Posts Tagged ‘Lyndsey Hicks’

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

Postmortem — Borderlands 2 — 1Q2014

Borderlands 2 postmortem-web

Returning to Pandora one year later

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineIt’s been one year now since Borderlands 2 came screaming into my game library. Actually, it’s been more like one year and two months since the loud and brash shooter sequel made its acquaintance. And much like a new friend of a friend that you just met at a bar while getting drunk because you passed the bar exam, you have a few shots and look back on that night with a certain fondness. Fondness for your liquor, that is, not the new friend. More than likely, that new friend is now asking for money and showing up at your apartment at all hours of the night just to “hang.” But, I digress. Borderlands 2 is like that new friend except you don’t have to spend money for companionship. That is, unless you really feel like blowing your money for some decent distraction-type entertainment.

When the game was released, GI was in the throes of change and a new quarter. Change came in the form of me going it alone, since my previous partner who guided me around Pandora decided to head for parts unknown. I was on my own, but I was excited. I was ready to live life on Pandora with characters of my own and experiences shaped by my own actions without someone who knew the story by heart standing over my shoulder telling me that I was going about getting my murder on the wrong way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a snob when it comes to killing things with help. I will never turn down an offer of joint killing when it comes to Borderlands, but I will be frank with you all: It sucks when you want to put your own brand of mayhem and death to the test and there’s someone who is literally sitting next to you going, “You should go here. You should change your class mod. You should use this gun. You should do this mission first.” Constantly. So much so that you learn the story before you even get started. Because they’re playing the game all day. Every day. You see my problem now? It was constantly in my face. So, I really didn’t get to enjoy the first game as much as I probably could have on my own. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have discovered it without that former partner so there’s that. But mostly, I was ready to rock on my own in the world, kind of like my real-life situation at the time.

GI was pulling out the stops on what we’d learned with the new game before its release. I wanted detailed coverage but I had to settle with what I could get in about three weeks of play. I bought the game as soon as I could, and I jumped right into the single-player campaign quickly. Now, I’m usually not in the habit of reviewing a game as soon as it comes out, mostly because I haven’t played enough of it to give you a good opinion. That’s why I leave the Now Playing hype machines to the experts like William Harrison. He’s on the ball when it comes to current games, and has the time to review things that the other writers don’t with the possible exception of Daniel Gibbs. But this time was different. We’d promised a review and we were going to deliver. And deliver we did.

I pulled my review goggles on and made a point to get down and dirty with the game. How did the second game handle the sequel transition? Was it worth coming back to Pandora for what was probably the ninth time (saying you did two playthroughs with all four characters of the first game)? Did Borderlands 2 live up to the hype and anticipation? Well, I’m still playing a year later, so it managed to do something right, I suppose. I’m usually not a fan of sequels — especially to awesome games — because I feel like it never works as good as the first time. But Borderlands 2, much like my drunk friend of a friend from the beginning, surprised me. It’s good company. I’m still learning things about the game well more than a year later, and I haven’t even touched the DLC or all of the characters.

Do I like it as much as the first game? No, and here’s why: It’s just not the same grittiness or stunning simplicity of Borderlands. Borderlands was frighteningly simple in its “killed or be killed” premise. The sequel, I feel, has some ulterior motive in its quest to get one over on me, the player. Yes, it’s funnier and a little more polished than the first. But, coming back to that new friend, it’s still asking me for money. For EVERYTHING. The first game had its DLC and costume stuff, but now there’s more monetization of everything in the game practically, and that’s not what Borderlands started out as. This isn’t to say I dislike Borderlands 2 for it, but there’s a limit of which I’m mindful when it comes to giving up maximum dollars for a game. Borderlands 2 is approaching it.

When I think back to the lead up to Borderlands 2, I’m reminded of the feeling I had in my heart of hearts. There was a sense of dread, that somehow the sequel wasn’t going to live up to the billing, and I’d be disappointed since I’d been waiting for at least a year for the game. I can tell you that I wasn’t disappointed. Afraid of change? Probably. But I don’t regret giving the game my attention and time. After all, as my Xbox 360 beacon proclaims, it’s still a new day to ride or die on Pandora.

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

04

01 2014

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