The Value of Realism in Fiction

We’ve all met that person.  You know, the one who rolls their eyes at certain movies because they’re not “realistic”.  It happens a lot with scientific accuracy (which I did a post about here), but what I’m talking about this time is a more, all-encompassing realism.  Much like I said with scientific accuracy, I think realism has to support the movie in some way.  Making a movie hyper-realistic for no other reason than to be realistic is a bad move.

Look at it in this sense.  In a horror movie, people do stupid and unrealistic things.  It happens all the time.  Instead of walking away from the scary noise or trying to get help, they inevitably go straight toward it and usually end up dying in horrible fashion.  Yes, this is terribly illogical and unrealistic.  But would there really be a movie if they didn’t behave like that?  Let’s take a look.

 

 

The answer is, of course, no.

For a horror movie to work, people sometimes have to do stupid things.  Which is why, even though I really don’t like the characters in the first Paranormal Activity movie, I accept that some of the things they do have to be done for the sake of the movie (although the domestic drama comes across as little more than annoying and a waste of the viewer’s time).  If every character in every found footage movie immediately turned off the camera, we wouldn’t have a movie to watch.  It’s an annoying conceit for a lot of people.  I get that.  But if it bothers you that much, stop watching those types of movies.  No one wants to hear you complain over and over again, least of all the people actually trying to enjoy it.

But realism doesn’t just apply to things like character actions or decision.  It can also apply in terms of character deaths.  I’ve often heard from people who are fans of the Game of Thrones series that they like how many characters get killed off.  No character is safe.  Personally, I only read a little bit of the first book and have only seen the first episode of the HBO show, so I’m a little out of my element here.  But what I’ve found more often than not is that the character deaths are all people really talk about with Game of Thrones.  It makes me wonder.  Does that really make a good show/book?

Often Game of Thrones fans will critique other shows, saying that they’re not interesting to watch because you know that Character X is going to survive at the end of the episode because he’s the main character.  This is true, and it is often the subject of a lot of jokes such as the “plot bubble”, a magic invisible shield which surrounds the character and makes him immune to bullets and other dangers.  There’s a little something called “suspension of disbelief” that I think a lot of those types of people are forgetting about.  Part of the reason why we like watching these shows is because we suspend our disbelief.  Of course on the inside we know that with most shows certain character will never die unless it’s a season finale or something.  But we don’t care.  We just enjoy the ride.

If you can’t suspend your disbelief once in a while, how can you really enjoy any kind of fiction?

I’m sure even Game of Thrones has highly unrealistic elements to it (such as the ratio of absolute jerks to good people being like ten to one……on a good day).  And yet, it’s one of the most popular TV shows out there right now.  I would argue that if you’re going to complain about realism you might as well not watch any television shows, because at some point they all become unrealistic.

On a funny note, I’ve had friends who commonly watch anime complain about realism in a lot of shows.  You watch shows where people fly around throwing giant balls of spiritual energy at people, and YOU’RE COMPLAINING ABOUT REALISM?!

Often if you look up the definition of fiction, you’ll find that one of the key points is that it is not based in reality or fact.  It is a work of the imagination.  Fiction was never meant to be hyper-realistic.  Fiction was meant to be entertaining.  Sure, realistic elements can be used (a lot of modern science fiction movies have based themselves in plausible science), but there is always going to be an element of the fantastical or unrealistic.  At some point, writers have to bend realism to allow for certain things to happen.  The plot isn’t going to be interesting if the reader isn’t always present at the important events.  Sometimes, that means that a character has to be in certain places at the right time, often in an unrealistic way.  And besides, if a story was truly realistic, we’d only be following one character period throughout the whole thing.  And we know that’s not true, because a story will often bounce between multiple characters (like, oh I don’t know, Game of Thrones).

The bottom line is that if you want to enjoy fiction, you have to accept it as fiction.  That’s why it’s called fiction, and not reality.

 

Well that’s all I have for you this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week everyone.

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Making the Game: Memorable Video Game Soundtracks

Music serves an important function in movies and video games.  It emphasizes the feeling of certain scenes.  It makes us feel sad when a character dies.  It gets the blood pumping during an action scene.  It puts us on edge during a tense scene in a horror story.  Some people don’t like music in that sense.  They say it’s too manipulative.  I say they’re just no fun.

So today I wanted to take a brief look at some soundtracks in video games specifically (I might do movies at another time).  Like movies, video game soundtracks tend to emphasize the feeling of certain scenes.  But along with that, video game soundtracks also try to keep the player in a certain mood while playing.  Video game soundtracks tend to be more ambient than movie soundtracks, but they have their fair share of memorable tracks.  So now I present to you six video game soundtracks that I found memorable.  Why only six?  Shut up, that’s why.

 

Halo

Ah Halo, the immensely popular first person shooter series that everyone at my high school just could not stop talking about.  I will admit that I am not as big of a fan of Halo as most people are.  I had a lot of fun with the multiplayer portion of the games, dueling with friends while sitting on the same couch.  But when it came to the story and the campaigns, I never saw the appeal as much as most everyone else did.  I enjoyed playing through the games, but I always thought the story was mediocre at best.  The main character has the personality of a cardboard cutout, and the plot is just ridiculous at times.  Also, there’s a giant plant monster that talks like he’s from a freaking Shakespeare play (yeah I know it’s not actually a plant but it certainly looks the part).  Basically, I feel like the game tries too hard.

But putting aside my quibbles with the story, the soundtrack is really well done.  It’s orchestral, sweeping, and oftentimes just downright epic.  So why did I choose to put this one first?

After playing through the campaigns again in the Master Chief Collection (a remake that combined Halo 1-4 into one game essentially), I realized that the music is very repetitive.  It uses the same few bits of music over and over and over again, only with little tweaks to it (such as a piano version and then a guitar version).  I mean, the music is good, but there’s no real reason for it to repeat itself like that.  Usually when music repeats it’s because of some kind of motif or recurring theme in the story.  But in Halo, there’s no real recurring theme aside from “this is an epic battle scene” or “this is a sneaky stealth scene”.  The music fits the action nicely (for the most part), but it just doesn’t have much meaning behind it.  That’s why I put it first, because despite how good it sounds it just doesn’t have the same impact anymore.

Below you will find one of my favorite tracks from the series.  It is a version of the main battle theme, entitled “One Final Effort”.  Enjoy.

 

Dark Fall: The Journal

This is a game that I have mentioned several times before on my blog.  It came as a bit of a surprise to me, because I basically stumbled across it on a site called Good Old Games (GOG).  I picked it up for like five bucks, played it for a while, and found myself enthralled.  The game might not look like much, but the atmosphere is incredible (at least to me).  It’s styled after one of those good old point and click adventure games like Myst.

The soundtrack of this game is interesting in the sense that there really isn’t much in the way of standard music tracks.  Certain areas of the game have different ambient tunes, but the game also has some audio samples that it will decide to play at random (such as a faint piano tune).  But there is one actual track that sticks out to me.

It’s the main menu theme of all things, a very simple little piano track.  Despite the fact that this game is billed as “horror”, it doesn’t have the same type of horror feel that most games do.  Instead of throwing scary monsters in your face all the time, Dark Fall focuses on atmosphere, and I feel like the menu theme reflects that.  It’s a melancholy little tune that draws you in with how simple it is.  The song isn’t trying to put you on edge with dissonant sounds and harsh noises, but rather give you a gloomy feeling.  It speaks to the fact that the game isn’t about in your face horror, but rather a quiet brooding unease.

The version below is not the exact version from the menu, but rather the extended version you get if you buy the soundtrack from their website.  I uploaded it to Soundcloud for the purpose of sharing it here.  I hope you enjoy.

 

Dark Fall 2: Lights Out

Whoa two entries from the same franchise?  Is that some kind of cheat?  Probably.  Do I care?  No, not really.

Lights Out is an indirect sequel to Dark Fall: The Journal.  What I mean by that is the story of the first game isn’t necessary to understand the story of the second.  Some of the characters from the first game are referenced, and you do interact with someone from the first game, but it tells its own self-contained story.  This one takes place at an island lighthouse instead of an abandoned hotel, and delves into science-fiction territory by the end of the game.

The soundtrack in this one is different from the first game in that there are a lot more ambient tracks.  The game is also punctuated with ocean noises such as crashing waves and foghorns.  Much like the first game, atmosphere is key in Lights Out, and I  think this game actually has a more engrossing narrative and atmosphere.  The first game was more of a straightforward ghost hunt with a vague H.P. Lovecraft twist to it.  This one is definitely more sci-fi flavored, and actually ends up sounding more like old Star Trek than a horror story.  It’s a very interesting little game that I highly recommend if you’re into point and click adventures.

The track below is a version of one of the ambient tracks found on the game’s soundtrack.  You hear it most often in the top room of the lighthouse (hence the name “Lamp Gallery”).  The track doesn’t actually pop up in the game in this exact version, but the gist is the same.  Enjoy.

 

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Ah we’re back to this game.  This is a game that I talked about at length in my first story analysis piece on this blog.  Like Dark Fall 2, it is an indirect sequel to the first game in the series, Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

The game is different from its predecessor in that it focuses more on atmosphere and storytelling than it does on “blarg scary monster”.  A lot of people were not fans of the game because they felt like it wasn’t a good sequel to the first one.  I have played both, and I enjoy both quite a bit.  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

The soundtrack to this game is extremely well-done.  It’s full of clanking, metallic sounds which really sells the steampunk style that the game is going for.  There are also several motifs going in the soundtrack.  Any time something dealing with the main character’s children pops up, you can usually hear a faint music box in the background.  As well as that, there is a song that plays several times in the game, and it is that song that I chose as my sample.

It’s called “Dieses Herz”, German for “this heart”.  The song appropriately deals with the theme of children, and directly ties into one of the major plot points of the game (which you can probably guess if you read the translated lyrics).  It’s a soulful, emotional piece that shows up several times, usually altered to sound distorted and make it echo (you know, for that whole creepy factor).  You’ll find it embedded below.

 

Myst

And now we’re back to this gem from my childhood.  As I’ve said before on this blog, Myst was one of the first games I ever played as a kid, which probably explains why I’m so fascinated with atmosphere in video games.  Myst was the top-selling game for almost ten years straight before it was finally outsold by The Sims.

Myst is a game that focuses on atmosphere and exploration first and foremost.  It’s all about discovery, about fiddling with things and reading other things until you find those two things that go together.  Then you put those two things together and maybe figure out a way to another area.  The game is definitely a brain-teaser, but when you actually manage to solve a puzzle you feel like you’re on top of the world.

The soundtrack of the game is fairly unique.  It has this certain ethereal quality to it that makes it hard to pin down.  It’s very evocative and nostalgic for me, as it is for a lot of people.  Myst was one of the first games a lot of people played, so they have very fond memories of it.

To that end, I have embedded a track called “Planetarium” below.  There’s only one specific location where this track plays in the game, but I very vividly remember it (mainly because I called the chair in that room the dentist chair, because that’s what it looked like).  It seems to evoke feelings of wonder and discovery as you use the screen to search the stars for a clue.  If you had the same experiences with the game as I did, you’ll know what I mean when you hear it again.

 

Transistor

Transistor is a game I only had to play for about thirty minutes before I found the track that I wanted to share with you.

The game is a very stylized one with a strange story that doesn’t hold your hand, but rather leaves it to you to figure out bits of it as you go along.  The soundtrack is full of eerie, pulsating electronic tunes (which fits the game perfectly).  Most of the game is full of songs that are used for ambiance, but the one I want to share with you today was actually used in t

It’s called “We All Become”, and it’s a haunting tune.  It’s one of the few tunes in the game that actually has vocals.  It shows up early on in the game for a brief moment, but it leaves its mark.  Honestly, I can’t really do it justice so just listen to it and you’ll see what I mean.

(Also the video has about 30 seconds of nothing after the end of the song, so the song itself is actually about  two minutes and thirty seconds, not three minutes long.)

 

I hope you enjoyed this look at some video game soundtracks.  It’s interesting how often I actually find music I like through video games.  One of the bands I listen to a lot, Poets of the Fall, I found through the end credits song of Max Payne 2.  It just goes to show you that despite the fact that games are primarily seen as little more than “toys”, they can have just as much of an impact as a movie or a book.  It’s a point that I keep making on this blog, but I feel like it’s worth making so long as people keep wrinkling their noses at games just because they haven’t taken the time to try and understand them.  It happens all the time.  Some new thing pops up, and the newer generation latches on to it while the older generation just scoffs at it and assumes it has no benefit to society.  And both sides do this before the ramifications of this new thing are even realized.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that even if you don’t understand something, don’t fear or dismiss it.  You may not “get it”, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to prevent others from enjoying it.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for a new post, and as always, have a wonderful week everyone.

War is Bad and Stuff: Modern Warfare 2 Story Analysis

When I played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare at my cousin’s house years ago, I found myself surprised with just how intense the game was.  I was playing the single player story mode, and it was a lot of fun.  I had previously dabbled briefly in the franchise, playing one of the older games set in World War II, but I never really found myself interested in them until Modern Warfare.  I bought the game some time later, and played through the rest of the campaign.  It was an epic ride.  Modern Warfare is like one of those action movies that knows what it wants to be right from the start.  It’s loud.  It’s proud.  And it has explosions.  What more could you want?

But then, what about the sequel?  We hit the inevitable obstacle of “doing what the first one did, but better”.  Because that’s what people want right?  They want what made the first one great, just more refined.  Often in this situation, we get sequels that flop.  But occasionally, we get a sequel that takes us in new and surprising directions, that takes us on a ride that not only equals the first one, but surpasses it in every way imaginable.

Yeah Modern Warfare 2 is not one of those sequels.  Sorry.

 

 

The Story

 

The game starts off with a vague recap of the events from the first game (honestly this only helps those who have already played the first game AND who have a good memory).  And then, someone named General Shepherd starts waxing poetic about war.  He tells us all about how the bad guy from the first game is now suddenly a hero to Russia.  “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” he says.  And it makes me wonder, do we really need someone waxing poetic like this in what is essentially an interactive Michael Bay movie?

The answer is no, in case you’re wondering.

The first mission of the game is fairly standard stuff, a brief romp through some generic Middle East style city that only really serves as the pretense for General Shepherd inducting your character, Private Allen, into a special ops group known as Task Force 141.  Then it’s on to the second mission of the game, which is my personal favorite.

It’s basically a pitch-perfect action movie scene.  It starts on an icy cliff-side, with Soap MacTavish (who you might recognize as one of the main characters from the first game) and Roach, a new recruit (and the player character for the mission).  They scale the icy cliff with picks (with some harrowing near falls of course) before sneaking into a Russian base under cover of a blizzard.  The whole purpose of this mission is to retrieve some satellite module that the Russians stole from the Americans.  But of course, things don’t go according to plan.  After grabbing the module, the two characters are spotted.  After detonating some previously set up C4, the two of them make a mad dash across the base and acquire some snowmobiles.  A hectic chase scene ensues, which ends with a climatic jump across a gorge before meeting up with the escape helicopter.  So yeah, it’s epic.

But here’s where things start to go downhill.

The next mission you might know about even if you’ve never played the game.  It’s called “No Russian” and it became infamous when it was first announced.  The mission has the character from the first mission, Allen, embedded into a Russian terrorist group that commits mass slaughter at a Russian airport.

This mission was reviled by a lot of people because of the graphic nature of it, which is a little silly to me because Grand Theft Auto has been allowing people to kill civilians for quite a while now.  It’s not like anything this mission does is particularly shocking.  But of course, what do I know?  I’m just slowly turning into a psychotic mass murderer from playing all these violent games.  I mean, Fox News said I would.  And Fox News is never wrong or untruthful.

But I digress.  After the mission is over, Makarov (the bad guy) shoots Allen in the face because somehow he figured out that he was an American spy.  He leaves the body for the Russians to find so that they will assume that the United States was behind the attack.  Apparently the CIA really sucks at their job because it was apparently really easy for them to uncover Allen’s true nature.  The fallout of the event is that Russia, being all evil (as it always is with these games), decides to hell with diplomacy, let’s straight up invade the U.S. using that satellite module we stole to somehow disable the entirety of America’s defense network.

Yeah, this game just makes so much sense.

So the Army Rangers have to deal with the Russian invasion, and you get to play as Private Ramirez.  Along with shooting a bunch of people, you get to do everything for your squad because apparently no one else is competent enough.  You also get to defend a burger joint using satellite controlled missiles, so that’s cool.

While all this is happening, Task Force 141 heads to Brazil to find a man inside Makarov’s crew.  After capturing him they discover that Makarov has it out for some nameless prisoner in a Russian gulag.  So the task force travels there and breaks him out, revealing that he is none other than Captain Price (Soap’s mentor, essentially, from the first game).  It’s an interesting twist, but it kinda ruins that whole “he’s dead” implication from the ending of the first game due to the fact that he’s, you know, NOT DEAD.

So then they escape (while the place explodes around them, because…you know), and go off to do their own thing.  Meanwhile, Ramirez continues to do everything for everybody because he’s just a super cool guy like that.  They end up clearing out the capital building in Washington D.C. before hopping in a helicopter that is promptly shot down.  They fend off a huge wave of attackers, and it looks like all hope is lost for them as a helicopter swoops in and shines its light on them…

BUT MEANWHILE…

Task Force 141 is busy mucking with some Russians in Russia.  Price convinces them to go to a nuclear submarine, which he then hijacks and launches a nuke, somehow to the surprise of all his comrades.  It makes me wonder how he convinced them to do it in the first place.  I imagine it went something like this:

“Yo guys we should totally jack this nuclear sub!”

“But why?”

“Umm…because it would totally be cool?”

Anways, he launches a nuke into the atmosphere which sets off a giant electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that shreds the Russian attack force in America.  The funny thing about this is that it’s actually somewhat scientifically accurate (although I doubt the real-life version would be nearly as devastating).  We watch the explosion from the point of view of an astronaut orbiting Earth.  In the process of the nuke detonating, the International Space Station is destroyed and the astronaut is sent flying off into space.  And then we’re thrown back into the shoes of the men on the ground without a word about the astronaut’s fate.

No one cared about him anyways.  He was a jerk, never bought any of his astronaut friends lunch.

The EMP shuts down all the electronics which sends planes and helicopters crashing to the ground, leaving the army rangers wandering a deathly quiet city.  It’s actually a pretty cool little bit, but it only lasts like two or three minutes before the shooting and explosions start up again.  It makes me think of what this game could have done with its story instead of what it did.

Anyways, the army rangers eventually end up on the roof of the White House, signaling friendly planes and averting an airstrike.  This is where their story ends, but not without some comment about burning Moscow to the ground.  Because America.

The Task Force 141 storyline then continues with them splitting up and going to two different locations.  Roach goes with his team to a hidden forest estate where they download some secret files detailing Makarov’s operation.  After a break-neck run down the hill towards the extraction point, Roach meets up with General Shepherd and PLOT TWIST!  Shepherd shoots him in the chest and burns him alive.  Because he’s evil and stuff…apparently.

This then leads to Soap and Price chasing down General Shepherd at his secret location guarded by what I assume are private military thugs (the game never actually explicitly says).  But before that, we get more bad poetry courteous of Captain Price.  “If we die and he lives, his truth becomes the truth,” he says.  So basically history is written by the victors, so on and so forth…nothing we haven’t heard before.

After shooting up his secret base, Soap and Price chase Shepherd down a river with a motorboat and shoot down his helicopter before he can escape (apparently three sniper rifle bullets are enough to make the helicopter catch fire and crash).  The boat crashes and a final confrontation with Shepherd ensues.  He stabs Soap with a knife, then stands over him loading his gun and explaining his motivations.  Because just killing Soap immediately would make too much sense.

Oh, and Shepherd’s motivation for all this is probably one of the most “what in the world” things I’ve ever heard.

Basically, in the first Modern Warfare, a nuclear bomb went off that killed a lot of soldiers.  These were apparently General Shepherd’s soldiers.  “Tomorrow there will be no shortage of volunteers, no shortage of patriots,” he says as he stands over Soap, loading his gun.  So, basically, he started World War III because he lost a bunch of soldiers in an isolated incident.  He started an event that will inevitably kill exponentially more soldiers than he lost in the first place, BECAUSE he lost them in the first place.

……Yep nothing wrong here.  Nope that makes complete sense.

But before he can shoot Soap Price rushes in and tackles him, leading to a fight scene that ends with Soap pulling the knife out of his chest and throwing it straight into Shepherd’s eye (not gonna lie, it’s pretty epic).  A mutual friend of theirs flies in with a helicopter and the game ends there.

 

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

Okay, so this story could have actually been good.  But in the end, it just tried too hard, what with all the awkward prose about the changing nature of war and the subjectivity of history.  It just comes off as unnecessary and stilted.

The gameplay doesn’t reflect what the story is trying to say.  And I mean, AT ALL.  The story tries (at times) to be this deep reflective thing, but the gameplay itself moves so fast and has you changing locations so much that you don’t get a chance to take it all in.  The EMP nuke thing literally destroys the International Space Station and sends an astronaut hurling off into space, but the game just doesn’t even care.  “Screw that guy,” it seems to say as it throws you into another person’s shoes immediately afterward.

The game simply tried to be too serious.  And considering how many popcorn style action scenes are in the game, it just doesn’t make any sense.

And with the constantly shifting perspective from mission to mission, it makes it hard to really care about anything that happens in the game.  Compare that to the original Modern Warfare, where one scene places you in the role of a soldier in the aftermath of a nuclear bomb.  You wander around inside a nuclear dust cloud for about half a minute before keeling over and dying of radiation poisoning.  It’s brutal.  It’s jarring.  It’s intense.

And it’s effective.

Modern Warfare 2 just doesn’t know what it wants to be, popcorn entertainment or thoughtful thriller.  And what we end up with is something in between the two, a weirdly pretentious game that wants to talk about the harsh nature of war while simultaneously glorifying it.  Games can be about deep subject matter, but they have to reflect their message in all aspects, and this game just fails at that.  It tries too many different things, and all it really ends up being is a moderately enjoyable action game with no real soul.  It throws plot twists at you like candy and doesn’t take the time to give you real meaning to them.  A game needs to know what it wants to be.  Otherwise, it just ends up being a muddled mess.

 

And with that, I end my analysis.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post.

 

One Year: A Retrospective

Well here we are, one year from the creation of this blog.  March 5th, 2014 was the date of the first post I made on this blog (technically my first post was on February 26th, but that was just an introduction to the blog that I don’t count).  You can see this first post here (or the introductory post here).  When I first started this blog, I didn’t really have a set goal for it.  I still don’t honestly.  It was really just an exercise for me, to keep me practicing my writing skills.

Some of you might remember that the initial purpose of the blog was just to be a place where I could put down my thoughts on a subject each week.  Often I would have thoughts on something that had no real avenue for escape, no real place for expanding on.  So these subjects then become fodder for the blog.  My first post dealt with the paranormal, and how even though I have always been interested in it, I’ve never actually believed that ghosts exist.  I thought it was an interesting bit of my life, and I wanted to share that with people.  That post also featured something that would become a prominent subject on my blog: video games.

Video games are a very big part of my life in a lot of ways.  It’s one of my main ways of blowing off steam, of relaxing after a long day.  It’s also one of the ways I keep in touch with my friends, as we will hop into Skype every now and then to play a game together.  Video games were always more of a social and fun thing for me when I was younger, but I find that I also take them very seriously as a form of media.  Throughout this year of the blog, I talked about various games that I thought showed they could be more than just little entertainment machines, which is what I think most people out there see them as (which is way they aren’t taken seriously).  I mean, the name “video games” has the word “game” in it, which has a whole set of connotations that occasionally prevents the medium from being seen as a legitimate form of expression, especially for those from an older generation.

So I tried to show that yes, there are those games that are little more than the equivalent of interactive actions movies, but there are also games like Gone Home that demonstrate the ability of a game to tackle a subject in its own unique way (check my post all about Gone Home here).  I talked about the preconceived notions that people have about games and tried to show that most of these notions are rather obsolete these days, as games continue to evolve and grow.  We can sit back and continue to judge games based on their surface appearance, but it’s when we look beyond the cover that we begin to see the substance underneath.  Sure, Grand Theft Auto looks like nothing more than a brash, loud, violent game, but underneath all that is one of the most lovingly recreated versions of Los Angeles (called Los Santos in the game) that I’ve ever seen.  There’s so much more going on in the game than just “bang bang shoot kill” if you take the time to see it.  And it’s the same thing with many other games.  There exist plenty of games that are thoughtful and meaningful, if you are willing to look for them.

Gone Home as a game certainly capitalized on a lot of '90s nostalgia.

Gone Home as a game certainly capitalized on a lot of ’90s nostalgia (although the Super Nintendo game pictured here is entirely fictional).

When it comes to games, I also talked about the issue of gamers and their attitudes online.  My most viewed post last year was The Problem with Gamers.  Looking at the stats, that post currently has 137 views, which came as a bit of a surprise for me.  In the post, I talked about how I tend to refrain from playing competitive games online because the general attitudes of people online is horrendously aggressive and mean.  When I used to play shooter games online, I would often here so much rage, cussing, and even racial slurs coming from mouths that I bet were no older than sixteen.  It got to be so much that I just stopped caring and tended to only play online if I had a friend in tow that I could sit in a private conversation with, be it an Xbox Live party or a Skype call.

Another subject I often talked about was writing.  I did a lot of posts that dealt with the nature of being a writer, and a few posts where I just practiced writing.  I started with simple place descriptions, but I did actually write a short horror story for the blog a few months back.  One of the posts I got a lot of response from was The Creative Struggle.  It actually wasn’t a very heavily viewed post (only 17 views on it as of this writing), but I got a lot of praise on it from friends and family who thought it was one of the more personal posts I did.  I certainly enjoyed writing it, that’s for sure

Writing is a very prominent feature in my life.  It’s something I would love to make a career out of.  My dream is to make it my primary job sometime in the future, writing science-fiction stories for people’s enjoyment.  But I also recognize I have a long way to go, as I haven’t even gotten anything published yet.  It’s a hard fight, because no one wants to take a risk on someone unproven.  But the key is to never give up, never surrender (thank you Galaxy Quest…thumbs up for those who know what I’m talking about).

Those were the two biggest subjects I talked about, but by no means the only two.  I’ve written about a lot of different things over the years from movies to religion to politics.  My interests are varied, and I wanted the blog to reflect that.  I started to have some fun with the blog later on as well.  Two of my posts were questions from this silly little book my mom gave me as kind of a gag.  I use a random number generator and take the first five numbers I got, then assign those numbers to questions in the book and answer them.  I wasn’t very serious about it, because I found most of the questions to be kind of……dumb.  But you can take a look at these posts here and here, if you’re interested.

My least successful endeavor for this blog was probably the story analysis pieces.  I did about three of those, one of them more recently because I decided to try reviving the idea.  My first two I wasn’t very happy with because I felt like they were overlong and frankly kind of boring to read.  It’s something I’m continuing to experiment with, so we’ll see if I can find a way of doing it that appeals to both me and the people reading this blog.  It may turn out that writing those kind of things is not my forte, and I’d be okay with that.  But I still want to try and make it work.

The only question that remains is “what next?”  And honestly, I’m not really sure.

I will continue writing in the blog on a weekly basis, but I’m not sure about what I want to change with the blog.  One of the ideas I might implement later on would be an archives section, where I would list my posts by category as a way to facilitate easier reading, because I realize that not everything I talk about is going to be interesting for everybody.  But other than that, I don’t see things for the blog changing very much.  Like I said, I want to continue trying the story analysis pieces, but in a better and shorter format.  But aside from that, I don’t have any real grand plans.

It started as a simple way to write down my thoughts.  And it shall continue.

 

I hope to continue living in Duluth for a long time.  I mean, with views like this, why wouldn't I?

I hope to continue living in Duluth for a long time. I mean, with views like this, why wouldn’t I?

 

Well thanks for reading.  That’s all I have for this week.  One year…time certainly seems to have flown past when you look back.  I would like to thank everyone who continually read my posts.  I’m glad you enjoyed the ramblings of a young man from Duluth with too much on his mind.  I hope you will continue to read and enjoy it.

Tune in next week for another post.  As always, have a wonderful week everyone.