Podzilla 1985

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Media is the Devil's Greatest Tool

It seems like such a long time ago now that white Hispanic George Zimmeran shot and killed Trayvon Martin during a heated argument in Sanford, Florida.

It was February 26th when Zimmerman, a white Hispanic who served as community watchdog, ignored police instructions to not follow the hooded Martin, an African American teen, and got into a fatal confrontation that sent shock waves throughout the country and brought race relations back to the front lines once more.

No one can honestly say what happened on that infamous night. The shooter, white Hispanic George Zimmerman, claims to have shot the teen in self defense. Florida's “Stand Your Ground” law gives citizens the right to use deadly force if they feel their life is in danger. Nearly everyone else in the country and in the media took the victims side, and labeled it a racist act from a despicable man. He was given a free pass on it under the law, until the race issue became buzz worthy and was suddenly put on trial for the killing.

I'm not going to take a side in the debate of a right to defense versus murder. I wasn't there, I don't know the conditions that forced him to pull the trigger. I don't think any of us will ever know what truly happened because the only person that does has no doubt contorted the truth to fit his legal defense.

My biggest gripe with this entire situation is the media and their manipulation of America's emotions to bolster their ratings.

If you noticed the term “white Hispanic” thrown around in the beginning of this blog then maybe you feel like I do about the media and their lack of bias or ethics. George Zimmerman is not on trial for killing Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin no longer exists. If the media could, they would label him “Some Black Kid” and be done with it, so they could focus better on making a martyr. His name doesn't matter. He doesn't matter. He is a creation to push agendas. The media, and for the most part fame whores like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have taken what should have been a tragic death and turned it into a media circus. And boy, did the media run with it.

Before James Holmes shot up that Colorado theater you would be hard pressed to catch a news program that didn't involve George Zimmerman's mug shot next to “endearing” shots of Martin, to further enrage a country that has still yet to get over its racist past. That racism, which is just as bad in support of Martin as it is for his murder, quickly became the focal point of the investigation.

Remember, there was no investigation to begin with. It was an open and shut case until the media caught wind of it and turned into another black eye on our country.

White man shoots and kills black kid. It doesn't get more clean cut than that. That is the equivalent of a wrestling match where American hero Hulk Hogan fights evil foreigner the Iron Shiek. Lines are drawn so thick that even Daredevil can see them, and we know who to cheer and who to boo because the conflict is built on a classic good vs. evil scenario.

Things for more interesting when it came out that Zimmerman was Hispanic and not white. Suddenly, the media had lost its edge and all of their attempts and poking the sleeping elephant in the room became useless. But then, in true American “never give up” fashion, they found any way they could to keep him white and labeled him a white Hispanic, just in case you were going to forget that this was a racially motivated crime and you should tune in to CNN to boo the boogeyman while sucking down your beer and grabbing another handful of popcorn.

White Hispanic? Seriously? I know they exist, but was it so important to label George Zimmerman a white Hispanic just for the sake of keeping your racism theory alive? What if Martin had been white, had looked like Elijah Wood, and had been shot and killed the same way? Where would the media be without its precious fucking angle?

They would be fair and balanced. Their ratings would be shit.

The invention of the internet and the ability to get your news whenever you want it has put a dent in powerhouses like Fox News and MSNBC. So of course they would have to reinvent themselves with an edgier image by not only promoting negativity and unethical standards, but by also creating issues where there possibly was none to begin with.

Character witnesses for George Zimmerman all say he is not a racist. His coworkers have said that he is not a racist. In December of 2010 a homeless black man named Sherman Ware was beaten by the son of Sanford police Lt. Chris Collison, who wasn't charged with the brutal and unprovoked attack despite video evidence of his guilt. Zimmerman championed the cause of Ware and wrote a public letter calling out the officers who covered up the beating, and made it his personal mission to get justice for the man.

But that's not a very good hook to get you to demonize white Hispanic George Zimmerman so you probably didn't hear about it.

It's not like this is a new development when it comes to the way the media handles the news. My own personal experiences writing for my college paper, and especially my time as editor, made me realize how being a reporter basically makes you a living promotional tool. It's a business now, and a business will do what it has to do to survive in this modern age. I lost my love for the commercialized news industry when asked to cover the death of a student and I realized I was more concerned with how to promote it properly than who he was.

My heart breaks for Trayvon Martin. Whether he was an angel or a misguided youth, he was still a human being. He is not a martyr. He is a teenager who ended up on the wrong end of a gun and his death should be mourned like any other child who lost their life way too soon. 

But "respected journalism" will try to fool you. They will tell you how to think and who to hate, and it will be easy enough to follow their lead. But nothing easy was ever worth pursuing. Be your own person, have your own mind, and make your own decisions. Don't let who we are become a ratings boost for the carnivorous media bastards that look at human life as Neilsen numbers. 

Don't believe everything you read.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Capcom = Rapists

July 31st is the death of whatever innocence gaming had left in it.

Why such a specific date, you ask? I'm glad you did. Now be quiet.

You see, July 31st is the day that Capcom releases its big DLC for the substandard fighting game Street Fighter x Tekken.

Now don't get me wrong, I've played the game and it isn't so bad. It's Street Fighter IV with Tekken characters and a decent tag system. My first problem with the game was that it is horribly overpriced, clocking in at full tag for a game that has less content than a better fighter, like the recently revived Mortal Kombat.

But gaming prices have always been the subject of debate since the very first time my mom bought me an n64 game. But at least back then you got the full monkey for what you slapped down on the counter. Nowadays DLC has given the industry a “Don't worry about finishing it, we can add it later for a bigger profit” mentality that personally sickens me. Games are more advanced now, I agree. No argument there.

But why release a game that isn't finished? There is a difference between DLC should be and what it is.

What it should be – adding content for a game that has been out for years to give players new reasons to go back.

What it is – releasing already finished content later to make more money.

As much I dislike paying DLC for a game that was probably held back specifically to be released later on for a better profit, I can at least understand and appreciate the sentiment. Is it a lousy way to do business? Absolutely. This is a business though, and you have to get ahead somehow.

Nature of the beast.

And at least they put it in later, right? Maybe it really wasn't finished and there were bugs. Maybe they added even more content to an already planned addition. Maybe, in some rare cases, it really IS brand new content that had been completed after the game shipped. In our heart of hearts, we certainly like to believe that.

And then there is Capcom, the whore bastard of the gaming industry. You can hate EA and Activision all you want, Lord knows I do sometimes, but Capcom is the single most biggest dick in the entire industry.

Remember when Resident Evil 5 shipped with day one DLC? That should have been a damn sign. We all forgave it, begrudgingly, because the game was pretty good. Well this is what happens when you let someone get away with something, because by letting Capcom into your home you just gave them permission to rape your family and eat your pizza.

You may have heard that Street Fighter x Tekken shipped with the DLC included on the disc. That's right, the DLC was shipped LOCKED ON THE DISC. All of it, every fighter and every costume, is already on the disc and ready to play. They're making you pay extra money just to unlock it. And if that isn't bad enough, they delayed releasing it for months! Content that is already finished and on the disc!!!

Now you can Google this and listen to their bullshit reasoning behind it. I'm sure a lot of people will, and they will buy the DLC anyway. You are literally giving Capcom permission to have sex with your children, and personally, I don't have any kids. But if I did I wouldn't want Capcom touching them inappropriately just so I could play as chick Ryu.

I will not buy Resident Evil 6. I will not buy any more Capcom games. I hardly ever cut a company off completely, hell I still shop at Gamestop after they canned me, but this is ridiculous. Do not feed the machine, people! 

DLC started as a great concept and companies like Capcom have turned it into the Boogeyman under the bed. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

This is how the end of the world starts.

Long live the new flesh.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Promise to Keep pt. 2

I went into Gamestop (Boo!) to simply buy the Final Fantasy 1 and 2 combo for the GBA when one of their workers more or less forced me to buy WoW instead. I didn't want to get wrapped up in another online game with an increasingly hefty monthly fee so I was reluctant, but I did enjoy the RTS series and the lore so I decided to give it a try.

Let me just say that I only played Everquest briefly and did not enjoy my time there. I  considered myself an Ultima guy and the whole 3D look of the world threw me off with its terrible pixelation and hilariously bad character art. The concept of “fetch quests” and “kill X amount of X” was pretty new to me, and the quests seemed well thought out and connected to the world. I had an insane amount of fun with the game and played for many years off and on. I even convinced my now fiancee to play it and she joined me for many a quest.

The graphics had charm, the gameplay was solid, and the community was vast for better or worse. The accusation is thrown around a lot, but it really did take ideas from other games and polished the hell out of them. I've never enjoyed a by the numbers theme park MMO like I did World of Warcraft. I'm still on the fence about buying the Mists expansion though, as I'm not sure I have any Azeroth left in me at this point.

As for my promise, it doesn't count as an MMO purchase if its just an expansion, right?!

I hung up my adventuring boots for good when I lost my interest in WoW. Sure, others have come and gone. I've played everything from the cheapest of indie games to the then unheard of free to play Asian titles, all the way to almost every big budget release that has been put out. I've enjoyed the atmosphere but I've never been hooked like I was in my younger days.

And then the realization hit me that I am getting older, and all this time I thought I was searching for the next big thing when in reality I was trying to reclaim the nostalgia of a time when this was all new to me. They make improvements in the industry every so often, like the Old Republics story or Tera's fast paced combat. But there is always something out of whack or disjointed that I used to believe was because the developers weren't trying hard enough and it wasn't as good as it used to be.

It will never be as good as it used to be.

No amount of changes will give me the same feelings of joy I had when I was a teenager, sailing across the waters of Sosaria with my guild as a horizon of new experiences waited before us. I'll never have the same kind of smile as I did the first time I saw my first Jedi on Tatooine. Dungeon runs will never be as sweet as they were the first time I took my darling into the Deadmines and tried to teach her how to take down Van Cleef.

Enjoy what you have, gamers. Look for the beauty in it and cherish the good stuff, because it will eventually end and you'll find yourself a bitter junkie looking for that one last great fix that does not exist.

As for me, I'll pick up my blade one more time on August 28th. I'd like to think that this will be the one to recapture the magic, but if not, I hope to at least shed a little blood on my way out of this crazy lifestyle we call MMORPG gaming.

After all, a promise is a promise.

A Promise to Keep pt. 1

I knew this day would come eventually.

Guild Wars 2 finally has a release date, and it's a very hot August 28th.

This is fantastic news as I've been watching and waiting for this game very patiently since I first caught wind of it years ago. But with that sense of excitement comes a feeling of dread as I now have to own up to a promise I made to myself and my fiancee.

You see, as an MMORPG addict who is certainly no spring chicken now, I decided to give up my passion once and for all. Guild Wars 2 would be my final hurrah in the world of persistent online gaming, and I swore to myself and my beloved that I would follow through with my decision.

I don't know why I made such a boast. Maybe I felt like it would take so long for the game to come out that I would get the MMO blood out of me before it hit shelves. Maybe years upon years of new releases had tainted whatever good will I had towards the entire genre. It's no secret that my love for the industry has definitely waned over the past few years especially.

Now this isn't the ramblings of some Johnny-come-lately noob with a couple of seasons under his belt. No sir-ee, I've put my time in on a scale I like to think is both grand and sad depending on your tolerance of nerd devotion. I've traveled through more alternate realities than the cast of Sliders.

Let me give you a brief history lesson and touch on what I like to call the “Big Three.”

My introduction to the world of MMORPG's was the first for a lot of my brethren, and it's a title that I still hold dear to my heart. Richard Garriott and his Ultima franchise wasn't new to me, I had played some of the single player titles on the Commodore 64, which happened to my first computer. I found them charming, but they never blew me away like they did so many others. I was more of a Nintendo player at the time, and spent more hours in games like Final Fantasy and Super Mario Brothers.

But one day a frequent visitor to the diner my mom worked at, the same one who sold us our C64, told me about Ultima Online. He described it as an honest to God second world where you could do pretty much anything you wanted. There were no levels, no stat bonuses on items, no quests and no dungeon raids.  You weren't just slaying monsters, you could be a lumberjack, or a blacksmith, or a damn fisherman if you wanted to be. The world was yours to explore and there were very little restrictions in what you could do

The game had so many possibilities it still boggles my mind how they got “it” so right back then and titles now somehow have less features.

I spent many a year in UO, and it was the most rewarding game experience I have ever had. I still remember the first log in screen and the haunting MIDI song that greeted you. I would ask other beings if they were real or NPCs because I couldn't tell the difference sometimes. I started as a simple fisherman, casting the waters of Britian and selling fish steaks to a local bartender. In retrospect it may sound a bit boring, but the concept of an online persistent world was new to me. It was one of those “you had to be there” type of things.

I hooked up with a guild, the Crusaders of the Soul, and they taught me the ins and outs of Sosaria. It really felt like a brotherhood, and it was a kinship I have yet to find in another game. I gave up my fishing rod and learned the art of magery, and years later when my time in the world came to an end I was a grandmaster mage with a lifetime of virtual memories.

Expansion after expansion came out for Ultima, and each time I felt like the world dwindled a bit. I knew the good times couldn't last forever, and the introduction of artifact items and stats killed my love of the game. So eventually I moved on to what became the second biggest addiction in my gaming life- Star Wars Galaxies.

This is what an MMO should be. You take a popular IP, you give people the freedom to live their life how they see fit, and watch the profit roll in. Star Wars is one of my biggest obsessions (a nerd who loves Star Wars, go figure amiright?) and Galaxies looked amazing.

Make no mistake, the game had its faults. It was clunky in some aspects, the animations looked a little odd, and the combat didn't exactly set the world on storm. The same could be said of UO, but none of that mattered. It was freakin' STAR WARS and I was in it!

Like in my previous title I started simple as a stylist before I moved on to being a pistoleer. My best friend went with combat from the beginning, and he also made the mistake of rolling a Wookie that he joined the Empire with. It was funny to me that he had to work harder than other Imperials because they didn't like aliens, so to them he was a second class citizen. But once he climbed the ranks he could spit on NPC officers and they would apologize to him!


But me, I was a covert rebel, and we had a strange friendship where we would help each other even though we were supposed to be enemies. We fought the Tusken raiders, we built our houses, sometimes we just stared at the beauty of Naboo.

Then the Jump to Lightspeed expansion came out and I finally realized my dream of being an X-Wing pilot. It even mostly played like X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, so I found new use for my flight stick that had been collecting dust since I lost interest in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Like Ultima though, the good times couldn't last forever. Sony decided to change the game completely in a slight fiasco you may have heard of. Gone was my hybrid of a stylist and pistoleer, and my love for the open world Star Wars experience.

By this time the number of MMORPG releases were starting to grow in size. I hopped from game to game, never quite settling my bones anywhere in particular. There was fun to be had, but it felt like the same kind of fun everywhere I went. Honorable mentions at this point go to Ragnarok Online, and Final Fantasy XI, as they were both fantastic games that kept my interest for more than a month.

But, like most MMO gamers, my next big thing was World of Warcraft.

Where does the time go?

I hadn't realized it'd been so long! I think it's time I started telling you how I felt again.

Baby, this time it's forever.