Another Nightmare Averted- Strategy for Ghost Hunters

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Ghost

Games have always taught us that ghosts are not to be feared

“Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence”  – T. S. Eliot

I have to admit that I have an overactive imagination.  A downside to that gift is sometimes my nightmares are surreal.

Last night was no exception.  I guess I have been watching too many Ghost Adventurers because my dream involved me and my wife traveling from house to house and each one kept getting more haunted than the previous one.

First of all, I already have a happy home, so it made no sense why we were traveling to different locations, but somehow our maniac landlord kept apologizing for the ghostly apparitions and kept offering us new lodgings.

One was an apartment which reeked of ghosts as soon as we walked in (assuming ghost have a scent. In my dreams they do).  The other was a log cabin next to a dark and desolate highway in a scene similar to Alan Wake’s lodgings.  I don’t recall ever seeing a ghost in my dream, but I did have an overwhelming feeling that ghosts were present.

A small part of me wanted to see the ghosts and confront them. I wanted to be like Zach from Ghost Adventurers and taunt the ghosts, but they never showed themselves.  Also deep down, I felt safe because I learned from Super Mario Brothers that if you are ever approached by a ghost, you look them head-on.  You never run away. Never show fear. Like King Boo, ghosts are given confidence when you waiver in yours.

Luckily for me, my daughter woke me up for her night feedings and saved me from my dreaming doom.

Until next time…Here’s a Haiku…

Pac-Man

Brave among the Ghosts!
He eats a power pellet,
The blue ghost they flee.

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VGA Awards – Better than Nothing

December 11, 2011 3 comments

Gripes.

Gripes is all my Twitter timeline was filled with on Saturday evening because of the slew of tweets berating the VGA awards.  Sure they where horrendous moments where the viewer had to ask, “Why would you honor games with a soldier crouching over a video game producer?”  But for the most part, we have to be happy the show was on.

The image molded into my brain after the VGA

Most people probably won’t agree and just point to the horrible Hollywood element crept into the show (Charlie Sheen even presented an award), but I enjoyed seeing the industry celebs like Cliffy B and Miyamoto on the big stage.

Growing up I would have dreamed of watching a Video Game awards show.  Back then Video Games didn’t get any appreciation, only by the kids who played them. Now gaming is more mainstream so advertisers see an award show as a good way to reach their target market.

It’s the age of G4 TV and free games on Facebook.  Games are everywhere.  It’s not just the image of the pocket protector wearing guys who played Dungeons and Dragons.

I think all gamers are unique so it’s going to be hard to cater a Video Game award show to every gamer out there; which probably explains the public discontent on my Twitter timeline.

Sure I shook my head when I saw the guy tea-bagging and the discussions of tea-bagging.  Tea-bagging was a joke from the original Halo 2 online. So to me, that joke is far to old to be effective. Now, the joke is probably only potent to the pre-adolescent gamers.  Other than that one crude joke and the possible spoilers shown on the trailers, I am happy there was a Video Game Awards.  It’s far better than not having one at all.

Until next year Spike TV!

Mobile Gaming Cycle of Life

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

“While I slept and traveled in dreams at night, the mountains didn’t move at all and I doubt they dreamed- ” Jack Kerouac

Becoming a parent consumes you.  You’ll pretty much focus all of your effort on your child with no time for anything else.  Your free time is pretty much diminished to basic grooming and eating.

I said in an earlier entry, before I took a long hiatus from the Beleaguered Gamer Blog, that I’d try to get some gaming in during the baby’s nap, but the truth is, in the early stages of parenthood, you are pretty much sleep deprived.  Then you get a brief period when the baby begins to sleep longer, so you decide to play and this time is nice, but then the teething stage begins and they are up at all hours of the night. Then it becomes a decision of sleep versus game and sleeplessness pretty much always forces you to forgo gaming.

Thankfully for me I got a 3DS.  Now I have to admit at first I wasn’t to thrilled with the lack of games, but then they started to release the classics as part of the Ambassador program. I started to play original Gameboy titles like Tennis and Baseball during those moments when I am stuck in the car while the baby is nursing.

Having a child didn’t completely kill my gaming life.

I still get to play console games.  Currently I am playing Skyward Sword, but there were others like Dragon Age II, Gears of War 3, and Modern Warfare 3, but the opportunity to play console games are not as frequent. Thankfully for me I can stomp a few Goombas and fly wing-side with the ever arrogant Falco in Star Fox because of the 3DS.  If it wasn’t for the 3DS I wouldn’t be getting much gaming time at all.

In the past I had handheld systems as a kid and eventually in my 20’s I grew tired of them when I pretty much had access to any system for whatever time I saw fit.  However, now I am going back to that period in life when I am stuck in a car and I want to throw a few red turtle shells at the Princess’ lifted vehicle.

Yes, for me the handheld gaming cycle has come full circle.

How we played 2 players

Retro handheld gaming involved chords.

Mobile Gaming Cycle of Life- Poem

Going back to a time,
A time when I was stuck in a vehicle,
Driving towards long destinations,
Parents in awe of sites to see,
But not me,

My face is dug deep,
In the florescent green screen,
Dot-matrix Mario jumping multitude of foes,
Undone by his own demise due to lack of mushroom consumption,

Want to play with me?
Here is a chord let’s link,
What did you think?
I was going to throw the pitch,
without me wiggling the control switch,
Swing and a miss,

Now I’m grown and future has shown,
An inclination to the handheld device,
Not a vice, but a tool,
To make fools of imaginary foes.

Time is limited so make use,
Idle minds can’t redefine themselves,
Solve a laborious mental labyrinth,
hear the chime to enlightenment,

It’s just like a book,
Takes you from a boring reality,
Mobile gaming makes it easy to partake,
In the virtual imagination.

Dream Big, Always

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

“You are too old to plead infancy any longer”

-Homer, The Odyssey

If you don’t dream, no one else is going to dream for you. People will try to knock down your dreams and persuade you against them, but they are your own and only you can relinquish them.

When I was younger I always had my head in the clouds. No wait! I still do.

I wanted to be a musician and play lounge music and then I figured out that before that even happens, I have to learn how to play an instrument. I started with the guitar. After years of learning, my dream of playing in a band slightly subsided as I graduated college and began to truck my way up the career path and graduate school.

Jam Session 97

Author in Jam Session with @mylifeasadad Circa 1997

When I had some downtime, I would start to learn other instruments, bass, drums and piano. The opportunity to play in a band never materialized but I began to learn that music, (playing it), soothed my soul. Other activities can also perform the same action. I think that is what we all classify as something we “like”. No, not the hideous “like” from the numb skulls at Facebook but those activities that make us feel more like ourselves.

Who knows, perhaps sometime in life the opportunity will present itself and I’ll play in front of a grand stage, or maybe even a small one; it doesn’t make the pursuance of the dream any less as long as I keep it as my goal. Perseverance.

Same thing with writing. I used to think writing was something I did when I was bored in between classes in college. While people were huddled up with their fraternity brothers, I was in Montezuma Hall at San Diego State University eating by myself on a table with a journal and a head full of words that needed to come out. Was I ever going to publish them? Probably not, it was just something I liked to do.

Last week, I cleaned out my garage to prepare for the storage my 4 month year old daughter will eventually accumulate. I found a lot of my old binders from college and hidden in them was journals from college and grade school. It was like uncovering a treasure to my past!

In elementary school they used to make us write in our journals and our teacher promised us that nobody would read them. This was only for ourselves to help develop our writing skills. With that caveat in mind, I let my true self come out in my writing; eventually I started getting creative with it.

I laughed as I read my old journals. Stories of my first day of school and tales of what irked me as a child. I showed them to my wife and she said, “Oh my!  You were always a strange one.” I smiled because yes, I always was unique and proud of it.

Then she asked, “So how come your parents didn’t read this and talk to you about them or your teachers?” (as if someone should be concerned that the topics in my writings were a prelude to my looming madness), I told her it was because no one was supposed to look at them. Then she said, “But how do you know no one looked at them when you were at recces or lunch or maybe your mom saw it when you brought it home?” I became pensive and I didn’t have a retort. She is right. But at that point in my life I was naive to believe parents and teachers always said the truth.

Oh well, I don’t care if they read them then or not. All they would have been exposed to is pure literary entertainment of the first degree from my pre-adolescent mind.

So it seems that writing has been embedded as one of those features that also makes me happy.

I am a pretty simple man with simple needs. Books, music and a notepad to write about my transgressions in between waking and sleeping.

You want to be a game producer, a musician, poet, adventurer? Life is to short to allow adversity steer you away from your dreams.  Always keep pursuing your dreams, they make you who you are.

Sept 8th, 1987

An entry in one of my school journals.

Categories: Memories Tags: , , ,

Adulthood: Gamer’s Conundrum

June 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Sometimes in life you just feel weary.  It’s inevitable.  The soul gets heavy and it weighs you down. Depending on what the issue is, there is a different solution. However, one should never stop doing that which you love.

As you get older you have to adapt to new responsibilities, no longer can you live reckless with no regard for tomorrow. However, one should never stop doing that which they love.

Work problems are from 9-5.  Life’s joy is endless. Letting your career woes overtake your lifetime joys only diminishes your quality of life. What is life without doing that which it is you love.

Sure money buys security, but an overzealous approach can leave you permanently forlorn.
My two month year old grabbing my hand, a “saving” icon to show your checkpoint has been passed, a sunny San Diego Father’s Day is everything to me,

which is that what I love.

One thing is inevitable in life. We all grow old.  No matter how many attempts have been made, like sleeping in strange hydrobolic chambers or bathing in a remote waterfall, ever lasting youth is unobtainable.  Youthful exuberance is more mental than physical.  As you grow older you start to approach life’s issues in a different manner. Adult problems take adult-like solutions, but (depending on when you were born), this doesn’t mean you grow up and have to start destroying all your old records, compact discs, or 8-tracks, (kids today don’t break records, they simply delete the songs from their iPod).

The last couple of days I’ve been feeling angst as adult problems are causing me mental anguish.  This is predominantly because of my work, for my personal life is filled with nothing but bliss at this current moment in time.  I am usually carefree when it comes to “clocking out” of work, but for some reason the last few days have been rather rough on me and taxing on my overall mood.  Now here I am on a Sunday night typing away as the words ease some of the pressure.

Home vs Work

Author's artistic depiction of the problem. Notice how one figure is re-joycing, while the other looks dejected.

I would like to say that my problem is with a co-worker or with an overbearing boss, but it’s not; the conundrum is far worse.  The problem is that my mind is fixated on work, even when I am at home. I am not getting paid to think about it, but for some reason my mind is running around, always thinking about work.  It’s a sick, sick thing; someone who is overwhelmed with work. The brain ceases to think for itself but is instead fixed on one goal…the job.

Luckily for me, Father’s Day weekend helped me take a step back as I played L.A. Noire and MLB the Show all weekend.  I spent time with my daughter, enjoying my first ever Father’s Day. I purchased Zelda 3D for the 3DS and took a retro-trip back to my N64 days. I had lost track of myself being overly involved with work, but after some time with family and spending time with my gaming roots, I had the greatest insight.  Your personal life is what brings you the greatest joys.

So this leads me to the problem, I’ve been trying to revamp a work process and instead of my calm ways, I took an overbearing approach.  It is a seemingly insurmountable problem that requires major changes and a team of individuals to all be on board. Do I continue in my nonchalant ways or take on a more controlling role at work?  Adults are supposed to be serious and enforce rules on the minions. I can go Kratos on all the knaves at work. For those who don’t know, Kratos is the God of War. He uses anger and wrath to beat down his problems.  Not all of life’s problems are solved by mashing them.  Some of them require you to use your mind, like when you play the classic NES game, Adventures of Lolo.

I am angry now, but I know when I clock into work, my usual calm self will direct my actions.  Good thing to, I am not so sure someone like Kratos would be a good manager.

If you have a problem at work, don’t be a jerk. Write a poem about it and move on. That’s what I say at least…

Until next time…

Online games


Modem

"Back in my day, we had to wait for the modem to dial and connect to the internet as we walked miles in the snow to play online"

My first experience on an online game was on my 486 Windows computer.  The game was Duke Nukem 3D and the connection was a hardwired telephone modem to link me to the game server.

Not to many people had the game so, the only way I was going to play the game was with my friend Vince.  I remember calling him up late in the evening and we agreed on a time and we set the game up.

Duke Nukem 3D featured the first level as the multi-player map.  The level consisted of an area outside, similar to a courtyard and then inside was a movie theater.  I don’t recall too much about the strategies I employed, but I do recall one kill that left an impression in my mind.  I had used the jet pack and waited patiently in the movie theater.  Then I saw my friend scurrying in the projection room.  I used my jetpack and flew up to the projection booth window and in a move of pure genius, I shot him through the tiny opening.

It was my first official video game “ownage” but that term wasn’t invented yet.  I remember bragging the next morning at our job as interns and he was playing it down with a lackadaisical, “yeah yeah”.  I was excited and I remember bringing up that moment to other gamers but no one ever shared the same enthusiasm.

The beauty of online shooters are the multiple angles and ways to outwit your opponent. Each kill, each death, comes from varying angles, no single game is alike when you face another person because you are forced to rethink your strategy with every failure.  In the 486 Processing power element the physics engine was not developed yet, the target glided like a huge computer cursor on the screen as if someone had accidentally left the space-bar engage. But it was still on a 3D playing field and therefore, forced the two combatants to simulate their survivor skills.

Well, now it’s written down for the record.  I had the official first owning on an online opponent when I used the stratagem of an aerial assault and shot from the most of unlikely locations, with the rocket-pack engaged, gun in hand and sites set, through the projection window of a movie theater.

Never stop trying to out-think your opponents!

Carpe Diem

Blessings of a Child Begot

March 28, 2011 2 comments

Baby Blog

Spawn of the Gamer Dad

At any moment, any second, at an instant, I could be on the way to the hospital as a first time dad. I get to hold my baby and embark on a new journey in life.  Who cares about tracking game achievements now when I can track the multitude of my child’s real-life achievements. Something to truly cherish.

But what does this mean to the gamer in me? Yet another reason why it’s the beleaguered gamer blog and not the too much time on my hands blog.  On a recent Conan interview, Jack Black said that now that he has kids, “No more the Xbox” (he sticks a finger up as if saying number one, but this time he waves the finger in the international hand gesture of “no”).  An ominous sign for me indeed, especially to someone who has made it this far in adulthood as a bonafide gamer.  When I was growing up, games were something kids played.  Adults gaming in their 30’s would be scorned upon by the acid jean wearing society of the mid 80’s.  However, now Video Games are complex and are now featured in prominent periodicals under the Art section.  With their theatrical abilities it makes them synonymous to movies or literature (at least in my mind, I have yet been asked to speak at a conference…yet).

Now I am about to enter a new breed.  Not one that is diminishing with the test of time, but one that is growing in numbers.  The era of the Gamer-Dad.  Sure I’ll have to wait until the wee hours of the night when the house is asleep and the baby is in the deepest of dreams to turn on  my gaming system of choice.  Life isn’t about mourning the things you lose (as in my potential gaming hours per week diminishing), it’s about cherishing the things you love. So trading off some gaming hours for the love of a child is more than worth it.

Mario

My statue of the modern day Ulysses

One day my daughter might ask who the red hat adorning guy with the capital M as an emblem on my key-chain is.  I will say, “That is Mario, he is the modern day Ulysses.”  Then she will ask, who is Ulysses, and the cycle of learning continues…

The birth of my daughter is far from a gaming detriment,

it’s a betterment,

as you realign your goals and adjust to ward off struggles,

those few things in life you love most,

will be even more the valuable,

Let us not forget to inhale what life gives us,

and embrace it for the air of life is finite,

Blessings of a child begot,

The hours dedicated to gaming will go down,

but the passion for when the systems turn on will not.