Need…we need the Felicium…

Well, it’s been several days since I sent off my old PS3 hard drive and HDD Tray to a friend with an electric drill, and I’ve yet to get my tray back, so my PS3 has been sitting there giving me sad eyes for the past four days. Not hearing the unnecessarily loud external cooling fans at this hour is…almost unnerving. The room is too quiet. I filled the void for the past few days with amusing YouTube videos and the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I just got to the ‘After School Special’ episode (0122 “Symbiosis“), where one race (henceforth the ‘Addictons’) has the Space Plague, and another race (henceforth the ‘Dealerons’) produces Space Cocaine (which has the added benefit of being the only known vaccine against Space Plague). The Addictons, thus, became addicted to Space Cocaine (I mean, the whole planet is addicted; they presumably inoculated their children at birth with Space-Plague-Vaccine-which-is-actually-Space-Cocaine, too), and was dependent on trade with the Dealerons, whose only industry was making Space Cocaine–every other material need they required was extracted from the Addictons through trade for their Space Cocaine. The fun part was the fact that the Addictons and the Dealerons were the same species who had grown apart, like the Vulcans and the Romulans. The other fun part is that they all had electricity powers–it was like Infamous gone horribly awry.

In the words of my roommate, 'Why is it that every single alien race on Star Trek is just humans with a Latex forehead?'

The episode got me thinking about the portrayal of drugs in media, specifically how movies and TV shows portray them vs. video games. Growing up, I remember seeing cigarette vending machines and Joe Camel billboards, just as much as I remember those ‘Tap the Rockieeeees, Coors Liiiiiight’ commercials. Then it seems like all of those ads disappeared right before the new millennium, thanks to really uptight special interest groups. Now, I completely understand and agree with the idea that advertising cigarettes and alcohol to children is a bad idea, and putting things like cigarette vending machines in places where any 13-year-old Rebel Without a Cause wannabes could buy them is also a pretty bad idea. To be honest, I’m surprised America never got in on the beer vending machine market–the anti-alcohol groups surely wanted a crack at the action the anti-tobacco groups got on that front.

Beer vending machine, Japan. I can't think of a product that you can't get out of a Japanese vending machine.

Nowadays, it seems that characters can’t smoke on TV or in movies unless they’re a villain, or unless the product placement money from Big Tobacco outweighs the cost of listening to a dozen anti-tobacco groups scream about the corruption of our youth. Strangely enough, heroes are still allowed to drink alcohol on TV, and no one raises much of a fuss.

With the exception of this Looney Toons segment, of course.

In movies, any drug use immediately warrants a PG-13 rating, but even so, some want to bump any movie depicting people smoking and NOT immediately dying from lung cancer an R rating. Yes, they want any movie depicting someone smoking (unless it’s a historical character who was known to smoke, like Sigmund Freud or, I don’t know, Bill Clinton) to show, during the course of the movie, “people suffering hideous consequences as a result of their folly”. Websites like SceneSmoking.org track the number of times tobacco is used on screen in every movie ever, assigning them ‘lung ratings’ based on the number of uses and the movie’s perceived stance on smoking, and makes wanna-be clever tag lines incorporating the movie’s titles and level of tobacco use, i.e. ‘Black Swan, Black Lungs’. Films like Pirates of the Caribbean portray characters such as Jack Sparrow as insatiable alcoholics, but SceneSmoking.org only takes umbridge with tobacco. The use of alcohol by Jack Sparrow falls into the PG-13 rating…

…but the presence of Jack Sparrow (and FFX’s Auron) did not bring Kingdom Hearts 2 from Rated ‘E’ to ‘T’. In fact, the games’ rise from ‘E’ to ‘E10+’ is only because the ‘E10+’ rating did not exist when Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories were originally released. And although ‘Use of Alcohol’ is explicitly stated on the back of the box for Kingdom Hearts 2, substance use is not considered enough to bring the game from E/E10+ to T. In fact, among all the games on my shelf, none have ‘Use of Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco’ as the lone content descriptor on a game–all games featuring such usage or references always come with more pressing descriptors, such as Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption (both featuring identical lists of Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs; Rated M), White Knight Chronicles (Mild Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence; Rated T), and even Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (Mild Language, Use of Tobacco, Violence; Rated T) and Okami (Blood and Gore, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco; Rated T). Violence and Language are the factors in video games that raise rating levels, which can be deduced from the fact that no video games are rated ‘E’ with ‘Violence’ and ‘Language’, only to have almost identical games get moved up to ‘T’ for ‘Use of Alcohol/Tobacco’. This can be seen between Kingdom Hearts games released before March 2, 2005 (the implementation of the E10+ rating) and after that date. In fact, Re:Chain of Memories (released 2008 in USA), the PS2 remake of the GBA version of the game, bears an E10+ rating, while the original (released 2004 in USA) has the regular E rating, despite featuring the exact same content description: ‘Fantasy Violence’. Likewise, both Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep feature E10+ ratings, though Birth By Sleep features no substance use.

I’m a big supporter of content rating systems, especially when an adequate explanation of content is given along with the rating, but given the number of busybodies who fuss over video games, I’m both surprised that substance use hasn’t been made a big hairy deal by such busybodies, and pleased that ESRB apparently doesn’t view it as a big hairy deal. It makes me proud of this industry that they have not allowed themselves to be pressured into thinking ‘Oh no! Auron makes a cameo appearance in Kingdom Hearts 2, and he drank alcohol in his original game! And–holy crap, how did we not notice this the first time around–Cid from FFVII is in these games. That’s the chain-smoking Cid, right? Editing the pack of cigarettes out of his character design isn’t enough. We’ve gotta add ‘Incidental Character Used Alcohol/Tobacco in a Related Title’ to the content description and bump these games up to Rated T, pronto.’

And yet I wonder–why does the ESRB not consider substance use in games to be as big a deal as the MPAA considers it to be in movies? Is it simply because movies reach a much wider audience, and media seen by more eyes supposedly needs tighter regulations? Is it because the ESRB considers depictions of the use of common, legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco to be fit for public consumption because they are legal substances? (I would imagine a video game based on Bad Boys 2, for instance, to garner a higher rating for being about distinctly illegal drugs.) Is it because the anti-tobacco busybodies have just focused so much on movies and TV, they haven’t had the time to come along and browbeat the video game industry yet? Is it because the anti-violence busybodies are already beating every brow available? The world may never know.

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Video Games as Art: What It Means To Be Human in The World R:2

Today’s assigned reading was the infamous Roger Ebert blogs regarding video games as art. His statement, of course, was ‘video games can never be art’ (my emphasis), a statement that he later recanted–sort of. Ebert retracted his previous statement and replaced it with ‘Video games are not art now, and this generation of gamers will not see video games become art.’ Steven Spielberg once made a similar statement, saying “I will accept video games as a story-telling medium when someone can honestly say, ‘I cried at level 17”. Spielberg is currently in a partnership with EA games, and has made a few games with them, like a little series known as MEDAL OF HONOR. I guess if one is going to convince industry types of the value of video games, there’s no point in starting small. Other big-name movie industry types who dig games are giants like Peter Jackson (whose involvement with the Halo franchise led to him attempting to earn the rights to produce a Halo movie–we got District 9 instead, the proof that the rookie director he had chosen could, in fact, make a compelling sci-fi film), Mark Hamill (who spends most of his time now doing voice work for video games, including the recent Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, starring opposite from Leonard Nimoy), and Guillermo Del Toro (who has defended video games as an art form, and who is deeply involved in the production of an upcoming horror game, InSane).

Though considering Guillermo's Hellboy fist over there, it's not surprising.

One of us. One of us.

Ebert’s retraction included the following remark: “I don’t know what they can learn about another human being that way, no matter how much they learn about Human Nature.” Many people responded to this remark with titles such as World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Everquest, and sundry other MMORPGs, all of which derive their experience from playing with other flesh-and-blood people. In response to Ebert’s remark, I would ask what one could learn about another human being from watching a movie that they couldn’t learn from playing a video game; with the exception of documentaries, movies aren’t about real flesh-and-blood people, and neither are video games. Both focus more on Human Nature than on individual humans, and any oblique remarks about learning about the director applies not only to video games, but to every single animated movie ever made (and anyone who argues that Toy Story 3 doesn’t communicate anything about people simply because it’s animated toys is clearly a Cyberman.)

Having not played many MMOs, I will have to supplement my lack of experience in that arena with another game: the .hack series. A series that simulates people playing an MMO in the near-future, .hack often presents players with the question of what it means to be human.

Example 1, Mia.

The original series (.hack//Outbreak through .hack//Quarantine) features the character Mia, a Blademaster (the average longsword-type fighter) who has an illegal character model; while all other characters in The World are human, Mia has hacked her character’s appearance and instead made herself a purple cat. She also has several other hacked abilities, such as the ability to see the main character’s hacked Twilight Bracelet, an item that was invisible to all other players in the world, including the System Administrators (whom Mia also seemed to be skilled at avoiding). She is best friends with a boy named Elk, who plays the game to try to build his self-confidence in real life, where he doesn’t have many friends and is a bit of a shut-in. These two characters don’t tend to associate with many other people, and have a very strong friendship. The only problem is that Mia is an NPC, a ‘Non-Player Character’. Unlike the usual NPCs in The World, however (usually shop-keepers and the like), Mia has a full-fledged AI program, and conducts herself as a human; she is not even aware that she is not a real person until near the end of her ‘life’. Her behavior is entirely human-like; there are even periods where she is inactive, and you are unable to invite her into your adventuring party, just like when human characters are logged out. In essence, Mia could be considered the first Loebner Prize Gold Medal winning program.

As the main story progresses, however, Mia’s program integrity begins to degrade, manifesting in odd behaviors and speech, rather like when a person’s mental state becomes abnormal. This ultimately culminates in Mia confronting the truth about herself: she isn’t real. Not only that, but she is a villain, a piece of malignant software created for the purpose of extending the lifespan of Morganna, an AI program who was designed to digitally oversee and program the Ultimate AI. Morganna, like so many antagonists in Japanese RPGs, is not a clear-cut evildoer like The Joker, or even a man who is clearly evil but has what appears to be good (or at least non-evil) intentions, like Magneto. Morganna’s aim is to live. Should her purpose of completing the Ultimate AI ever be fulfilled, then her program will terminate. However, as an advanced AI herself, she is aware of this fact, and does not want to die. Therefore, she deliberately stalls the completion of her project by attempting to disrupt The World. As the player attempts to stop Morganna’s interference, however, they destroy vital parts of her programming, which manifests as severe bugs and corrupt data in The World (as Morganna is the underlying code for the entire game world). Another important piece of lost data was her knowledge of her purpose, turning her into a psychopath who then attempts to do outright harm to people, and causing her to attempt to actually destroy her ‘daughter’, the Ultimate AI ‘Aura’. It’s as if the Blue Screen of Death one day caused a deadly neurotoxin to leak from your CPU because it didn’t like the fact that you were switching from Windows to Linux.

The only time Morganna makes a physical appearance in .hack. She is an unseen antagonist throughout the games.

In the sequel series, .hack//G.U., while AI data anomalies (known collectively as ‘AIDA’) play a major role, they do not manifest themselves as characters. Instead of an AI-controlled character, our views on what it means to be human are questioned by the character of Sakubo. Sakubo is a player character shared by a pair of twins. Depending on who is playing Sakubo at any given time, her personality and appearance changes. When the older twin, Saku, is in control, Sakubo has a very pushy and acerbic attitude (at one point, while her brother is playing, she outright steals the controller from him), and only cares about one other player in The World; the Arena Champion Endrance (a character played by the same person who played Elk seven years prior; thus, Endrance looks like an older version of Elk). When her ‘younger’ brother, Bo, is in control, Sakubo becomes very passive, soft-spoken, and unsure of him/herself, but is very affectionate toward everyone around him/her, and is eager to please.

Sakubo, showing both her Saku and Bo appearances. When the player switches, slight changes show in the character

Throughout the games, however, hints are subtly dropped that Sakubo is not what she appears to be. Eventually, it is revealed that Sakubo is, in fact, a character belonging to two people…in one body. Sakubo belongs to a young boy with a split personality, whose alter is modeled on his idea of what his twin sister would have been like, had she not been stillborn. The fact that the boy developed a second personality (and the fact that his ‘sister’ is so mean to him) hints that his home life is not a very loving one and, like many others in The World, he plays the game to escape real life. Eventually, Saku admits to the player that she is not real, that her brother ‘made her’ for protection, both from his neglectful parents and from the pressures of society. The player is then faced with a decision to make: to ‘kill’ Saku (against Bo’s will) by telling her that she should leave, or convince her to continue to exist in Bo’s mind. It’s clear that the main character doesn’t want her gone, if not just for Bo’s sake, for the fact that Saku had been with the cast for three games, as a completely separate entity from Bo. Saku is her own person in The World, just as Mia had her own body, voice and personality within The World.

And yet the fact remains that both Saku and Mia are simple facsimiles of people. Neither one is their own person outside of the game, and yet within the game, they are just as human as every other character. Science Fiction writer (and ‘pro-robotist’) Isaac Asimov loved to work with the idea of non-human humans, as evidenced by his cast of characters with positronic brains, all of whom distinctly show human-like (if sometimes child-like) tendencies. The Bicentennial Man is perhaps Asimov’s best illustration of a non-human human. Andrew is possessed of all of the faculties we normally associate with humans, such as creativity and emotions, and his strongest desire is to become human himself. This desire is so strong that he begins replacing his mechanical components with organic ones; he reverse engineers himself from fully robotic, to a cyborg, and ultimately to a fully human organic being.

Asimov’s works are almost certainly considered art, as they are some of the finest short stories in the Science Fiction genre. So much of what minds like Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein wrote became staples of the genre, it would be remiss to discount the importance of their works. How is it that a story which asks the same questions as Asimov’s art, and directly engages the player in considering this question of humanity outside of humans in the case of Mia, Morganna and Saku’s fates, not be art?

The question present in the .hack games regarding human nature doesn’t necessarily make the game more fun. In some cases, it can be downright depressing to learn about the human condition. Sakubo is played by an 11-year old boy with abusive parents, causing him to develop a split personality. Atoli is played by a depressed 16-year-old girl who started playing The World at the suggestion of a boy she met on a suicide website. Gaspard is a 13-year-old boy who is bullied because he is overweight and makes poor grades. Bordeaux is a 14-year-old girl who is angry about her parent’s divorce, and vents that anger by killing players in The World. Endrance is a 20-year-old hikikomori who stays in his room playing The World almost 24/7, and is incapable of functioning in real life. Kaede is a 28-year-old woman whose son died in a car crash that she caused, and she plays The World to interact with a player named Zelkova, who reminds her of her dead son. The game seems almost like a warning to treat everyone on the internet with respect and politeness, because you never know who is one message away from killing themselves, or who might turn into a real-life stalker and come after you.

What makes the game fun (aside from a battle system based around executing very cool-looking combos, a colorful cast, and a solid story about saving the internet) is that the characters are just that: characters, each one created by a real person. Some characters, like Alkaid and Gabi, have role-playing aspects to them (Alkaid is a tough-talking punk whose real-life counterpart is a quiet bookworm, and Gabi is childish and off-the-wall, though his player is an accomplished novelist and retired college professor), revealing to the player what the other players want to be. Other characters, like Silabus and Pi, are almost exact representations of themselves within The World (Silabus is a prominent member of a guild meant to help new players start in The World, and spends his real-life free time volunteering with social aid programs, while Pi is a System Administrator for the game, and sees playing the game as part of her job, and conducts herself accordingly. She makes no show of trying to hide her profession from other players, unlike several other characters played by CC Corp employees). It is up to the player to decide how much about each player they want to learn. It is entirely possible to play the game without ever initiating an e-mail chain with another player, and probably even possible to beat the game at 100% without doing so; interaction with other players through e-mail or other out-of-game media is entirely optional.

But the process of learning about the people behind the characters is fun. Exchanging e-mails with various players adds incredible depth to the characters, increasing the emotional investment players have in the game. For example, while I was playing .hack//G.U., an update popped up on my news feed. A 19-year-old college student had fallen to his death from his 3rd story apartment window while playing The World. I panicked; Silabus was a 19-year-old college student living in his own apartment. I immediately logged on and went to the party creation screen. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw that Silabus was alive, well, and logged in. I invited him into my party and adventured with him for a good half an hour, simply happy to see that he was alive. I can’t know if the news story was purposefully added to evoke that emotional response toward Silabus (as reading the news updates is entirely optional), or if my response was just due to me having an interest in learning about Silabus’s player (as e-mailing Silabus to learn about him in real-life is also entirely optional), but what I do know is that it made the game more fun.

Final Fantasy X and The Reformation

This is an idea that has been at the forefront of my ‘video games are more than mindless button mashing, Grandma’ argument. Final Fantasy X was the start of what I term as the ‘third generation’ of Final Fantasy fans, and like the generations before them, they hold up one game above all others as the greatest in the series, and have a fanatical devotion to that game. At a basic level, the game is very enjoyable. It has colorful characters, and a relatively short, accessible story (as far as Final Fantasy goes; most stories average 60+ hours, while the main story of FFX could be completed in under 40 hours) filled with drama, tension and romance.

Thus, Yoshitaka Amano's icons for FF went from 'Large' to 'Gargantuan', constituting a size increase of two categories; it's natural reach is now 15 feet.

A comparison can be easily drawn between the plot of Final Fantasy X and the Christian Reformation. For this to be easily seen, one must first understand, however, that Final Fantasy X is NOT the story of Tidus. Tidus is merely a biographer, a vehicle for us to witness Yuna’s story. The game is really about her, and I could probably write a whole other post about how more Final Fantasy games have stories driven by heroines rather than heroes (more than just VI and XIII, certainly!). Yuna is the main character of Final Fantasy X. All of the other party members are in her service, and she is the one who will defeat Sin; not Tidus, not Wakka, not Lulu or Auron or Rikku or Kimahri. Yuna is the only one who can.

I'm still wondering how her obi musubi is even *possible*.

Left, a hero. Right, THE hero.

Once the reader/player is convinced of Yuna’s place as main character of FFX, my statement starts to make more sense. Yuna starts out in the game as a Christ figure. She takes up her duties as a Summoner knowing that, if she does her job right, she will die doing it. (And if she does her job wrong, she’ll probably also die doing it–either way, Summoners die.) It is a testament to her strength of character that she can face every day smiling, and has such a drive to help people. When juxtaposed with the story of Jesus, the two seem very similar, even with their ‘walking on water’ tricks aside.

Every Summoner can perform this funeral rite, which here includes a 'walking on water' component.

Christian doctrine has held for over 1600 years that Jesus was God and Man, and that he went down to Earth specifically to be killed to save mankind from sin. Yuna was half Al-Bhed (a race considered by the Yevonites to be heretics, who live sinful lives by using forbidden machina), and her father was High Summoner, the last person to defeat Sin and bring peace to Spira. She inherited her father’s legacy, and though she has one green eye, evidence of her Al Bhed heritage (though it lacks the distinctive Al Bhed spiral pupil), nobody except for Rikku, her cousin, knows her to be half-Al Bhed; one could say she is ‘untainted’ by their sin. Yuna began on the path of the Summoner at a younger age than her father, and despite being young, she managed to succeed in her Pilgrimage. She ultimately defeated Sin, and she did so more completely and totally than any of the High Summoners before her. Not only that, but destroying Sin didn’t kill her, as it did every other High Summoner–Yuna is a ‘living savior’.

This is Sin in Final Fantasy X. Just confirming that 'Sin' is not an abstract concept in Spira, but an anti-matter-breathing Cloverfield monster. Carry on.

Yuna begins the game as a Christ-like figure, a future martyr for the Yevon religion, the daughter of one of it’s five greatest saints. As the story progresses, however, she uncovers great corruption within the church. Slowly, her character shifts from being a naive Christ figure to being a female Martin Luther. She recognizes that only Summoners can defeat Sin; this grain of truth has remained in the Yevonite teachings, but she learns of how the Church of Yevon adopted traditions from their competitors, the Summoners of Zanarkand, 1,000 years prior to the events of FFX. Traditions such as the Yevonite prayer symbol, the Hymn of the Fayth, and faith in Yevon are all doctrinal remnants from the people of Zanarkand. The survivors of the Zanarkand-Bevelle War adopted the practices of their enemies in hopes of appeasing Sin, the entity who ultimately ended the war by destroying everything it approached, erasing Zanarkand, and obliterating the Bevelle armies. Rather than recognizing the true origin of Yevonite teachings, however, Yevonite revision places Zanarkand as the holiest city of them all; the Church of Yevon successfully co-opted Zanarkand and transformed the dead nation from bitter enemy to holy ally through their teachings.

Sin can out-Godzilla Godzilla.

Left, Zanarkand, before Sin. Right, Zanarkand, after Sin.

Yuna also comes to discover the great levels of corruption and hypocrisy within the Church of Yevon. No less than half of the Maesters of Yevon (analogs of the Catholic Pope and College of Cardinals) are maintaining their positions while being dead, a state that automatically disqualifies them from the offices. Upon arriving in Bevelle on her Pilgrimage, Yuna also discovers that Bevelle makes extensive use of Machina, the chief sin among sins in the Yevonite doctrine. While in Bevelle, Yuna even finds herself put on trial for her heresy (essentially a trial for papacide against Maester Seymour Guado), and she is essentially excommunicated and sentenced to death for her crimes against Yevon. She goes on, however, to complete her Pilgrimage and defeat Sin (much like her father, who was stripped of his priesthood for marrying an Al Bhed, but later returned to the good graces of the Church by becoming High Summoner).

Yuna's trial

Martin Luther underwent a similar journey, though with admittedly less magic-casting and airship technology. Martin Luther started out as a monk, and was relatively content with the positions of the Church before he was sent to Rome. There, he discovered the incredible hypocrisy of the Pre-Reformation Catholic Church, such as the paying of indulgences, paying for entrance to pilgrimage sites, and brothels set aside for use by the clergy. Further corruption was quickly uncovered, leading to Martin Luther becoming disillusioned with the Church, and subsequently writing the 95 Theses. Martin Luther, however, at no point wanted to destroy or dismantle the Catholic Church, and he certainly didn’t want to form his own. He only wished to fix what was so broken in the existing Church. The formation of the Protestant sect of Christianity was necessary after Luther’s excommunication. However, even after Luther’s excommunication and the split between Catholic and Protestant Christianity, his reforms were realized; the Catholic Church reformed.

Ultimately, the Church of Yevon is unable to recover following the Eternal Calm, and dissolves, although the principles of the Yevonites remain with the rise of the New Yevon Party, a splinter group of the Church of Yevon which left behind the religious practices and ritual in favor of living according to the rules laid out by Yevon (rather like the Protestant Church’s belief in Grace by Faith and the abandonment of the practices and rituals of the Catholic Church).

Yuna’s transformation from a Christ-like figure to a Martin Luther-like reformer, and the parallels to past real-world events indicate the depth of story available in most RPG games, notably among the Final Fantasy titles.

Though The Catholic Encyclopedia has very thorough (and, on the whole, factual) articles on Martin Luther and the Reformation, the tone is incredibly biased, having been written for a Catholic audience.

You must be the pride of [SUBJECT HOMETOWN HERE].

Well, here we go. I’m not one who has ever had a need or desire to blog. Interesting things don’t happen to me. Well, perhaps that’s not true, but nothing that ever happened to me was interesting enough (to me) to warrant the entire universe hearing it.

With the advent of blogs, the information age exploded. We exponentially generate information through the internet. The amount of information out there increases 66% each year. Mostly because of blogs, I think. When ten thousand people comment on what’s going on in Egypt, even if they aren’t saying anything original (i.e. reposts on Tumblr, Digg, Twitter), they still generate the information stating:

I exist, and I have an opinion.

I suppose I can see the appeal in blogging, but I’d rather create something stating ‘I exist, and I painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel’, or ‘I exist, and I composed some of the most beautiful music in the world while deaf’. Maybe that’s why I never blogged before. I’m not Michelangelo or Beethoven. But something tells me neither of them would have blogged, either, so I suppose I’m still in good company.

 

This blog will not be about my daily life. It won’t be about the ‘lol excellent nap’ I took after class, nor will it be about the ‘omg best episode of Glee EVER’ that I watched later that evening. I’ve already got a Facebook for such meaningless sound-bites. This blog will be about something much closer to my heart. This blog will be about video games.

I’m not a game reviewer in the most obvious sense. In a way, I think all players are game reviewers–we all evaluate the games we play, and pass on our opinions of them when prompted. The only difference between us and professional reviewers is that they get to play the games a month before we do, and they get paid to do it. (Lucky bastards.) I will instead be discussing video games and their place in society. I will be talking about how games relate to the past, how games relate to the present, and how the average gamer is more of a philosopher than the average non-gamer realizes.

However, for the sake of accuracy, I must exclude about 80% of Wii adopters from the ‘average gamer’ category. Sorry, but I don’t think Wii Fit can actually be considered part of the philosophic tradition of yoga.

This blog might seem fragmentary at times, and garrulous at others. (Such a great word, and I never get the chance to use it in a sentence.) It may be spot on accurate at times, and wildly and unequivocally, almost impossibly off at others, because the blog is the art of expressing opinions. And while opinions cannot be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they can be ‘accurate’ reflections of reality and ‘WTF what is wrong with you?!’ reflections of reality.

I just hope that most of my opinions come to be regarded as the former rather than the latter.