Archive for the ‘WTF.’ Category

Violence and Video Games: Scapegoatism

December 16, 2012

I usually stray away from blogging about sensitive content that may offend people. I would never want to offend any of you, and always try to keep my blogs fun, light, personal and informative. I decided tonight to make a slight change and blog about a relatively unpopular opinion. Now please, before I begin, let it be known I value and appreciate other people’s opinions. I am open-minded and friendly in all my debates, and I do not want anyone to read this and feel I am being patronizing. I write on the subject hoping it will be regarded as an open forum and would love to hear all your opinions on this.

I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the events regarding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The news of this shook me to my core. It’s always a huge loss for humanity when events like this occur, and unfortunately it seems these events happen all too often. These were children. These children could not have any inclination that when their parents dropped them off at school and kissed them on their foreheads – that this would ultimately be the last time. Their lives were taken from them because someone was sick. The shooter was a 20-year-old boy with a history of mental illness and other disturbances. Now, we will never know the full story of his upbringing and we will absolutely never, ever understand him. We will never know his thought process, his feelings or his motives. Not only did he take the lives of 20+ children, he took the life of his own mother. It’s hard to wrap ones head around because the vast majority of humanity can not relate to this behavior at all. The shooter was more disturbed than we will ever be able to cognitively understand, and that essentially is wholly the reasons for his actions.

More like, Video Games: Society's scapegoat.

More like, Video Games: Society’s scapegoat.

For some reason though, it seems that people are so quick to look past the fact that this child was mentally ill, and rather start placing the blame on other unrelated issues; primarily the finger is pointed at video games. Sure – you can cut me off right now and say that I’m biased because I am a martyr of sorts for the video game industry and community. I can say that I grew up on video games and am extremely well-adjusted, but this isn’t about video games. It should never be about video games. It’s being reported that because this child played Mass Effect 3 that he was “encouraged” to commit this act. What about the millions of others that played Mass Effect 3 – what crimes have they committed? Why whenever there is an act of violence by a young adult are video games thrown into the fray of excuses? What about the young adults not exposed to gaming, what is their excuse? To blame video games for encouraging violence is just a scapegoat for inattentive parents and an easy way out for society. Instead of addressing actual issues like mental health, which is a way bigger issue in regards to violence than it seems anyone wants to admit. We don’t need less video games. We need to be more attentive and offer more support to young adults suffering from any of the array of mental health issues plaguing children. I realize this is easier said than done, but what has been done? Whenever a mass shooting happens people continually talk about the changes that need to be made, but once it’s out of the news it seems to go completely out of mind again until the next incident. It’s so easy to use video games as a distraction from the real issue but let’s be real:

The world has been an extremely violent place since way, way before video games.

The world is a mess. We are so quick to turn away from violence occurring in real-life physical wars going on and place blame on a war simulator instead. Remember when the Columbine shooting happened, and everyone blamed Marilyn Manson? They hardly focused on the two shooters. They immediately blamed Marilyn Manson – not because he was there, not because he personally encouraged them to commit this act, but simply because he made music that these two kids happened to listen to. What if these kids listened to Enya – would she be to blame? I doubt it. Here is an interview with Marilyn Manson from the film Bowling for Columbine. I happen to feel he makes extremely poignant points on actual issues.

Humanity has a lot work to do. A lot of the time I feel embarrassed to be a person. I wish I could just go back to being star-dust and float through space and time unencumbered. Despite the violence, the blaming – the omnipresent sadness that floats in and out of all our lives, there is still so much good in the world. More importantly there is so much good YOU can do as a person. You are an individual and you have so much to offer. We as people have so much power. The power to destroy, but also the power to repair and rejuvenate and make a difference. We are the one species capable of so much on such an individual level. I think if we all stopped being stoic and malcontent, we could really make a difference.

Here are 26 great examples of positive humanity in motion.

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E3: Where Console Rumors Go To Die

April 17, 2012

It’s that time again, gamers. With E3 just around the corner, it’s no surprise there are so many rumors floating around within the community. With talk of new additions to our favorite franchises, to totally new [exclusive] titles – E3 is definitely the queen bee when it comes to game gossip, and putting the rumors to rest. Every year we see new titles and other additions to our current generation, but it’s been nearly seven years since we’ve had a “console war”. This year marks the first in seven that we’ve started to really hear some next-gen console rumors, and it’s only a little suspicious that it all starts a few months before E3 is set to open its doors.

My favorite part of console rumors, is fan created images of their ideas!

Many people feel it’s “too soon” for next-gen, saying that our current gen is more than capable of going strong for many more years what with DLC and downloadable games from new studios giving our current-gen more staying power. Others argue it’s been seven years and that’s the longest we’ve gone between a console war, and that we are due for “next” next-gen, so to speak. My personal opinion? I don’t necessarily think we need next-gen within the purported year they are speculating, but I think now is a good time to start “thinking” about new consoles. The Xbox 360 was released in 2005, with the Wii and Playstation3 released a year later in November, and for some this feels like eons ago while for others it feels like only yesterday. I do feel that with the addition of DLC and online capabilities, that it makes sense to put more time between new consoles. Ultimately, companies want to make money. Even with the inevitability of new consoles, how many people would be able to realistically afford it? If they plan to push the technology of new consoles to the limit with expansive hard-drives and pricey memory, how many people would even be able to afford the launch price? One of the rumors going around is the consideration of doing away with disc drives, and proceeding with games just being downloadable. If that is the case, the price inflation of adding a larger hard drive alone would be caustic, not to mention not being able to play any of your previous consoles games that you’ve already paid for. Also, what if the competing console keeps their disc-drive as incentive to buy their console instead? Would that sway you? While Steam is successful in their download only set up, I feel that success is based largely on the fact they cater to a PC audience. While more downloadable options is never a bad idea, going solely downloadable could prove to be detrimental. Why not just get a high-performance PC, then? In defense to our current generation of consoles, I feel more people would rather play a game that gives an overall fantastic and provoking experience over a game that just delivers gimmicks and impressive graphics. So why the rush to next-gen? I feel we have so much opportunity with our current systems. That isn’t to say that I don’t get excited at the thought of new systems, the very idea of new games or technology within this industry makes my heart flutter. As a matter of fact, I was at E3 in 2005 when our current gen was at its peak right before release!

As E3 approaches, the collective imaginations and hopes of gamers are running rampant with just what possibilities lie in wait just around the corner. For a lot of gamers, E3 absolutely feels like the pinnacle event of their year, with overwhelming announcements and insights to the gaming industry, a plethora of informative press conferences and the honor to go hands-on with unreleased games and technology. This E3 will no doubt give us some solid perspective on what to expect in our gaming future.

Saying Goodbye: The Space-Age

July 18, 2011

These sorts of entries are hard to start. So I usually just give up, and start them with a sort of apathetic clumsiness. Once I get going, it’s sort of hard to stop talking about issues that hit closer to home than normal. I will try not to turn this into a biased rant, but as a Floridian, American, Science-lover and Space enthusiast, I knew I had to write something about the ending of the NASA Space Travel program. It’s therapeutic, at the very least. When I first heard from a friend while out at a club one night, that they were considering cutting the funding for the Space program – I dismissed it entirely because it just seemed so crazy to me. I went home and did some research and my heart sank into my stomach. It was true – they didn’t have the funding to continue the program anymore, and my very first thought was “Oh, so we have the money to fund a fake war, cost people their lives needlessly,  but something as entirely American as the Space Program, something that incites hope and awe, we can just pull the plug and walk away from?” It’s no big surprise that this nation doesn’t have its priorities competitively straight, but this just took me entirely by surprise. It kills me to think that when I was a child, I wanted to be an Astronaut – among other things, and that now kids can no longer say that. It’s just become an archaic profession. That just hasn’t sunk in yet, really. The fact that no other Americans will go into space in the foreseeable future honestly disturbs me. We are Earthbound. Frank Bruni, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times said it best: “The programs end carries the force of a cruel metaphor, coming at a time where limits are all we talk about – we have no stars in our eyes.”.

It feels as if Americas sense of discovery is over.

Cruel metaphor, indeed.

The problem is that acceptable reasons alone — national security, economic benefit, scientific discovery —  don’t fully explain why we should launch ourselves into space. Rather, the true justification for space exploration is that such enterprises speak abundantly to our sense of human curiosity, of wonder and awe, and because they lift up human hearts everywhere when we do them.

A melancholy message scribbled on the board by a now ex-astronaut in their meeting room.

I can only hope that this break will allow bigger and better things to come to fruition, although I can’t say I’m crossing any fingers or holding my breath. This whole decision to me has me so completely faithless in humanity. Without a sense of wonder or adventure, something for people to look up or believe in, we wont be able to get by day-by-day. I firmly believe in that. I don’t want to look up at the sky every night, and think to myself “Remember that time we put men on the moon? Those were the good ole’ days.” No. I want to look up, and know that we are going to do more, that there is so much to know outside of what Telescopes can show us. Space may be the “Final Frontier” – but not exploring it at all is way to “final” for me. Every time I see a Florida state quarter, with the Space ship emblazoned on the back, it kills me to know that is no longer a part of our adventure as a state and nation. I can’t imagine something that was so tangible, becoming literal science-fiction. How have we got so far off course.

A father and son at the first and last shuttle launch.

I cant help but feel that we are taking steps backwards with decisions like funding these bullshit wars, cutting iconic and inspiring programs, and caring less about people and trying to pass everything off as a sort of utilitarianism. I could complain all the time, move to a different country, or give up all hope – but I wont do any of that. I wont let the decisions of idiots in power compromise my sense of adventure and discovery. Ever. As far as I’m concerned, I still want to be an Astronaut when I grow up.

More like XXX-Ray Vision.

March 12, 2011

WordPress has a nifty feature that allows you to see what terms people are searching to find your blog. Mine somehow are almost always porn related. Or just really obscure. These examples are relatively tame – but still hilarious.