Based on my last post (a week ago) you might think that I’ve been doing nothing but power-leveling on Diablo III instead of posting… And you’d be partially correct. My barbarian, Merritt (named for Roy Merritt the righteous badass “Burning Man” of Damon) is shaping up pretty damn nicely.
However I’ve also been researching the hell out of my escape from New Brunswick. Hopefully I have good news on that front in the next day or so. I’ve also lined up some incredible new projects and partnerships on the professional side of life. I’m not ready to publicly announce anything at the moment, but it’s been a very big week, with very little sleep.
Speaking of sleep, I’m going to try to get a little before starting another crazy day.
At the strike of 3:00AM Eastern Standard Time, the gates of Hell will once again open, and hoards of demons will emerge. Gamers the world over will sink unfathomable hours into battling the never-ending onslaught of the forces of evil. Diablo III cometh.
A Whole Lot of Nostalgia
It pains me to admit that I’ve been waiting well over a decade for Blizzard to release their successor to Diablo II, or as I like to refer to it, the game that I gave two years of my life. I spent most of my time playing, and thinking about playing Diablo II for two years between the ages of 14 and 16 (right up until I got my license/ meatspace life).
As I’m writing the feelings of bitterness, and angry I’ve harbored at my teenage self for spending so much time playing Diablo II have completely subsided (A minute ago this was going to be a different post). The countless hours I spent playing Diablo II with Jason Lisnak built an incredible friendship that ultimately served as the foundation for both of our careers. We’ve both done reasonably well for ourselves, and I can’t think of a more loyal friend… I believe I own a lot of that friendship to the time we spent in-game. So here’s to you Diablo II. You changed my life you addicting son of a bitch.
I don’t have the time or will to play video games 10 to 12 hours a day anymore. Hell, I have a stack of games that I’d love to play, and haven’t touched… It just keeps growing. So I can safely say that I won’t be playing like I used to, but, 3AM draws near, and I’ve stayed up to greet the successor to the game that changed my life.
I’m going with the wizard class. Send me a message if you’d like to meet up on Battlenet, and dungeon crawl with me. I hear that dungeon-crawling is a good way to make friends. See you in Hell.
At New York Comic Con I met pixel artist Adam “Squarepainter” Shub. He creates incredible 8 and 16 bit paintings inspired by classic video games.
I immediately knew I was going to commission something from him, but I had no idea what I wanted. I was paralyzed by options. After a couple very geeky conversations we settled on something inspired by Duck Hunt. What Adam made exceeded my expectations.
It’s equal parts geeky, funny, and crass, and this pleases me.
It’s hanging in my hall near my front door. Every time I see it, I smile.
Correction: the piece was published by The Associated Press
Anders Behring Breivik, the evil bastard who murdered 77 people (69 of them kids) in Norway testified today that he played the video game, Modern Warfare to sharpen his aim. He also explained that he was inspired by al-Qaida to decapitate the Prime Minister of Norway; took steroids; meditated to “de-emotionalize” himself; and that he’s a “Knights Templar.”
Julia Gronnevet and Karl Ritter of
Bloomberg Businessweek The Associated Press wrote a piece on the testimony titled, “Norway killer sharpened aim on computer games.” It’s 1,099 words long, and of those 1,099 words only 152 of them are even remotely about Breivik’s use of video games. And of those 152 words, 77 of them cast a ton of doubt on the claim that video games helped him at all. Here’s all 152 words:
In a chilling summary, the far-right fanatic claimed Thursday that he sharpened his aim by playing computer games for more than a year before Norway’s worst peacetime massacre.
Breivik said he played the computer game “Modern Warfare” for 16 months starting in January 2010, primarily to get a feel for how to use rifle sights. In 2006 he devoted a full year to playing “World of Warcraft,” for 16 hours a day, he said.
Christopher Ferguson, of Texas A&M International University, said there is no link between violent video games and violent behavior. Though some research suggests that action games can improve “visuospatial cognition,” he said it’s difficult to say whether Breivik could have improved his accuracy by playing “Modern Warfare.”
“Let us keep in mind too that he was shooting kids on an island from which they could not escape easily,” Ferguson said. “That does not require great accuracy.”
The rest of their story is filled with substantive and non-sensationalistic things like:
Breivik told an Oslo court he took steroids to build physical strength and meditated to “de-emotionalize” himself before the bombing and shooting rampage that left 77 people dead.
His lack of remorse and matter-of-fact description of weapons and tactics — he even considered using a flame thrower — was deeply disturbing to families of the victims, most of whom were teenagers.
The 33-year-old Norwegian was ice cold when he once again described his victims as “traitors” for their links to Norway’s governing Labor Party.
The government building he tried to blow up was “the most attractive political target in all of Norway,” he said.
Breivik said he had planned to capture and decapitate former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland while filming it, but she had left Utoya earlier that day.
The self-styled crusader said he was inspired by al-Qaida’s use of decapitation, but noted that “beheading is a traditional European death penalty.”
But no. Video games get top billing, because video games are clearly the villain in this horrific story.
Let’s take this apart.
Can Video Games Help You Shoot Better?
I’m saying this with a fair amount of authority. I’ve been shooting since I was a boy, and worked for three years as a shooting instructor. I’m great with guns, and even better with a bow and arrow. I’m also bad at Modern Warfare. Mastery of shooting skills in real life have no connection to shooting skills in first person shooters, and vice versa.
Similarly, Guitar Hero and playing a real guitar have nothing in common.
For the record, I’ve never even gone hunting, let alone shot at a human being.
World of Warcraft Player = Violent Maniac?
While the name may sound menacing (I guess), World of Warcraft is best described as the video game love child of Disney and Lord of the Rings. It’s got plenty of action, but it’s also pretty whimsical. Have a look at World of Warcraft’s upcoming expansion Mists Of Pandaria and I think you’ll understand what I mean.
Felicia Day is another World of Warcraft player. She’s actually famous because of World of Warcraft (Spoiler Alert – Blacksmithing is a lot harder in real life than it is in a video game):
Stop the Gamer Bullying
That’s what this is, in addition to being horrible journalism.
Every once in a while someone kills people and they played video games too. They also exercised, ate food, took showers and probably had sex, but video games are blamed. Every single time. You know what no one ever writes about? The millions of avid gamers who get up in the morning; go to work; spend time with loved ones; play video games; and don’t murder anyone.
Less than 10% of
Bloomberg Businessweek’s The Associated Press article claims any correlation between this evil bastard’s killing spree and gaming. They subsequently cast doubt on the claim, and then give their article a title definitively stating that video games helped him kill. That’s wrong, and Julia Gronnevet and Karl Ritter know it. This is unproductive, and manipulative link bait, and I just won’t stand for it.
Bloomberg Businessweek The Associated Press has any ethics they will rename that article with a title that actually reflects its content.
Last month some people who I thought were my friends peer pressured me into “trying” Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad is an AMC series about a highly overqualified high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with lung cancer. With the help of a former screwup student begins cooking the worlds highest quality crystal meth in order to pay for his treatment and leave some money for his family. Insanity and amazing storytelling ensue. The show is ridiculously addictive. Next thing I knew I was nursing a three episode a night binge habit.
Just watch the damn show. You won’t regret it.
Moving on… College Humor created a 16-bit version of Breaking Bad. It comes complete with a badass 16-bit rendition of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s masterpiece Tamacun. Don’t watch this unless you’ve watched the show already… Bitch.
Rock Vibe is basically Rock Band for the blind. A player attaches peripherals to her/his arms, and the devices vibrate when the player needs to strike a corresponding note. It’s a brilliant way to make a modern video game playable for the visually impaired.
The creators of Rock Vibe need money to get this project off the ground, as building hardware isn’t exactly a cheap endeavor. So far they’ve raised about $15,000 on Kickstarter (an incredibly cool crowd-funding site, if you haven’t seen it). Unfortunately they have not yet reached their goal of $32,000, and they only have three days left.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that one of the creators of Rock Vibe is a woman named Rupinder Dhillon who is the sister of a good friend. That doesn’t take away from how cool her project is. Hardware/ software combinations like Rock Vibe will help blind gamers now, but I have no doubt that their concept has the potential to heighten the gaming experiences of sighted gamers in the future.