April 2006

Q: Are we not gamers? A: Wii are Revolution!

(Sorry. It was either that or “Wii will rock you!” which I guarantee you the gaming press will wear that out quickly.) (Also, sorry again, I won’t be making penis jokes.)

Nintendo has announced that their next console (codenamed ‘Revolution’) will in fact be named Wii. Now, is anyone who likes the idea of the Wii, or anyone who likes Nintendo, not going to get this system because of an odd name? No. Just want to get that out of the way. Face it, a bunch of fans will be waiting overnight to get it on launch day. This is a given, accept it and move on. Now, let’s move on to nongamers.

I think that this oddly named product has the potential to make the word ‘Nintendo’ ubiquitous to gaming again. The Wii’s ability to take players in a new direction (yes, thanks to the controller, its ability to offer add-ons, and an assumed retained focus on gameplay) will make it different from other systems, which has long been Nintendo’s “Blue Ocean” strategy. They want to the the iPod to Sony’s discman and Microsoft’s… Well, ‘other discman.’ (To stick with the comparison.) To do that, they’ll need a new type of gaming to go along with it. Let’s hope that Red Steel is only the tip of that iceberg.

There are also those who game, but don’t really care. Let’s call them non-fans. I have no problem with people like that, as I’m sure Nintendo hopes to make a killing off of these people! They bought Guitar Hero because it was new, and fun. They bought Halo when they heard that fun coop had came back to gaming. They buy whatever console or a PC and play the games they like. To those, normal, people, gaming is similar to TV and movies. They play a game and then go about their day and I commend them for it. Gaming doesn’t have to be an all-encompassing way of life.

But the haters? The ones who actively hate on Nintendo, not just because of the name, but call them ‘too kiddie’ simply because their games don’t contain more violence/blood? The people who will surely be using the term ‘Wiitards’ in the coming years? Y’know, those people who you (I) secretly hate because they think of themselves as hardcore for getting into games because of Final Fantasy VII? People who have never so much as heard of M.U.L.E.? They’ve pushed me over the edge. After constant complaining about how gaming has been ruined by marketing and graphics-whoring games, which they themselves buy every year, they have the nerve to bitch when a large company finally makes a move to be independent of that type of shit. To reference RvB, they could bitch about anything.

I’ve never owned a Gamecube. It didn’t strike me as something I’d like at the beginning due to the games released on it, and I never got around to picking one up after games I thought I would enjoy finally came out. But a while back I picked up a Nintendo DS and it all made sense to me. It just felt ‘right’. Before, I was just ‘really interested’ in the Wii. Now I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. I’m in Nintendo’s boat and sailing off into the Blue Ocean with them, because I desperately want greener gaming pastures.


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Community gaming?

So a week ago a link was passed around about how virtually all informative video game related internet shows (video and audio) suck. (Here.) I can totally understand his opinion. I only listen to one podcast really; well, aside from the Lost podcast, but that’s mandatory. I listen to one video game podcast, and it’s the one I host (host meaning provide webspace for, not perform emcee duties during,) Evil Avatar Radio.

If you stay up to date on all the video game goings on then it won’t provide you with information, just maybe a few laughs. If you’re not into that, you probably shouldn’t bother. But the reason I feel that it works and provides those laughs is because it’s approached more like a bastardized local talk show than an authoritative podcast. As it’s an offshoot from the gaming news-link-site EvilAvatar.com. Our sense of community has really carried over well to the show and as a reader of the site, I feel like a part of the show even when I’m not on it because I know those talking (and being talked about,) relatively well. (Hell, you can even listen live and call in from 10pm-1am Eastern Friday nights.) Also, I would think that a cast of people who work well together would help non-EvAvers get into the feel of things, I would think. After all, a well functioning community is always appealing.

Now, the idea of ‘community podcasting’ is obviously not new. Many TV shows, websites, and other hobbies have their own podcasts. And it’s not just podcasts for communities. Some communities have sprung up around initial podcasts (TWiT, etc.) This lead me to thinking about community gaming. Not just a community about gaming, or even gaming with your community, but rather gaming about your community. If one were to look at gaming as a reflection of the partaking community then it’s easy to see why FPS players are the jocks of the gaming world. FPS’ are all competition, there’s smacktalk, rivalries, and their stars even get endorsement deals. Hardcore MMORPGers are the Amish, who have moved away from our civilization, preferring their own world. And of course who could forget the starving artists of Interactive Fiction?

So, I thought, what if someone were to invert even that? Let’s take a community, and build a game around it. Hell, you could even shove those people into an existing game. Remember how much fun it was to type your friends names into Oregon Trail and see if they’ll make it? Imagine starting up a popular single player game and playing in a world where the cast is a community you’ve known for years. It sounded fun, so, I think I’ll do it.

Oh, and that radio show? Because I’m an attention whore you can hear me in the latest episode, F-Bomb. (Actually, it was after we finished the show when we realized that by recording this on the internet instead of the radio, we could have cussed constantly if we wanted. And we wanted. We just didn’t know Nat hadn’t stopped recording.)

Evil Avatar Radio
Project X

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When do you stop playing by the rules?

Never knowing if they were real or not, my friends and I laughed at Faces of Death when we watched them. I forget how old we were, but it was under sixteen as we couldn’t drive yet. I know I’m a different person now, but how different? A month ago a video started circulating and I’d love to get opinions on it. A Horde guild leader (or officer, I’m not sure,) of a World of Warcraft guild had a stroke and passed away. In the spirit of fond remembrance her guild and friends all set a time to hold a ‘funeral’ of sorts at her favorite fishing spot, which was in a PVP area. As you may have guessed, the funeral is attacked by an Alliance guild who lay waste to the Horde. It’s barely even a fight. (YouTube, hi-res torrent)

I felt really bad when I watched it. The first time. As I watched it a few more times that old aspect of extremely dark humor reared its head a bit. The concept of ‘attacking a funeral’ is so ludicrous that it does seem funny to me. In my minds eye I can see a grieving family standing over a casket just before Cardinal Ximinez jumps into frame shouting “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” But my imagination run amok doesn’t doesn’t change the fact that a real person died and was being remembered here. I’ve no problem admitting a certain level of assholism myself; as I just admitted to, on some level, being entertained by a slaughter at a funeral. But I’m wondering what level of assholism one should regard the attacking Alliance party as. I mean, they were just playing the game, right? In a ‘roleplaying’ way of thinking they saw easy pickings and took it. It’s that “Hitler was a great speaker” way of thinking that forces you to realize that they had a great plan and executed it well. As someone else said, just like the real world doesn’t stop for death, neither does the virtual world.

But at the same time they knew what was going on and targeted the funeral explicitly. Obviously one can’t condone their actions. They used a real world tragedy to their advantage in a video game, slighting others in the process in a manner that’s morally reprehensible. I’d go so far as to say that they deserve a nice solid punch in the face. But they didn’t break any rules, so I can’t see taking any action against them as I’ve seen suggested. This is something that I’d love to hear others take on.


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