I’m Still Waiting for a Truly Scary Video Game 

This time of year, posts about ghosts, the supernatural, and even scary video games are a dime a dozen. Even around the office, there have been lively discussions about ghosts and the supernatural. I don’t contribute much to these discussions, because I’m a bit of a skeptic. 

That doesn’t mean that I don’t like a good ghost story or haven’t experienced things that are unexplainable. Matter of fact, there are two instances which I experienced something sufficiently creepy. 

The first occurred years ago when my wife and I were shopping for our first home. The realtor was showing us houses in our budget in towns that that my wife and I liked, and she brought us to this pretty Victorian. It was an older home, quite large, and I was surprised that it was in our budget. Of course, we all made jokes that the house was probably so cheap because it was haunted.  

As we were doing our walk-through, I just couldn’t help feeling out of breath, and I wasn’t out of shape at the time, so stop calling me a fat ass under your breath. As we walked from room to room, I was filled by a feeling of lethargy and I just couldn’t fill my lungs with a satisfying breath of air. I was getting a real sense of dread in this place. The moment I walked out onto the porch, it was like a weight was lifted off my chest and I was able to breath normally again.  

I asked my wife if she felt like there was something off about the house and surprisingly she did not, which is odd, because she’s easily spooked by her own shadow. Suffice it to say, we didn’t pursue purchasing that house, because I prefer not be suffocated in my sleep by a vengeful spirit. 

The other spooky event happened a little less than a year ago. My wife and I were once again shopping for a house.  My daughter was growing up fast and we had another baby on the way and we needed to move into something bigger and in a town with better schools. Once again, the realtor brought us to a cute older house that was easily two hundred years old, but was beautifully restored.  

I have a theory that any house that is over a hundred years old has a very good chance that someone died in it. For every additional fifty years, those chances increase exponentially. The reason why, is that back in the good ole’ days, when people became sick, they usually became bed ridden at home.

In time, the local doctor came over and probably bled you or fed you mercury in order to remove all the bad humors from your body or some other crazy shit. Then you would die of mercury poisoning or from a lack of blood and or bad humors (WHO KNOWS?). If I died like that, I would be so pissed off that I would stick around and make other people’s lives miserable out of spite. This is all make perfect sense to me. 

Anyway, we were doing the walkthrough in this beautiful old house and we were standing in the dining room discussing the price and about ready to leave when I clearly heard a male voice say ‘hello.’ 

I was the only man in the group, so hearing another male voice was very surprising. The hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood on end and I got the chills. I definitively got the feeling like there was something there and it was certainly not natural. The realtor heard this disembodied voice as well and she became pale as eggshells. She looked terrified and went room to room asking if someone else was there. The house was empty of course, and she came back into the dining room where I told her that we would not be making an offer. ZIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!!!!! 

I look back at this and laugh now. It’s not like this “ghost” said anything scary and cliché like “GET OUT,” he just said “hello.” Maybe he was a nice ghost? According to my mother, who also believes in ghosts and has claimed to see some supernatural things herself during her childhood, the fact that the ghost made its presence known meant that he didn’t want us there. 

I drive by this house every morning on my way to work and notice that a nice family lives there now. They seem happy and not too dissimilar to my own. So now I feel insulted because the ghost doesn’t seem to be bothering them. What does the ghost have against me?  Fuck that ghost. If I bought that house I would have him exorcised him, because I’m Catholic and we do shit like that. I don’t play around. There would have been liberal use of holy water, the burning of incense, incantations (IN LATIN), and the hanging of crucifixes on every damn wall. I would have used the power of Christ on his ass until he left. YOU HEAR ME MOTHERFUCKER! WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST MY FAMILY!?! 

So, what am I getting at here? I’ve been creeped out by unexplained things in the real world, as well as scary movies and books. There is only one thing that has eluded giving me the frights, and that is my belvoed video games.  

I remember Friday the 13th on the NES as the first “horror” game I played that did not live up to expectations. As a child, the original Friday the 13th was a terrifying movie. Jason (and his mother) gave me endless nightmares. I clearly remember the apprehension that I had when a friend got the game and asked if I wanted to play it. All fears were quickly squashed by the stifling game play and a curiously purple and green Jason. Sadly, the scariest thing about this game was the box art. 

Years later, I remember getting a copy of Splatterhouse for the TurboGrafx-16. This game looked terrifying and the box even had a warning label, so it must be legit. However, upon playing this title, there was nothing truly scary about it. It was a serviceable action side-scroller that “borrowed” a lot of horror themes and had ample amounts of pixelated 16-bit gore, but I didn’t lose much sleep from this game either. 

Over the years, horror games got better. Resident Evil on PS1 had a fair amount of cheap jump scares, but I never found it scary. The early versions of the Silent Hill series were unsettling, and at times bizarre, but not all that frightening. Even the Alan Wake series, fell short in giving me a good scare. 

Even games link Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which many celebrated as being truly scary, I found more gruesome and tense. Not necessarily bad things for sure, but I was not at all that scarred by it. I think that many game makers fall into this trap of thinking blood and guts automatically equals scary, but that is simply not the case.  

Case and point, the only game that came close to giving me a true scare was P.T. (yes technically part of the Silent Hill series), and it is a teaser for all intents and purposes. This game depends more on psychological fears and the supernatural rather than gore and it works. Unfortunately, we will never know how a full-length P.T. will pan out, because Konami is more interested in running health clubs and making pachinko machines than making games anymore.

So, what is it about horror games that makes them less scary than their movie counterparts? I think it’s a couple of things. 

First off, the fact that I’m in control of the character in a video game gives me some sort of comfort. This seems counter intuitive since you are controlling the character and whatever happens to him or her is vicariously happening to you, but you have the ability to fight back, or run, or hide. In movies and in books, you are a spectator and helpless to intervene in any way. It’s that feeling of helplessness that I find scary. 

Also, the gore in movies is much more unsettling than it is in games. Games are still in uncanny valley territory and seeing character in a game getting sliced up is nowhere near as unnerving as seeing a live person acting out the same. I find that even cheesy practical effects in movies from the 70’s and 80’s are more gruesome than anything in a modern game. I would even argue that CG in modern horror movies, like in video games, are lacking that visceral je ne sais quoi that can only be found when actors are liberally bukakied with a mixture of corn syrup and red dye. Also, bonus points if the victim is Kevin Bacon. 

Perhaps one day a game will be released that I find truly pants shitting scary. P.T. came close, and I would love to see Hideo Kojima give it another shot, perhaps in a new franchise. I really do think that a scary game is possible, but developers have to put in the effort and not depend on gore or easy jump scares.  

Hollywood is going through the same problem right now in my opinion. It’s far easier to throw up some CG blood and guts than to delve into the true foundations of horror. Foundations of Horror would also make a sweet name for a heavy metal band, so any musicians out there, feel free to steal it. 

Is there a game out there that you think will make me shit my pants with fear. Let me know in the comments. 

Happy Halloween folks… 

Stop Trying to Get Your Significant Other into Gaming

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and you know what that means? Articles about how to get your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or wife into games. Take it from me, an expert in gaming and relationships, that there is nothing more overrated than gaming with your significant other. You should just be happy to have someone that will touch your genitals (FOR FREE) and lets you game in peace alone.

I’ve been married nine years to a woman who loves me regardless of all my faults, which are many. Before that, I’ve been in my fair share of relationships. Each of these relationships shared two recurring themes. One, that these girls were damn lucky to be with a stud like myself, and two, every girl I was in a relationship with could care less about games.

Now, some of these girls were simply aloof to my gaming past time. My wife falls into this category. I’m just some smart, hot, ripped guy that plays video games, and she, and all the girls before her put up with it, because they love me THAT MUCH!

However, there was one girlfriend, once upon a time, that despised my gaming so much that she actively tried to cure me of the habit. She was a twisted and evil person. She’ll remain nameless for this blog, to protect the innocent. Also, I’m completely terrified of this girl to this day and hope that she never finds me. Saying her name aloud could possible cause her to materialize, like Voldemort.

I’d readily admit that I was a different person when this crazy girl and I were an item. I had more hair, for example. I also drank a lot more, smoked, and experimented with the occasional recreational drug. She, took it upon herself to try and cure me of all these habits. She also felt it necessary to cure me of the most detestable and vile habit of them all. Gaming.

She didn’t let her hatred to video games be known to me right away.  She would humor me by listening to me drone on about games, or occasionally playing them with me, but as I got more emotionally vested in the relationship, she began to tighten the screws. She started dropping subtle and not so subtle hints that she wasn’t a gamer and she wasn’t going to be in a relationship with a gamer.

Finally, she revealed her coup de gras, a video game cessation plan, which included removing my consoles from my bedroom, and a handy chart in which I could track the consecutive days that have passed without gaming. You may be thinking that I must be joking, and I can tell you that I am indeed being dead serious.

Any man in his right mind would run from this situation as quickly as possible, but I wasn’t just “any man.” I was in my early twenties and I was thinking with the head that sat not upon my shoulders but the one in between legs. So, I did what any young man would do. I lied about what I was doing. YEAH THAT’S THE TICKET!

I told her that I went days and even weeks without playing a game after pulling all-nighters. I told her that I haven’t bought a game in months after blowing a portion of my paycheck on them. I told her that I totally wasn’t going to buy any new consoles with the intention of buying all the new consoles. I was living a lie, but admitting to her that I was still gaming would have led to my ding dong being neglected, and I was too lazy to find another girlfriend.

Finally, one day, she and I were walking through the mall and we passed a GameStop that had a Soulcalibur II kiosk up front. I was looking forward to playing that game and asked my girlfriend if she wanted to play me and surprisingly enough, she agreed.

What transpired on that fateful day was me giving my girlfriend a digital beat down for the ages. I was relentless and she was getting pissed, but refused to give up as she was extremely competitive. Round after round, she would get pummeled, and as she became even more visibly upset, I refused to back down.

It was like payback for months of her anti-gamer bullshit. It got so bad that another couple that was walking by stopped to watch, and the girl turned to her boyfriend and said sarcastically, “nice pair.”

Nice pair indeed. It dawned at me, at precisely that moment, as I rained down digital blow after blow on my girlfriend that this relationship was over. We started to drift apart and eventually broke up and became “friends.” Then I decided to go on an adventure and moved on from her entirely, but that’s another story.

After the crazy girl, I gained some much-needed self-confidence. If I learned anything from that relationship, was that I should be true to myself and my passions. I no longer hid the fact that I was a gamer, and if a new girl came along and had reservations that I was some immature man-child for being a gamer, well she was more than welcome to find someone else. That happened a few times and I wasn’t broken up about it, but quite the opposite. I felt relief knowing that I wasn’t going to get emotionally vested in a person that didn’t like me for who I am and if someone doesn’t like me for who am, then they can leave, simple as that.

There were days when I thought how great it would be to find a girl that was into gaming, but I found a far better thing. I found a girl that just let me be me and she became my wife. Isn’t that sweet?

The thought has crossed my mind about trying to turn my wife into gaming and it dawned on me that this would be a horrible idea.

Gaming, for me at least, is a release. It’s a break from the stresses of the day. Those stresses include work and my family. I like my job and I love my family, but I need time away from them to stay centered and gaming is my outlet for that.

I’m also not pleasant to be around when I’m gaming as I’m a competitive prick and don’t like to lose when I play online. My wife hates it when I play online, but she tolerates it and I don’t want to subject her to it. My next gaming set up is going to be in a sound proof basement so that she can’t hear me and tell me to tone it down.

Also, there is a very good possibility that if my wife got into gaming, she wouldn’t be into the same types of games that I am. We don’t even like the same type of movies and TV shows. God forbid that she got into JRPGs or some horrible shit like that. We’d have to get a fucking divorce. By the way, JRPGs are the Real Housewives of the video game world.

The worst thing however, would be if we DID like the same types of games. There have been shows that we were both fans of. We try to watch them together, but there always comes a day when my wife is home for whatever reason and binge watches a series that we were SUPPOSED to watch together. This is inexcusable, and I then will binge watch other series out of spite.

The same thing would surely occur if we liked the same type of games. I’d imagine coming home one day to find my wife’s character in some random game leveled up way past mine and that would send me into an epic rage. I’ll flip tables and punch holes in the walls like a roid-raging meathead and the dog will piss on the carpet out of fear. I like to avoid putting myself into these situations, because I’m a gentleman.

Trust me when I say this, as I have given this much thought and have the requisite experience, that gaming with your significant other is simply not worth it. It’s a slippery slope that will only lead to resentment, spiteful actions, tears, and genitalia being ignored. Just be happy that you found someone that lets you game in peace.

And if you ever meet a girl that put hours of effort creating a chart, on foam board, with fancy stickers, color coding, and other crazy fucking shit, to help you break your disgusting gaming habit, run as fast as you fucking can. Or you can do what I did and lay low in a foreign country for several months. That worked out well too.

The Evolution of My Game Space

Growing up, having one’s own space was not easy to come by. My family wasn’t poor, but it was what one would describe as extended. I lived in a two-family home with my parents, sister, aunt, uncle, and their two children. Occasional my grandparents would be thrown into the mix. That led to some tight confines.

Having so many people around was a blessing and a curse. Every dinner was like a party, holidays were festive, and it always felt like there was company over. With that said, getting some privacy or alone time was a challenge. This was especially the case when trying to get some time to play a video game.

I was a Sega kid growing up, so while my friends had the NES, I was the weird kid with the Master System. Like most kids of my era, my console was plugged into the main TV, which was a pain in the ass, as I always had to battle with people for screen time. In my case, it was with my sister AND my cousins, who wanted to watch 21 Jump Street, or some other shit 1980’s show.

Some of my friends had their NESs hooked up to TVs in their bedrooms which totally blew my mind. I was so jealous of them and longed for one day having my own room with my own gaming setup. My hatred for them knew no bounds.

In Christmas of 1989, I got a Sega Genesis. This felt like a vindication after years of loyalty to the Sega brand. Being the weird Sega kid in a world of Nintendo was no longer such a bad thing, because I now had the hottest console at my fingertips. To accompany the console, I also got this cheap 19-inch CRT television from my aunt and uncle. My Genesis was hooked up to this tiny set in a spare room, which became my space, a refuge, if you will, and it was heaven. I’m sure it was heaven for everyone else too, as it freed up the main television so that everyone can watch MacGyver.

About a year later, my parents, sister, and I moved to another house down the road. This was the first time I had my own room. I had some major plans for this space, which were squashed when my mother pointed out that my ideas would never work. Never the less, what I had now was truly my own space. My bedroom became my gaming nexus and would remain so for nearly eleven years.

After college, my room started to feel cramped as hell. I felt like I had too much stuff, and a big television and all my gaming stuff were not helping. Sitting or lying down on my bed is also an uncomfortable way to play a video game if you’re an adult.

Also during this time, I had a girlfriend that despised video games. She could not stand the sight of them, so moving my consoles out of the bedroom was advantageous, since their mere presence ensured that no one, other than me, was going to be touching my ding dong. What can I say? I was in my early twenties and everything revolved around my ding dong. Come to think of it, nothing much has changed.

It was at this time when the entrepreneur in me hatched a plan. I was going to talk my parents into turning the unfinished basement into a den. Come to think about it, this was a better deal for them than it was for me. I agreed to do most of the work and purchase all the materials. In turn, the value of their home would go up.

For nearly a year, I toiled in this basement with a little help with my dad. The floor was tiled, lighting put in, walls plastered, and painted. I even put in crown fucking molding. I don’t even have crown molding in my own fucking house.

I then furnished the room with a big comfy sectional and put in a big heavy HDTV DLP for my gaming setup. After a year, the ultimate gaming setup was complete. Then, literally a week later, I got an opportunity to move to Italy, an offer too good to pass up. I dumped the video game hating girlfriend, packed my bags, and off I went. After spending a year building the ultimate game room, the only gaming I would be doing, would be on a Nintendo Gameboy Advance. I do not regret the decision.

My time in Italy was an opportunity to grow-up. It was life with a very small safety net. Mom and dad were half way around the world and I couldn’t go to them when things got tough, nor did I want to. But I wasn’t alone, I still had family and friends who watched out for me. I didn’t play a lot of games during this time, but the work I was doing was still game related, so I could stay on top of what was going on. I also had the chance to see how a different culture looks at gaming, which was the entire reason I was there. Eventually, my time in Italy came to an end and I packed up my bags to come home. As for my trusty Gameboy Advance, I gave it to my little cousin.

Returning home to my parent’s house after about a year away was a real shock to the system, but I did not stay long and moved out in less than six months. I simply could not be under my parent’s roof anymore, so I moved in with my best friend in south Florida and found a job in Miami.

That time in Florida was a blast. We built a cool gaming setup in the condo and when we weren’t working, we had some good times gaming, playing mostly sports games. What’s funny was that we didn’t have that much time to play video games. We were both working very hard starting off our careers and if we had any time to relax, playing video games was low on the list of things to do. We were in Miami after all, and there were more interesting things two guys in their early twenties with some disposable income could do in south Florida.

While in Florida, I met the girl that would eventually become my better half and we moved back up north and settled in New York City. We got a small yet ridiculously expensive apartment and furnished it as best we could. My girlfriend, who wasn’t a gamer indulged my gaming habit, unlike my ex. At times, she would sit and watch me play in the tiny living room, which also doubled as a dining room, kitchen, and guest room, because apartments in Manhattan are tiny.

Over the years, we moved up the corporate ladder, started earning more and moved into bigger places. Eventually, we bought a house. It was now that I started building my own dedicated gaming space again, one that would be like the one that I built in parent’s basement.

At the new house, I once again finished the basement and made it comfortable. One section was made into my own gaming sanctuary. I put up a large television, sectional, and shelves to display all my gaming tchotchkes that I collected over the years. It wasn’t as nice as the one in my parent’s basement, but it was damn near close. The difference is that this space was completely mine and mine only… for about two years.

I was in my own gaming space when the girl who indulged my gaming obsession, who became my wife told me that her contractions were getting close to each other. I was playing Mass Effect 3 when she gave me the news. I saved my game, calmly went upstairs, got the prepacked luggage, and calmly drove her to the hospital.

That was just over four years ago. That gaming space, the one in my very own basement, which nearly rivaled the one I built in parent’s basement, is gone. It has been replaced by a pop-up Cinderella castle, trampoline, toy boxes, painting easel, piano, rocking horse, and various assorted toys. It’s reminiscent of the Walmart toy section after a Black Friday sale, but less stabby. It’s not pleasant to look at and I pretend that it doesn’t exist, as it gives me anxiety.

I learned that when you have children, every section of the house becomes theirs. Everywhere you look, there’s evidence of this as toys are in every room. She walks into the house, throws off her jacket, kicks off her shoes, tosses away her socks, demands snacks, and my wife and just deal with it. We live in terror of our four-year-old.

There is no longer a place in my home that I can truly call my own, not even the bathroom. If I go to the bathroom to take one of my patented forty-five-minute-long morning dumps, within thirty seconds my daughter is banging on the door to ask me what I am doing. I now take my dumps at the office.

As for my current “gaming space,” I have a tiny corner in the basement. My consoles and many gaming related paraphernalia are behind closed media cabinet doors. The stuff that doesn’t fit on or in the cabinet are on tall shelves and the TV is mounted high off the ground, away from the reach of greasy, dirty little fingers. My daughter knows very well that she is to never, ever, touch anything in this small corner, as these are daddy’s toys and if she were to touch them, she would have to go live in the attic, with her evil brothers and sisters. Experts say that telling her this could be psychologically harmful, but she hasn’t yet disturbed my gaming space, so I’m just going to roll the dice on this one, for now.

It’s been nearly twelve years since I built that perfect gaming space in my parent’s basement and the quest to replicate it has become my personal white whale. It’s hard to say if I will ever build that perfect space again, but the journey so far has been fun, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Maybe one day, when the kids are married and out of the house, and I’m retired, I’ll build that perfect space, in lieu of buying a stupid sports car, taking up golf, or moving to a horrible condo in a retirement community in Florida. It’s a simple dream, for a simple man.

5 Creepy Video Game Clowns, Just in Time for Halloween

Have you heard that there’s a creepy clown epidemic going on? It’s true, the media is going crazy reporting scary looking clowns menacing small children and adults alike. As someone who has a fear of clowns, sometimes referred to as “coulrophobia,” this is not a good time for yours truly.

My fear of clowns is something very real. I don’t go around saying that I have a fear of clowns because I’m trying to be cool or different, and yes there are people out there that do that. Clowns are annoying and dumb to most people, but to me, they cause an irrational fight or flight response. Clowns exists to do one thing and that is to fuck with you.  That is their humor and raison d’être. They use you as a prop to make others laugh, and my fear is that I will be the one that is singled out in a crowd to be that prop.

My fear is well known amongst my family and friends. My sister once invited me to an off Broadway show in New York City. I asked what it was about and she said it was like Cirque du Soleil. I reminded her that if there was one thing that I hated more than clowns, it’s artsy, European clowns. She assured me that there would be no clowns. My sister, you should know is a liar. The ENTIRE show consisted of sad, artsy, European clowns.

In between each act, in which there were three, clowns would descend into the audience where they would proceed to fuck with the audience. I sat in my seat, frozen with anxiety, gripping the armrests, praying that they would not approach me. I had visions that one would sneak up on me and have me smell a flower on his lapel, only to get squirted in the face. He would then offer his handkerchief, which would have no end when trying to pull it out of his pocket. He would then drop something, asking me to pick it up for him, only to bend over so that he can kick me in the ass. The audience would laugh and I would have punched him the face. Children would cry and then I’d be the asshole. It’s a lose/lose situation.

Now I find myself in the middle of this creepy clown epidemic. There are clowns standing on street corners in the middle of the night as well as reports of them menacing children. It’s ridiculous and the people who are doing this obviously have nothing better to do. They’re just playing stupid pranks, which is, after all, what clowns do.

I was at the chiropractor for my regular treatment, as I’m old and my body is falling apart, and I was getting a massage, when my masseuse, who loves to talk, brought up the topic of the clown sightings. First off, I wish my masseuse would talk less and massage more. I’m here trying to relax and clowns make me tense. SHE SHOULD KNOW BETTER!

She then asks me when I think the clown sightings will stop and I said nonchalantly that it will end when someone like me severely hurts or worse case, kills one, and then it will stop. She then utters the dumbest thing I have ever heard. She says that she feels bad for the “professional” clowns who are probably seeing a decline in work due to the creepy clown sightings. I could not disagree more. I hope the entire clown industry crashes and never recovers.

ONTO THE LIST!

  1. Mall Clown – Heavy Rain 

This incarnation of a fever dream is encountered relatively early in Heavy Rain. Ethan, the main protagonist, is asked by his son to purchase a balloon from this mall clown. Jason disappears shortly after. COINCIDENCE? I think not.

  1. Fargus – Pandemonium 1 & 2

I never played these games. I would see the box art in stores and see Fargus’ cold, dead eyes and be instantly turned off.

  1. Sweet Tooth – Twisted Metal Series

I loved the Twisted Metal series and one of the reasons why is because I could dispatch Sweet Tooth and his hoard of clown minions with extreme prejudice. Blowing up his demented ice cream truck had a cathartic quality for me.

  1. Adam McIntyre, aka Adam the Clown – Dead Rising 2 

What is up with mall clowns in video games? Adam the clown is a boss in Dead Rising 2.  Apparently, he went insane when zombies ate his audience. I say he was insane to begin with. One has to be to consider going into clowning as a profession.

Again, I experienced extreme satisfaction after defeating this clown and having him fall on his revving chainsaws. Rest in pieces Bozo.

  1. Nights – Nights into Dreams Series

Nights, I suppose, is a harlequin rather than your typical clown. Harlequins, as you know, originated in Italy in the late 16th century. Therefore, Nights is an artsy European clown and is the worst of the bunch. He’d be right at home at a Cirque du Soleil performance.

I was a Sega devotee growing up and had a Saturn. I picked up this game, despite there being a clown on the cover and against my better judgement. I so wanted to enjoy this game, but could not get into it. To this day I have no idea why people look back fondly at this title and its abomination of a main character.

Also, Nights only comes out at night (GET IT?), and in your dreams, so he’s essentially Freddy Kruger.

I’m sure I neglected to include many of your favorites. If so, let me know in the comments. Also, if you’re a clown, I’m sorry if I offended you. This is all a joke. Please don’t come to my house.

Halloween Overwatch Themes Are Out

Still playing Overwatch? I have moved on, but may return just to gawk at these fun looking Halloween skins.

Starting October 11 and running until November 1, all in game loot boxes will be replaced with a glowing Jack-O-Lantern containing the Halloween themed skins.

I’m not normally into Holiday themed skins, but the folks at Blizzard on the Overwatch team has done a good job with these ones. I’m certainly going to give it a look see.

 

Hackers Responsible for Ruining Christmas of 2014 Charged

You may recall that if you got a game or a console back in Christmas of 2014 and wanted to play online either on the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live, you were out of luck. Since many consoles require day one online patches, Christmas morning of 2014 was sad time for gamers.

Justice may soon be served, as two members of hacker group Lizard Squad, which took responsibility for the denial of service attacks, have been charged in Chicago according to a press release by the US Department of Justice.

Lizard Squad drew the attention of U.S. authorities during an investigation into website phonebomber.net, which enabled paying customers to select victims to receive repeated harassing phone calls from spoofed numbers. However, it wasn’t until after the launch of phonebomber.net, where members of Lizard Squad started a denial-of-service attack against online gaming networks and began boasted about them on Twitter.

If found guilty, the accused could receive a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

 

 

Thanks for Ruining My Summer, Video Game Industry

Summer is a time of year that I look forward to.  The long days are perfect for spending time outside being active and on hot days I look forward to taking a ride to the beach, or down the shore, as we say in the Jerz.

Of course, the best thing about summer is grilling large amounts of red meat outside then trying to shove as much of as possible into my face while washing it down with a refreshing cold beer.

Because of all the outdoor activities that become available during the summer months, playing video games usually becomes a low priority. It also helps that video game makers avoid releasing video games during the summer months. It’s as if doing so would make them susceptible to bad humors which will give them the plague.

I never understood why publishers don’t release games during the summer months. Students who are in school are either on break or have greatly reduced schedules.  Those who are working can also expect additional time off for holidays, summer Fridays, and folks generally take time off for vacations. For the most part, people have more time in the summer, so one would think that publishers would take advantage of that.

The movie industry certainly takes advantage of this.  Summers are when big blockbusters are released. Big, stupid, action oriented popcorn flicks are a summertime staple as the studios generally save the more serious stuff for the holidays, which makes sense, right?

The gaming industry however, has been stuck in a rut of releasing everything worthwhile in this tiny 4-month window between September and December. Sure, you’ll want to capitalize on holiday gift giving, but all these big releases so close together causes cannibalization among the big budget titles and smaller titles get lost in the shuffle.

You would think that publishers would want to spread out their release calendar a bit. Why not give the consumer a steady stream of titles throughout the year, instead of a glut all at one time? It just makes sense. Who are these amazingly smart executives making the decisions at these big companies anyway?

Okay, that’s not fair, but I can’t help myself.

This year, however, I’ve noticed a shift. There are a decent amount of good games coming out this spring which is going to force me to play throughout the summer.

Uncharted 4, Doom, and Battleborn have already been released and are solid if not exceptional games. However, just over the horizon we have Overwatch coming out in late May, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst in early June, No Man’s Sky in late June, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in late August.  All of these games are AAA titles, which is a rarity for the summer months.

Uncharted 4 is an awesome game that his lived up to all the hype and I’m thoroughly enjoying it right now.  Doom, a game in which many thought was going to be pure shit due to a review embargo has actually turned out to be more than decent and warrants a purchase. Not to mention, Doom and especially Overwatch, are solid multiplayer titles that will have long life spans.

Also, all the hype and general high praise for Overwatch during its beta has piqued my interest, and not just because Tracer has a beautiful rear end. I wonder what my good friend Pacino thinks?

Doom and Overwatch alone would have taken up my entire summer, but I had no idea that No Man’s Sky was scheduled for the summer. This title alone appears to be a total time suck just by the nature of this game’s style alone.

It’s actually a good thing that there are no big trips scheduled this summer and we just have “staycations” planned. Of course, my wife can make an executive decision at any time and pile us all into the car for a leisurely 26-hour road trip to god’s waiting room.

My plan is to lock myself into my game room, crank up the air conditioning and draw the blinds. Who knows, I may even take a break every once in a while to stuff grilled meats into my face and drink cold beer outside.

5 Things To Do in Amsterdam Other than Playing Games at Your Hotel

In full disclosure, I have never visited Amsterdam. I came close to going a couple of times, and my wife and I almost honeymooned there, before deciding on going elsewhere. Suffice it to say, going to Amsterdam is on my bucket list.

Before my wife and I decided to stay exclusively in Austria for our honeymoon, we did have a rough itinerary planned for Amsterdam.  There is a lot going on in that bohemian city. So why would anyone decided to hole themselves up in a hotel and play video games when there is so much more worthwhile things to do?

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The folks at the Arcade Hotel, however hope that’s exactly what you would do. To their credit, the place does sound cool and the price for a stay is reasonable with rates starting at about $70 per night. Its location appears to be on the outskirts of the city center in a trendy and hip area where the streets are named for Dutch master painters.

The hotel also appears to be relatively small with only 36 rooms, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Each room comes with a console and some games. Guests of the hotel can also borrow a handheld if that tickles their fancy or peruse the comic book library. The Arcade Hotel also maintains a fleet of loaner bikes, which is apparently the preferred mode of travel in Amsterdam.

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I certainly don’t want to poo poo this establishment, because it sounds appealing to me personally as a gamer. The problem is that I can’t see myself taking full advantage of this establishment when visiting a city with such an amazing reputation as Amsterdam.

This is sound like your typical Catch-22. Put a hotel like this out in the middle of nowhere, and you will fail because who want to be out in the middle of nowhere.  Put this hotel in an amazing city like Amsterdam, and people don’t take advantage of the amenities because who want to be holed up in a room playing games when they are vacationing.

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I hope that this place succeeds, and who know, maybe one day my wife and I will make it out to Amsterdam and get to stay at this place. We already have a list of things we wanted to see on our Honeymoon, such as:

5. Visit the Anne Frank House

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4. Go on a canal boat tour

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3. Go to various museums

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2. Go to a “Coffee Shop”

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1. Shop at the many open-air markets

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BONUS: Red Light District

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On a side note, my wife and I have this on-going debate that originated when we were considering going to Amsterdam on our honeymoon and I mentioned that we should visit the Red Light district. I believed (AND STILL DO) that a hand job from a lady of the night is fine as long as no kissing is involved. It’s essentially a massage right?  I don’t give her crap when some dude gives her a massage when she and her friends have one their spa days.

She disagreed and says that if I did, she would have our marriage annulled as soon as we got back from our honeymoon. In the end, it was one of the main reasons why she decided we would go to Vienna and Salzburg instead of Amsterdam.

 

Last Minute Gaming Gifts to Give to People You Hate – Holiday 2015

The holidays are here and my wife is spending us into oblivion. I don’t see why we have to buy presents for EVERYONE. Isn’t Christmas supposed to be just for the children?

And no, my wife’s cousins, who are in their late teens and twenties DO NOT fucking count as children anymore. They are in college, or recently graduated and have jobs. If anything, they should be buying my 3 year-old daughter Christmas presents now. The statute of limitations (or something) of buying Christmas presents for them is over. Oh, they made a Christmas list? So did I, and there is only one thing on it, and that is:

“Santa, please don’t let the bank foreclose on my house when my wife spends the mortgage payment on Christmas gifts.”

Christmas has become overly commercialized and tiresome, but if I have to buy a gift, then you better believe that I’m going to buy you something horrible and passive aggressive. With that said, here’s my top five gaming gifts to give to people you hate. Merry fucking Christmas

5. Kinect for Xbox One or the Xbox 360

kinect-xbox-one1For all the impressive technology housed within a Kinect, boy does this thing suck. No one knows how to actually make interesting games for this thing, INCLUDING Microsoft.

The Kinect is actually one of the main contributors to Microsoft losing its lead to Sony when they launched the Xbox One. The act of including a Kinect in the box made the Xbox One $100 more expensive than the PS4. Also, the Xbox One, which is already negligibly inferior graphically to the PS4 was further hampered by the fact that developers were locked out of hardware resources specifically set aside to support Kinect. What dipshit actually thought this was a good idea?

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Oh that’s right. I forgot.

I recently disconnected the Kinect from my Xbox One and sold it off to someone for $50 on a Facebook virtual garage sale. I feel like I took advantage of this person. I feel dirty and ashamed. The only way I could have made this worse is if I followed this guy home, broke into his house and kicked his dog. I used the $50 from this sale to buy a bottle of Scotch and washed away the shame.

4. X360 Special Forces Headset

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The promotional copy for this product states that you will “Communicate with precision and style with the Special Forces Headset for Xbox 360 from CTA Digital. What makes this headset unique is its throat microphone, which is sensitive enough to pick up a whisper yet clear enough for everyone to hear you in the game environment.”

Indeed, nothing is more stylish than a “throat microphone.” All the racist 12-year-olds online, who can’t see you anyway, will be mightily impressed and jealous while they teabag your lifeless body.

I am assuming that this will help the mouth breathers out there, who can’t help exhaling into their microphones. Sometimes when I’m playing online I’m not sure if the heavily breathing person who I’m playing with is a fat Halo fanboy or some creep masturbating to the sound of my voice. Perhaps it’s both?

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The user reviews for this product have not been kind. My favorite is from OgreKing on GameStop.com who writes:

“People have no trouble hearing me, but they can’t understand what im [sic] saying. It sounds like your [sic] talking through a kinect mic. Other than that it works as intended.

So essentially, OgreKing (if that’s your REAL NAME) believes that the X360 Special Forces Headset works like shit, which is exactly what the manufacturer intended.

3. “2 in 1” Comfort Grip for PS4

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This product confuses me on many levels. First of all, I have no idea what this product looks like.  There are no images of it on the GameStop.com website, so I provided a picture of a bear on a bicycle, because I’ve always wanted to and never had a reason to, until now.

Reading the promotional copy does not provide any more insight as to what this product is supposed to do either.

Cut fatigue and keep your controller in great shape. Custom cutouts fit like a glove, No more excuses!
•    Custom textured joystick covers
•    Protect your controller from dust and scratches
•    Precision cutouts for each button, joystick and the D-Pad
•    Non-slip material with ribbed grip for better control & enhanced gaming performance
•    Soft-touch silicone material

The good news is that this product is dirt cheap at just $9.99 (or £5,000,000… probably). The bad news is that this is probably a repurposed sex toy given that it has a “ribbed grip” and “soft-touch silicone.”

2. Toad Wii U Fight Pad Controller

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BECAUSE NO ONE LIKES YOU TOAD!

1. Pyramat Video Game Lounger

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Folks, don’t buy video game furniture for yourself. If you receive video game furniture from a friend or family member, you should question your relationship with them, because they secretly hate you.

Gentlemen, video game furniture are vagina repellents. Girls will leave Back to the Future quality flaming tire marks out of your house if they see this thing in your living room or bedroom.

 

Ladies, honestly it doesn’t matter if you own this thing or not, because guys will pretty much screw anything.

The promotional copy is also hilarious:

“Take your gaming experience to the next level! Reclining in comfort while listening to powerful built-in speakers and a subwoofer you’ll hear and feel your games as never before! Easy to use audio controls and easy access inputs and multiplayer connection allow you to tailor the experience and bring your friends along for the ride! Sturdy construction ensures excellent comfort and a long life!”

First of all, if you own this thing, you will have no friends. Secondly, it’s good that this thing is built “sturdily” because you will be using it a lot, by yourself.

All in all, the Pyramat Video Game Lounger is the best gift to get someone you hate. It’s relatively cheap, takes up a lot of space, and will ruin their sex life. It’s scores the Christmas trifecta in passive aggressive resentment.

Have your own ideas on what gifts to get people you hate. Let me know in the comments.

Have a happy, healthy, and safe Holiday.

Evil Rabbits

Many, many years ago, a bearded Jewish man was crucified in the Middle East. After a week, he came back to life. His modern day followers remember this miracle by celebrating a long-eared woodland rodent.

As a Christian (Roman Catholic actually) this time of year is one of the most important holidays. I actually go to church on this holiday, to celebrate my savior’s death and subsequent resurrection. The only other time I actually go to church is to celebrate my savior’s birth, which is ironic. I never said I was a good Christian.

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As you have probably gathered by now, I’m speaking about Easter (and Christmas), two holidays ruined by commercialism and the greeting card industry. Christmas is about giving gifts, and the baby Jesus takes the back seat to a fat hirsute man in a red suit, which is okay, I suppose, because you get gifts, which is nice.

What I cannot tolerate is an adult Jesus, who died for my sins, playing second fiddle to a furry rodent known for it’s elongated ears and it’s ability to aggressively procreate.

Quite simply, rabbits, and by extension, their larger cousin, the hare, are evil, with no redeeming qualities, with the exception of making exquisite stews.

Even our ancestors knew that rabbits are horrid creatures. Rabbits were showcased quite often in medieval art performing horrible deeds.

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Case and point, did you know that in the Middle Ages giant rabbits carried swords and regularly beheaded people?

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Humans were also forced to fight three-headed beasts for the amusement of our rabbit overlords.

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Apparently, it was not unheard of rabbits chasing people up into the trees, where they would be taken down by crossbow totting hares. Also, fair maidens were frequently kidnapped.

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Humans also could not travel, lest they be accosted by gangs of marauding rabbits and bludgeoned to death.

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Man’s best friend, the humble dog, did fight a brutal war against the rabbits on our behalf. Here, we see an army of dogs lay siege to a rabbit castle.

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However, the rabbits were too strong, and the dog army was cut down and brutally crushed by rabbit archers.

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The rabbits showed complete disregard for modern legal practice. This poor dog was tried in an apparent rabbit tribunal. He will not be judged by a jury of his peers.

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The outcome of the trial was never in doubt.

Why then, do we subjugate our poor children this time of year to the Easter Bunny (if that’s his real name), after all the atrocities that his ancestors performed on mankind? This is unconscionably.

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Rabbits have even infiltrated my beloved video games and I’m disgusted by it. They have no place in video games, unless they are playing the antagonist, which is a rarity.

Take Jazz the Jackrabbit for example. He’s the main character of the game that bares his name. However, in an age when character based platformers were cute and merely hopped on their enemies, Jazz saw fit to use high powered firearms against unarmed tortoises and bumble bees.


Or take the Rabbids from various Ubisoft games.  These rabbits simply cause pure chaos while speaking incomprehensible jibberish. They are obviously high on drugs.


If the Rabbids are not on drugs, then Max, from the Sam & Max series definitely is. I’d say he’s on cocaine or speed, as he’s absolutely manic and has no business solving crimes.  As far as I’m concerned, he’s a criminal himself.

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Lastly, Peppy Hare from Star Fox, I’m onto you. You’re kind elderly mentor act is fooling no one. One day you will betray Fox McCloud, I KNOW IT.

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You may be asking if perhaps I’m being too hard on rabbits?  Their atrocities against man took place many years ago. Should I learn to love and forgive them for their transgressions? Some would say that is what Jesus would want; after all, this holiday is about him.

The answer to that is NO. I am a rabbit racist, and I will never forgive them. As far as I’m concerned, the best place for a rabbit, is in the stew pot, prepared in the agrodolce style, as my Sicilian grandmother used to serve for special occasions.

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Buon appetit and Happy Easter.