Video Game ADD

As anyone who has read previous posts can attest, I love to play video games.  I started when I was a wee tot on my parents’ Atari and I never looked back.

When I was little, I lived in a really small town and didn’t have access to a whole plethora of new games to play.  I mostly stuck with the same few that I always had and played them over and over again.  On the NES, I constantly played Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3 and Double Dragon.  When our faithful NES finally died, sputtering and coughing it’s way into the grave, we begged our mother for an N64.  Yes, our NES lasted all the way through the Super Nintendo era completely.

We got a 64 for Christmas that year and after that, it was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, 007: Goldeneye, Diddy Kong Racing, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.

Nowadays, however, I seem to have a problem with consistency in gaming.  I bought myself a PS3 almost three years ago and The Boyfriend and I have developed a very nice collection of AAA titles for it.  My problem is, I seem to start one game and play it for a while before I pick up something else and my brain automatically goes, “Oooh, new shiny object,” and puts that game in the machine.  At any given time, I’ll have up to three or four games on the go and sometimes I won’t finish one until a year or more after I started it because I played bits and pieces of so many games in between.

I have a few explanations for some circumstances of this.  I’ve come across bosses or puzzles that enraged me so much when trying to beat/solve them that I rage quit the game and didn’t go back to it for months.  Sometimes I’ll be playing one game but really just biding time until one that I really want to play comes out for sale.  When that awaited title hits the shelves, the current game gets put on the back burner for the one I really wanted to play.  Dragon Age II was one of these games.  I desperately waited for this game to come out and bought it on launch day because the first one was so damn good.

I believe the only game I’ve played from beginning to end (without interruption) in recent years, was Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.  This was a game the grabbed my complete and utter attention from beginning to end and I even played it through a second time.  It’s successor, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, would have done the same thing but I accidentally though I had deleted my save file when I was 3/4 of the way through the game and I was so pissed off, I didn’t play it again for months.  (Worry not folks, I hadn’t deleted it and I picked up right where I left off).

Since then, I haven’t played an entire game all the way through without stopping and playing another one for a while.  Currently, I have Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, Red Dead Redemption, and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception on the go.  Oh, and much to my roommate’s chagrin, Dead Space.  But, since he keeps berating me for not finishing it, I’m planning on not doing so just out of spite.  Because sometimes, that’s how I roll.

There’s nothing in any of these games that makes me not want to finish them before starting another one, I just constantly find myself starting up something else for a while before I go back and play a little more of one that I started previously.

Does anyone else do this or do I have some kind of concentration problem when it comes to current video games?

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Multiplayer Gaming Is Not What it Used to Be

When I was in high school, I spend a HUGE amount of my time playing 4-player Goldeneye with my friends.  We would play after school, on weekends…whenever possible.  It was incredibly fun to sit around with my friends, chat with each other, trash talk when we got a good kill, and just generally share the experience with my friends. 

There were so many other games I used to play with other people as well.  I remember playing Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 with my sister all the time.  Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing…all of these games have very fond memories for me and all of these memories involve me hanging out with people and having a good time while gaming.

It seems lately, however, gaming has shifted into a multiplayer aspect that I don’t really like.  I had my first experience with online multiplayer when I bought myself a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops and played with some gaming friends from around the city I live in.  It was really fun because I knew the people I was gaming with and I even ventured so far as to play with people I didn’t know.  That wasn’t so bad either, but definitely not my favourite thing to do as I would end up with the Bluetooth yammering in my ear all the time, mostly the voices of what I assume were 13 year old spoiled brats who probably shouldn’t have been playing such a violent game in the first place.

So that was my last experience with online multiplayer as I found it to be lacking in the personal aspect that made multiplayer so much fun when I was younger.  I was just sitting alone in my living room playing with people I didn’t know and randomly being insulted for either killing someone (the point of the game), being killed, or just because I’m a girl and some people don’t understand that we play games too.  If they hear a girl over the chat, they’re either immediately cat-calling or telling you that you suck.  Not the best gaming experience.

Recently, I’ve played co-op games with The Boyfriend and it’s been awesome.  We’re on our second round through Resident Evil 5 and we’ve also enjoyed the Lego games as well.  I love being able to spend time with him playing these games and experiencing the story with someone else.  Being able to discuss it is awesome. 

And therein lies my biggest complaint with modern games.  There aren’t enough co-op games that I can actually play with someone in the same room as me.  There are a great deal of co-op games, don’t get me wrong.  But they all require the people playing to be on separate machines to play together.  I can’t pop a any old co-op game into my PS3, sit down on the couch with The Boyfriend, and play together.

For example, I got him Dead Island for Christmas and it says right on the box that it’s a co-op game.  But only online.  Which I find to be complete and utter crap.  Do the gaming companies just assume all gamers now have no actual friends anymore and must always just be grouped with online people?  Or are they just doing this to sell more copies by forcing us to play it on separate systems?

I’m going to go with “The gaming companies just want more money”.  There’s no other explanation for this turn of events and I’ve gotta say, they’re not going to get it out of me.  I refuse to buy multiple copies of one certain game just to play the multiplayer.   I’ll just lose out on those particular trophies and simply play the single player campaign.  The multiplayer games of today aren’t worth the money and the stress of wondering if I’m going to get grouped with a bunch of jerks that tear me down for being a chick or insult me for some other arbitrary reason.  I just won’t play.  That’s the bottom line.  It’s far more fun to play with my friends in the same room than it is to play with a bunch of strangers online.

Weird Things Seen In Stores: All Video Game Edition

I’m always on the lookout when wandering around in stores for things that seem odd or funny to me.  I can’t help but snap a picture for later amusement and sharing with my friends.  Lately, I’ve spotted a few different things that seemed quirky or odd to me, all in relation to video games.

Wii Baby

I was shopping at Costco, one of my favourite stores to wander around aimlessly in.  I never miss the section with all the books and video games because they’re always at least five bucks cheaper than anywhere else.  I was in the gaming section when I frowned, seeing a stuffed doll and thinking it was out of place.  I was wrong.  This is an interactive baby that’s also a video game.  Yes folks, that’s right.  As far as I can tell, you shove a Wii-mote up inside the baby and it becomes a video game.  Not only does that sound like something that really didn’t need to be made into a video game, but also the concept of putting the Wii-mote into the baby to make it a video game controller just isn’t right.

Bioshock 2: New vs. Used

I’ve been curious about Bioshock for a long time, but was never able to play it until recently when we got an HD television.  I tried on the boyfriend’s PC once and almost threw up because of the first person perspective.  We were checking out EB games one day and as always, I checked the prices on the used PS3 games.  Bioshock 2 used was priced as $17.99.  On a whim, I checked to see what it was priced as new.  I stared dumbfounded at the price sticker on the new copy that told me it was only $9.99.  I picked them both up and looked at them in shock and then smiled happily to myself as I put the used one back and purchased a brand new copy for myself.  I sincerely hope it was a pricing error and I got to stick it to EB games that day because the prices on their used games generally suck.

Mary-Kate and Ashley's Sweet 16

I remember when these two were on Full House and they were funny and cute and we all learned good moral, family values every Sunday night.  I also remember when I stopped caring about them.  This was in the used PS2 game section at EB and honestly, it kind of ticked me off.  for one thing, the price is $14.99.  Who the hell is going to pay $14.99 for a game about a sweet 16 birthday party…even if it does have Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in it?  The part that really irked me, however, was written near the bottom right  of the cover.  It says, and I quote, “Real Games for Real Girls”.  Really?  Last time I checked, I was a girl.  I can’t really see myself playing this and haven’t really missed its presence on my shelf beside games like Call of Duty: Black Ops or Resident Evil 5…both of which are MY games.  I get that there are girls that would enjoy this game, to each her own.  I have no problems with that.  What I have a problem is them making it seem like girls have been sitting around forever, waiting for a game to come along that was all about girly pink birthday parties and turning sweet 16.  Finally the day has come.  It’s almost as bad as the stupid Wii Baby.

Dirty Dancing for PC

I loved Dirty Dancing when I was a kid.  I still love it.  It’s one of my favourite movies of all time.  But I can’t understand who would think it would ever make a good video game.  The concept of the movie lends nothing to a video game whatsoever.  In fact, as far as I could tell from reading the back of the case, the premise of the game was that you were staying at the resort in the movie and all you do is play little mini games.  It is like a million other pieces of shovelware out there and they decided to slap a classic movie title on it, hoping to sell more copies.

Scott Pilgrim at Starbucks

I actually saw this one last fall and it isn’t something I found weird.  I found it to be totally awesome.  I know that the Scott Pilgrim thing is actually a comic book and a movie as well, but it counts as a video game because I own the video game and freaking love it.  It’s also awesome, because I love Pumpkin Spice Latte and was thrilled to see its return with the approaching Thanksgiving/Halloween season.  Whomever drew this rules as a Barrista, a nerd and a human being in general.  My hat off to them.

I Miss Video Games…

For those of you who don’t know me all that well, I’m a gamer.  I love video games and have been playing them since I was small enough to hold the controller for my parents’ Atari.  My most formative childhood years were spent playing Frogger, Donkey Kong, Pacman and of course, Pong.

Then of course, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) arrived.  I still remember the very first time I held that controller.  My uncle rented a system to have at my grandmother’s house for Christmas and I watched in utter fascination as he and my other uncles all played Super Mario Bros., taking turns and getting really excited.  At some point in the evening, my Uncle Kevin looked at me, placed the controller in my hand and said, “Here, why don’t you give it a try?”  That was it.  I was hooked.

I got an NES shortly after, having begged my parents constantly.  They were great about it, since usually we only got stuff like that for Christmas.  That system lasted me for years.  I played it until it literally would not play another single game.  By the end, there was no sound.  I had to wrap the cord around the box tightly to get any colour and I had to stick a VHS tape into the slot to keep the game down.  But I still loved it and mourned its passing when it finally died on me.

After that, my mother got us a Nintendo 64, a joint gift for Christmas for my sister and I.  Again, I played the crap out of that thing.  My sister would watch me play games like Ocarina of Time and my friends would come over for marathon sessions of GoldenEye 007 multiplayer.  A custody battle broke out over the system when I moved out and was only solved when my mother determined we would each get the system a month at a time.  I ended up buying an original NES from a pawn store for the months that I didn’t have the N64.

Over the years I’ve also added an Xbox, a Wii and a PS3 to my collection and gained a whole lot more when I moved in with the boyfriend (including an Atari!!).  I played games so very much over the years and it was one of the things that bonded the boyfriend and I so well when we first started dating.  The very first gift he ever gave me (spontaneously) was a copy of Double Dragon for the NES…a game I had lost years ago when my first system died.

Sadly, however, my life as of late has not been allowing for very much gaming.  I find that I’m missing it terribly.  Work has been crazy for months and if I’m not doing overtime, I’m exhausted when I get home.  It always seems like I have social commitments, I have to go to the gym, or any other thing that pops up and there’s never any time or energy left for gaming.

The most gaming I’ve done in the last month of my life was to play about ten minutes of Mario Kart 64 at the Games Day Summer Pwnage event.  I loved it.  The atmosphere was charged, everyone was social and talking about the games and I had a great time trash talking and shooting blue shells.

So yes, I miss gaming.  I look at my shelf and realize that there are so many games I’ve purchased and started that I haven’t finished.  Some of them I haven’t even started at all.

All our games, siting lonely on the shelf...

The boyfriend is starting to complain that I never game with him anymore and I’m starting to get really annoyed by the lack of gaming presence in my life so I’m going to try and get some more play time in.  Right now we’re working on Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 because it’s a cooperative play game we can do together and also, it’s Harry Potter, so it’s awesome.  Wish my luck in getting back to my gaming roots this summer, it’s been way too long.

Why I Win at Mortal Kombat (When Playing Against the Boyfriend)

Jade, one of my faves

Let me begin by saying that I really am not very good at Mortal Kombat.  I can manage well enough, but for the most part, I’m always just button mashing and when I do something nifty, it’s almost always by luck.

There are a few moves by my favourite characters that I have memorized, but my timing is always off and I never do them on purpose at appropriate times.  So why, you ask, do I always win against the boyfriend?  Because I always play as one of the female characters.  He asked me once why I did this and I simply stated, “Because it helps me win.”

I like playing the girl characters for several reasons.  One, they are fast and light and very “kicky”.  I like this.  I spend

Sonya, the longest legs for being kicky

most of my time bouncing around and kicking at my opponent and then bouncing out of the way again.  Sort of like a cartoon character on speed.

Secondly, it’s so very rare in a game that I get to play a girl, that I’ll take the opportunity to do so.  Don’t get me wrong, a good game is a damn good game, but I’m still a girl and it’s easier to identify with the character I’m playing if they’re

a female.  In Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and every other role playing game I’ve ever played, I always make a female character.

Thirdly, and I hate to say it because I know that it sounds so bad on my part, but I use these scantily clad characters to distract the boyfriend and win the game.

Mileena, the boyfriend's fave

I noticed it the first time we played the game together.  The boyfriend actually knows most of the moves for his fave characters so it was difficult to play along but I commented a couple of times on the costumes strips of cloth the characters I was playing were wearing and he got distracted looking at them.  I won.

I then pointed out the, shall we say, largeness of the assets on the female characters and I won again.  It was awesome.  I had a secret weapon and this was not one of those times when a girl should be annoyed by her boyfriend looking at the half undressed video game chick on the screen.  I love games and I can learn all the moves and skillfully navigate my way through complicated dungeons and solve puzzles with the best for them…but I can’t play fighters.

I’m a button masher and any kind of boost in my arsenal is acceptable.  Besides, I will say the characters are all very well done.  They’re pretty and they’re colourful and they kick ass.  So what if they’re half naked.  Perhaps in Outworld, that’s how things go.  The only one that confuses me is Sonya anyway.  She’s supposed to be a special agent of some kind.  I wouldn’t think her outfit would be very effective on the job.  Mostly I think her boobs would fall out and the bad guys might fall down while staring at them, but that’s about it.

Besides, I have to admit that I can’t have a double standard about this anyway.  If the boyfriend can sit around with me while we play Resident Evil 5 and I comment on how buff Chris Redfield is or when I drool over Nathan Drake in Uncharted and he never says a word, then I can certainly allow him to ogle the very well animated women of Mortal Kombat.

I always say there’s no room for a double standard when it comes to men and women.  If I’m allowed to ogle, so is he and everyone can be happy when gathered around the PS3, no matter what we’re playing.

Bluetooth Etiquette: What Not to Do When Playing Online

As previously noted here, I have recently gotten back into first person shooters and I’ve been playing the crap out of Call of Duty: Black Ops.  I never knew I could have so much fun playing online with strangers.  I was a little intimidated at first because I’d heard stories about people being mean or condescending over the Bluetooth, especially if you’re a girl.  However, my gamer tag isn’t overtly feminine and I never had anyone razzing me about anything at all, so I kept playing.

Eventually, because there were a few folks that I would group with from The Games Day Podcast on Sunday night for SLAM, I decided to get the boyfriend to hook up the Bluetooth he had received for Christmas so I could converse with them when we were playing Domination or some other team based game option.

Since then, I have noticed a few things that are more than annoying when it comes to people and their Bluetooth use.

For instance, if you’re going to have your Bluetooth on and picking up sounds…don’t be eating food.  We can hear you chewing and it’s distracting and gross.  All you have to do is point the microphone away from your grinding jaws for the duration of your eating so we can play the game in peace.

Another horrid annoyance is people who have music on in the background.  Guess what?  We can hear that too and not all of us like your music selection.  I wouldn’t go about making you all listen to the soundtrack to some musical I like, so why do I have to listen to crappy rap music in which only the heavy bass beat and some tinny sounding lyrics float through my television speakers to piss me off?  Either turn the stereo off or turn off the headset…it’s only polite.

Pets and children.  Let’s establish something.  If your dog is barking continuously in the background, you should probably figure out why and make that stop.  If you are one of the jerks that has pets and ignores them, give your pet to someone who will love and pay attention to it.  If there’s something wrong that is causing your dog to bark, that probably requires your attention more than the game.  And if you have kids yammering on in the background so close to your headset that I can hear what they’re saying, slap yourself.  This is one of those games that kids aren’t supposed to be playing/watching.  That’s why there’s a rating system.  If you decided you were responsible enough to raise a kid, prove it.  Wait till they’re in bed or otherwise occupied to play a game with killing like this one or guess what?  You don’t get to play.  You are a parent first and a pwner of noobs second.

Just because it happened to me the other night, I’m throwing this one out there.  I don’t need to have the Bible quoted to me during a game where my sole purpose is to kill other people.  That’s just weird and creepy and, if you’re in there playing that same game…rather hypocritical.  Scriptures have no place in online first person shooters.

This last one is rather like the stereo comment, but since it just happened tonight, it gets it’s own paragraph.  If for some reason you have two televisions in the same room and you happen to be playing COD and someone else (or perhaps yourself, we all  have a little ADD) happens to be watching the other television with the volume on high, turn the freaking Bluetooth off.  Yes, I’m talking to you, guy from tonight.  I did not need to hear every word of what was being watched on your other television tonight while I was playing.  I didn’t need to hear stupid commercials floating through my television speakers instead of the actual sound effects of COD.  I didn’t need to hear the other person in the room with you talking while you sat with your Bluetooth on and said nothing about the game at all.  What is the point of having Bluetooth hooked up if you’re not using it to actually communicate with other people in the GAME?  You’re only irritating the rest of us and ruining the experience for the whole group.

Whether people realize it or not, those Bluetooth microphones pick up a heck of a lot of background noise if you’re not careful and while sometimes it’s an accident, ten straight minutes of someone else’s television audio is cause for an uprising.  I got rid of cable for a reason and I don’t want to have to listen to someone else watch television while I’m trying to survive a round of Free for All.  Do us all a favour and turn off the microphone if you’re not going to use it for it’s intended purpose.

Simulation Sickness: A Gamer’s Worst Nightmare?

Over the years, I’ve noticed that gamers usually develop a certain style of game they most like to play.  We all try out the various options and switch it up a bit, but at the core of our collections are the genres we love the most.  Some choose sports games, others like real time strategy (RTS).  I love role playing games (RPG) and adventures.  Let us not forget also, the ever entertaining platformers (another favourite of mine) and shooters, and every indie game in between.  With such a plethora of options, the choices seem almost limitless.  That is, of course, unless you are one of the unlucky population of gamers who are stricken with the horrible affliction of Simulation Sickness.

I, unfortunately, am a member of that sad population.  When I play certain games, mostly those with a first person perspective, I tend to become quite nauseous any time after ten minutes to a half an hour of game play and eventually, if I don’t stop playing, I will be sick.  I had always just called it motion sickness and likened it to the feelings that I would get when going on rides that went in a circular motion at the fair.  After dating the boyfriend for a few months, he asked me why I always refused to play first person shooters, especially since he’s somewhat fond of a particular few.  When I told him my reasons he informed me that there was, in fact, a specific name for my sufferings and it was “Simulation Sickness”.

According to Wikipedia, “Simulation sickness, or simulator sickness, is a condition where a person exhibits symptoms similar to motion sickness caused by playing computer/simulation/video games.

The most common theory for the cause of simulation sickness is that the illusion of motion created by the virtual world, combined with the absence of motion detected by the inner ear, causes the area postrema in the human brain to infer that one is hallucinating and further conclude that the hallucination is due to poison ingestion. The brain responds by inducing nausea and mass vomiting, to clear the supposed toxin.  According to this theory, simulation sickness is just another form of motion sickness.

The symptoms are often described as quite similar to that of motion sickness. Some can range from headache, drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and sweating.”

By golly, that was exactly what I experienced every time.  You might wonder why I care so much, being as there are many

Yes, I have looked like this...except for the hands.

games that don’t utilize the first person perspective and I do just fine playing anything that doesn’t, but I will say that I do kind of miss first person shooters.  Not all of them, I’ve never had any interest in games like Call of Duty or a lot of the war based shooters, but during the Nintendo conference this year at E3, I could have cried when they announced a new Goldeneye coming out.  I spent hours of my life on that game in high school.  That one and Perfect Dark for the 64.  They were awesome and great to play with a bunch of friends.  Then, one sad and rainy afternoon in my first year of university, I was playing perfect dark and the symptoms of simulation sickness hit me for the first time.  Ever since then, I could not play any first person games without nausea and the threat of vomiting.  Let me tell you, it sucks.

I’m dying to play Portal and when it comes out, I want to play Portal 2.  The sad thing is, I’m scared to play them.  The boyfriend got me to play Bioshock one day (back when we first started dating and I didn’t want him to think I was a gamer wuss) and I spent about ten minutes in Rapture (the name of the city in the game, for any readers who don’t know that) and then it was either turn it off or get sick.  Now a sequel has come and gone and I still haven’t worked up the courage to try again.

I now find myself desperate to come up with some kind of solution to my problem.  I have Gravol in the drawer in the bathroom, I have purchased a stronger prescription for my glasses (they were so bad) and I have portal on my laptop (thank you Steam) which has a high definition screen.  I’ve been working up the guts to give it a go and plan to soon.  Here’s hoping that I can overcome or at least manage this irritation because I do NOT like to miss out on games.

If anyone out there suffers from this problem, let me know if there are any solutions?  Do you just accept that there are games you cannot play or do you power through it?  Are you fighting a losing battle or do you have strategies that work to get you through the game?  Let me know, because otherwise, I’m playing Portal with a bucket beside the chair.