Friday, June 29, 2012

100th post? About fucking time...

No seriously, this is my 100th post.  And you want to know what the best part of it is?  I haven't posted since JANUARY!  Christ it seems like forever since you all heard about my precious little life (bonus points if you got that) so what better way to celebrate 100 TILT posts by boring you with a quick update on what's going on.

So where to start.  I'm single.  So there's that.  Umm...I've discovered I kind of like seltzer since we last you know...that's cool too...

Ok you know what? FUCK IT

I know what you all came here to see, so I'm setting aside my journalistic integrity and hopping on this Diablo 3 bandwagon.  Lets get going.

I'm going to preface this by saying I've only played about 20 hours of the campaign so far (and have since developed an irrational fear of the number 37.  No seriously, I got tingles up and down my spine just typing it there).  I have not beaten the game nor have I advanced to significantly higher difficulty levels  But I did get a feel for the game in the few hours I ground through last night.  And while this is only a preview of sorts (rather than a review, learn the damn difference), there are a few things that are making me...well...uneasy.

So for those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, the Diablo series has always been about dungeon delving, killing monsters and grabbing loot.  In the first game, you, a wandering, nameless adventurer of either fighter, rogue or mage persuasion, plumbed the depths of a church in the balmy, sunny, and CERTAINLY NOT DEMON INFESTED town of Tristram.  Little did you know the epic fucking shitstorm of hellions and ghouls that awaited you below.  Diablo 2 continues along much the same vein, except this time, you are chasing down the Dark Wanderer (read as dude from the first game cleverly retconned to ignore the fact that there were TWO ENTIRE OTHER CLASSES) as he attempts to free Diablo and his two demonic brothers, Mephisto and Baal.  You (this time playing as an adventurer of one of between 5 and 7 classes depending on whether or not you're a cheap bastard) follow the dark wanderer across many lands, cleaning up his messes and generally un-fucking people's shit up.

First off, the game feels streamlined.  Now you can take that as you wish.  Some of my friends have interpreted it as "no longer having to do annoying shit like clicking on gold to pick it up" or "managing a tome of Town portals".  Others have opted to interpret it as "dumbing the game down so stupid people can play too".  However you choose to interpret this point, veterans of the series will all likely feel the same way, that you're ultimately doing less clicking and pixel hunting than before.  That said though, there is still QUITE a lot of clicking to be done.

Gone too is the idea of a basic attack.  This concept took me, a D2 veteran, QUITE a while to adjust to.  Your left and right mouse buttons both almost immediately map to abilities that you accrue as you gain level.  Both of these abilities either add to or drain a reservoir of some sort (hatred for Demon Hunters, Mana for Mages etc, Focus for Monks etc.)  This ensures that each character has a unique feel without significantly altering gameplay between classes.  What this also means is that your shiny, badass weapon that you just pulled from the corpse of some grotesque hellspawn ultimately serves as little more than a fancy looking stat buff.  Yes yes yes there are differences between say a light crossbow and dual hand crossbows for the Demon hunter, but ultimately, the ability is going to look and sound almost identical.

Beyond your two main attack damage skills, you also have four active abilities (which range from utility spells like snares to damage dealing spells) that also add to or draw on whatever your class' assigned resource is.  You also have the option (read as requirement) to tweak all of the above skills with the inclusion of various runes that impart different unique abilities to each of your spells.  Also included in this package is a handful of passive abilities that you can pick and choose from, each altering a certain aspect of your character's play.

Graphically speaking, this game is fucking beautiful.  And I do mean fucking beautiful.  Granted my gaming supercomputer allows me to max out all the settings and runs everything perfectly without a single glitch, but even older computers who have to run the game on medium settings will still be able to enjoy the use of color and details that went into the design of each world.  With prior Diablo games (2 specifically), each new area of the world had its own feel, its own color palette and its own vibe.  The exemplary level design of Diablo 3 is no different.  (Despite the fact that the region progression feels fairly carbon copied from Diablo 2...Still I'm glad they didn't venture into the swamp/jungle level like D2 did, fuck that level...

One thing that bothers me the most right now is the inventory system.  All "large" items (weapons and armor) take up two inventory slots, all "small" items (gems, rings, etc.) take up one.  This is what many in the industry (or perhaps just me) call the Resident Evil 5 Inventory Syndrome.  You remember that game?  Where a massive RPG took up the same amount of room in your inventory as a tiny green herb?  Yeah...that's what the inventory system is like.  Sorry but to me, it feels like some of the "realism" (for as applicable as that term is for this particular game) is lost.  I'm sorry but there's no reason that a helmet should take up as much room in my inventory as an entire fucking halberd...(I mean I've got a big head...but it's not THAT big...)

All in all, this is a very good game that provides an easy entry point for people unfamiliar with the series.  The upgrades to from the prior iteration are noticeable (as one would expect for a goddamn 12 year development period...) and the entire game has been streamlined.  Everything has been overhauled and it's clear by the aggressive patching cycle that they are working very hard to ensure the game balance is optimized.  The story (from what I've seen) is fairly deep and the graphics are very good.  However, those of us who enjoy spending our time waxing poetic about the glory days (read as: Me), will likely find the game somewhat unsettling.  The game simply seems...too easy...The addition of automatic gold pick up, health orbs, automatic town portals and item identification...Sure it cuts out on a lot of extra bullshit, but at the same time, it was that bullshit that made the game more difficult.  Once all the "excess" has been cut out, I can't help but feel that what we're left with is little more than "baby's first Diablo".  Sure once you reach higher difficulty levels, the game gets ass-rapingly difficult, but I still can't help but feel as though there's quite a lot missing.

Have you ever watched one of those TV shows where a couple of the main actors/actresses aren't signed for another season, but the characters are still integral to the plot so they sign a couple new actors to play those same characters?  And then everyone else in that universe is forced to continue on as if NOTHING happened, despite the fact that the quiet, blonde housewife has suddenly turned into a sassy, jive-talking black woman?  Yeah...that's kinda what Diablo 3 feels me anyways...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

...Shitty music special...again...

Well 2012 is here and with a new year comes new, shitty fucking music. That's right ladies and gentlemen, the shitty music posts are back. And in keeping with the rigid standards that we keep here at TILT, this post is coming to you on a Wednesday rather than its normal monday, but quite frankly, I'm bored at work and this is too good to pass up.

I was inadvertently sent this video by College Humor (inadvertently meaning they posted it on facebook and, as they are one of the few non-personal pages that I haven't blocked, I saw it and am now taking some small sliver of credit for finding it). Just the title is cringe-worthy, but dig a little deeper and you realize the true nature of 2012's first Rebecca Black-ian horror. Coming to you live from the studio that her father paid for because she's a college educated generic white chick, I give you:

Pound on my muffin by Shira K

1) Music: This is just more generic garage-band looping. Uninteresting and doesn't push any envelopes to say the least. Boring boring boring. But then again, when you're dressed like the cheapest crackwhore on the wrong side of town, synth strings and class are probably outside of your budget. (Or so you would like us to think)

2) Vocals: Ok this is where things start to get interesting. We've heard some horrible vocals on here before. We've had screaming, we've had pitch problems that even autotune couldn't help, we've even had scenesters who thought they could rap. But I have to say that this is a real first for me. Her vocals can only be described as sounding like someone who thought that Ke$ha sounded far too classy and that what her style of crackwhore music needed was sounding MORE like a used up crackwhore. And don't get me wrong, I love Ke$ha (as I've stated several times in this blog alone) but there is such a thing as taking it too far, Kreayshawn was getting close but simply wound up in the realm of boring. Somehow Shira manages to do everything right and ended up making everyone else sound classy by comparison.

3) Lyrics: The fucking song starts with "I know you miss this muffin". I mean that right there...should pretty much sum up the lyrical quality of this video. To say that Shira is not a wordsmith is an insult to those who lack talent. I've heard better rhymes come from a 3rd grader because AT LEAST A THIRD GRADER KNOWS NOT TO RHYME A WORD WITH THE EXACT SAME FUCKING WORD. But I'm not that strict on it. What I take most offense to is the pairing of the lines "My shades are Versace and my drawers are secret" with "So sexy in my Victoria's secret". WE FUCKING GOT IT THE FIRST TIME. As an artist, this is the equivalent of saying "My boxer briefs say CK on them/oh by the way did I mention that I wear calvin klein underwear? Well I just wanted to clarify in case you didn't get it the first time." Also who the FUCK says "drawers" in this day and age? I'm guessing she's going to be talking about her designer petticoat in her next video. Between the failed attempts at sleazy ("I'm a very freaky girl/Don't give it up for nothin'"), pimp ("Hustlin' pushin' what I'm coppin', Chiefin' (sp?) for free on that bomb Hyptoniq"), and just plain weird (what does "Puffin' on his puffin" even FUCKING MEAN?) the lyrics to this song read like a handful of rap magnetic poetry words were shotgunned onto the face of a fridge and then read off by someone in the midst of a severe concussion.

4) Video: THOSE ARE FUCKING CUPCAKES YOU GODDAMNED WHORE. Seriously this looks like the ghetto version of Katy Perry's California Girls music video mashed up with still shots of some guy sleeping and girls shaking their asses in front of terrible green screening. Fuck everything about this video. Even the choreography sucks.

5) Summary: Perhaps I'm wrong to judge here, but fuck it, it's fun. This video, this song, everything about this is shit. Ever fiber of my being hopes this turns out to be a joke because it makes me unbelievably sad. For a change, I decided to look her up on twitter (because it was listed at the end of the video.) EVERY FUCKING USERNAME from twitter to facebook to youtube INVOLVES MUFFINS. And what's worse is that it's played on the radio apparently. If you needed ANY convincing that radio is nothing but trash, THIS FUCKING SONG MADE IT ON TO THE RADIO. Beyond that, her tweets involve things like "love me, hate me, ur still talkin bout my jam." I seriously hope that this is a joke because I don't want to live on this planet anymore if it's real.

Suggested Audience: If you liked Rebecca Black's Friday but thought that what it REALLY needed was a liberal handful or two of glitter, herpes and a crack addiction, this song would be for you.

PS: did anyone else notice her dad driving the fucking car at the end of the video? I'm sure he was super happy that her college education REALLY went to good use. She done Pittsburgh proud.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

...I'm growing up and I don't like it...

So another holiday season has come and gone. Another holiday season spent with the family cooking a fucking phenomenal prime rib roast and guzzling down wine. And like seasons past, my parents had no idea what to get me (because they apparently don't know what it is I do with my time) and so I ended up with electric toothbrushes and a pretty decent wad of cash.

Now before you all get up in arms about how lucky I should feel and how I'm selfish and rude and an entitled asshole and that there are kids out there who aren't getting anything this year and blah blah blah, this isn't a post about that. I know I'm fortunate. I have a job, I can afford a comfortable life, and I know it. Believe me I know it. This is not a post about that, so put your fucking torches and pitchforks away. There will be plenty of time for that later (especially the way this world is going :P).

No, this is a post about how I think I'm slowly doing what I said I would never do. I'm (scarily enough) starting to grow up and possibly even becoming a wee bit more responsible.

Yeah, I know. That face you're making? The one where your jaw is agape and you're possibly drooling on yourself with shock? Yeah that's the one I'm making too.

See, normally when presented with a couple hundred dollars in cash I wasn't expecting to receive, what did I do? Well I went out and bought the newest, nicest toy that I always wanted by never got. You know what I did this year? Well, for one thing, I still have almost all of it. Do you know what I've spent it on? Groceries, jeans, underwear and a bathroom scale. You know what I'm going to go spend some more of it on? Curtains for my room, probably those thermal insulating ones that everyone keeps telling me to get.


What the fuck is wrong with me? If you approached me a year ago and said "Hey Eric, you got a couple hundred bucks for Christmas, what are you going to get with that money?" I'm sure (since you all know me and all of my deep dark secrets and personality flaws SO well) you would all have expected me to say "Well the iDroid Galaxy X platinum fire 5G just came out and I'm gonna get EIGHT OF THEM because I need one for EVERY ROOM IN MY HOUSE and sure it'll only cost SIX THOUSAND dollars but now I have a couple hundred to subsidize that cost now so I'M FUCKING GOLDEN BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"

And now what am I thinking of? Fucking heat insulating curtains.

I think the worst part about all this is, I have no idea when this happened. Is this a good thing? I guess so? I think I should balance out this newfound maturity by making a slip-n-slide out of Ben 'n Jerry's ice cream in the driveway.

...And that's what I learned today.

Friday, December 16, 2011

...I never thought I would be writing this post...

So some context. I'm writing this in a state of mild to moderate delirium (as many of my blog posts seem to be going now). If you feel like making one yourself, you have to mix 2 parts cold with 1 part coming into work super early and a dash of...well...the topic of today's blog post.

Awkward and awfully written introduction piece over, lets get down to why I'm writing this post.

When I say I never thought I would be writing this blog post, I meant it. I never thought it would come to this...ever. But I guess it's finally that time.

I started playing an MMO. Yes that's right I've started playing Star Wars the Old Republic...and I'm enjoying it...
/social life.

"But why is this so weird? Lots of people play WoW and SWTOR just came out and you're lucky to get in early and blah blah blah blah" I hear you ask. Well I guess this deserves a bit of explanation as all of you out there in Internet land haven't lived your entire life with me the same way I have. (That's a lie...only my friends read this anyways...)

Flashback to the 1990s. Everquest hits the shelves to massive acclaim. What's Eric doing at this point in time (besides awkwardly staring at girls and running away screaming when they made eye contact?), well decrying the unjust system of payment levied by the greedy game companies that Everquest embodied. I swore that I would NEVER play a game that required me to first purchase the client and then PAY MONTHLY to play the damn thing.

Move forwards a bit. The Xbox is released. With it comes Xbox Live. What's Eric doing at this point in time? Playing Halo with his buddies in their basement all the while proclaiming "Never shall I give in to the tyranny of paying to play my games online! This is clearly just money grubbing from the obviously corrupt and greedy Microsoft! But I will stay strong! The internet should be a free and wild place where people can game for free and mod to their hearts' content!" (Did anyone else picture me wearing a monocle and top hat here? Well if you didn't before, you just did.)

Since then, WoW, Eve Online, Guild Wars, LOTRO, and many more have come and gone, yet I remained steadfast in my disapproval of subscription based payment models in gaming.

Well sadly, that has changed. After getting peer pressured into preordering a copy of SWTOR, I got an email saying that I got into the game early. So after logging off my work computer, I proceeded to create my character and start playing. And then I realized several things. First, I realized that it was midnight. Second, I realized I hadn't eaten dinner yet. Third, and most importantly, I realized just how easy it was for people to starve to death playing MMOs. Seriously! I went like 12 fucking hours without food and didn't even realize it. I'M A FAT KID. I LIKE FOOD. AND WHEN A FAT KID IGNORES FOOD FOR THAT LONG, OTHER PEOPLE WOULD ACTUALLY WASTE AWAY AND DIE. Luckily for me I had plenty of calories stored up and the fast didn't bother me, but GODDAMN.

So long story short, this is likely the last blog post I ever write because I will be dead by the end of the month after forgetting to eat or drink or breathe air thanks to this goddamn game. Fuck my life...

...And that's what I learned today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What we need more of in this gaming world

I've come to a realization recently, that games as a whole are beginning to lose touch with what they are supposed to be. And that we, as the consumers of their product, are beginning to forget why we consume their product. I'll get into my reasoning and thoughts in a bit, but first, a thought experiment. Answer the questions honestly.

Do you play video games? Yes? Good. Do you know WHY you play video games? Is it for the story? Is it for the competition? Is it for the spectacle? Take a moment and really think WHY it is you play games.

I'm sure by this point you're all wondering "Why is Eric all srs business all of a sudden?" Well to tell you the truth, this is something that has been on my mind for a bit of time now, and I figured I'd finally get around to writing it. But first, let me tell you why I reached this conclusion.

A few months ago, I lost my xbox headset. Huge tragedy yes I know, and not satisfied with simply loaning my roommate's headset which, according to reports, barely worked, I decided to hop on Amazon and further abuse their free prime shipping with a brand spanking new xbox headset. Skipping over the more cheaply made and fragile official microsoft headsets, I decided on a slightly more robust, yet not overly gaudy Plantronics set. This was going to run me about 11 dollars. Not a big deal. I did however, have $20 promotional credit towards a video game related purchase sitting there that I had not yet used. Apparently Amazon took this purchase to mean that I wanted to use ALL of my promotional credit on an $11 mic. Finding no way around their forced spending, I decided to simply bite the bullet and buy myself a new game, or in this case, preorder. Yes I put money down for the much talked about Modern Warfare 3. Up until this point I had told myself that I wasn't going to buy this game, that i was going to be a battlefield 3 player through and through, that I wouldn't go back to Call of Duty after what it did to me in MW2, but like the cliche of an abused significant other I apparently am in the Lifetime channel TV Movie that is my life, I came crawling back. (Thanks fuckers)

On that fateful day when MW3 arrived, I opened the packaging and tore through the single player campaign. I'm not going to do an in depth review here, but suffice it to say, it's clear that to them, the story was just a vestigial end that needed tying up. So naturally, single player missions completed, I hopped onto the multiplayer. Yes it felt like the Modern Warfare 2 that I knew and loved, but somehow, less shitty. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but things seemed to be going pretty well. But this comfort and satisfaction was short lived to say the least.

Exactly one week after MW3's release, the bullshit began. The noscoping, the trick shots, the button pictures in the clan tags circumventing the swear filters childishly spelling out words like "anal", "fart" and once, a horrifically sad attempt at "queer". Like a greasy meal at a disgusting diner, all of my contempt and hatred for the series came flooding back in one horrific wave. I remembered everything I hated about the game, everything I hated about its fans, and everything I hated about Xbox live.

It was about at this point that I realized that, playing call of duty for me, was no longer about having fun. I did not play the game to have fun. I played the game to have a bigger numerical e-penis than the fuckstick 13 year old that was constantly calling me a "fucking gay ass fag" for killing him a couple too many times that last match. The fun isn't in the game anymore, the fun is in the stats, the fun is in gloating to all your friends that you have a 2.0 kill/death ratio in a game in which you are a digital soldier running around an enclosed space killing other digital soldiers. In other words, it's FUCKING MEANINGLESS.

And that's when it hit me. Games are losing touch with their intended purpose. What's that purpose you ask? Well that's to provide entertainment, to be FUN. We play games because they're meant to be FUN. Say what you want about escapism, about telling a proper story, about character development, it doesn't matter, the underlying purpose is FUN, and I can't help but believe that the industry at large has lost sight of that fact.

A while back, I played a game called Bulletstorm. It was developed by a tiny studio called People Can Fly and produced by masters of the brown and grey palette, Epic Studios. It generally flew under the radar, didn't make any kind of real splash in the market, and nobody was really talking about it (hipster status get). But, intrigued by the notion of skillshots, I downloaded the demo. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I played that demo. So I decided to spring for the full game, and it was worth every penny in my mind. This was a stupid purchase in the minds of many. It was an 8-10 hour campaign with only a co-op multiplay that nobody was playing, so why did I feel that paying 60 bucks for a game with no replayability was a good investment? Because I had fun with it. The entire notion of adding up points for killing in new and creative ways, trying to chain together combinations of tricks and gathering multipliers was childish, inane, gruesome and every bit as fun as I had hoped it would be. I had more fun with that game than I had being called a cock loving ass clown by the hick from kansas whom I had just killed in MW3 all for the sake of being able to tell my friends that I have a 1.39 KDR as if that means something.

But this isn't the studios faults entirely. The fact of the matter is, this is what we wanted. MW3 is simply a victim of the times. From the impotent 5 hour campaign to the incessant stat tracking, THIS is the future we imagined for ourselves and THIS is what we got. Could this be the harbinger of things to come? Hopefully not. Certainly not if Bethesda, the makers of Skyrim keep doing what they're doing. And I can tell you right now that between Just Cause 2 and Saints Row The Third (which produced the best teaser trailer I've EVER seen), I will have plenty of physics breaking, madcap fun to distract myself from how much I hate everything and everyone when I play MW3.

The fact of the matter is, we have plenty of numbers in our every day lives that we can use to make ourselves feel superior to the lowly peons and assholes around us, be it test scores, GPA, paycheck, home value, number of people slept with or even just height. Why do we need another?

...And that's what I learned today. Well not week...but you know...whatever.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

...The state of politics in this country is a sad affair...

This blog post is thanks to my cool, gay (soon to be ex :( ) room mate James.

Firstly, I want you to skim this article. Go on, I'll wait.

All set? Good.

Now I'm sure the first thing you're thinking of right now is "Oh that's horrible, I can't believe a fast food chain would do such a thing! I love gay people! They're great! I'm never going to eat Chick-fil-A ever again!" or perhaps even something like "Go figure...the south is at it again..."

And that is all well and good, but I'd like to draw your attention in a slightly different direction. This isn't about southerners, this isn't about the definition of traditional marriage or gay rights or any of that political nonsense. (Not to say it's not important, that's just not the kind of blog this is....all serious 'n shit...)

No lets focus on the fact that a company is making donations to anti-gay foundations...a company...that is primarily concerned...with the production and sale...of fried...fucking...chicken...

Am I the only one seeing something wrong with this? Yes I understand that it is nothing new for companies to donate to charities and that many companies take part in this practice. I mean even McDonalds has that little donation box thing near their registers that gives your unwanted pocket change to a charity which apparently prides itself in building freakishly colorful Kremlin building replicas in other parts of the world. It's not the donating thing that gets to me...Do me a favor, go back to the beginning of that article again...go ahead...I'll wait.

Did you read that first sentence? No? Fine I'll copy it here. It says:

"The Georgia-based fast-food chain Chick-fil-A has never hid its conservative leanings"

I'm sorry but what? A fast food company can have "conservative leanings?" How the fuck does that work? THEY MAKE GODDAMN FRIED CHICKEN. I don't know about you, but I don't really like the people who make FUCKING FRIED CHICKEN to tell me what is morally right or not.

And it's at this point that we start to get to the root of the issue. The problem here is corporations meddling with political affairs. Companies should concern themselves with the issues around their company. In this case, Chick-fil-A should really be focusing on the product they make (fried chicken), their customer base (mall-goers), their operations (acquiring cutting edge fried chicken technologies), and their locations (that super hot location between the Sbarro and that generic place that sells "cajun food", usually called "Big Easy", "Cajun Grill", or "Down in N'Orleans we eat this shit all day but if you eat it you'll shit your brains out for a week"). The last thing that a FRIED CHICKEN COMPANY should be concerning themselves with is who their next door neighbor is marrying or what the definition of family is.

Maybe this is all just me. Maybe I grew up during a time where companies didn't meddle with the political goings on (or perhaps I was just too concerned with pokemon and picking my nose to notice/care). But the fact is, there should be no reason that a corporation should have political leanings of any kind, conservative, liberal or otherwise. A corporation should concern itself with one thing, and that is their product. I don't give a fuck if the CEO of that company donates to whatever charity or organization he or she wants, that is their right as an American no matter how much I personally disagree with the motive of the organization they donate to (though donating to an organization that has been classified as a Hate Group ain't right). So here's a quick pro-tip Chick-fil-A. If you spent nearly as much money donating to disallowing gays to marry as you did improving your chicken recipe, maybe...JUST'd be able to find some semblance of success up here in the North East and finally breach that ever coveted top 10 spot that you can't seem to grasp. KFC doesn't tell me what to do or think and so far as I can tell, they're still beating your asses in the rankings, so suck on those 11 secret herbs and spices.

...And that's what I learned today...

PS: In case you were wondering, Chipotle would seek looser immigration laws, Subway would support legislation stating that tessellating cheese triangles is punishable by law, White Castle would look to legalize pot, Wendy's is a firm activist for women's equality in the work place (as well as a major backer for Gingers' rights) and Burger King is looking to reorganize our government into a Parliamentary Monarchy, headed by none other than the king himself.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

...I have lots of first world problems...

Chief amongst them is neglecting my blog. Oh hi, yes I know you still exist and that you probably don't care about this anymore, but that's not going to stop me from spewing my self-righteous gibberish into the intertubes.

Quite a few things have happened since I last posted, so I guess I finally have more things to talk about at least for a little while. So why don't we just take a quick run-down of things going on in my life. And yes I'll be getting back the aforementioned topic of this post in a little bit.

First and foremost, I reached a huge milestone in my life, realized a goal that has ever sat in the corners of my mind. I have finally built a gaming computer. Now many of you readers out there (who aren't gamers in the strictest sense) are wondering "how is that at all significant in any way, shape or form?" Well dear readers, the fact of the matter is, this is something that I have been thinking and talking about doing since I was in MIDDLE SCHOOL. (Back when most kids were just hoping for more money to fund their Neopets addictions, I was thinking BIG.)

This whole gaming addiction started back when I was young. Back in the day, my parents were pretty controlling about TV usage (remember how we didn't get cable until I was in college? Yeah.) and I was typically tied up with my extended day program in elementary school, so it didn't leave much time for me to watch what few cartoons I had access to at the time. But one day, my cousin sent me back his old game system from Taiwan. It was a Chinese NES clone that had a single cart which could play something to the tune of 80 DIFFERENT NES games. I played a TON of them without even knowing what they were or what system I was playing. I played Mario, Excite Bike, Elevator Action, Baseball, Penguin Adventure and even Battle Tanks (complete with a level editor!).

But my favorite of all time was Contra.

(For those of you who feel like waxing nostalgic for a bit here, throw on the Jungle Jam music on youtube for this next section).

The cheap little Chinese knock off cart that I was playing on had every possible permutation of Contra, complete with the 30 lives konami cheat preloaded. I loved that game. Can't say why or how, perhaps it was because it was the first game I ever beat (with the help of my cousin...and the 30 lives cheat...SHUT UP I WAS FUCKING 7). That was what started this addiction in me. This eternal lust for all things gaming was furthered along by the afterschool program's decision to buy a Sega Genesis to allow us kids to play on. This was my exposure to all things Sega. From Sonic and Sonic 2, to Aladdin and even Ecco The Dolphin, I was a genius. (By which I mean I could get past the first level). Children from all around flocked to watch me work my magic. Even the children after me opted to let me take their turn so they could catch a rare glimpse into Marble Zone Act 2. Vacation weeks were especially wondrous for me. This same program held a special vacation week for school vacations full of field trips to the roller rink and Disney on Ice shows. There were movies and snacks and it was a wonderful time. But I was more interested in the Super Nintendo they had. This was an area of gaming that I had no idea about. All I knew was the controller made different things on the screen do different stuff, and that was enough for me.

Eventually playing these weren't enough. I eventually begged and pleaded my parents for a Game Boy. They said it would kill my eyes and I'd go blind, but I begged and begged. Finally one christmas, I got my very own Game Boy Pocket. It was bright yellow and glorious. I kept that thing in immaculate condition and fed it a constant stream of triple A batteries. I fought my way through Zelda: Link's Awakening, got retro with Super Mario Lands 1 AND 2, and beat the Elite 4 at least four dozen times in Pokemon Blue. Then the school banned game boys in all forms. So my nerd-dom took off in new directions. Magic the Gathering, pokemon cards, Dungeons and Dragons, Pogs, Crazy Bones everything.

Finally I made it to middles school. Thoroughly indoctrinated in nerd lore, steeped in geek culture and infused with dorky tendencies, I got involved with the hitherto undiscovered world of PC games. Prior to this point, I was running a Mac LC520 and playing freeware games and rocking the shit out of space blaster and number muncher. But it wasn't until the middle school started a fundraiser by having us sell magazines that I realized what gaming truly was. In case your school didn't run these kinds of fundraisers, the gist is that you go around and annoy your neighbors, parents, parents' coworkers and extended family, trying to sell them magazine subscriptions which you could then trade in for points which you could use to buy stupid bullshit prizes like "SPY SUNGLASSES" that had SUPER AWESOME REAR VIEW MIRRORS TO SEE WHO IS "FOLLOWING" YOU! I used this opportunity to buy myself (and by buy myself, I mean make my parents buy) a subscription to PC Gamer.

The stuff I saw in that magazine entranced me. I wanted all of it. I had to have all of it, play all of it. The colors, the graphics, 3D! Words couldn't describe how badly I wanted to get my hands on these games. I wanted, no needed to play Starcraft, Oddworld, Half Life, Doom, EVERYTHING. But my computer at the time couldn't handle any of them. Thus started my desire for a properly built gaming PC. I didn't know anything about computers or how they worked, I just knew that the higher the numbers were, the better it was and the more expensive it was. So I stared at the Alienware and Falcon Northwest ads with envy, wanting it all. I even remember a time when, in middle school, we were given the task to furnish our dream room (probably as a lesson on looking shit up on the internet, I don't remember...) Given a budget of a few thousand dollars, we were told to look up prices and figure out how much items cost and to stay under our budget. Needless to say, I factored in my would be new computer into this mix. Sure I wanted a TV and I needed a bed and the like, but I found ways to cut costs there (I bought a futon so that I didn't need BOTH a sofa AND a bed). Every spare dollar I had was spent into customizing my very own Alienware Area 51 desktop, complete with lights and glass side panel.

All of this was eventually sidelined by the acquisition of my N64 and eventually my PS2 and later my Xbox 360. From the moment that N64 entered my house, I was a console gamer through and through. Everything else pretty much fell by the wayside. I realized that the constant fight with PC required specs was a losing battle and that I should just stick with the relative simplicity of console gaming. Recently though, I began entertaining the idea of building that computer again. And now that I could (barely) afford it, I finally decided to dive in head first (leaving my bank account significantly lighter than before).

So at this point, all of you are probably wondering what this has to do with first world problems, (especially those of who you DIDN'T BOTHER READING MY IN DEPTH AND HEARTFELT RECOUNT OF MY DESCENT INTO THE DEPTHS OF NERDDOM.) Well to put it simply, I'm finding that I need to prioritize in a way I never had to in the past. Let me make a list of things on my to do list right now. (In no particular order)

1) Buy Curtains
2) Buy Groceries
3) Beat Batman Arkham City
4) Play Battlefield 3
5) Beat Battlefield 3's single player
4) Re-rank myself in Starcraft 2
5) Get better at Team Fortress 2
6) Begrudgingly give Modern Warfare 3 a shot (because Amazon forced me to)
7) Improve my Minecraft fortress (and find even more goddamn diamonds)
9) Go to the damn gym more
10) Play Gears 2 AND THEN Gears 3.

And that's just the top 10 items...there's also Just Cause 2, finishing The Hunger Games, starting Catching Fire, figuring out when I'm going to buy Skyrim (because lets be honest, I'm GOING to play it) and getting better at drafting MTG (among quite a number of other things I forgot to know like continuing to update this blog...).

So what's my first world problem? I've got too many fucking video games to play through and not enough time to play through them (because I work).

That's my first world problem du jour.

...And that's what I learned today.

PS If you're not a gamer and didn't like this post, too fucking bad. If you REALLY want me to write about something you want to hear about, why don't you suggest something on TILT's facebook group?