I’ve Become a De Facto Expert of Video Games… And that Sucks 

Oh, hi there. It’s been awhile again. Been busy with my actual job and adult stuff. I actually got a promotion recently, and with it a whole caboodle of additional responsibilities. I actually have a fancy title with direct reports now, which let’s face it, is a terrifying prospect. The fact that the upper management at my company thinks that I should be providing mentorship and career advice to anyone has me questioning their decision-making skills. With that said, I’m still gaming AND writing when I can.  Hopefully, you’ll enjoy my latest: 

There is an old saying that goes, be careful what you wish for, because one day, it may come true. Older people would use this phrase as a response to me pining for something as child would always provide the most utterly ridiculous examples of why I should be “careful for what I wish for.” 

I immediately think back to the movie Home Alone, where a young Macaulay Culkin wishes for his family to disappear and in turn, they forget to take him on vacation to Paris, leaving home to fend for himself during the holidays. 

At first, he’s ecstatic, because he can do whatever he wants, but he soon learns that he misses and loves his family. This came after he tortures and nearly murders two burglars while narrowly avoiding being murdered by them. Really gets me into the Christmas Spirit. 

I remember teachers using this movie as example of being careful of what you wish for, and me thinking to myself, well that is a pretty outlandish. What are the chances that simply wishing to have some alone time leads to assaulting Joe Pesci via blow torch? 

It wasn’t until years later in a philosophy class that I took in college that I learned of the “slippery slope.” Unfortunately, I forgot after years of drinking and abusing my brain and body in various illicit ways.  So, a quick Google search and voila! 

“A slippery slope argument, in logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and caselaw, is a consequentialist logical device in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect. The core of the slippery slope argument is that a specific decision under debate is likely to result in unintended consequences. The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process that leads to the significant effect. This type of argument is sometimes used as a form of fear mongering, in which the probable consequences of a given action are exaggerated in an attempt to scare the audience. The fallacious sense of “slippery slope” is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. In a non-fallacious sense, including use as a legal principle, a middle-ground possibility is acknowledged, and reasoning is provided for the likelihood of the predicted outcome.” 

See! It is amazing that after years of playing football before the invention of concussion protocols, combining Whippets with bong hits, and drinking copious amounts of cheap alcohol – and yet, everything turned out okay. Thank you internet and thank you Wikipedia! 

However, can there possibly be a grain of truth to all of this? I have learned that you should indeed be careful of what you wish for. Hear me out on this. 

When I was in my early teens, back in the greatest decade, known as the 1990’s, my parents and especially my father would ask me when and I’m going to give up playing with these “toys?” The “toys” he was referring to, were video games.  

“Never,” would be my reply. “Gaming is the way of the future and I will never stop. You’ll see, one day, video games will be more popular than everything.” I was a smart kid if I do say so myself, and is it turns out, I was right.  Video games did indeed become insanely popular and mainstream. I am vindicated. So why do I wish gaming was a more niche and less mainstream now? 

Kids find out that I am a gamer and they want to play with me like I’m a novelty. Let’s play with the old man they squeal gleefully, like I’m a dancing monkey or a horse that knows how to do math by tapping its hoof. I don’t like this. I’m not a freak. I’M NOT AN ANIMAL! 

It doesn’t stop there either. Other, non-gaming parents want to know what is good for their kids. I’ll get accosted at functions and get asked questions like, “Hey, you play video games, what’s the deal with Fortnight, Overwatchor whatever new gaming craze of the moment?” To which my reply is, “I don’t know, I don’t play those types of games,” to which many times, is a lie. I just don’t want to discuss games with a non-gamer and also, they should fucking Google it. I’m not trying to be a jerk but discussing video games with someone who is not interested in gaming and solely asking for their kids is mind numbing and negatively impacts my buzz. 

Even scarier than acquittances asking about gaming is the out of the blue stranger wanting to pick my brain about gaming. I travel a lot for work and always brought along a handheld or even more recently, my Nintendo Switch, the sight of which, earlier on, nearer to the console’s launch, would illicit a few questions on the device.  

It’s for these reasons that I avoid gaming related small talk with all strangers. I used to avoid telling people that I was a gamer because I wanted to avoid the negative stereotypes and connotation, on how gaming was anti-social, or for nerds, or for children, or too violent, or made children too violent. Now I avoid gaming related chit chat because I don’t want to get dragged into boring conversation. 

Now there is an even a more troubling issue. I have found that other adults want to know if I can help onboard them into gaming again as they haven’t played in years but want to start up because gaming is popular again. Case and point, my neighbor swung by the house the other day to pick up his daughter, who was on a play date with my daughter and noticed a copy of Game Informer (yes, I’m a dope) on the shelf.  

He apparently turned to my wife and was surprised to find out that I was a gamer, as I didn’t seem like someone who played video games. He mentioned that he used to be a gamer himself, but fell out of it, but perhaps he would pick it up again, with my help. My wife thought this was quaint, while I thought that this idea was terrifying. I’m not trying to be an ass, but the last thing I want to do is to teach another grown man how to be a gamer. I’m too old to be someone’s video game mentor. 

Lastly, I’m reluctant to become friends with other adult gamers, who want me to join up in their leagues or gamer groups. This happens a lot at work actually, where a random co-worker finds out that I am a gamer and then wants my Gamertag so that we can meet up online later. However, I avoid this at all costs for purely selfish and paranoid reasons. Selfish reasons in that I don’t want to give up my free time to play with someone new as I am pretty set in my ways. I don’t want to alter my schedule or the types of games that I enjoy to play with someone new.  

Also, what if I ditch work one day to play video games and my coworker sees me online for 8 hours when I told everyone that I contracted dengue fever? That can lead to bad optics and uncomfortable conversations with HR. 

It’s funny that I have gotten to this point. I wanted to so bad for gaming to become mainstream, and now that it is, I don’t want to embrace it, because I’ve become a tired old man. I almost yearn for the days where gaming was more niche, but I realize that is very selfish. So now I prefer to shut myself in my man cave and play inconspicuously with my small group of friends or randos, rarely revealing my true identity of a gamer. Unless I get pushed, by a young whippersnapper, then I have to beat him down. Never underestimate the old man gamer. 

The Kinect is Dead

Microsoft is finally putting the Kinect out of it’s misery according to website Co.Design. Microsoft has ceased manufacturing the peripheral and once retailers run out of stock, the device will be no longer be restocked.

The Kinect was actually an impressive device technically speaking, but developers struggled to make compelling games for it and gamers never embraced it. Also, the Kinect leached processing power from the Xbox One, which made some games run in sub 1080p resolutions versus their PS4’s counterparts, which was a contentious topic for many Xbox One fans.

It’s pretty apparent that Microsoft is trying to wash away all vestiges from the disastrous Xbox One launch. With Kinect going to the trash heap, the launch of the sleek Xbox One S, and a new more powerful Xbox One X on the way, Microsoft’s disastrous announcements at E3 2013 have now been righted. Now if only they announce some exciting games for their shiny new Xbox One X.

[Source: Co.Design]

A Refreshed PlayStation VR is on the Way

Look at all those beautiful young people up there having a blast with PlayStation VR. Maybe I should get one? (Looks at games line-up) Nah, I’ll pass. It’s not that I want to hate on the PlayStation VR. It’s a great concept, and cost wise, compared to the competition, it’s a relatively cheap way to get into VR gaming, but the library of games is still pretty weak.

The lack of solid library hasn’t stopped Sony from announcing a new PlayStation VR, which includes integrated stereo headphone cables and an updated processor.

The headphone integration is nice, as the original unit required quite the web of wires and cables, which was a turn-off for some.

Another welcome addition is HDR pass through, thanks to the new processor chip. The new processor will allow owners the ability to enjoy HDR-compatible content on their TV without having to unplug the unit first.

The new PlayStation VR will be released in Japan on October 14. A North American release date will be announced at a later date.

[Source: Official PlayStation US Blog]

For a Time, I Was a Gamer that Didn’t Play Video Games 

Hi folks. Remember me? Wait, come back. Don’t be that way. I had a lot going on. All good things really, just been very busy. Don’t be upset, you’re still my number one. I won’t pretend that we can pick up right where we left off, but maybe you can give me the opportunity to win back your hearts. 

The past 6 months have been a whirlwind. A lot of life changing events occurred since my last post. I can’t say that none of the things that happened were unplanned. On the contrary, they were all planned, so there is no one I can blame, other than myself. As my wife is more than willing to remind me, time and time again, I am not an intelligent man. 

While I have been away, I left my previous employer, which apparently was a company that was a front for intergalactic Lizard People bent on world domination. In turn, I started at a new company. The transition has been a challenge, but worthwhile and rewarding.  

I have also sold my first home and purchased a new one. This was by far, one of the most stressful things I have ever done. Purchasing a home, when you’re a renter is easy, compared to selling a home, then trying to time things just right so that you can roll in funds from the sale into a new home purchase. Of course, once you get through all the paper work, mortgage applications, lawyers, realtors, you then must pack up and actual move, which used a form of torture in the less civilized world. 

Oh, and those aforementioned lawyers. Fuck these people. I hope the Lizard People pretending to be the humans that are my former coworkers enslave all the lawyers first. I despised the sellers’ attorney’s attitude and lack of intelligence and MY attorney an even lazier nickel and diming piece of shit. Does being a lawyer make people miserable or do miserable people become lawyers? I actually have a friend who is an attorney and he actively tells younger people who are considering a profession in law to consider something else. 

Perhaps the biggest change in my life is that I became a dad again. That’s right folks, my ding dong is still strong and my loins have spawned fruit again.  

Now this was a planned pregnancy, so that’s fancy talk for being treated like a piece of meat by the wife. Sounds great a first, but it really isn’t. She had iPhone apps, and timetables, and best practices that must be followed. No wining, dining, and romance this time around. This pregnancy was going to be cold, clinical, and efficient like German S&M. It was all worth it in the end, as it resulted in a healthy, happy, and perfect little girl. I’m actually typing this from the hospital right now, as my wife and newborn rest. 

So, to say that I have been busy is an understatement. One may ask when do I even have time to play games, and the answer to that is I really don’t. Matter of fact, I have had very little time to a lot of things that I enjoy lately, which has been taking quite a toll on me.  

Gaming, along with exercise, reading, and writing is what keeps me grounded. I suffer from anxiety and depression, and when I feel like I’m going down to a “bad place,” my pastimes keep me grounded and normalize me. As one can imagine, changing jobs, moving, and having another child, even though all good things, can really mess with a person’s psyche. 

Then one day, while I was lurking on some gaming related blogs and catching up on news, I had an existential crisis.  Am I even a gamer anymore, since I haven’t played an actual video game in months? Then some panic and anxiety began to set in. Will I even have the time to play games in any extended capacity anymore?  

I mentioned in the past that I have been on this quest to create my optimal gaming space. At the new house, I was able to get damn near close to my ideal. It was one of the first things I set up in my move, and then for weeks, I hardly spent any time there. My new job is demanding and time consuming, my older daughter is starting kindergarten, and there is now an infant in the house. Add all those things to my regular day to day tasks and I was starting to think that my gaming days are over. 

This is a painful thought. I have always considered myself to be a gamer and the idea of no longer being able to actually play video games, because of my career and family was terrifying. I was also feeling like I was being selfish. Should I even be worrying about my lack of time to play video games because I had so much more important things to do? 

The answer to that question is yes, I should be worried about it, because I enjoy playing video games, they are part of my identity, and they allow me to be centered. Sometimes you have to be selfish and make time for yourself. That sounds like something Sigmund Freud would say, right before snorting a huge line of cocaine. 

In all seriousness though, you can be a gamer that doesn’t play games. Being a fan or a follower of gaming makes you a gamer in my eyes. For those months where I wasn’t playing any games, I still considered myself a gamer and even if I don’t play as much as I used to. In much of the same way, I consider myself an auto enthusiast, who drives a hum drum boring ass SUV, I still can appreciate a Ferrari or a Lamborghini when I see one.  

I’ve written in the past on how getting older and having more responsibilities has a tendency of stripping away the free time available for casual pursuits. Well friends, it only gets worse. If you’re in school, classes will become more and more challenging and require more study. Buying a house? Well, houses will always need to be fixed and updated regardless of how new they are or in what condition they are in. Thinking about having kids or already have them? Well as kids get older they begin to have activities of their own, like swim classes, soccer practice, play dates, concerts, plays, and recitals. Lastly, you work hard and move up the corporate ladder getting paid a lot more, but then you find that you’re working 80 hours a week and so stressed out from the amount of responsibility you, hardly have the energy to do anything. 

However, even with all of the above, you need to make time to do what makes you happy. I’m going to continue playing, reading, and writing about gaming even if it’s just for minutes a night, because that is what gamers do and doing those things brings joy and balance in my life. I’m not going to let life get in the way of my favorite pastime. 

Maybe when the kids are in college I will have the opportunity to play more games. I reckon 13 years from now, which, in the grand scheme of things, is not that long off and just imagine how great the games will be by then. That’s something to look forward to. 

Microsoft Opens Up on Mixed Reality on Xbox Platforms-Including Scorpio

So, I know of VR, and even AR, but thanks to Microsoft, I now have to worry about mixed reality (MR?). I’m losing track of all these realities. Whatever the case may be, Microsoft is working on it and they have a plan to bring it to the Xbox.

According to an official Microsoft blog post, the company has grand plans for mixed reality. In the near term, those plans are planted firmly on the PC platform, but they do have designs on taking the technology into gaming.

We’re also excited to share that Windows Mixed Reality experiences will light up on other devices over time, beyond desktop and Microsoft HoloLens. Our plan is to bring mixed reality content to the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio, in 2018.

So, this could mean practically anything. Will there be an actual Xbox headset? Perhaps.

[Source: Microsoft]

E3 2017 Will Be Open to the Public

The ESA has announced that their annual conference to all things gaming will be open to the public in 2017.

The ESA will make 15,000 tickets available to the general public on Monday, February 13 for E3 2017. However, at $250 a pop (or $150 if you buy on day one of the sale), these tickets are not cheap.

E3 has been struggling to stay relevant the past few years. Game companies have become more keen in having their own pressers prior to E3 and many of them have pulled back or pulled out of conference entirely. E3 simply doesn’t have the same pull as it used to. This move is just a way for the ESA to recoup some of their losses from the shrinking list of exhibitors.

More Xbox Scorpio Details Leaked

Digital Foundry is reporting that they have got their meat hooks on some freshly leaked Xbox Scorpio spec.

The report is tech heavy, and my eyes began to close over when trying to read it, because I’m not a patient man, but the key takeaway has to do with the Scorpio’s ESRAM, or rather,  according to the report, the lack of it.

Okay, so what’s the hullabaloo about the ESRAM black magic? Well, according to a Microsoft whitepaper obtained by Digital Foundry:

“ESRAM remains essential to achieving high performance on both Xbox One and Xbox One S… However, Project Scorpio and PC are not provided with ESRAM. Because developers are not allowed to ship a Project Scorpio-only SKU, optimising for ESRAM remains critical to performance on Microsoft platforms.”

In a nutshell, the RAM on the Scorpio will be faster, and better suited for Ultra HD, but developers are still going to have to stay within the parameters of ESRAM, so that games are compatible across Microsoft platforms.

I feel that this is a possible hindrance and limiting the full potential of what the Scorpio will be capable of achieving. I also wonder how long Microsoft will mandate this limitation. I have a feeling that at some point, they are going to let the developers have at it.

Project Scorpio is set to launch holiday 2017 and has been touted by Microsoft as being the most powerful console to date.

 

With the Latest Update, the Xbox One Becomes More Accessible

The Xbox One is getting a software update soon, and along with all the standard UI tweaks is coming a feature that will help disabled gamers.

Microsoft calls the new feature Copilot and it essentially allows two Xbox One controllers to act as one unit. According to the official Xbox blog,

This will help make Xbox One more inviting to new gamers needing assistance, more fun by adding cooperative controls for any game and easier for players who need unique configurations to play — whether that is with hands apart, hand and chin, hand and foot, etc…

Anything that gets more people gaming is a good thing.

[Source: Microsoft]