Archive for April, 2010
Perhaps the greatest advancement of the geek-tech that has invaded media is the fact that little tidbits of winning material can be crafted, tuned, and uploaded for all the world to see within minutes. In some cases, the perceived phenomenon of something that is decidedly as obvious as a slap in the face is made even more famous by geekery tools such as Youtube.
Such as it is with David Caruso on CSI: Miami – part of the franchise of series that has made their bread and butter around amazingly detailed, “extreme close-up” CGI (another result of enterprising geekery, no doubt) and discouraging real crime from happening. I mean hell, wouldn’t you think twice about committing a crime if you knew an overworked, disparate, and sleep-deprived set of people could get to you with nothing more than an adult’s chemistry set and 10000x zoom technology? I would.
But I digress. The little phenomenon I’m referring to this time is in regard to David Caruso’s character’s talent of being able to deliver the corniest one-liner openings to television episodes ever. Sure, they’re meant to be witty, serious business quotables that bridge you into a really upbeat Who song, but they come off as having more corn than the state of Iowa.
Now normally, this kind of thing would go relatively unnoticed except among CSI fans, who’d exchange meaningful glances whenever someone decides to slowly slide on their shades and say something cheesy. But because of the magic of consumer-level editing software, viral marketing, and the ease of Youtube, everyone gets to see how facepalm-worthy some of Caruso’s comments truly are. And when someone can Tweet to an audience of thousands that you tripped and fell into the sewer within seconds of it happening, the turnaround seems even faster. This is the age of the geek that we live in, folks.
Hell, if you wanted to have something to cue up for the same corny moments, you could simply summon up InstantCSI, right at your fingertips (supposedly created or at least first hosted by the mysterious Bernard of Ingress Tech). Isn’t it great?
Don’t believe me? Check out the compilation someone with a little too much time on their hands put together:
Look like this fictional investigator…needs to use shades *puts on shades*
…to shield himself from more than just Miami sun…
My humble little readership might have noticed that my posting has gotten a bit sporadic as of late, with a bit of a resurgence just recently. There are a lot of reasons behind this – some personal, some professional, but perhaps the most significant of these is the fact that I’ve been looking for my “voice” again when it comes to writing.
When I started this blog – actually, when anyone starts a blog in which they tend to write regularly, voice is probably the most important thing that needed to be established. I wanted to be a sunny voice, optimistic, and bright. At first I sought to be sarcastically optimistic, being extremely happy even in the face of the worst circumstances, such as an 18-hour raid or the fact that someone was being sued for wrongful theft of intellectual property. Then I thought that I needed to be taken a bit more seirously, so I wrote serious articles and left the sarcastic stuff to a single day a week.
Now? It’s a bit tough to tell. Thing is, with any voice that you try to have on a blog, you want to make sure it feels right – that it feels natural. While I’m a natural optimist and an idealist, the times I’d write something or talk about something sometimes felt forced, even though they were well written. I left the conversational tone at home in factor of a written word that was well-conveyed, but didn’t show my personality quite as much.
In the coming days and weeks, I hope you’ll forgive me as I try to find a comfort zone for my voice at Overly Positive that will convey the purpose of the blog, and retain some semblance of my own self as well. It might be a more casual voice, that lacks a bit of the polish of my previous pieces, but I think it’ll even out, become something that I’m truly comfortable writing in. Time will tell.
Lately as I’ve been out and about checking and commenting on other blogs in the geek-sphere we call the Internet, I’m seeing a bit of a trend among the MMO blogs that I frequent. Seems to me there’s a lot of labeling being thrown around, whether to call a game a themepark, which leads you on an instant gratification fest of fun that is controlled, or a sandbox, which alternatively gives you choice and freedom to shape your own experiences.
I’ve seen a lot of fierce debate over the viability of one or both in today’s MMO world, as well as those who prefer one or the other, sometimes to the point of zealotry. It doesn’t really end there, either. People are quick to label an MMO as “PvE”, “PvP”, “RvR”, and any other number of attachments meant to categorize MMOs into neat little compartments.
It must be a bit dizzying to see all this argument and labeling from the development perspective. No doubt that any developer out there is looking to find a way to make their business model lucrative, successful, and fun all at the same time. It might be easy to find some kind of appeal or solace in attaching oneself to one or more of those labels to find an audience to grow and retain.
Me? I don’t really get all the infighting about themeparks and sandboxes when it comes to MMOs. In a time when players have more choice than ever when it comes to what they get to experience with an MMO, I don’t understand why people need to find superiority in the games that they choose to play over all others. This is mostly because you can put aside subscriber numbers and find that there are plenty of MMOs that remain viable despite having vastly different playstyles from one another. I’ve always prioritized having fun over having the “right” MMO to play, and whether that is a themepark MMO or a sandbox MMO makes no real difference to me.
I’d also hope that developers take this prioritizing of fun over labeling to heart as well. I’m not really a developer, and I have no experience in the industry, so far be it from me to tell people what to do. But I would like to think that every developer out there starts off with a core design that they think is unique and fun and will engage players. In the course of design, development, marketing, and improvement, however, sometimes the labels can creep in, forcing developers to make compromises to their core design in order to appeal to a phantom element of a wider audience – and they sweat bullets doing it, too. I think that some of the best and most successful MMOs were successes purely by more word of mouth and fun design elements rather than being more “themepark” than “sandbox” or vice versa. If the core design of the MMO revolves around riding aardvarks as the endgame, and it’s fun, go for it. I’d look forward to it, that’s for sure.
Today, Shannon of Multiplaying dropped in this link over Facebook regarding what could be the unhealthiest thing to hit our shores yet. Kentucky Fried Chicken is releasing the Double Down on April 12th, a creation of fried chicken “bread” bordering what looks like bacon and cheese.
What does this have to do with an annoyingly positive geek blog? The curious thing about this little artery-clogging invention was not the surprising and perhaps disturbing sense that it is real, but that there were 4 or 5 people IM’ing me asking if I’d be having one. In turn, I knew perhaps 3 or 4 people of the geeky persuasion who might also be insane enough to stuff this into their gobs.
Why is it that geeks are sometimes associated in this way with unhealthy things? It probably ties into the fact that geek stereotype declares, like some kind of law, that if you are a computer whore or gaming obsessed or a tech lover, that you automatically don’t have good eating habits. I mean sure, I don’t help this along. I wrote about the reverse psychology of unhealthy foods with geekery a while back, and perhaps my four food groups consist of Pizza, Deep Fried, Bacon, and Potato Chips. It’s entirely possible that my friends don’t help this along either – one, for example, has a Super Bowl tradition of creating the Bacon Explosion every year.
Still, however, there are friends I have that are geeky that watch their food intake. There are a few I know who run marathons, more who exercise on a regular basis – something companies like Nintendo have picked up on with the whole slew of exercise games for the Wii. There are those who make a conscious effort to lose the gut they got playing hours of World of Warcraft and subsisting on a diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew. Yet others practice the martial arts, and would probably beat my ass down for implying they’re stereotypically fat enough to try fried chicken and bacon together. The more that social networking groups, games, and tech reach out to help my fellow geeks get into shape, the better it gets – so the stereotype is slowly dissipating from the social consciousness.
Whether or not the Double Down seeks to be a short-term, cholesterol boosting flop or a long-term staple of the great American diet remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure though – it’s perhaps the most unhealthiest, fried-up, insanely high calorie sandwich ever…
…and I can’t wait to try one.
This weekend I was privy to a curious little battle over at one of my favorite sites in the Escapist. Every year, they hold a little elimination tournament mirroring the NCAA College Basketball contest, only with developers. Normally, the Escapist’s March Mayhem is filled with a few spirited discussions but nothing too crazy. That changed this year with the semi-finals matchup of Zynga (a Facebook games developer best known for Farmville, Mafia Wars, and more) versus Valve (known for Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, and others).
With the encroachment of casual gaming that has been sparked by the Wii and continued with the rise of Facebook games, the contest turned not just into a developer vs. developer showdown but one that was casual vs. hardcore gamers. The lines in the sand were drawn and multiple volleys were sent back and forth between the two camps that has culminated in, as of this writing, almost 600 pages of posts and a total of almost 50,000 votes.
Though I ultimately supported Valve in this endeavor, it’s interesting to see how casual games have inspired passionate feeling on both the positive and negative ends of the spectrum. Though Zynga took a lot of hits for not being a “real” game developer, there’s nothing like a little competition to get things going, and it took Steam matching Zynga’s aggressive advertising campaign for the contest to beat them.
Honestly, I don’t get all the hostile feeling about casual gaming. Games in the casual arena are just that, casual. The bread and butter of the industry’s passion is going to be hardcore gamers, while casual games serve as a gateway to people not freaking out and thinking games are nothing but stealing cars, shooting people, or causing explosions. Neither arena is going to take over the other any time soon, and even practical business sense knows that a diverse market is a healthy market.
When the dust cleared, and Valve emerged victorious after a hard-fought battle, both sides, despite not really wanting to admit it, probably learned something about each other. Whether or not that actually means casual and hardcore games can exist in the same market remains to be seen – but both have advantages and disadvantages you really can’t dismiss out of hand.