Archive for the ‘Continue Screen’Category

Continue Screen – 2Q2015

Continue-screen

LMH & BHB May 2015-fixed

Life happens but we must move forward

There comes a time when every boss needs to think about her future.

I have been working on Gaming Insurrection full-time for the better part of eight years. And, let me tell you, these long eight years have been simultaneously heartbreaking and rewarding. We’ve survived getting bigger, getting smaller, losing co-founders, dropping to a two-man crew and upsizing the amount of content we produce on a quarterly basis. Through it all, I’ve been sustained by my love for video games and journalism. That’s partially the reason why I’ve been doing GI for as long as I have: because I love those two things, specifically. Once upon a time, they were my life and I needed something to do. But then I grew up. My tastes, along with my job, changed. I went from a married 20-something living with my husband, to a divorced 30-something with disposable income, living at home and taking care of my parent.

And I gave up journalism and nearly gave up video games.

In the middle of working on the 4Q2011 issue, my producing partner and husband of seven years decided he couldn’t be married anymore. Immediately, we separated (I’m being nice here and biting my tongue) and in the short run, I realized that I wasn’t going to be married anymore to this person. That’s the reason why I slowly changed my name back to Hicks throughout GI.

In the long run, I realized there was going to be a long-lasting change to GI. My baby, my idea, my piece of the pie was being changed through no fault of its own, and I had to do something. So, I recruited writers and continued on my merry way. Half way through producing the 2Q2012 issue, I learned that GI Mama was diagnosed with a terminal illness. This time, everything changed permanently. My focus shifted even though I was still involved in journalism and would be for another two years. Once I figured out where I was going to go and what I needed to do, I started planning to move back to Columbia and care for my mama in her final years. At about the same time, I came to the realization that I wasn’t going to be able work in journalism any longer and suddenly, GI became superfluous.

Over the course of the next two years, I thought about whether I still wanted to do this thing called Gaming Insurrection. It’s time consuming and with the job that I have now and fewer writers, everything had taken on a veil of “too much.” I creatively became burnt out and nearly stopped playing games altogether. I felt that I had told all of the stories I wanted to tell, the tales that I came up with when I began GI in the winter of 2002 in my kitchen. I was, truthfully, so hurt by the dissolution of my marriage that I didn’t want to touch another game ever again. That was significant, by the way, because my husband wasn’t just my spouse; he was also my gaming partner and the reason why I restarted GI in the first place. The idea of talking about games stemmed from our late-night conversations at our favorite Waffle House in Anderson, S.C., which is where I was when I decided to restart the dream. My Xbox 360 sat untouched for months at a time, and I dreaded playing everything that I owned — especially Borderlands — because even the slightest playthrough of anything reminded me of the years I spent sitting in front of a TV playing with him. The dream was dead, as Marvel Comics’ Onslaught would say.

But did the dream really die? Well, now that I’ve settled in at home, missed a few deadlines for the first time and decided to be just a small force of two, I can say with a modicum of certainty that I want to continue doing things for a little while longer. No, I don’t make money from GI. Yes, all I get is the satisfaction of being an editing overlord to my longtime writer-turned-boyfriend/partner (that really is the best perk, by the way). And, yes, I do get the occasional “You’re really talented. And a supreme video game geek.” But the reason why I keep coming back, putting out issues, traveling and coaching? It’s because I like this. GI, in its own twisted, crazy way, has been there for me when the world was falling apart around me. No, it’s not a real person, but I’m pretty sure it loves me, and I love it, too. So, here’s to another year of creativity and video games … because I can.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh@gaminginsurrection.com

19

07 2015

Continue Screen — 2Q2013

Continue-screen

An American woman in love with Japan

Lyndsey-101612-cutoutWhen I was in the seventh grade, in the heady days of 1993 and 1994, I fell in love with a nation. That’s not an easy feat, let me tell you. I am a red-blooded American woman who loves herself some of the good old U.S. of A, but my love for video games was unmatched, and it didn’t take long for me to figure out where they came from mostly.

In those halcyon days, I was an ignorant little wretch, playing what I could when I could with little money. All I could depend on was my mother getting paid every two weeks so that I could have a pittance of what she earned in the form of an allowance. I received $25, and the ink on the Treasury Department stacks was barely dry before I’d find a way to blow it on my favorite hobby/habit. Why, I could have saved millions by now probably if I hadn’t bought countless issues of GamePro and EGM that were summarily read at dinnertime from cover to cover. The gaming news of the day was most important for me, and I learned the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts of the trade and gaming journalism all at once. Call it a supplementary education if you will.

While I received a quite proper game education and academic merits in Columbia, S.C.’s public institutions of learning, at the arcade I was becoming cultured in the ways of the people speak. And at home, I was learning subtly about a country I’d never seen and still haven’t ventured forth to in the ensuing 20 years: Japan. My first glancing blow with the Land of the Rising Sun was through Street Fighter. Now, I realize like most people who play the series that there are several nations represented in the World Warrior tournament. Japan is one of many. However, the primary language spoken among all of the characters in the original version of Street Fighter II — with the exception of Zangief, Dhalsim and Guile — is Japanese. And yes, even Ken Masters, who is half Japanese, speaks Japanese fluently.

So, when I booted up the game after ignoring it in favor of Mortal Kombat, I realized there was something going on there and it wasn’t the good old English I was used to hearing. The shock of hearing the language for the first time was akin to being set free to roam in the world for the first time: I didn’t know how to act. I soaked up the language, enthralled with E. Honda’s stage and the concept of sumo. I’d never even heard of sumo at that point, and though I was aware of China and some of the food that I thought came from there (Americanized Chinese food is among my favorites), I had no idea about the history, customs or culture of either China or Japan. All of that changed when I did a shoryuken for the first time.

I dove into the world of a land I didn’t know with abandon. By the time my eighth grade year rolled around, I knew more about samurai and sumo than most 13-year-olds and I finally understood that Japan, at that point, was the place I needed to be because every game that I’d ever played had come from there. And thus began my lifelong dream of traveling.

I also had to learn two concepts at that point: Cultural sensitivity and open-mindedness. As a black teenage girl and now as a black woman, I had to learn that there are other people in the world besides myself and my own race of people. At the same time, I realized that there are people out there in the world that have preconceived notions about who I am and what I love. While I have a deep appreciation for Japanese culture, it is impossible for me to ever become Japanese. I can’t think Japanese, I certainly can’t speak it and I would never claim in any way, shape or form to understand the country’s way of life. However, I can indulge myself in what it has to offer and open my mind to it as well. So, when I’ve heard someone say that I am trying to “turn Japanese” because I happen to love geisha or watch a lot of anime or play a lot of video games, I shut that nonsense down.

That’s what this entire issue of Gaming Insurrection is about this quarter: We appreciate.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at editor@gaminginsurrection.com

06

04 2013

New column: Continue Screen — 1Q2013

Editor’s note: Continue Screen is a new column written by various members of GI on a quarterly basis. It’s basically a rant about whatever they want to discuss in the gaming industry. In 1Q2013, Contributing Editor William Harrison starts things off with a discussion of THQ’s policies.

Why marketing games the right way can make, break you

By William Harrison

Hello everyone, and welcome to one of what I hope will be many a mix of factorial and some personal experience/opinion editorial reports to come; so, please,bear with me. There have been many games in the industry that have been made with great hype, interesting media campaigns, hell, even Super Bowl placement all to sell to the consumer at large as well as the gaming community. This is done all with the hopes that they will be able to fund their next big or, sometimes small, idea that balloons way the hell out of control and takes on a life of its own. That’s where some, but yet a small part, of the delays in release come from. Publisher THQ could have learned a lesson from this and known to delay the game Homefront until it was more than just a polished turd with a really good story.

I say this because I was one of the many people who bought this game from the now-defunct developer KAOS Studios only to discover that it wasn’t worth the multimillion-dollar ads that it was portrayed to be. What we (i.e. the gaming community) actually got was one part of a great and somewhat original story, and an underdeveloped multiplayer that was a badly cloned mix of Call of Duty and Battlefield.

OK, before I go any further, I feel I should explain the whole developer versus publisher relationship for those who aren’t too familiar with how it works, better known as the consumer at large. Why do you think developer/publisher Acclaim was in business for so long? Not because they made great games; it’s because their subsidiaries, or developers, made great games for them.

Acclaim is now no more for the most part because of the business practices that lead to some of the subsidiaries — well, all of them – to jump ship to different publishers. It was more or less because of the fact that as a developer/publisher, Acclaim could produce (develop) and distribute and then sell (publish) its own games under the label of Acclaim using a majority of the profits from the other developers that work for them. Of course, they didn’t tell their subsidiaries this; I’m guessing it was made to look like a fine print transaction or something similar. Hell, they might have had the balls to be like “Oh by the way, we’re raising the percentage rate we make off every game sold under our label. Tough shitzu and deal. Have a nice day.” But that is an investigative editorial for another time.

Hopefully, I explained the relationship well enough so that you get the fact that just because a game has the THQ label on it doesn’t mean that they made the game, per se; it just made it available for the public. They may have had very little to do with making the game except for putting money toward it getting made. That doesn’t mean that the publisher has all their money in the right place. Take the game Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine from Games Workshop (creator and co-developer) and Relic Studios (developer), which is a platformer for the consoles and PC. When they got together to make this game, it was one of the best platformers I’d played in a long time. Granted, my main love is fighting games and anything that takes longer than eight hours to beat total play time (cough, RPGs, cough),but I occasionally like to relax with a Devil May Cry or a Sonic Adventure-style game where exploration is as fun as mowing down the masses.

But I digress. The simple fact of the matter is that some companies like to hype games they believe will sell a lot of copies, regardless of the fact that it might not be finished or that it has a great multiplayer system. Well, yes, I know it has worked for a lot of first-person shooters like the Call of Duty series and Battlefield as well as helping the Medal of Honor series pick up where it left off and make a decent game again. Yeah, EA, that was a shot at you … because my wrath is next upon you.

Anyway, Homefront could have been a great game had THQ decided that the game was ultimately not ready for release and then pushed it back to make to make a really good game worthy of a good single-player and multiplayer mode that was worthwhile. Unfortunately, what we got was a shooter that was buggy, not very good in some aspects, and looked liked it should have been released on PlayStation 2 or maybe the first Xbox.

Then, you have Space Marine, which had little-to-no hype whatsoever and is a very solid platformer that offers the right amount of challenge for all players. I think the combat system is slightly the basis for future Darksiders titles, but I could be wrong. The bottom line is this: Don’t try and jump in with both feet expecting to knock it out of the park when there more established titles that raise the bar. In the very least, don’t phone it in and pour money at the problem hoping the ad campaign will make everyone not notice how much of a polished turd it is. Even if it is polished, it’s still a damn turd.

William Harrison is a contributing editor for Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at editor@gaminginsurrection.com

 

05

01 2013