Interview with a 9 Year Old

Every generation prior to the current one is always held with such esteem. And they always lament the next generation. They were the hard-workers and this next one is lazy. We know how the world works. They’ll be lucky if they can tie their shoe laces correctly.

I heard the same things said about the Generation Xers that are now being said about the Millenials. And I’m pretty sure in a few years we’re going to hear that the Millenials are worried the world is going to go downhill with the generation after them.

I try not to judge too harshly. I want to understand where other people’s thoughts and experiences have taken them. And maybe I don’t always agree with them about any number of things, I’m also not entirely sure I’m the one who is correct.

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I loved video games growing up. The Atari was played as much as humanly possible, and when everyone else had a Nintendo, I begged my parents for one of those. As the years have gone on I’ve gone through many gaming systems and it is probably only in the last few years I haven’t played as much as I might like (given the quality of today’s games).

However, there is a weird (to me) phenomenon where a whole generation of kids aren’t necessarily playing the video games themselves, but are instead going online to watch others play the games. I don’t know if I even knew about this being a thing until South Park ran an episode a few years ago “#REHASH”.

I think a Cartman commentary of my life would be “Gah, going to work again? Boring!”

And it is clearly big business as it shows up on my tv some late nights on TBS or ESPN. The other night I saw a show where they were breaking down a Street Fighter Tournament like it was the NCAA March Madness selection show. And while I might watch out of curiosity for a little while, mostly shows like that make it where I’d just rather play something myself.

During our annual family beach trip, I saw that my nephew is one of those kids who watch  Youtubers (is that even the correct word?) for hours upon hours. Now he also plays some games, but there is a definite joy for him by simply watching and listening to other people playing.

So I decided to run an impromptu interview with my nephew in an effort to get to the bottom of this (and did a follow up on the phone). But as with anything asked of him, he can be a bit evasive to actually give answers.

He won’t look up because he’s ENGROSSED… or maybe he doesn’t like taking pictures. Definitely one or the other.

Who is your favorite person on Youtube to watch?

fudz

Why is that?

He’s funny.

Ah, I see. Not going to give me very much to go on already. That was OK, though, I had ways of making people talk.

So what’s the deal with watching other people playing video games on Youtube all day?

I don’t know.

Hmm, this might be a tougher nut to crack than I first thought.

Well, you like watching them, right?

Yes.

Right. Maybe try a different tactic?

Would you rather watch them or play the game yourself?

Watch them.

Really? Why is that?

They show you how to play. You don’t have to look up how to do something because they already know and won’t get stuck.

Finally, now we’re getting somewhere.

Do you watch them play games you’ve never played?

Most of them I’ve never played.

He’s up to something… don’t let the grin fool you.

Oh.

I mean, I’ve played Dumb Ways To Die and Battlefront.

What’s your current favorite game?

Star Wars Battlefront and Nascar 14. It’s a much better game than ’09 was.

What is your favorite game to watch, but you haven’t played?

Unknown Battlefield

Is making Youtube videos something you’d want to do?

Yes.

Why don’t you do it now?

I don’t have all the equipment for it.

At that point, his people swooped in and ended the interview. The phone went dead. I scrambled with my own cell, making sure it wasn’t me who was the problem… but I had plenty of bars and plenty of power. His mother called me back shortly thereafter to let me know that he hung up on me.

I’m not sure if I was asking the right questions or if he was just leading me through a maze with no escape. Or maybe I was getting too close to the truth of it all, and he decided that he’d end the conversation before we reached a place we could never come back from.

And I’m not sure if I’ll ever really know the answer.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

How gratuitous violence in video games became a cliché

Guest post by Tessera contributor – Katie Green

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In the modern gaming world, it appears that over-the-top violence for the sake of violence has lost its appeal. Gamers no longer care about ripping off their opponent’s arms and beating them to death with the bloody appendages. Over-the-top killing in video games is a cliché at this point in time, hardly a selling point for any new title – in this article I will examine what led us here.

The video game moral panic of the early 90s was led by Mortal Kombat. I don’t need to explain what Mortal Kombat is, but we should examine what it was – the heralding of an age of deadly finishing moves, flying blood sprites, and outraged parents. In comes Senator Joe Lieberman, the ESRB rating, and CBS 60 Minutes documentaries, stirring up all this controversy around 2D characters decapitating each other.

Now quickly fast forward to modern era, before we jump back in time again – Mortal Kombat X topped the sales charts in 2015, selling over 5 million copies worldwide. But was this due to the appeal factor of extreme game violence, or simply a successful franchise releasing a highly polished product that captured a nostalgia factor? Because we should take into consideration that MK 2011 sold only 2m units, and MK: Armageddon has sold around 1m units between 2007 and today.

So after the Mortal Kombat controversy of the 90s, video game developers started pushing the envelope – one title, Thrill Kill, was infamously scrapped by EA just weeks before shipping the final product, because they didn’t want to “publish such a senselessly violent game”.

Thrill Kill was pretty much finished and ready to ship before it was cancelled, and members of the development team leaked copies, so you can download it on various emulator websites to experience what never was. But the gameplay itself, hyped up by promises of ultra-violence, “really sucked” according to Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine.

Now I don’t want this article to be a history of violent video games, so bear with me for just a few more titles – Grand Theft Auto obviously generated loads of controversy. Postal 2 sort of flew under the radar, despite being one of the most senselessly violent games in history, because it was primarily sold online instead of retail stores.

Postal 2 was a sandbox-style first-person shooter, where you could literally decapitate people with a shovel, pour gasoline on their body, light a match, then urinate on the flames.

Manhunt also achieved a good amount of controversy, and – you know what, I could list controversial titles all day. But here’s the point I want to make – all of these titles I’m naming are from the 90s to mid-2000s era. What is the last controversial game you can think of? I mean truly controversial, moral panics and all that. None, zero, nada, right? Okay, maybe the “No Russian” level from Call of Duty. But the moral panic of video game violence has pretty much reached its peak and jumped off, and modern titles attempting to cash in on the controversial are jumping the shark, as I’ll show next.

Let’s examine the most recent title that could have generated controversy the likes of which have never seen before. Hatred, developed in 2015 for PC, released via Steam Greenlight. It was basically every Columbine, Aurora theatre, Sandy Hook Elementary public shootings rolled into one game. You played a psychopath mass murderer on a killing spree, mercilessly slaughtering civilians left and right. Not only that, but it was disturbingly graphic – this wasn’t the cartoon violence of Grand Theft Auto / Mortal Kombat, this was a “realistic” portrayal of mass murder – people wept and begged you for their lives as you stabbed them to death in Hatred.

So because gamers love video game violence, Hatred has sold millions of copies, right? Gone on to become the top-selling video game of all time, marketing fueled by Joe Lieberman and an army of CBS 60 Minutes reporters? Wrong. Hatred was panned by critics and gamers alike, before it was even released. Hatred has sold a total of around 155,000+ copies, despite being easily accessible through Steam. User reviews are fairly apathetic to its “violent appeal”, let me paste a few from Steam:

  • “it’s cool for a couple minutes but then it’s kinda lame”
  • “Killing everyone for no reason. Alien shooter or GTA is more fun than this. Waste of money”
  • “bored of it within half an hour”
  • “Bleeds edgy angst that seems more “try hard” then scary. Like your goth friend in high school that makes everything into a violent tragedy.”

 

So I’ll just come out and state the obvious – video game violence is no longer shocking. Decapitating 3D people and setting the bodies on fire is like, so totally 2007. Either we’re desensitized to it by now, or we’ve realized it for the gimmick it always was and expect more from developers than head-ripping fatalities.

The truly humorous thing about all this is the complete 180 the video game market has done. The most popular titles nowadays are cutesy, casual games – I mean even simple online .io games Agar.io and UNO Online get peaks of 200,000 simultaneous players per day, more than what Hatred has sold 2 years. If you’re reading this, game developers of the world, want to know the secret to truly shocking your audience? Release a good game.

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 Katie Green

Contributor – ReadWrite.com, BusinessInsider.com, Cvent.com
Loves – Gaming, Travelling, Business, Tech

Take this quiz if you’re a video game god(dess)

You say you’ve played a ton of video games.

You say you’re a master of classic and modern consoles.

Well…

Prove it.

Each of the fifteen questions below has a point value. At the quiz’s end, add up your points to gauge your level of awesome.

Answers are way down at the bottom.

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FIGHT!

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Question 1

(1 point per correct boss named)

Name the three bosses in the original NES Metroid.

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Question 2

(1 point)

What type of fantastical creature gets its tail pulled in the first boss fight of Zelda – Windwaker?

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Question 3

(1 point)

 What dessert does the evil computer in Portal promise the player if they complete the game?

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Question 4

(2 points)

What song plays during the intro to famed shooter game, Borderlands?

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Question 5

(1 point)

Name the main character from the Mass Effect series.

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Question 6

(2 points)

What was the main city used as a refuge in the original Diablo?

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Question 7

(1 point)

In Minecraft, what does the Green Creeper do if your character gets too close?

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Question 8

(1 point per correct name)

Name the two primary love interests of Geralt in the Witcher series.

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Question 9

(2 points)

The huge metallic men with heavy armor and diving helmets appearing in the original Bioshock are known as

____________.

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*Question 10

(1 point)

How many segments does each and every block in Tetris have?

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Question 11

(2 points)

In the Halo series, what is the name of the massive green Flood-controlling entity?

 

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Question 12

(1 point per correct answer)

In Castlevania II – Simon’s Quest, what are the four whip upgrades Simon can possess?

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Question 13

(2 points)

Name the open-world RPG game in which a character famously utters, “I was an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow to the knee.”

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Question 14

(2 points)

Name the robotic giant appearing first in Fallout 3 and then again in Fallout 4 (in which players must repair it.)

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Question 15

(3 points)

Which game series focuses on an age-old rivalry between two secret societies, both of whom are related to an ancient species pre-dating humanity, whose society was destroyed by a massive solar storm?

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Betcha didn’t know about this trick, didja?

 

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Ok. All done with the quiz. Now check your answers wayyyyy down at the bottom and tally up your points:

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0-10 points – At least you tried. Played any Wii Bowling lately?

11-20 points – Not bad at all. You probably grew up with the NES in your house, didn’t you?

21-28 points – Impressive! How many consoles have you owned anyway??

29 points – No one has ever scored this high. You cheated! 🙂

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These questions are just a tiny splash of what you’ll find in The Ultimate Video Game Quiz, which is available right here!

Now back to button mashing!

J Edward Neill

Gamer, Painter, and Sci-Fi Author

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Quiz answers:

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Answer 1: Kraid, Ridley, Mother Brain

 Answer 2: Dragon

 Answer 3: Cake

Answer 4: Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked (performed by Cage the Elephant)

Answer 5: Commander Shepard

Answer 6: Tristram 

Answer 7: Explode

Answer 8: Triss and Yennefer

Answer 9: Big Daddies

Answer 10: Four

Answer 11: Gravemind

Answer 12: Thorn whip, Chain whip, Morning star, Flame whip

Answer 13: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Answer 14: Liberty Prime

Answer 15: Assassin’s Creed

The Future (and history) of beautiful Video Games

Ever daydream of being somewhere other than wherever you are?

Well?

Maybe you fantasize about slumming at a beachside tiki bar?

Maybe you daydream of sitting in the backyard on a warm night, soaking up a pitcher of sweet tea?

Or mayyybe sometimes you dream of nestling on a couch with all the lights off, controller in hand, television ablaze with an amazing video game?

Yeah. You know you’ve thought about it. It’s ok to admit. I’m right there with you.

Daydream of this real-life scene….oh wait…that’s Skyrim!

Let’s take a moment to appreciate where we are these days. We’re in the golden age of video games, and that’s no exaggeration. As far as new forms of art (yeah, video games are art) games are advancing leaps and bounds ahead of other industries. Hollywood movies are kinda stagnant. Television is all reality shows, zombies, and superhero/crime drama.

But games…well.

Every time a new year rolls around, we get to swim in a shiny ocean of faster, prettier, more artistic gaming entertainment. For $60, you can either take your family to see a single 2-hour movie at the theater OR you can buy a game like Skyrim, Witcher, or Zelda -Breath of the Wild and create stories of your own via your console of choice.

My kid pretty much wet himself when he saw the preview of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

And so here we are. Another new year. After a powerful 2016, which saw a waterfall of hot, stunning titles roll over the precipice, we’re primed for what could be the most beautiful year of games ever. And I don’t just mean good games like I’ve listed here, but gorgeous, artistic, crazy-good looking titles. Like sharp and futuristic Mass Effect 4 and noir-looking Vampyr.

Which begs the question: what are some of the most beautiful game titles of all time?

Well…for starters:

Limbo (Playdead)

Windwaker (Nintendo)

Witcher 3 (CD Projekt Red)

Metroid Prime 3 (Retro Studios)

Mass Effect 3 (Bioware)

 

Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios)

Beyond Good and Evil (Ubisoft)

The Last of Us (Naughty Dog)

Halo 3 (Bungie)

Inside (Playdead)

Half-Life 2 (Valve)

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A while back (and I mean WAY back) game-devoted site IGN did an article focusing on the best graphics ever. Now I don’t mean to be picky, but great graphics don’t always translate into superior beauty. Yes, realism is nice. And yeah, a poppin’ frame-rate is great. But sometimes it’s not the sharpest, most advanced games that strike an artistic chord.

Take Playdead’s Limbo and Inside, for example. Neither game was a technological achievement, but both were atmospheric, subtle, and beautiful. And let’s not forget Wind Waker, now more than a decade old, using cel-shading to give gamers a whole new perspective of Link. Both were risky moves by their developers, and both paid off.

Speaking of developers, they haven’t always had the tools they do today. Take one look at my progression of best games ever, and you’ll see the jumps we’ve made in graphical power.

Which begs the question: which old-school games are the most beautiful?

What about….

Majora’s Mask – Nintendo

Quake 3 (id Software)

Neverwinter Nights (Bioware)

Myst (Cyan)

Knights of the Old Republic (Bioware)

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Admittedly, it’s slim pickings if you go much older than the mid-90’s. Games back in the day had to be fun first, pretty last. That’s not to say old-school games don’t have moments of beauty, but the highly pixelated graphics usually meant the beauty was due to the story or the atmosphere.

And that’s the true test, isn’t it?

A fun-to-play game can be good, but it’s the rare game that makes us think and feel, and thus it’s the rare game that’s truly beautiful throughout.

Games can be art. Art can be games. The better developers gets at making them, the more the line will blur.

And that’s a good thing.

 




You say you’re a video game god? Find out the truth by taking this quiz.

J Edward Neill

Creator of Coffee Table Philosophy 

Painter of Darkness

My Seven Most Anticipated Video Games of 2017

Whenever I’m not writing fantasy novels or splashing paint on canvasses, I’m gaming.

Ok. That’s not entirely true. I want to be gaming, but more likely I’m chilling with my young son, doing laundry, or building giant fires in my backyard pit.

So…

I’ve decided that in 2017, I’ll get a little more screen time in.

And get back to my gaming roots.

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My Seven Most Anticipated Games of the coming year…

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horizon-dawn-zero

 

Horizon Dawn Zero

This PS4 exclusive looks like a beautiful riot. The details are still coming out, but it appears we’re looking at a giant open world (like Skyrim) with crazy enemies (like Borderlands) and amazing graphics and combat (like Witcher.) The best thing? It’s due out in February!  After failing hard at Dark Souls (I quit after the first boss) I need a fresh RPG/action game to get me back in the groove of not hating my controller.

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preyPrey

In reading the preview for Prey, one is reminded of hit shooter Dead Space. Got aliens? Check. Got a creepy space station? Check. Word is that Prey will have some customizable features, and the player will be able to steal the aliens’ abilities. Also…no levels. Just one big continuous run of terror. If it’s half as good as 2016’s Doom reboot, it’ll be awesome.

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the-last-of-us-2

 

The Last of Us – Part 2

Ok, so the release date of this one may or may not be in 2017. So what? It’s known only that it’ll take place five years after the original, and that the theme will be similar to the game we know and love. Post-outbreak…post heartbreak. Games like this balance out the typically hyper-violent fare made for gaming adults. Embrace it. It’s a good thing.

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vampyr

 

Vampyr

The promo for this game hooked me with the following line: “It’s up to you to decide whether to kill enough people to become powerful beyond belief, or heal London’s citizens and blah, blah, blah…” You mean I get to be an evil, soul-slaughtering denizen of the night? Sign me up now!

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mass

 

Mass Effect – Andromeda

Having spent nearly a billion hours playing the original Mass Effect trilogy while crushing Reapers and chasing Miranda, it’s not like I can resist playing the next installment. Word is, the new game takes place 600 years after Commander Sheperd’s glorious victory. Plot details are scarce. But can you imagine how good this game will look on the latest-gen consoles? I. Can’t. Wait.

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crackdown-3

 

Crackdown 3

Confession: I just replayed the original Crackdown on my ancient Xbox 360. And I loved it the same as ever. Even if Crackdown 3 weren’t coming out on a pretty new console with (likely) amazing new features, I’d play it. I could spend a lifetime hunting down Los Muertos gang members just to hear them insult me while throwing grenades at my face. My only request: they’d better bring back agility orbs. Because…“Skills for kills, agent. Skills for kills.”

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zelda

 

The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

They say it’ll be an open world resembling the original NES game. They say it’ll have fewer tutorials and less hand-holding. They say it’ll be friggin’ epic.

I’ll be buying a Nintendo Switch solely for the purpose of playing this game. I don’t really care if Nintendo publishes another game on their new console that I’ll like (they won’t.) Zelda is the kind of game I can play over and over again with my kid. We’ll team up to figure out dungeons. We’ll wait for Ganon to cackle. And we’ll be in heaven.

See you soon, Link.

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Think you’re a gamer god? Take this quiz and prove it!

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More video game goodness:

The Top 3 Video Games of Each Decade

My Top 6 Video Games of All Time

My Top 7 Video Games of the Modern Era

J Edward Neill