Monthly Archives: January 2010

Relatives messing with your shit

I had lunch with some friends today, and they were asking when I was going to replace my Xbox 360. I said after Chinese New Year (which is in about 3 weeks time). They were like, why not now? Well, here’s a good reason: visiting relatives. Chinese New Year is one of those holidays where people just love visiting other people, so basically you’re going to have a whole mess of people walking in and out of your home.

Broken Guitar Hero World Tour Drums

Why is my drumset sitting unused in my sister's room? Oh yeah, because some kids broke it.

And herein lies the problem… sometimes, people just don’t give a crap, especially some distant-assed relative that you never see much, whose spoilt-assed kids think they own everything. So these kids are going to run around your place, playing and touching everything you own, with zero regard for your privacy and shit. And lo and behold, they break something. Whether it’s an antique vase, your favorite coffee mug, or your Xbox, they’re bound to break something. And what do their parents do? They laugh it off and say “Oh kids will be kids.” They don’t need to pay for it, because even if it looks bad on them, they’re not going to see you for at least another year anyway. In their heads, it’ll be like “Hate me all you want, bitches. This time next week, I’ll be back home with zero desire to read your hate-filled blog. I’m going to eat me some pineapple tarts while you cry in your room.”

I already lost my Guitar Hero drums to some over-zealous family friends last month. I really don’t want to replace my Xbox now, only to have it busted up again during Chinese New Year.

A friend of mine came back from a holiday, only to find that his beloved Modern Warfare 2 disc had been scratched up by some cousins while he was away. Another one had a limited edition collectible X-Men bust broken by some kid. Now this wasn’t some cheap mass-produced action figure… this was a $300 collectible! At least he had the balls to take that broken collectible to the kid’s parent and ask for some repayment.

What about you guys? Any stories about distant relatives or family friends messing with your shit?


The Return of the High Score

Back when videogames first hit the mainstream in the 70’s, games were relatively simple affairs when you compare them to today’s standards. Level designs were simple, and gameplay was pretty repetitive. Take games like Space Invaders, Galaxian and Pac-Man, for example. You control your avatar and either shoot down waves and waves of bad guys, or chomp on endless levels of dots. So how do you know if you’re better than the guy next to you? That’s where the high score comes in. By destroying enemies or lasting to the next level, you increase your score, and obviously the highest score would denote the player with the largest e-penis, right?

Space Invaders

Nothing more important than that number at the top left corner

During the so-called “Golden Age of Gaming”, gaming took place predominantly in video arcades, so gamers pretty much share their favorite arcade cabinet with thousands of other players. And just as dogs like to mark their territory by peeing on trees, gamers like to do the same by leaving their initials next to their high scores. There’s nothing quite like walking away from a video arcade with your initials next to the highest score in the machine, and then coming back a week later to find that nobody has been able to dethrone you. All hail the champ!

The practice of the high score continued onto the console market, and console games, whether they were dumbed-down versions of arcade games or originals, would all allow a player to punch in their initials next to their high scores. This was a bit of a silly addition in hindsight, because the high scores would reset the moment you switched your console off, due to the memory limitations of home consoles at the time. What’s the point of putting up a high score if nobody else was going to see it, right? For the first time, gamers started questioning the necessity of the high score.

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How the Playstation gimped the hands of a whole generation

There’s an old song I really hate that goes “I love you… for sentimental reasons” and it just sounds awful. Anyway, it reminded me of the Playstation, or specifically the Dual-Shock controllers associated with the Playstation.

When the first PSX came out, it had all the hot 3D games, so everyone rushed out to get one. Sure the Dual-Shock controller was uncomfortable to hold, and made your hands cramp up after a while, but how else are you going to play Tekken and Final Fantasy VII?

PS1 control pad

I love you… for sentimental reasons

Fast forward to today, and the PS3 is still using that same Dual-Shock controller design… and by now a whole generation of gamers are just sticking to the Playstations because their hands are deformed to the point where they can’t operate another gaming console’s controller (or a non-touch screen telephone for that matter).

A gimped up hand with immobile fingers was the price to pay for enhanced 3D graphics.

It’s like back in ancient China, when people used to bind the feet of young girls to keep them from growing large, because small dainty feet was a symbol of wealth and desirability. Of course, binding their feet will also result in broken bones and other lifelong disabilities, but that was the price to pay for social status and larger dowries… just as a gimped up hand with immobile fingers was the price to pay for enhanced 3D graphics.

X ray of Playstation hands

So now they should have a new song that goes “I love the Dual-Shock controller… because it’s the only one I can use.”

When Geeks lose their grip on reality

A few years ago, Dave and I were madly obsessed with World of Warcraft, so we made a video applying WoW and MMO-related behavior into real world scenarios. It didn’t quite make it into the short film festival as we hoped, but still all y’all geeks on the Internet liked it lots. So here it is again!

Pokemon Avatar

After watching Avatar with Dexian, the first thing that we discussed was not the 3D technology or the performance capture, but about Pokemon’s influence on the film.

Avatar might be hyper-realistic with super-enhanced CG and all that, but there was a definite moment in the film where I expected Sam Worthington to yell out “Pikachu, I choose you!”

Avatar's Toruk

Sully chooses his PokeToruk

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

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Why do gaming consoles have to die?

In the span of two days, both my Xbox 360 and Jo’s tamagotchi died. Hers died because she left it home one day and those little critters throw a hissy fit and die if you don’t feed them by pressing some buttons every few hours. Mine died because… well… I’m not sure why mine died. I think it’s cos it was old. I dunno… is three years old for a gaming console? I guess my Sega consoles lasted only about three years too. But they “died” in the sense that they became obsolete and people stopped making games for them. My Xbox on the other hand, died in the “ack, I can’t breathe!” way.

Dead xbox and tamagotchi

My dead Xbox and Jo's dead Tamagotchis

This recent dead Xbox is a refurbished set that I got to replace another one that had a graphics glitch about a year after I bought it. So basically, in four years, I’ve only gone through two Xboxes. My friends tell me that I’ve been pretty luckily, as they’ve got horror stories about making bi-monthly trips to the Xbox service centre and so forth. At any rate, it’s past the warranty date so I guess I’ll be picking up a replacement Xbox 360 soon.

Similarly, I also had to replace my first generation Xbox. It didn’t really die, but the laser couldn’t read games anymore (making it nothing more than a really expensive CD/DVD player). So I’ve now got two of those sitting in my home (which bugs Jo a lot; she wants me to toss them out), and a new dead Xbox 360 to complete the collection. Then of course, I’ve got my Segas still lying around.

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