Archives: gaming

Diablo III is a hellish disappointment

20 May

Growing up I loved the Diablo series. Diablo II is actually where my name “Godless Paladin” Comes from. The paladin in Diablo II was holy warrior-super knight, clad in heavy armor, that waded into combat laying waste to hordes of minions.

I had an affinity for tank like characters, and so I picked him. Years later when I became an atheist and started this blog, I still was into medieval stuff, had a suit of armor of my own, and still loved the paladin, yet was now godless. The image of a righteous paladin without gods and masters came to mind. It was the best thing I could think of at the time, and so I ran with it.

But back to the game.

Diablo III was a game 11 years in the making. Production started in 2001, while Diablo II was still in the market. I have a theory that after a game’s development time passes around the 3-4 year mark, it’s going to be a really shitty game. Why? Well because it’s at that point that I imagine most of the delays to be originating from too much producer and executive input.

Creative people and programmers can come up with an idea and put it together. The speed at which they do that depends heavily on how much resources the company can allocate to the project. Blizzard is a massive company with almost no end in funds, with an extremely solid production history, so why the hell did it take 11 years?

I can only imagine that the producers kept trying to control how the game turned out, instead of giving the creative people room to be creative. That’s at least how the game feels.

The first thing that sticks out are the graphics. To some people, graphics don’t matter, they let their imagination do the work, but to people like me, they matter a lot. A beautiful game is really important to creating a feeling of immersion, the sensation that you’re there, and after all, that’s what gaming is all about.

At the time of writing this, Battlefield III is one of the PC gaming industry’s graphical benchmarks for excellent graphics.

Diablo III’s graphics look like they’re stuck in 2006. I know that Battlefield III and Diablo III are fundamentally different games, being played from different view points, but the issue that I’m trying to get at here is that the technology exists for Diablo III to make use of much better lighting, shading, shadows, textures, and particle affects. Instead we get something that looks cartoonish and borrows heavily from Blizzard’s other flagship series, World of Warcraft.

In the process of doing so, Diablo III loses a lot of the gritty, gory, hellish feel to it that Diablo II had. That loss really cuts at the essence of what this game is supposed to embody. Further example, examine these two screenshots. First from Diablo II, then Diablo III.

The next thing that struck me as a let down in Diablo III occured to me after I realized I had just played the first three hours of the game single handed. That’s right. The entire time I was playing, I was playing and winning with only my mouse hand, and winning easily. I feel Diablo III lost a lot of the challenge and strategy that was in Diablo II, that the game had been dumbed down. As I’ve been playing more, I’ve started to use the hotkeys on the keyboard, but only sparingly.

The game feels like I’m just clicking on things until they die, and they always do because as a witch doctor with a rapid fire long range blowgun, I mow enemies down before me with a few rapid clicks.

On the bright side, at least I can hold my drink in my other hand while playing.

Over the past few years, voice acting has taken on a much greater prominence in gaming. Games tell a story after all, and it is important that they tell that story well. Bethesda Studios is famous for their voice acting, and so is Bioware. Both studios put a lot of effort into crafting a good story, and then having good actors give voice to those characters.

Blizzard fell short with Diablo III. The voice acting is cheesy and the lines are cheesy. I feel like the characters have the minds of 13 year old kids. Their attitudes towards fighting, glory, valor, evil, and fear are all very naive and innocent. To make matters worse, it is as if they recorded six lines of dialogue for each character, and I keep hearing them over and over again. The attack noises are pretty annoying as well. One attack, for the witch doctor, involves flinging frogs at the enemy. The frogs so far have proved useless, but the thing that is most annoying is the sound the witch doctor makes when you fling them. It’s like shocking a cat with a taser. When you’re rapid clicking in order to spam frogs, it’s extremely annoying.

I ended up just muting the game and listening to my audio book while clicking through one handed. Not a good sign.

The next major issue I wanted to discuss was character customization.

Diablo III is supposed to be a Role Playing Game (RPG). In a RPG, you create a character and then customize and improve them throughout the game. The majority of the excitement comes from getting new items to improve your character how you want, trying new strategies, and altering the look of your character.

Blizzard takes all of this away in Diablo III, and it’s a deal breaker.

When you “level up” in Diablo III, the game unlocks new abilities, but you have no say in what abilities it unlocks. Blizzard decides for you. This leaves every character more or less the same in spell abilities. A level 10 witch doctor is going to have X spells. A level 15, X, Y spells. A level 20, X, Y, Z spells. The only possible difference is the equipment, but even that has flaws which I’ll get to later.

Your character is no longer your character. You have no say in how they evolve, what areas they focus on. It’s all decided for you and it destroys the fun.

I mention that equipment differed slightly, but not really. While equipment might have certain small affects on your abilities here and there, you have no way of customizing the look of your character. You will inevitably go for whatever equipment gives you the better boost, regardless of how it looks. The end result is something akin to a color blind toddler trying to dress themselves from a random barrel of clothes. You look disjointed and like an idiot.

This is further compounded by the “Pay to win” system Blizzard has implemented in the “Real money auction house.”

Blizzard legalized a system for using real money to buy better equipment in game. This means that those who spend more than the original $60 will have an easier time beating the game, and will have an even easier time killing other players who can’t afford to shell out more money for better items.

The other fun part of the fun of an RPG besides customizing your character is finding cool equipment to customize your character with. What’s the point if I can just buy the best equipment and walk straight through the game, ignoring every chest and dead enemy, knowing I already have the best equipment? This further hollows out the game.

The final issue I want to address is the copy right protection on Diablo III. Instead of making a better product and hoping people buy it, and instead of crying over “lost sales” from people who pirate because they don’t have the money to buy in the first place, game developers are more and more moving to make paying customers jump through ever increasing hoops to play the game they bought.

This only serves to increase player frustration and spur on piracy. It’s bad enough that the game you own isn’t really “yours” to do with as you like (ex: some games can only be installed on certain computers, and only a certain number of times), but now Blizzard has set the precedent of requiring constantly on internet connection. The idea is, while it’s easy to crack the protection on a game that doesn’t require internet, it’s not easy to hack Blizzard’s servers and play an illegal copy of the game.

Yes, just about everybody has internet now, but at different speeds, and at different prices. I have discovered that lag is a significant issue. If your internet connection is slow, the game will often lag, causing your character and the enemies to jump all over the map, or for you to suddenly die because you were being attacked and couldn’t move. Whenever this happens it makes the game uplayable and I end up just quitting till the internet improves.

The launch of Diablo III exposed another major flaw in “always online” gaming: it relies on servers.

Diablo III was supposed to go live at 3am EST on May 15. I, along with thousands of other loyal fans who had grown up with the series, stayed up late to play.

But the servers crashed.

It would be one thing if this was some other company, but Blizzard is the company behind World of Warcraft, a massive multiplayer online RPG. Servers should be their bread and butter.

People couldn’t log into their games. People who did were kicked off the servers. It was a grade A clusterfuck. When the servers finally did slowly come one line, others were forced to wait in queues in order to play the game they bought. I ended up just going to bed. 14 hours later and the game was still having issues letting people on.

The whole launch night experience is summed up very nicely in this short video:

I’ve been able to get on since, but the precedent is unnerving. There has been a trend in the technology and gaming industry over the past several years, a trend towards not allowing customers ownership and control over the things they buy. You’re not so much buying a product like you would buy a house, you’re buying a license to use a controlled product, one not controlled by you.

Diablo III reeks of this loss of control.

The creative people lost control of the product to producers and executives seeking to cash in on a beloved franchise after 11 years.

The player lost control over the development of their character, how they play, and when they play.

The game lost its soul of dark demonic combat and the thrill of exploration.

The whole thing is just a sad let down.

Bechdel Test for Video Games?

19 Dec

The other day I read an interesting review of the new Tron movie by Ashley F Miller. In her review Ashley mentioned the Bechdel test. What is the Bechdel test you ask? It’s simple:

This got me thinking, what about a Bechdel test for video games? I searched around but couldn’t find anything much besides this blog post by .tiff.

My question is this: how would the Behdel test apply to video games? Would it need to be modified? .tiff points out that one of the biggest ways video games differ from movies is in the player’s control of the character. Whereas in a movie we can only sit and wait for two women to talk to each other about something other than a man, in a video game it’s up to the player to make that interaction happen. This then brings up the issue of whether or not the game developers make it necessary to talk to a named woman about something other than a man in order to advance the story, or not.

Someone in the comments of .tiff’s blog post also brought up the point that many video games don’t have much talking at all, at least not by the main protagonist. How would this affect the Bechdel test when applied to video games?

What about video games that have female main characters? How would this affect the test if you had the ability to choose to play as a female or if you were required to play as a female? RPGs like Oblivion, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age let you choose to play as a woman, whereas other games like Portal, Bayonetta, and Mirror’s Edge require you to play a woman. Should these be counted differently? Should one be weighted more heavily than the other?

I think it’s important to keep in mind that the Bechdel test is only about gauging the involvement of women, not about the portrayal of women. I’m tempted to ask questions about how the video game has women dressed, how their bodies are built (are they normal people or super sexualized?) and whether or not they need rescuing in some capacity. (sidenote, if you play as a female in the Mass Effect series, there are a lot of times you have to rescue the helpless male, which I find extremely refreshing)

I think recent RPGs have really been doing a good job as far as including women goes. Games like the ones I mentioned above have a lot of female characters in them, with a bunch of quest important named females. (Not to mention the fact that you can play as a female, and in the newer RPGs can engage in relations with NPCs without regard to the gender binary) However, this still brings us back to the question of whether or not the bar should be at different levels for different genres of games. RPGs need a good amount of women in them to create a realistic world feel. (Because, surprise, women make up half the population in the real world) Should a game like that really be weighted the same as say an FPS that has a large female presence? Should the game developers of an FPS get more credit for including women in a genre largely devoid of them? (Whereas women are standard in RGPs)

Thoughts?

Roleplaying as a woman

14 Nov

Whenever I get the chance to roleplay, I enjoy being a female character. I’m a straight male and I’ve very comfortable in my gender and sex; I just enjoy exploring different gender dynamics. Roleplaying as a woman also gives me a chance to escape the default male privilege and experience a world through the opposite gender. I’m aware of male privilege in this world, and I recognize when something like a commercial or product is constructed in a way that assumes a male consumer, but most of the time all I can do is recognize it; playing as a woman lets me get on the other end of it.

Roleplaying as the opposite gender, while fun, can be challenging. When I first started trying this, my ex, an experienced roleplayer, warned me that she’d often seen guys try to play as the opposite gender, only to descend into very heterosexual male fantasies about lesbians. The characters they are playing are female, but the players and their actions were most definitely male. I try my best to avoid this, even creating relationships with male characters, but I’m not perfect. From time to time I’ll see an attractive female NPC and think “dang, she’s good looking, wonder if….oh wait…” I’ve also noticed that male players who play female characters often have their characters fall into one of two stereotypes: cold bitch or temptress slut. I also avoid this as I feel it is a misogynistic generalization of women, damning them to two equally unfair and unrealistic archetypes.  Trying to get inside the head of a character of another gender is really hard to do, but I feel it is a lot more interesting than just playing your normal self with all your gender specific baggage.

Currently I’m playing Fallout New Vegas. My character is an independent drifter woman named Afya. (Afya is actually a character I’ve played for a while before, but in another roleplaying game. She’s always been chaotic good)

 

Normally I don’t care much for very gender deterministic clothing like this pink dress, I just liked the contrast between the inferred domesticity and the huge fucking missile launcher.

Do you live life like a game/movie?

13 Nov

Earlier today I was watching a short lecture clip discussing media’s impact on sexual fantasy. The hosts were discussing how the advent of images and film changed how we think about sex. One of the hosts pointed out that our very language is stuck on the technology: “The movie in my head” or “the sex tape.”

I’m not exactly sure how my brain made the transition, but this got me thinking about how computer games, along with movies, affect how I view the world. It didn’t take long for me to think of all the instances in which games and movies directly affect the way I think. This isn’t surprising. I grew up with video games. The first video game I ever got seriously into was Age of Empires. I was in the 4th grade and I became addicted to this real-time empire building strategy game. I played it constantly. When I wasn’t playing it I was imagining I was playing it. I distinctly remember having dreams that I was playing, only to wake up and realize I was simply dreaming…and I was doing so well! It was not until the second Age of Empires game came out, Age of Kings, that my life was changed. Age of Kings was set in the medieval era. I fell in love with the time period, joined a medieval re-enactment group at age 12, built a trebuchet, my own suit of armor, learned how to fight with a longsword, and went to college to major in history…all because of a game. (Well, no, the game was the gateway, I became interested in everything despite the game, but still, the game was the gate way)

Those strategy games influenced how I thought about the world. I guess I was frustrated at times growing up because the world’s mechanics didn’t match the game’s.

At the same time I was discovering games, I was discovering film. Throughout my teen years my friends and I were constantly working on film projects. I started to think of life like a movie. I started to look at things as “scenes” and people as actors. I wanted my life to be a perfect script. This was most evident in my romantic life. I my dates to be picture perfect. I’d work for hours before she came over to fix up the house, to make sure everything was set just right. I wanted what I said in romantic moments to be movie perfect too, like I was reading from a script, yet genuinely felt what I was saying.

For the longest time I viewed myself as an actor in a play. I was very upset because I felt that the story of my life was being told as if I was a secondary character in someone else’s  story. I always felt everything was about other people, never me; that they were all staring in their own movies and I was just an extra. I felt powerless to change this. I didn’t know how to wrestle the spotlight away from them so my life could be about me for a change. (I don’t mean that I wanted attention, I’ve never liked being the center of attention; I just felt I was always doing things for others, never for myself. I never did anything because I wanted to do it. Whenever I was in a group with my friends, we always did what my friends wanted to do.) Thankfully I’ve grown out of both this and the romantic movie scripting, but games and movies still affect my life in other ways.

One of the perhaps more normal ways they affect my life is with music. I love going places or doing things with my ipod. My ipod allows me to put a soundtract to my life. In fact, when I think back through the history of my life, I have a play list with a song for each period of struggle or triumph. My ipod lets me pick a soundtrack depending on my mood. When I don’t have it with me, I still play songs in my head.

I had a restaurant job as a teenager clearing tables and bringing waiters their food. I absolutely hated it, but one of the ways I made it somewhat fun was to imagine it as a game, or a movie. As dorky as this sounds, I used to imagine that we, the staff of the restaurant, were fighter pilots locked in deadly combat with the food and customers. We were constantly rushing around, weaving in and out of tables, swooping down to clear tables, running to refill drinks. Sometimes a waiter would be overwhelmed and would call for backup, at which point we would dive in to the rescue. Set to a high-energy soundtrack in my head, it was actually thrilling.

This fighter pilot game imagery carries over to other aspects of my life. Growing up in a navy town, on a street full of fighter pilots, I really wanted to be one as a kid, but my fear of heights, the falling sensation in my stomach, and my poor eyesight means the closet I will ever get is driving my car.

Driving is another activity that has really been affected by movies and games for me. Again, this might sound really dorky, but sometimes I like to imagine a fighter jet/terminator style HUD display when driving. Instead of a weapons targeting system, I’m tracking the curves of the road, the other cars, people on the sidewalk. When I come to a yellow light and I can make it in time, I imagine Peppy Hare from Star Fox telling me “Use the boost to get through!” (I know it’s silly, but it’s the little things in life…)

I also like to think of the car as an extension of my body, just like a character in a video game is an extension of myself. If you think about it, it’s just another layer for your brain to transmit information through. Normally when moving your body your brain sends the signal to the muscles which move you. In a game or driving you simply add the layer of physical controls, be it the mouse, controller, or steering wheel. When you are really in tuned with a game, or driving, you lose sense of your limbs interacting with the controls to make the character do something. You become that character or that car. You think and it moves, just like your body normally would. It’s an amazing feeling, especially in a car on the highway. To have the car as your body, to pull out into a lane, hit the accelerator,  feel the thrust as you lunge past another car, it’s exhilarating.

The last way gaming really effects how I think deals with objects and interacting with people. ( I know that sounds really vague, I’ll explain)

I think about things I have the same way I think of a role playing equipment list. Picking equipment has always been a favorite activity of mine since I first played Oregon Trail as a kid, having to pick what supplies to buy for the journey. I always like to be prepared. In college I viewed my dorm room as a colony from my home. I wanted to be self-sufficient, so I brought a lot of things with me. Whenever my housemates needed something that they didn’t think to bring, I usually had 3 of it. (You’re not going for a weekend sleep-over, you’re living there!)

In my car I would pack a variety of equipment I might need: an extra pair of clothes, a towel, a crow bar, 50ft of rope, a flash light, medical supplies, blankets, a fire extinguisher, emergency food rations, and my longsword. (I don’t know what events I had in mind, but I wanted to be ready for anything)

I also like to think of things in terms of abilities and spheres of influence the same way a character in an RPG would have abilities and spheres of influence. Again, it might sound silly to use game terms to describe it, but I have a repair ability, a research ability, a cooking ability, and a longsword ability. ~_^  (among others) I like to think of other people’s talents and skills in the same way you would an RPG character.

As for spheres of influence:  Your sphere of influence is you immediate surroundings along with as far as you can travel. For example, if I saw a stranger being attacked I’d help them in a heartbeat. My ability to help is obviously limited to my immediate line of sight, or sphere of influence. The people who I see while walking on the street don’t know that while they’re in my sphere of influence I would come to their aid if they were in distress, but nonetheless they would be helped. My secondary sphere of influence is as far as I can get in my car with the money I have for gas.

I realize I’ve kinda meandered all over the place. I hope this makes sense. Does anyone do something similar? Or should I check myself into a mental hospital? ^_^

Making games more like life

15 Sep

Lately I’ve been playing this game, STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, which is the last in the trilogy of STALKER games. The graphics are pretty nice, but the interesting thing about this game is how it tries to mimic real life, not only in terms of looks, but in terms of play. Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation gave a nice review of the first game in the series “Clear Sky” where he pointed out that while ” in most FPSs the player is some kind of hybrid of man and refrigerator, able to take entire munition dumps to the face, while the enemies all have armor made out of whipped cream and skulls made of cake, it seems going into this game everyone got their character sheets mixed up…” You see, in the STALKER series there are several mechanics that attempt to make the game more life-like, despite the horrific radioactive, monster filled setting. When you look through the scope of a weapon, your weapon wobbles slightly, as you fire on full auto, the gun kicks up, you become exhausted very quickly after running for a long time and need to stop to take a breather, you get hungry if you don’t eat for a while (which depending on how long you’ve gone without food, will greatly affect your energy regeneration), when you get shot, not only do you really get hurt, but there is bleeding to worry about, (same with all wounds, you need bandages to stop the bleeding that will slowly sap your health), weapons wear down quickly and start to jam more and more often, NPCs don’t like it when you walk around brandishing your weapon, and most importantly: the environment will quickly kill you if you don’t pay attention to your Geiger counter. I would argue that it’s mechanics like this that really make a game more immersive than just graphics alone, but graphics have come a long way. Check out this demo for the CryEngine 2 from Crytek. The graphics are three years outdated now, and the engine is being replaced with a more advanced cryengine 3, but it’s still amazing and highlights some of the graphic advances that go into making a game more immersive:

Now I enjoy that and I wish I had a computer that could run that, but it got me thinking. If the goal of game developers is to make games more and more lifelike, theoretically we’re eventually going to get to a point where video game graphics and game mechanics are indistinguishable from real life. How does that fit with the idea that games are an escape from real life? Will real life lose it’s appeal?

As I’m writing this I’m starting to have second thoughts about what I originally set out to write. I don’t think the fact that games are becoming more and more lifelike will eventually become counter intuitive. After all, while the mechanics and immersion will start to bring games closer and closer to the world we’re trying to escape, at the same time the settings and events played out in those games will still allow us to transport ourselves from our current reality.

Unlike some Sci-fi I don’t foresee a world where everyone abandons real life in order to play video games. I feel this way for a host of reasons but mainly because some people will just not be interested, and other will be too busy with life, like feeding their families, to be able to indulge in devoting large amounts of time to virtual space. Plus, I think there will always be a niche of people who like to play “old school” games, regardless of the medium. I realize I didn’t really take a position here in this post, or discuss in detail the deep philosophical questions, but I guess that’s because I’m still unsure myself. If this topic interests you, I highly recommend you take 20 minutes out of your day and listen to this talk given at TED. It’s pretty thought provoking.

Atheist game quirks

4 Jun

This is kinda silly, but my atheism affects my gaming habits. How so? Well when I’m playing a game such at Total War, Age of Empires, or Civilization I will try and make my empire as atheistic as possible. In the Total War games I delete all the churches and instead build schools and universities. If I can’t dismiss or assassinate my own religious leaders, I send them off to the very corner of the map. In the Civilization games I refuse to adopt any religion when it is invented, and try my best to avoid researching religious techs. As for Age of Empires, I build the church grudgingly to get the technologies, and then delete it the moment I’m done. (When I played I usually played online and there are other non-religious techs available at the church, so I needed them to play my best against other people) Again, this is all really silly and I know that it’s just a mechanic of the game, but I like to imagine that somewhere, in an alternate universe, my little nation exists. It’s for this same stupid reason I hate to delete units. :-( I can just imagine the NPCs kissing their families and children goodbye before being executed, all at my command to make room for another 20 heavy infantry. (If I absolutely have to kill off villagers in AoE I delete the male villagers. Beautiful women being killed is a major pet peeve of mine) I know they’re just 1s and 0s, but I care….

The art of screen looking

12 Feb

“Screen looking” is the act of looking at another player’s potion of the TV when playing multiplayer console games with your friends. The act of screen looking is highly frowned upon, for it is a form of cheating. Playing on-line or on the computer eliminates screen looking, but this is not possible for local multiplayer gaming. (Unless you want to go so far as to tape cardboard blinders to your TV, but come on…)

I think everyone screen looks. I try very hard not to, but I sometimes catch myself doing it here and there without thinking. When it comes to screen looking, there are two ways to do it, the right way and the wrong way. Very few people screen look the right way.

Here is how NOT to screen look: You see that your enemy is sneaking up on you from behind, you spin around and shoot them. This then makes it obvious that you were screen looking.

Here is how to CORRECTLY screen look: Check the screen time to time to see where the other players are on the map. If one of them sneaks up behind you and you would not have noticed if you were not screen looking, let them kill you! By doing this you cover your tracks and can claim that you were not screen looking. Plus, you’re not cheating as badly as if you turned around and shot them.

Dante’s inferno, a comparison

9 Feb

EA and Visceral games are putting out a new game, Dante’s Inferno, supposedly based on the work “Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri. In the game you play as Dante, on a mission through hell to rescue your hot wife Beatrice Portinari. So how does the game match up with the actual Dante’s Inferno?

Take Dante in the game:

He’s a hardcore soldier with a giant battle scythe, covered head to toe in stylized plate armor.

Dante in real life:

He’s a hardcore poet with a giant battle quill, covered head to toe in…well…pajamas.

What about hell?

In the game hell is an action packed demon strong hold, full of bad guys that stand between you and your love.

In Dante’s book, hell is more like a scary guided tour given at Disney on Halloween.

And your love, Beatrice?

In game:

In real life:

Lastly, what about story wise?

Well here the game and the book continue to radically differ. In the book Dante starts off in a forest and is given a tour of hell by Virgil. He goes down, sees the 9 circles of hell, sees various famous people, and then climbs out the other end and into the second book, Purgatorio. There is no fighting and no Beatrice. The most dramatic seat of you pants thing that happens to him is he faints. (Don’t go to hell if you have low blood sugar) She shows up in the second book. Also Beatrice was never Dante’s wife. He first meet her when she was 8 and fell in love with her, but she married some other dude and died at the age of 24.

Here is what the game has to say for itself:

“At the midpoint on the journey of life, I found myself in a dark forest, for the clear path was lost” (opening line of The Divine Comedy). In the game, Dante goes on a spectacular journey through the afterlife to save his beloved Beatrice from the clutches of evil. But what starts out as a rescue mission quickly changes into a redemption story, where Dante must confront his own dark past and the sins he carries with him into Hell. He faces the epic inhospitable terrain of the underworld, huge monsters and guardians, sinister demons, the people and sins of his past, and the ultimate traitor: Lucifer himself.”

Sounds cool. A little heavy on the “go save the helpless white woman”, but still cool none the less. The game developers also have this to say:

“Inspired by the real Dante Alighieri, but adapted for a new generation and a new medium, the hero of the game is a soldier who defies death and fights for love against impossible odds. The Italian mercenary Dante returns home from the wars to find that his beloved Beatrice has been murdered, and her soul pulled down into Hell by a dark force. He gives chase, and vows to get her back. For weapons, he wields Death’s soul-reaping scythe, and commands holy powers of the cross, given to him by Beatrice.”

If by “inspired” they mean “hey, we took his name” then yeah it’s inspired, because that’s about it. Everything else but the names is changed, including the plot and characters. As for the “for a new generation” yeah, we play video games much more than we read, but if you ever get the time, check out the books, they are pretty cool. Maybe Riddley Scott could make a movie about it :-p

Nerds are the only ones alive

25 Jan

The oh so reputable wikipedia defines nerd as: “Nerd is a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests that are age-inappropriate rather than engaging in more social or popular activities.”

That usually conjures up the image of something like this:

I would disagree with wikipedia on the issue of age-inappropriate, since this assumes that all nerds are into video games, or trading cards.

I would define nerd as anyone who had a passion or interest for any specific thing. One can easily be a video game nerd just as easily as a car nerd, or a basketball nerd. As long as you love something and research it.

I would argue that these “nerds” are the only people who are actually alive, the only ones who actually matter. The exact opposite of the nerd is the conformist. I don’t mean to sound highschoolish about this. The conformist to me is the person who is jack of all trades, master of none when it comes to hobbies. These people can easily be identified on myspace of facebook. They usually list a lot of generic interests, without overly emphasizing any of them.

These people like a couple of mainstream bands, but aren’t overly into any of them, they don’t analyze the music, or anything. They usually list some generic mainstream sports, like basketball or football, might like a particular team, but don’t really care much beyond that.

Now I don’t overly like sports, but I can respect a sports nerd. Someone who is very passionate about a game, someone who analyzes teams, plays, and players. They have a passion. Those conformists, they’re just mindless sheep that float through life, going with the flow, blending in with whatever is popular. They’re a dime a dozen. Not saying they’re worthless people, they’re still human beings, but they’re not interesting. There is nothing unique or special about them.

I really miss living history

8 Jan

I first started doing living history when I was 12 years old. I always had the next even marked on my calendar, and was constantly thinking of new things to build for the events. I loved going to our weekly meetings, getting together at friend’s houses and doing crafts nights, and sword practice on Sundays. I had somewhere I felt I belonged.

Well the group I was so fond of growing up fell apart, and some of my treasured bridges burned. I joined a new group that I was ok, but I hadn’t grown up with them. Plus they were mainly based 4 hours away, so I couldn’t go see them regularly. What really put a kink in my hobby was college. I suddenly had almost no time to work on medieval things, let alone the space and money to do so. My re-enacting fell to one event a year, and I lost myself.

I didn’t have sword practice regularly, and so I started to forget. I had my suit of armor, but it stood solemnly collecting dust in my bedroom. I no longer spent evenings in the living room, with a mug of hot chocolate, a fire roaring in the hearth, and my favorite medieval movies on while I sat there and sewed together whatever item I was working on for the upcoming event. That was my childhood, and now it’s really depressing.

I feel like over the years of not really doing anything, I lost a burning passion, a passion that set me apart from other people. I had something I loved and could talk for hours about, but now that’s gone. My girlfriend has a passion like that for gaming, and while I listen intently to her lectures on the subject, and even participate in games with her, that is and always will be her passion, not mine.

I want my passion back. This all peaked my senior year in college. Right before I am to graduate I come to startling realization that I no longer have a passion for anything. I had always wanted to be an archaeologist working in castles. I wanted to find things that re-enactors would then research when trying to create things for their camp. I spent years preparing to pursue that career, worked in internships, field schools, weekends, even traveled to England for a month, only to decide that I had lost my love for it.

Now I’m afraid of becoming just another cog. Another bland slice of bread. Nothing special about me when I put on my dress shirt and tie to go into work.  I really feel I’ve lost something unique and defining about myself. I want it back.

I hope that now I’m going to graduate and get a job, I’ll have some more time, and money for that matter, to pursue my hobby. I want to become more involved in my living history group, perhaps join others as well. I want to go to events more, get more connected. I want to find another western martial arts group to train with, get back in shape. I want the excitement from my childhood back.

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