Other Ten Percent 6/12/13

Jun 11 2013

So let’s talk about Vidya games because really this week what else is there to talk about? I want a new Macbook Air and I actually kinda like iOS 7 but honestly I think not giving that much of a fuck is a pretty honest reaction. So instead let’s talk about E3 where…not giving that much of a fuck is also an honest reaction. Microsoft bombed pretty hard and so Sony won by default and everybody, including Nintendo that basically didn’t even show up to the party, seems to admit that by going after anybody but the hardcore gaming market Nintendo is just basically playing a different game now.

Is all of this boring you? It’s probably boring you. The short version is Microsoft made a horrible rape joke, committed more virtual murders during their press conference than the number of actual murders EVERYWHERE ON EARTH during than period five times over charged $100 more for their next console. Sony then announced a console and wasn’t as stupid.

They won.

I was going to make a big point about how microsoft’s big failure was not actually picking an audience and certainly their inability to decide between hunting casual gamers that just want to have some fun and gamer bros that really want to know if the next chainsaw rocket launcher in Gears of War is a chainsaw that constantly shoots rockets or a rocket launcher that constantly shoots chainsaws caused them some issues. Really though the more I thought about that the more I got bored.

Then I saw the trailer for the incredibly self-indulgent new Metal Gear game (just like the fact that I never liked Magic: the Gathering totally alienates me from card game/board game geeks the fact that I despise Metal Gear games basically brands me as an insane heretic when it comes to console games. It’s the video game equivalent of being that douche that thinks Shakespeare is overrated. Only this time he is. He totally is.) and thought about making a big thing about the difference between distanciation which Metal Gear constantly pushes and doesn’t interest me at all on its own and implicating your audience which Metal Gear’s “Tom Clancy novel on crack” plotting totally fails at and I like a lot better but then…

Wait you all fell asleep again. Wake up. We’re getting to links. See I was reading about Metal Gear for a while which lead me to Leah Alexander talking about why she loved those games which then got me reading the FFVII letters which, wait, still not a link you should care about if you aren’t a huge video game nerd. Or, at least you should wait and read it after I give it context because it did get me thinking about why console games don’t interest me the way they used to and why the games of my youth have such power over me,

It’s a thing that they touch on in the 20,000 word plus series over there but it took another article to articulate it for me. Games used to be magic. When I say this I’m not arguing they should be again because a lot fo the reasons they were had to do with me being young and stupid (though other things like a willingness to rely on my imagination and use representational art like they discuss in the FFVII letters I kinda miss) but that I used to not understand WHY things happened in games I only knew what I wanted to do myself. It’s the difference between solving a mystery because you figured out the butler was the only one with access to the poisoned grain that left the duchess stranded in the middle of the moor and solving the mystery because, duh, butler.

When I first played Final Fantasy VII I played it entirely in japanese on a modded playstation my parents were kind enough to buy me after months of begging because I couldn’t possibly wait the like 7 months it took for them to translate and release the game in America. I managed to beat the game using a really early tutorial i found online that explained how everything worked. This is both my greatest geek claim to fame and probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. It was really hazily written and I recall yelling at my parents (who, you’ll recall just bout me an INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE CONSOLE so I could play a video game I couldn’t read. I was a shit teenager.) because they kept trying to tell me I should equip the purple materia to catch Chocobos because the red one obviously just let me summon them. They were totally right.

My mom did accidentally erase my original Legend of Zelda save game from right before the final dungeon once because she was so determined to beat it herself and I’ll always have that to hold over her head.

Point is, to this day I’ve never played Final Fantasy VII in english and I have no idea what anybody said at any point yet I still have a weirdly thorough understanding of everything that happens in that game because it’s so representational. It’s basically the mono-myth acted out over and over again by lego figures against incredibly beautiful backdrops until you eventually end up with that iconic Final Fantasy theme and feel vaguely satisfied despite having no understanding of whatever narrative just took place. I think it’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to enjoying a Tarrence Malick movie.

Where was I going with this when I swore somebody would find it interesting? Oh right, that video games used to seem like magic. Part of why that’s gone is obviously just the internet and the fact that you can find spoilers for anything but I think another part of it, maybe a bigger part, is that games aren’t willing to just be batshit insane anymore. People make fun of how Mario is on drugs but really it just created a visual narrative out of whatever its programmers were able to actually make they thought might be fun. I’m not sure I can really say the lack of making shit up as you go along is something that’s actually “wrong” with games but it’s something I miss. I miss being able to lie about games and having people believe me because anything could happen.

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