Ready or not…

To be honest, this isn’t my first choice (Harry Potter) or even my second (Pokemon), nor is it even something I would choice at all.  But it would be interesting, that’s for sure.

I like zombies.  My friends and I, back home, knew exactly what we would do in case of a zombie apocalypse.  Ian would drive to my house in his pick-up truck, bringing various supplies including his machete.  Michael would do the same, zipping down the less popular (and thus less travelled) back roads with his Louisville Slugger. We meet up, I get Ian’s machete in addition to my own, and he takes my hand axe.  Michael and I hop in my car (2002 coupe Audi TT, outfitted for the track), and Ian takes the lead, blasting any zombies out of our way in his truck, again, down a pre-chosen route of back roads.  We head north, picking up Ronnie on the way, who has taken advantage of the extra time and isolation (he lives in the middle of nowhere, relative to us) to pack more substantially.  He has his 8 person tent, impressive first aid kit, and many other essentials all in three separate piles, ready for our backpacks, his own already packed.  He too will have his bat ready and will be on the roof, looking for our approach and acting as lookout as Ian, Michael and I pack and go over our mental checklists, insuring nothing is forgotten.  Michael now joins Ian in the truck and Ronnie and I follow in the TT as our little caravan makes its way north, a list of survival stores as our targets.  Depending on what our radios tell us, we make our next move.  If the situation seems to be under control (or as under control as a zombie apocalypse can be), or appears to have an end in the very near future, we hole up at the first store on our list that hasn’t been looted and is zombie free.  If things appear grim, we gather as many supplies (guns, ammo, outdoor living supplies) as we can, we head north, and we don’t stop.

Think we’ve put too much time and thought into this? We probably have.  The odds of a zombie apocalypse are astronomical.  And we don’t anticipate one.  It’s just fun.  That’s why I’m choosing the world of Left 4 Dead.  If there’s going to be a zombie apocalypse, we better pray for slow zombies.  Smart zombies?  Fast ones?  No thank you.  And again, I wouldn’t willingly walk into a world where I’m almost certainly going to be torn limb from limb and devoured, where nearly everyone I ever knew is dead, but it’s interesting to me.

And if the zombies do come?  I’ll be ready.

Deathly Hallowed

He clearly didn't have a plan...
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Ssssssneaky

Snakes are, in a literary sense, cunning, deceitful, and devious masterminds with their own overarching agendas.  That’s why I immediately took note of the seemingly random serpent watching over our heroes in the following panel.

Why did Kevin O’Neill, the illustrator, place this creature in the foreground, pushing the protagonists to the back, out of focus?  An artistic choice, maybe, but I believe there’s more to it than that.

Throughout the novel, “Mr. M” has been there.  Not directly, not in the thick of things, but watching over the rapidly unfolding events from a safe distance.  He slithers above them, unseen but seeing all, as they make and execute their plans.  On page 97, however, we know none of this.  O’Neill consciously, in my opinion, drew this snake to foreshadow what the minimalistic dialogue could not.  It is because of little things like this that I hope the graphic novel never dies.  It is a completely different experience from reading a book, and a refreshing break from the walls of text.

-Deathly Hallowed

Se magnifique!

Art is one of those words that just can’t be defined, or, rather, as a million different definitions.  A visitor to the Art Institute of Chicago, gazing at the “Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler,” would surely not protest if I called it art.  On the other end of the spectrum, a football fan would heartily agree if I described Barry Sanders an artist.  Scores of outsiders, however, would.  And there is the beauty of art.  Every individual can, and is expected to, describe it for themselves.

I present, for your consideration, the following screenshot from the wildly popular 2010 Game of the Year, Red Dead Redemption.

Are you kidding me?  That’s gorgeous.  Just try and tell me that’s not art.  I WILL FIGHT YOU.  Alright, chance to redeem yourself…try this.

That’s what I thought.  These two games, RDR and the Assassin’s Creed series, have taken my breath away on multiple occasions, as have plenty of others.  The amount of time the designers put into these games is staggering, as are the results.  Can we please show the respect deserved?

Deathly Hallowed

Late than never?

Completely slipped my mind, but here it is.

Excluding only Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a visceral reaction to a movie.  My heart sunk when Steve’s score was rejected, my skin crawled when Billy sent in his doctored tapes, and I cheered when Wiebe finally took the record.  All this from a documentary about Donkey Kong.  Who knew…

The movie ultimately has an interesting message.  Nothing corny like “cheaters never prosper,” don’t worry.  It serves as an example for how important gaming is.  It can be a haven during dark times, as it was for Steve Wiebe.  It can be our entire sense of being, as it was for Billy Mitchell.  Essentially, gaming can be whatever you need it to be.  A shape shifting, never stationary entity that can serve as either a sword or a pillow.  And that’s why I love gaming.

Until next time.

-Deathly Hallowed

To Go Hard, or Not to Go Hard.

NEW MESSAGE

“Hey man, what’re you doing?”

SENT

“cnt talk gaming”

This is a typical conversation when I’m gaming.

NEW MESSAGE

“Hey man, what’re you doing?”

SENT

“Haha just playing some COD.  Gotta love the ballistic knives!”

This is a typical conversation when I’m playing.

The two are vastly different, and for me, there’s no comparison. The best way to relay this to you, however, is to paint a picture.

GAMING

                The coffee table has been pushed back.  The big leather chair from the corner has been positioned in the perfect position, about 10 feet back from the big screen.  The lights are turned off, the blackout shades are down.  My parents know not to talk to me, and the sound is turned up to glass-shaking levels.  I stretch out my neck, flex my fingers, and pop my Bluetooth mic into my ear.  The gentle orchestral hum of strings sounds out as I fire up the PS3, and I instantly load up Call of Duty: Black Ops.  I impatiently mash the buttons, skipping the intro cinematic.  I jump immediately into the online lobby.  After a thorough check of my settings, I head over to the load-out page.  My best class is still there, Famas with Arctic camo, Red Dot sight, and all the perks are in place.  I choose Hardcore Team Deathmatch and spend the next few hours barking instructions to my teammates, resisting the urge to throw my controller, and coming out on top of the leaderboards.

PLAYING

                I’m lounging on the couch, the sun is shining, the backdoor is open, and there is some nice, relaxing music on the stereo.  I turn on the PS3 and flip through my game collection.  “COD could be fun,” I think, and the disk is soon spinning away in the drive.  I have a nice conversation with my mom as the game loads, and eventually turn back to the TV and hop into online.  I load up my favorite class: sniper rifle with bright orange “camo,” ballistic knives as the secondary.  I set the game mode on random and pop in my mic.  “What’s up guys? Good luck.”  The game begins and I start running around the map, only using my knife.  I’m laughing, talking to my teammates, and my blood pressure is nice and low.  After a few games of screwing around, I’ll back out and join a new game mode.  I don’t get the best scores, but it’s so much fun.

                Sometimes you want to just have a chill time, just forget about your problems, and that’s great.  Sometimes, you want to kick some butt.  And that’s perfectly fine too.  I love to game, but I love to play just as much.  Remember, it’s just a game.  …Most of the time.

-Deathly Hallowed

Coming out of the Closet

Over the past decade or so, society has become drastically more accepting.  Our community has taken huge strides towards eliminating the stigmas associated with being game.  In the Dark Ages, so to speak, it was not uncommon, and perhaps even expected, for openly game people to be beaten up and mercilessly teased just for their life style choices.  Now, however, there are gamers almost everywhere you look.  We are no longer afraid to wear clothing displaying our game pride or to discuss our culture in public.  Even the government is beginning to support us.  Long gone are the days where we gamers were forced to hide in our basements, to lie about our nature.  We have Game Pride now.  I myself am openly game.  I am or have been a member of many gamer community groups, such as LOTRO, WoW, COD, FIFA, etc.  I have gone to various gamer events.  I’m not hiding from myself, nor am I hiding from my peers.

Some people are GAME. Get over it.

However, there is one threshold I have yet to cross on my path to being completely out as a gamer.  I have yet to come fully out to my parents.  They have their suspicions.  The late nights locked up in my room, the suspicious muffled sounds, the scrambling to conceal whatever it was that I was doing moments before they walked in the door.  The truth is, my home is my favorite place to be a gamer.  Why go to all the trouble of going out when I can just bring that world into my bedroom?  This leads to some awkward confrontations with my parents, unfortunately.

“What were you just doing in there?  What was that voice I heard?”

“It was nothing, Dad.  I was just…watching YouTube.”

“Are you sure?  Because that sounded an awful lot like that Cole Phelps character.  You know how I feel about how much time you’re spending with that boy.”

“Daaaaddddd, come on.  I don’t spend that much time with him, it’s not like that.  I’m not…obsessed.  He’s just a good friend, someone I can go to when I’m feeling down or just plain bored.  He’s fun.”

A disappointed, all-too-knowing look, and he leaves me be.  To be honest, I doubt they would care that much if I told them.  They probably already know.  They’re just from a different era.  I do things outside the gamer world, I really do.  In fact, none of my friends are a part of the game life style.  But when I get some alone time, when the world slows down for an afternoon or so, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.  I love my friends, and I love the life I have on the “outside.”  There’s just something about the game community that draws me back time after time.  To be around that many like-minded people is liberating, and I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve spent there for anything.

So here goes.  Mom, Dad:  I game.  I live it, breathe it, love it.  I game, and I’m proud.  So the next time you see me shutting the shades in the family room on a sunny Saturday midmorning, don’t sigh and walk away.  Accept the fact that this is who I am.

I am a gamer.

-Deathly Hallowed