Sony Shuffles PlayStation Management Team

As of today, Giovanni Ribisi lookalike and PlayStation head honcho, Andrew House, has stepped down as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Interactive Entertainment. House’s former position will be occupied by Deputy President John Kodera.

House is a PlayStation lifer, having worked on the original PlayStation launch. He worked his way up the ranks and in 2002, was named Executive Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment America. In 2011, House was named President and Chief Executive Officer.

According to a Sony press release, House plans to stay on as Chairman for the remainder of year.

In case you don’t believe me, Andrew House really does look like Giovanni Ribisi and I am convinced that they may actually be the same person.

Full press release below:

Announcement of Executive Management Transition at Sony Interactive Entertainment

John Kodera promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer, Andrew House to be appointed Chairman

TOKYO, JAPAN, OCTOBER 3, 2017 / SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA, OCTOBER 2, 2017 – Sony Corporation and Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC (“SIE”) announced today that John (Tsuyoshi) Kodera, currently Deputy President of SIE, has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer, SIE, with immediate effect. Current President and Global CEO Andrew House will transition from operational management of SIE, but will remain with SIE as Chairman through the year to ensure a smooth transition. Mr. Kodera has also been appointed Representative Director and President of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc., SIE’s Japan-based legal entity, with immediate effect, while Mr. House has become Director and Chairman, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. Mr. Kodera will assume overall operational responsibility for SIE including its game and network services businesses globally, and will report directly to Kazuo Hirai, President and CEO, Sony Corporation.

In conjunction with the management transition at SIE, Mr. House is stepping down from his role as EVP, Corporate Executive Officer of Sony Corporation, also effective immediately. Mr. Kodera will continue his role as a Business Executive of Sony Corporation.

“When I passed the baton of leadership for Sony Computer Entertainment to Andrew House in 2011, I was confident that I was leaving the PlayStation business in the best possible hands, and so it has proved. I’m extremely grateful to Andy for the great contribution he has made to evolving the PlayStation business, and firmly positioning it as one of the drivers of our future growth. Andy and I go back more than 20 years and spent much of this time together, dedicating ourselves to ensuring the success of the PlayStation business. I would like to thank Andy for his contribution over many years, and wish him every success in the future,” said Kazuo Hirai, President and CEO, Sony Corporation. “John Kodera has led Sony’s network service business since 2013 and played a pivotal role in its growth. He is a truly global executive, possessing strategic understanding, strength of conviction and outstanding leadership capabilities. Since his appointment as Deputy President of SIE last year, alongside Andy he has also been responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and product planning. With the significance of network services increasing across the entire Sony Group, I believe that John is ideally equipped to build on the foundations Andy has left in place, and drive Sony’s game and network services business to further growth and excitement going forward.”

“I’m tremendously proud of what we’ve built with PlayStation and Sony Interactive Entertainment: entertaining millions globally with the best in games and creating a fully fledged digital entertainment company. PlayStation has been a huge part of my life for more than 20 years but with the business having achieved record-breaking success, now seemed to be the right time for me to pursue new challenges. I shall always treasure the friendships and people that have made SIE such a wonderful place to work. I’m also grateful to PlayStation fans and gamers around the world for their loyalty and support. John and the team at SIE are world-class and I know the future of PlayStation is very bright,” said Mr. House.

“It’s a great honor to take on the role of President and CEO, SIE, and I’m very grateful to Kaz and Andy for the trust and faith they have shown in me. I intend to build on the amazing progress Andy has made enhancing the PlayStation brand and expanding the game and network services business, and will strive to further strengthen the unique value proposition we are able to offer via the PlayStation platform. I look forward to working together with the SIE team, and everyone across the Sony Group, to continue to strengthen relations with our business partners, and provide the best possible interactive entertainment experiences, that only PlayStation can deliver.” said Mr. Kodera.

Mr. House began his 27-year career at Sony in 1990, where he first served in corporate communications at Sony headquarters. In 1995, he moved to marketing and communications at Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (“SCE”), where he contributed to the launch of the first PlayStation. After performing several key roles at both Sony Corporation and SCE, including Chief Marketing Officer of Sony Corporation, and President and CEO of SCE Europe Limited, in 2011 Mr. House was appointed President and Group CEO of SCE, assuming overall responsibility for the PlayStation business worldwide. Mr. House led the PlayStation business for six years, driving the strategy and launch of PlayStation 4, which has since become the fastest-growing platform in PlayStation history, and is set to reach cumulative sales of 78 million units this fiscal year. Mr. House redefined Sony’s network services strategy, centering it around a strengthened PlayStation™Network (PSNSM) – currently with more than 70 million monthly active users and a suite of recurring revenue services, including PlayStation®Plus. He oversaw the launch of the world’s first console streaming game service with PlayStation™Now and the interactive live TV service, PlayStation™Vue. In 2016 Mr. House established Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC – bringing together SCE and Sony Network Entertainment International LLC (SNEI). Mr. House also oversaw the development and launch of PlayStation®VR (PS VR). He has grown the Game and Network Services segment into one of the key profit drivers for the Sony Group.

Mr. Kodera joined Sony Corporation in 1992, where he was first assigned to planning and control within Sony’s portable audio business. In 1998 he was transferred to Sony Electronics Inc. in the U.S., where he was initially responsible for planning and control of various portable and mobile products, before subsequently being appointed VP of product management for IT products such as PCs. In 2010 he assumed the role of SVP, Corporate Strategy, at the newly established Sony Network Entertainment International LLC (SNEI), and in 2013 was appointed President, SNEI. Since then, Mr. Kodera has engaged in the launch and the enhancement of an array of network services via the PSNSM platform. These have included PlayStation®Store, which sells the latest game titles, movies and TV shows; the PlayStation®Plus subscription service offering members exclusive benefits and content; and the PlayStation™Now online game streaming service. Mr. Kodera has also been integral to the launch of several other ground-breaking network services that have greatly enriched the PlayStation experience, including the PlayStation™Vue cloud-based TV service, PlayStation®Video content distribution service, and PlayStation™Music, which leverages a global strategic partnership with Spotify to deliver a best-in-class digital music experience on PSNSM. Mr. Kodera has contributed significantly to growing this recurring revenue business. Furthermore, since his appointment as Deputy President of SIE last year, he has worked closely with Mr. House on the overall management of the game and network services business including product development, business strategy and system and network engineering.

[Source: Sony]

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.

Why You Should Never Trust Someone that Wears a Suit Without a Tie – A Stupid Theory

The 1960s, like today, were very turbulent times. As legend has it, back in 1965, Jack Weinberg, leader of the Free Speech Movement told a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle, that he didn’t trust anyone over the age 30. Well, I’m over 30, and you can trust me, but do you know who shouldn’t trust? People who wear suits without a ties and this is a fact.

I will be level with you and fully admit that I despise the concept of suits. They are uncomfortable and restricting. They serve little purpose and are not practical.

Tuxedos on the other hand are awesome.  Whenever I wear a tux, I feel like a super spy, adept at firearms, martial arts, and seducing female Russian spies with my penis. I’m pretty sure that’s how espionage works.

There are instances when one has to wear a suit. I wear suits on only three occasions; weddings, funerals, and job interviews. I go to so many funerals, that my suit pockets are filled with memorial cards of deceased relatives only to be rediscovered at the weddings of living relatives.

One of the worst thing about suits is the tie. I feel like I’m being strangled whenever I wear one. I curse the man who invented the necktie. According to Wikipedia, the necktie was invented by Croatians (who I am no longer a fan of):

“The modern necktie spread by Europe during the time of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) when Croatian mercenaries from the Croatian Military Frontier in French service, wearing their traditional small, knotted neckerchiefs, aroused the interest of the Parisians. Due to the slight difference between the Croatian word for Croats, Hrvati, and the French word, Croates, the garment gained the name “cravat” (“cravate” in French). The boy-king Louis XIV began wearing a lace cravat about 1646, when he was seven, and set the fashion for French nobility. This new article of clothing started a fashion craze in Europe; both men and women wore pieces of fabric around their necks. From its introduction by the French king, men wore lace cravats, or jabots, that took a large amount of time and effort to arrange.”

And you know what? They still take a long time to arrange, but they are a necessary evil. If you are going to go through the effort of putting on a suit, one should go all out and wear a tie to have a “put together” look. I SUFFER FOR FASHION!

However, we’ve entered an age where more and more men are going around in suits without ties.  There’s something disconcerting about this. World leaders, businessmen, and executives alike have started donning suits without tie. This bothers me to no end.

A man in a suit without a tie looks sloppy and incomplete and should not be trusted.  Perhaps these men do this because they are trying to seem hip and loose. “Hey look at me! Look how cool I am. Sure, I’m wearing a suit,  but I’m cool because I’m not wearing a tie.”

But you’re actually not cool. You know who wore a tie every day of his life? Sinatra, and every member of the Rat Pack. When they told a lady friend that they were going to slip into something more comfortable, then would change out of a suit they were wearing and put on another suit!

See that images above? That’s the Rat Pack at a pajama party.

So where am I’m going with this?

I’ve noticed something disconcerting over the past few years when it comes to Sony’s press conferences. Something that has been occurring for years, and its bothers me to no end. Sony executives never ever wear ties with their suits.

It’s no surprise that Sony has lost a bit of cred with the gaming community. Look at them. They’re completely untrustworthy and they are not getting another penny from me until they either start wearing ties like the corporate shills that they are or embrace being phony casual, like the poser corporate shills at every other tech company.

Whether it’s the release of the over-hyped yet underwhelming No Man’s Sky, or raising the price of PSN, or the uninspired PlayStation 4 Pro, they have not been inspiring me lately and each announcement is made by a man in a suit without a tie.

On the other hand, Microsoft is showing that it truly cares for gamers and has turned over a new leaf.  No Microsoft executive has donned a suit, let alone a suit without a tie for quite some time. No wonder people are getting excited by what they are doing. One just needs to look at Phil Spencer and subconsciously feel like they can be trusted.

Don’t believe me? Think back to the last time an Xbox executive stepped out in a suit without a tie.

Need I say more?

Disclosure: This is my first attempt in fanboy conspiracy theory rabble raising.  Did I do this right?

Sony Wants to Teach You Many Things About PlayStation VR

On October 13, Sony will unleash virtual reality to the unwashed masses. Console users rejoice! No longer will you be hampered with the need to purchase an expensive PC in order to frolic blissfully in virtual worlds.

All that is needed is a PS4, and $399 (to start), which is still nothing to sneeze at, but it’s better than the thousands of dollars needed if your a PC gamer.

Leading up to the big launch, Sony wants you to know  about the great many things the PlayStation VR is capable of doing and what you need to do to join the virtual reality party.

Go ahead and take a gander at the Official Sony PlayStation Blog for the full FAQ, you will not be disappointed… Or maybe you will, I for one haven’t bought into the VR hype just yet.

Buying Games Used to be Convoluted, but Magical

Buying a game today is a non-event. You simply go to a store, pick up the game, walk to the checkout and pay for it. Some retailers, like Target or Walmart, keep them behind a display (CLASSY), which requires the extra step of asking a kind associate for assistance, that is if you can find one.

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GameStop keeps their games behind the checkout, so you need to ask for a copy, which in return they would ask if you pre-ordered it, which my response is was, NO I DIDN’T FUCKING PRE-ORDER IT, BUT YOU HAVE A STACK OF 100 OF THEM BACK THERE SO GIVE ME ONE GODDAMNIT! I have a love/hate relationship with GameStop. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t buy physical copies of games anymore and just download them, like a civilized person. I have also been told that I have a tendency of over reacting.

Back in the day however, there was a process that must be followed when purchasing a game. This was especially the case at Toys R Us, which was my retailer of choice to buy games when I was a kid.

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This unique process, employed by Toys R Us, has been embedded and buried into the depths of my mind. This memory was only uncovered recently after watching a documentary about Tony Robbins on Netflix late one evening.

During this documentary, Tony Robbins, motivational speaker, life coach, self-help guru, and cosmetic dentistry enthusiast, demonstrated an exercise that helps uncover long lost memories. These memories, often times deeply buried, are both positive and negative, but none-the-less, make you the person that you are today. These memories can be very powerful and one can harness them, helping to make you a stronger person.

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With that said, after trying this memory dredging exercise myself, I have no fucking idea why I remembered, and quite vividly I might add, the convoluted and confusing video game buying process employed by Toys R Us from when I was a child.  It’s apparent that my brain is broken. No memories of early vacations, or interactions with my grandparents, birthdays, holidays, or even traumatic events. Nope, I remembered how Toys R Us made the process of buying video games akin to a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

For those of you who are too young to remember, or may have forgotten, back in the 80’s and the early to mid-90’s, Toys R Us used a ticketing system for the majority of their large and or expensive products. One would walk down the aisle, find a display of the product they wanted to purchase, select a ticket, take it to the register, pay, and then someone would get you the product you purchased.  If you bought a bicycle, someone would bring you a box of an unassembled bicycle. If you bought swing set, someone would bring you a swing set, et cetera.

Many Toys R Us stores still employ this method, as it does make sense, and it is efficient for large bulky items. Toys R Us used this method for pricier things as well years ago, such as electronics and especially video games.

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As a child, I remember going down the video game aisle and seeing rows and rows of plastic flip cards for games.  The front had the box art and the back had some screen shots and a description. Essentially, it was a representation of the box.  And just below each game, there was a pouch with the fabled Toys R Us item ticket.

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I have vivid memories of going into Toys R Us with my mom or dad to pick up a particular game, only to encounter an empty ticket pouch stating that the game was out of stock and be an utterly devastated 8-year-old. Perhaps it was a mistake. Maybe some asshole took all the tickets and hid them somewhere in the store for some nefarious reason?  Maybe the store just got more in stock and didn’t replenish the tickets? A quick trip to customer service would always validate my fears. The game was indeed sold out.

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More often than not, the game that I wanted was in stock, and I would select my ticket and excitedly go to the front cash registers, like a demented Charlie Bucket, but instead of a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, I was buying what was most likely a forgettable and utterly average NES side scroller.

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After paying for the game at one of the cash registers, the cashier would staple your receipt to the ticket and that is where the magic begins. You then head off to what appeared to be as an excitable child, a plexiglass monolith of electronic and video game goodness. Sadly, all images of this structure no longer exists.  All my image searches came up empty. The image below is the closest representation I could find.

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Within the confines of this structure were stacks of every gaming console imaginable—NESs, Sega Master Systems, Gameboys, and random Atari garbage. Later on there would be the Genesis, SNES, TurboGrafx 16, and holy shit, was that a Neo Geo? Also housed in the clear monolith were games. Stacks upon stacks of games.

Eventually, a sales associate would be called down to get the game that you payed for. A lethargic and disinterested looking teenager would unlock the door, take your ticket, and then attempt to locate your purchased game among the stacks of other games. I say attempt, because they would inevitably pass over your game a half dozen times before zeroing in on it.

IT’S RIGHT OVER THERE MOTHERFUCKER!

…I totally would have said that—if my father wasn’t standing there and would have totally beaten the shit out of me, right there in the store. Remember, this was the 1980’s, parents got away with doing that, and if he got tired slapping me around in public, another parent would have come over and beat me while my father caught his breath.  It takes a village to raise children properly, you know.

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Eventually, the teenager would locate your game and hand it over.  I would stare at the box the entire car ride home.  Sometimes, I could not help myself and I would open it up to flip through the instruction manual. Those were the good old days, when games had instruction manuals. The best games had meaty manuals, that contained some back story and a list of enemies.

On a slightly darker side, I also clearly remembered how my friends and I used to scheme during lunch on an Ocean’s 11 caliber plan to infiltrate that plexiglass fortress and make off with all the goodies inside. It was our casino bank vault, ripe for the picking, that is of course if you had a good plan, the right people, and the guts to pull it off such an amazing heist.

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I bet you thought the Clooney version, right? Nope, I’m talking about the infinitely cooler Rat Pack Ocean’s 11.

There were even legends of kids who had found a way in and made off with a handful of carts (or even consoles, depending on who you asked).  These kids then conveniently moved away to other towns, cities and even states, so it could never be confirmed or denied if the story was true or even learn how they pulled it off. Sometimes the tales were cautionary and the kid got caught, sent to juvey and became a hardened criminal. These stories were all legends, who knew if there was any shred of truth to them. (DEFINITELY NOT)

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Risks of juvenile detention aside, my friends and I would speak in hushed tones and plan our caper. Danny would buy a cheap game so that someone would need to unlock the booth. Brucie would wait by the booth and fake a heart attack when the sales associate unlocks the door, causing a commotion and a distraction. Johnny would then go into the booth with a garbage bag and take as much as he can. He’ll then hand the haul off to Jimmy, who’s waiting outside on his bike. It was so crazy; it just might work!  SHHHHHHHH. A teacher’s aid was walking by, she’s onto us. CHANGE THE SUBJECT!

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Also, in the 80’s all of my friend’s names had to end in “-y” or ”-ie” for some reason.

We never did follow through with our plan. It was too risky, and too stupid. Deep down inside, we knew it would never work. We would have been caught in an instant, and our parents would have been called. They would then take turns beating the shit out of us in public.

It was the 80’s, after all. That’s how things were. It takes a village to raise children properly, you know.

Game Protagonists Are Old Farts Now and That’s Okay

Getting older is not as bad as people make it out to be. Take it from me, as someone who has been on this merry-go-round called earth over thirty-six times. Complaining about it is so cliché anyway.

Sure, my muscles ache a bit more than they used to, and my peaches hang down a little lower, and my beard has a touch of grey here and there, but you learn to deal.  Perhaps the worst part was the thinning of my long beautiful mane of hair, but I just started shaving all that shit off. Now I’m a sexy bald man, like the late great Telly Savalas.

I’m also wiser now.  I know stuff just because I have been alive longer than other people. Want proof? Read my 100 Blog Post Fapstravaganza AMA and be enlightened.

Know what else is great about getting older? I now have more in common with the protagonists in the video games I play. Believe it or not, many of the main characters of games are getting older, and the reason for this is because apparently the people who are creating the games are getting older.

This was brought to my attention awhile back in a promo from Sony for Unchartered 4, where Nathan Drake is no longer a spring chicken destroying future UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but rather a 30-something who destroys future UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the video, which I embedded below, there is some interesting commentary from the game’s makers on how they grew up designing Nathan Drake and in turn, Nathan has grown up with them.

However, games protagonists have been skewing older for some time now. I first noticed this awhile back when playing Max Payne 3. When I think of Max Payne, I used to picture a young man with a perpetual “who farted face” with questionable style choices.

Boy was I surprised when I first started up Max Payne 3 to see a man that looks surprisingly similar to me, with a shaved head and beard. It’s eerie, like looking into a mirror.

However, I would never be caught dead in a Hawaiian print shirt. It’s obvious that Max Payne still suffers from questionable style choices.

Then, towards the end of the last generation of consoles, the amazing and in my opinion, groundbreaking The Last of Us was released, featuring a protagonist that’s touched with a bit of grey, just like yours truly.

Joel is a little worse for the wear, and has a greying beard, which I can relate to. But, look at that thick head of hair he has. FUCK YOU JOEL! Why do you still have so much hair? What is your secret? I HOPE ALL THAT BEAUTIFUL HAIR FALLS OUT AND YOU BECOME A BALDIE LIKE ME!

Getting back on track — I especially liked Joel, because he’s a father figure, and as a dad myself, I empathized with his struggle in this game and can understand the reasons for the actions he takes. That’s a powerful thing for me and it’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed and remember this game so fondly.

On a side note, The Last of Us was developed by Naughty Dog, the same folks behind the Unchartered series, so they are apparently attempting to corner the market on games featuring older, aching, grey haired male main characters.

Grand Theft Auto 5 also has its fair share of more experienced leads. Matter of fact, two out of three of the main characters can be considered old farts. Trevor Phillips, reminds me of that crazy uncle that every family has and tolerates during extremely awkward conversations around the dinner table during the holidays.

Michael De Santa (nee Townley) is a well-to-do man, who’s married to an attractive woman that may be porking her tennis instructor and a father to two pain in the ass kids.  It’s obvious that he’s undergoing some sort of midlife crisis, and going back into a life of crime is both a necessity in order to pay off debts, an outlet for his internalized rage, and a longing for his younger days full of excitement.

According to some armchair hack psychotherapist on Wikipedia individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis may feel:

  • A deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
  • Fear of humiliation among more successful colleagues
  • Longing to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
  • Need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
  • Heightened sense of their sexuality or lack thereof
  • Ennui, confusion, resentment or anger due to their discontent with their marital, work, health, economic, or social status
  • Ambitious to right the missteps they feel they have taken early in life

Now, tell me that doesn’t essentially sum up Michael De Santa’s story arc.

Speaking of people having a midlife crisis, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Bruce Wayne/Batman can be diagnosed with this condition.

It seems that for the past few Batman movies and games, the story has centered around how Wayne/Batman is getting old and his decrepit body can longer hold up to the stresses of being a winged vigilante detective face puncher.

One of the main frustrations of getting older is noticing that your body is not able to perform in the same ways as it had in the past.  It takes a little longer to get loosened up, after workouts you stay sore a little longer, and when you get banged up, it takes a little longer to heal. This is my experience as someone that is in relatively good shape.

Also, let us not forget that in Arkham Knight, Batman was rolling around in his fancy new Batmobile. This is important, because everyone knows buying a fancy car is the first thing a man does when he’s suffering from a midlife crisis.

It’s getting obvious that this is not a coincidence that game characters are getting older. Another recent example is Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

If memory serves, Big Boss was the main character in Metal Gear Solid 3: Sneak Eater, where he’s a relatively young man. The Phantom Pain takes place in 1984, approximately twenty years after the events of Snake Eater takes place, so of course Big Boss is older, wiser, greyer, and worse for the wear.

He still has a thick head of hair, so I hate him. No way he still has all that hair after years of stress. I say it’s hair plugs or a really good toupée. Look at the technology that he has it his disposable. They are probably light years ahead of everyone in toupée technology.

And yes, I do realize that Big Boss is an integral character in many Metal Gear games, but on this case, I’m referring to playable old Big Boss.

When I first started writing this blog, my plan was to stop at Big Boss, but recent develops have required me to make one more addition. Thanks to Sony, we are in store for a new God of War game, where an older, grumpier, and bearded Kratos battles Norse gods.

This time, Kratos will be accompanied by his young son, and if the E3 gameplay trailer is any indication, Kratos is the type of dad who yells at his son during Little League baseball games. I imagine he’s like that dick dad from the original Bad News Bears.

So as you can see, this trend of older lead characters in games is going to continue and I think that’s brilliant. Sorry young whippersnappers, but the people who make games are getting older along with the people who play games and we like playing as old people and it’s only going to get worse.  Soon, Batman will be in his Batmobile doing 25 mph in the fast lane with his left turn signal on, Kratos will sit on his porch yelling at Norse monsters to get off of his lawn, and Nathan and Elena Drake will settle in a nice condo in Boca Raton, Florida. I can’t wait.

 

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.

The FBI Wasted My Tax Dollars on a Video Game

The wife and I got a jump on our taxes this year. All of our tax forms from our employers, banks, and creditors have been sent off to our accountant. Hopefully, we get a decent return this year, which is never a guarantee. My hope is that it’s enough to put a stripper pole in the basement.

Every year, for eight years, when we send all of the forms to our accountant, I tell him to get me big refund by COOKING THE BOOKS. He then cordially reminds me that he is a reputable CPA. I also have no idea what cooking the books entails, but it sounds cool.

Eventually, we’ll get completed tax forms from the accountant to sign before submitting to Uncle Sam, and I marvel at how much money I paid in taxes both to the state as well as the federal government.

Where does all this money go?

Well, a portion of it went to the FBI, who spent it designing a website and a “video game,” with the aim of teaching teens the dangers of violent extremism. The money would have gone to better use if the feds used it to wipe their asses and then setting it on fire.

Have you ever encountered an instances where someone shows you something that they are very proud of, and you just smile, grit you teeth and nod, because you’re afraid to tell them that in actuality it’s total shit?  That’s the feeling I get when visiting the FBI website and right up front, on the page’s main carousel you’ll see “Don’t Be a Puppet: Pull Back the Curtain on Violent Extremism.”

FBI Home Page

According to the FBI, “today like never before, violent extremists of all kinds are deliberately targeting our nation’s young people with poisonous propaganda—especially in cyberspace, where they are flooding social media with slick recruiting videos and persuasive calls to action.”

This is very true and terrifying. So the FBI’s plan to counter this is with a website using the slickest imagery and styles from 2003.

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The goal of the site, which can be viewed here, is to “teach teens recognize violent extremist messaging and become more resistant to self-radicalization and possible recruitment, through the use of activities, quizzes, videos, and other materials.”

This is a noble goal and it’s a shame that it was squandered on a such a horrible site that appears to be an perfect example of what out of touch beltway pundits believe teens find “cool.”

The ultimate goal for the user is to click on each section and complete small tasks.  These tasks are actually very informative and one can learn quite a bit.  After each task is completed, a string is cut on the puppet, freeing an appendage. Ultimately, you must free the puppet, so he can go home to his father, Geppetto and eventually become a REAL BOY…. probably.

Puppet What Is

I’m not even sure what’s going on here. Where are we supposed to be? Is this some kind of post-apocalyptic safe house? I’m getting a Myst vibe. Click on any of the boxes and you’ll zoom into that area and get a definition and a task.

386 PC

That’s a sweet ass rig there. What is that? A 486 tower with floppy and CD-ROM! Damn, we’re going to be playing some original Wolfenstein tonight, kids.

OG Gameboy

Holy shit that’s an original Gameboy! Do teens today even know what an original Gameboy is? I like to imagine that a group of old grizzled G-men sitting at a meeting and one them say, “When my son was teenager, he used to love playing with something called a Gameboy. Let make sure we have one on the site because teens love those things.”

It just so happens that this area will also allow you to play a game called “Slippery Slope” on that Gameboy.

Slippery Slope Game

You play as a goat that must dodge obstacles and make it to the finish line. Make it to the finish line and you’ll get a message.

Slippery Slope ActionSlippery Slope Game Over

Wow, that sure came out of nowhere. How does one go from playing, as a happy goat traipsing through the countryside avoiding obstacles to what appears to be a quote from Conan the Barbarian? That escalated quickly—slippery slope indeed.

In the end, I really didn’t want to shit all over this site, as it does have a noble goal. Terrorism and extremism is real and it is scary, and yes, they are targeting teenagers, who may vulnerable and can be impressionable.

But here’s the thing, teens may be impressionable, but they are not stupid. A site like this panders to them in a condescending way.  You don’t have to make things edgy, cool, or fun to get through to youth. This was the case when I was a teenager and it’s true today.

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?

South-Park-World-of-Warcraft-dude

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.

the_arcade_hotel_amsterdam_gaming_06

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

anne-frank-museum-literary-sites-to-visit

4. Go on a canal boat tour

canal-boats-amsterdam

3. Go to various museums

Gerrit_van_Honthorst_-_De_koppelaarster

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

Red-Light-District-Amsterdam

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.

 

Selling Games Online is Like the Wild West – But I Can’t Shoot Anyone

It truly is amazing the amount of crap I have accumulated over the years. You find that special someone, move in together, eventually get married, and one day, you realize that you have no more room to store all your stuff.

When I moved in with the girl who would eventually become my wife, we lived in a tiny fourth floor walk-up in Manhattan. There was room for the barest essentials. Not like it mattered—rent was expensive and we were just starting our careers, so we didn’t have much to begin with.

However, we climbed that corporate ladder, started making some more money, and were able to afford bigger places and the ability to buy things—Many, many things. We moved into a bigger apartment, and after a few years, an even bigger apartment. A few years later, we bought an actual house, just like grownups.

Houses, by their nature, have multiple rooms, even our quaint one. My wife and I proceed to fill those rooms with even more things. Finally, one day, the wife and I were struck at all the shit we accumulated.  We felt cramped and suffocated. It was time to unload. We made a conscience effort to de-clutter and downsize. We wanted our space again. We wanted to simplify.

Furniture, appliances, clothes, accessories, electronics, and various sundries were listed online. We became experts of Craig’s List, eBay, and our personal favorite, Facebook Virtual Garage Sales.

It’s amazing what people will buy on a Facebook Virtual Sale. Things we were willing to throw away, were listed for shits and giggles for a few dollars and to our surprise, people would buy them. People purchased things like old coffee machines, tattered rugs, scratched furniture, and all things we considered garbage. Folks were literally buying our trash.

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Simplifying our space even galvanized us to simplify our budget. We took the leap and cut the chord, forgoing cable for just the Internet, and we have not missed it one bit. We became a streamlined household, physically and fiscally and it feels great.

Of course, I did my part as well.  There were many gaming related items that I decided to unload. Old physical copies of games, various accessories, consoles, you name it—they were going to be put up for sale.

Selling games and hardware online was not something entirely new to me.  I’ve done it a few times before, but I was more apt to trade things in at GameStop for credit. This time around though, I was going to attempt to get top dollar online for cold hard cash. CAPITALISM!

monopoly

The first thing I noticed is that selling games is going to attract a very different audience than selling a coffee table. Soccer mom’s are interested in coffee tables, because they read an article in Better Homes and Gardens on how to turn old furniture into shabby chic masterpieces and they are looking to do a project. Meanwhile, freaks, mouth breathers, criminals, and generally people without a modicum of social skill came out of the woodwork for my gaming stuff.

Take the PlayStation TV I listed for example. I got guys who wanted me to deliver the item to them, 50 miles from my house. I got guys who wanted me to ship it to them. I got guys who acted seemingly normally, until it was time to arrange for a place to meet and then got cold feet when I said to meet me at a public place, perhaps because their master plan involved stabbing me in the face.

I eventually sold it to a guy who refused to get out of his car, I had to hand the PlayStation TV to him through the window and he handed me cash. If the police drove by, they would have thought that I was selling this guy crack or a blowjob.

drug-dealer

Then there was the guy who wanted to buy a PS4 controller.  I was selling the controller for just $30 and it was like new and hardly used, but he kept trying to talk me down. I finally told him that the price was firm and I was moving on to the next person. He capitulated and agreed to meet at a public place. After showing up 30 minutes late, he looked over the controller, and asked if I’d take $25, I took it back and began to walk out when he agreed to pay the agreed upon price.

The weirdos really came out though when I listed my Xbox One Elite controller. I used it only a couple of times and realized that my meat hooks and sausage fingers were just too large. I kept hitting the bumpers accidentally and removed them. I paid a premium for what is essentially a nicer Xbox One controller, so I decided to pack it all up, put it back in the box and listed it on Craig’s List. This was a mistake.

The Elite controller is a hot item apparently. It’s pretty much sold out everywhere. Not to mention, the one I was selling was practically new and listed for $125 a savings of $25. I started getting responses immediately.

Craig’s List, is supposed to act like a local classified. I would post to the North Jersey page and people from North Jersey would find my post and then contact me, right? Why then, are there people from the next fucking state responding to my classified?

Will you Ship

This guy was my first respondent, so I was relatively nice to him and simply told him no. He tried to get someone local to meet me, but could not work it out, which is a shame, because the guy seemed normal, so I moved on.

The next guy was possibly illiterate, as he kept asking me questions that would have been answered if he simply read my post. He also was trying to lower the price, which was firm.

He finally agrees on the $125 price, and we make arrangements to meet, and then I get the following text.

Buyer Text

What’s funny is after all this back and forth; he flakes out and asks to meet at later times twice. I know that shit happens, but this deal became to sour in my book and I moved on to the next person. What’s funny is that this flake never contacted me again. It was like I dreamed the entire thing.

Luckily, the next person in line was normal. He agreed on the price and location, got there early, and was pleasant. No muss, no fuss.

So, happy ending, right? Not necessarily. I forgot to delete my Craig’s List post and got a few more responses, including this gem.

You Take 80

This dude struck a nerve with me. I love the written word and take umbrage when people butcher it.

Also, how does distance impact the price of something? Where the fuck did you learn how to haggle? How does distance impact the price? How is where you live my problem? Why don’t you go ahead and watch more American Pickers or Pawn Stars on the History Channel, because all of the sudden, everyone is an expert in dickering.

*May 28 - 00:05*

I especially like how in the end, he throws in how he already bought one for $70 and was no longer interested, all this in a span of eleven hours, in the middle of the night. Some people just feel the need to make it seem like they won. So I did what I do best. I gave a passive aggressive sarcastic response.

Fortunately, I think I’m done selling stuff, at least for a little while. The wife and I feel like we purged enough. When the time does come to unload more stuff, I think I’ll avoid Craig’s List. It’s not worth the aggravation. Simply put, it’s a wretched hive of scum and villainy. (Gratuitous Star Wars Quote)

Have any horror stories of selling used games online? Let me know in the comments.