Monthly Archives: December 2013

Fail & fail.

I mean, it’s a human trait to be afraid to fail, I know. And countless TED talks, inspirational books and earnest celebrities will tell you that the only way to move forward is to fail & learn from that failure. Me, though, I’m pathologically afraid to be bad at things. A friend once offered to teach me to play guitar and I refused because I was too scared of being bad at it. I avoided multiplayer online games (with the exception of WoW) because I was sure I’d be terrible at them. That is pretty much the reason I never played LoL, after all, despite friends good enough to be playing in tournament leagues, offering to teach me. I assume the worst about all my skills, real life or online, because that way I don’t ever have to do anything with them. And then I get stuck in a place where I feel competent but not amazing and nothing changes, nothing.

I woke up frustrated yesterday. I felt sick and cursed the customer who was so ill they had to lean over the counter for me to hear them. I was hopelessly confused about what day it was, and work was full of people that tested my internal goal to be kinder and less judgmental. I was having issues keeping things in proportion again, so a bit of online drama that has nothing to do with me made me feel heartbroken. Nonsense, in other words. The logical part of my brain threw a fit and then I ranted to a good sounding board, who tolerantly listened to me repeat myself. “Look, it’s like video games,” was the message. “Just print yourself a poster: ‘We were all noobs once.’”

I think in video game terms a lot, so this cracked me up. And then I made myself that poster, and I’m going to hang it up right over my desk.

noob3

Good old Terry Pratchett:

“You know what the greatest tragedy is in the whole world? … It’s all the people who never find out what it is they really want to do or what it is they’re really good at. It’s all the sons who become blacksmiths because their fathers were blacksmiths. It’s all the people who could be really fantastic flute players who grow old and die without ever seeing a musical instrument, so they become bad plowmen instead. It’s all the people with talents who never even find out.”

-Moving Pictures

Video Games. Redux.

I’m hanging around in Ft. Rapture in Bioshock, right. And I’ve got Sander Cohen in my ear giving me attitude about being a moth to the flame and also just generally being a madman, and there are corpses covered in paper-mache everywhere. With blood coming out of their fatal wounds and staining the white. And Sander tells me that I have to track down his enemies and kill them and then take photos of their corpses for his masterpiece, so I figure ok, no one in this whole godforsaken city is a good guy, including me and DEFINITELY including Atlas, so I’ll do what the mad man wants since I’m fairly sure he could snipe me. He’s got spotlights following me everywhere. So I go and kill the folks, getting stuck into a frozen sculpture by one and attacked with splicers on fire tumbling out of the ceiling like some sort of monstrous waterfall by another. (Misplaced modifier, -10). There’s a strip club habited by ghosts, and there are houdini splicers throwing flames at me from the theatre rafters, and some poor fool on a piano wrapped with explosives who can’t seem to play to Cohen’s liking. (Spoiler: he gets blown up because he can’t play correctly). Plus the big daddies wandering around without their little sisters who I have to stalk until they find one, and then I kill them. And save the little sister, because I like Tenenbaum more than I like Atlas. And so I finally get to the end, and I kill Cohen because of course I do, I’ve killed everyone I’ve interacted with except for Ryan, Tenenbaum, and Atlas (or the ones that Ryan killed himself). It takes me a couple of tries because Cohen comes with about 10 other splicers who set things on fire (nice reference back to being a moth to the flame), and I figure ok, that was the creepiest place so far, it can’t get worse. I have nothing to be scared of.

And then I take the metro (bathysphere) to Ryan’s office. And so far it’s not as creepy, that I’ll grant you. I mean, sure, there are dead splicers nailed to the walls outside his office, but that’s fairly mild by this game’s standards. BUT THEN. But then, I go into the heating regulation area and the screen goes black. F, think I, I’m screwed. So I stay VERY STILL because I have a tonic that makes me invisible when I stay still. And the lights come back on and no one is there, and I figured I was invisible and so whatever mass mob triggering the game did got fooled. So I go a little further, and it happens again, and same thing — no one there. SO, I go a little further still and the screen stays on so I shrug to myself and go to loot the already dead bodies that litter the floor AND THEY JUMP UP AND TRY AND KILL ME. Mobs playing dead are NOT OK. Of course I panic, spraying electroshocks everywhere while trying really hard to find a place to hide. I think I had to use four first aid kits against three mobs. The worst part is, as I wandered the floors in circles completing quests, I’d see a body and think, “I don’t remember that body, let’s check for loot” and then I’d still be surprised that they were ACTUALLY ALIVE. Because, you see, I am a moron. I started wasting eve by pre-shocking everything just in case.
Anyway. Video games are great, is the point. They just are. I have such a list of games to play, and I do go through phases with them, but I’m always playing SOMETHING.
I feel so vindicated by this game’s storyline. I’m not sure if it’s video game instincts, blind luck or an absolute telegraphing of plot by the writers, but my innate distrust of Atlas was wise. I’m  in Olympus Heights now and moving very slowly, although I suspect I shouldn’t be because I keep getting nerfs to my health. fu2 atlas. But I really don’t trust anyone or anything and I have to kill big daddies and find Sujong and there seems to be a LOT of mobs.
Will you KINDLY.

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I also played a bit of Dead Rising 3 in which I dressed my male character up in a child’s superhero costume, red high heeled go-go boots, a fur coat, aviators and a fedora. Because I could. When my partner-in-dead-rising-crime saw me again, he sighed and said: “Annie, I feel you aren’t taking this game seriously.” Correct. It’s a game that doesn’t want to take itself seriously anyhow. I’m not hugely impressed by it, but it is fun.
 I have some game time lined up for January with Choo, who is going to teach me how to play Magica in what will surely turn out to be maddening sessions. We also have Starbound & King Arthur’s Gold lined up, and I’m recording because I wish I had recordings of our Portal 2 playthrough, which was often hilarious and exasperating.
Speaking of games (this will link around, eventually): I went to the Hobbit yesterday afternoon (one of 3 people in the theatre).Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 11.39.37 AM I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. I loved Martin Freeman, but that’s hardly a surprise, I love him in pretty much everything he does. He’s pitch perfect as Bilbo — brave, foolish little Hobbit. I loved Smaug, which sounds correct when pronounced by a British person and sounds foolish when an American says it. He matched my mental profile for that sassy dragon (charmed by flattery, because of course dragons are, they are ENORMOUSLY vain) (and enormous). Plus, that was 20 minutes of Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice coming through the speakers, full blast, and I’d watch anything for that. Anyway, when they got to Thaundrial’s kingdom (I keep calling him Fandrel in my head, which actually works because Fandrel is ALSO an asshole elf leader, albeit from a different story), I realized something.

When I played WoW for the first time, all those many years ago, it felt magical. I felt like I was a LotR elf (well, I didn’t actually because I hadn’t/haven’t seen LotR, but generally speaking) embarking on a grand adventure. Everything was so new and so perfect. There was so much STORY to be had. The elves were beautiful. The music of Teldrassil still gives me weird nostalgic pangs — I remember running to Auberdine and feeling my jaw drop. It was purple and green and GORGEOUS. And then I accidentally ran into the emerald dragon enclave there with the ?? leveled dragons, and learned about corpse runs. No other game has been able to recapture that feeling, including all of the WoW xpacs. I think that’s why I kept going back, hopeful, and why I’ve been hopeful for every other MMO or even general RPG. Skyrim didn’t do it for me, but I am hopeful for ESO. But they’ll never be as new as WoW was to me, and so I doubt I’ll ever get that feeling back.

This is probably a little ironic in a post about video games, but one of the things I want to do in this new year is increase my concentration levels. I don’t read for as long as I used to, and when I do I don’t feel as immersed as I used to. I thought it was just natural — but it isn’t, right? You can exercise your imagination. Because sometimes I do recapture that feeling, if only briefly. So I want to read a little bit more deeply, keep my focus a little bit tighter. I want to watch more movies where I don’t spend most of the movie also reading my twitter feed (AT HOME, not in theaters, I promise). Um, I want to be immersed in the games I play instead of wanting to get to the next boss fight? That one sounds a little weird, but it’s true. It’s really cliche to say you want to slow down, and I guess I’m not so worried about not doing as much, I just want to actually enjoy the things I do. I don’t want to disconnect from the internet, but I don’t want to spend more time reading stuff than I do playing stuff. It all makes sense in my head. And Christmas (well, post-Christmas as I work retail) is the perfect time to commit to more slow things. To read for hours in front of a fire, to spend days off in video games, etc. It’s all a fond dream.
It’s snowing now, and although it’s not really supposed to collect I wish it was snowing hard enough for a snow day. I’d love to go home, have a hot cup of tea and honey, read (I’m almost done with my Pratchett collection re-read, up to Moving Pictures which I read SO long ago I’ve forgotten literally all of it), work on finishing Bioshock, etc. It’s pretty right now, though. Falling all gently. They say it’ll turn to rain but that was supposed to happen an hour or two ago.  We’ll see!
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