On Wednesday, I found myself with nothing really exciting going on, so I thought that I’d spend some time and re-read my own posts here on Levelcapped.com. I’m not sure if other bloggers do this; I know that a lot of people have significantly more posts than I do, thanks to my habit of nuking the site on a regular basis, so I’m sure reviewing one’s own work would be harder for some than for others.
Although this sounds like a lot of navel-gazing and the ultimate in crass self-promotion, re-reading one’s own posts can be beneficial. First, it puts us in touch with who we are from a much higher view than we might have of our situations when we’re actually in those situations. If a post is written to respond to something that’s happening in the community, then the post will have captured those thoughts and feelings at that moment, potentially without a greater sense of context as to how that situation fit into the greater scheme of things. Second, it gives us an opportunity to review our own work from a much more detached point of view. While writing, we might be satisfied enough with our posts to hit the PUBLISH button, but with the benefit of hindsight we might find that we might have put more time into editing, or be surprised at how eloquent we can actually be under certain circumstances. Third, and probably most important, it reveals our own progression as writers, community members, and people. Blogs are basically public journals, so if we use them to keep track of ourselves each time we publish, then we can look back and see which direction we’re moving in over time.
Anyway, enough preamble. For those who’ve already read all of these, thank you! The check would be in the mail if A) I had your address, and B) I had money to send. For those who might not be inclined to trawl through the backlog, then hopefully this list will pique your interest enough to check out these posts.
10. The Demon Within; Skyforge – July 20, 2015
With the prevalence of so many screens in our lives, medical science is just getting around to figuring out how much screen time is too much. Regardless of that outcome, previous generations still think that kids should be playing outside and not spending so much time buried in virtual worlds like those presented in Minecraft.
In The Demon Within, I touch on the generational differences between my parent’s generation (“go outside and play!”) and my daughter’s generation (“I’m leaning circuitry thanks to Minecraft!”), and how kids can actually gain real learned skills by staying inside and playing video games.
As a parent of a child who went through a Minecraft obsession, I’ve been in contact with other parents whose children also love Minecraft. I’ve heard those parents refer to the game as “that Minecraft” with the same intonation used when our ancestors spoke of “that rock and roll music” or even “those people”. Their tone is essentially telling me that they know nothing of the game except that their kids play it, talk about it, and that it rules their lives. Worse, these parents apparently do not care to understand what Minecraft actually is, and what it’s really doing for their kids.
9. Can We Ever Get Out Of Our Own Way – Sept 2, 2015
Remember that Jimmy Kimmel segment where he made fun of YouTube commentators who left death threats on his earlier video regarding the YouTube Gaming service? You’ll be forgiven if you’d forgotten because as a community we’re really good at raising a fuss, but not very good with the long-term follow-through, but one thing that never went away in the aftermath was the community’s habit of viewing any criticism as an assault.
Blaming Kimmel is pointless because he’s a comedian and I’d actually be confused had he taken a different tack. Instead, I have to blame those who thought the best way to rebut his insinuations was to write violent and incoherent comments. Yeah, it’s YouTube, so it’s technically it’s a sport unto itself, but like how I would expect Kimmel to take the approach he took, I can’t say I expected anything less from our little band of miscreants.
8. Early Access Should Die In A Fire – June 19, 2015
Early Access has a lot of benefit for both devs and customers, but the interplay between the two can strain the relationship in many ways, not the least of which is bad blood if anything goes wrong and a product isn’t delivered (see item #9 above). Maybe EA and crowdfunding isn’t the best way to go. Maybe we should be falling back on the more tried and true methods of traditional publishing and eschewing early access all together.
Game consumers lack the kind of information that we need to make “informed” decisions, which is made worse by the fact that there’s no way that developers can actually provide that kind of information. In short, it’s a crap shoot for everyone.
7. Eulogy for an Xbox 360 – June 22, 2015
In short, a proper send-off for the console that I had owned the longest out of any of the consoles I’d ever owned.
I don’t think I’ll ever actually be able to give a console the same attention that my string of previous Xbox machines received, making my last 360 a machine worthy of respect. I’m keeping as a memorial the dust-ring where the old 360 spent it’s last days. Considering how often I dust around the house, my Last Xbox 360 will never be forgotten.
6. The Age Game – June 5, 2015
When developers create a game, are they targeting an age demographic? If so, are there any companies out there actively targeting the upper tier of an aging community? Nostalgia seems to be Big Money these days, but is that pandering or a conscious choice to appeal to older gamers?
There’ll eventually be a time in our lives when we simply cannot pick up a controller, or when our eyesight fails us to the point where we can’t see what’s on the monitor, but until that time I don’t think it really matters whether or not the industry is making games for a specific age since there’s nothing stopping us from playing what we like.
5. Better But Not Good Enough – Mar 4, 2015
Long time readers will know that I write a lot about my history with geekdom, how it was when I was younger, and how I view it now that it’s a worldwide cash cow. One of my future-touchstones is my daughter, a geek in her own right who is having to navigate the segment of this community that inhabits her age bracket.
I had hoped that being a geek in the 21st century would have been easier than it was when I was a kid, and in many ways it seems to be. But it’s not quite at the point where I’d like it to be, watching my daughter having to deal with a lot of the side-effects that are all too familiar.
Was I suggesting my daughter bury herself deeper in this culture that was financially mainstream, but not entirely culturally mainstream during her most important years of social growth? How would she feel if there was a club, and she walked in and was the only girl there? How would she be treated? Would she stay and stick it out, or would she simply not return with her interest dashed? I didn’t have faith in my predictions any more, and I realize that’s both because of my experiences at that age, in a different time, but also because I don’t know that the next generation has bothered to improve.
4. The Power of Blogging – May 6, 2015
I don’t participate in the Newbie Blogger Initiative, but it always gets me thinking about why I blog, and why other people should blog. Some would say that blogging is on the decline as YouTube and live streaming are on the rise, but I’m not totally convinced. The written word — that time-honored tradition of taking the time taken to carefully craft a thought through editing in order to achieve the desired impact with your audience — will never go out of style.
Blogging is really about engagement with a community through a topic of your choice, and in a format that social media simply can’t handle. Think about all of the blogs you’ve personally commented on; that’s you right now. Now think about the process from the other side of that relationship; that’s you where you want to be by taking up the art of blogging.
3. The Obsession, And Missed Opportunities – Jul 8, 2015
Had I known how big video games would become, and what role they would continue to play in my life, I would have skipped my degree in biology for a career in computer programming. But it’s never too late to get invovled on the other side of the screen, is it? Is it?
Maybe if I’d actually stuck with the technology track throughout my life, and worked to turn my obsession into a career, I’d be in a different place right now. I would never have been in the right place at the right time alongside the people in the book who fought to bring video games to the masses, when the entire industry was a wilderness unconstrained by skittish investors, rabid fanboys, and the real-world problems that are rotting the geek community from the inside.
2. LocalCon 2015, And The Darker Side – Sept 14, 2015
Our family attended a small comic book convention last year, the first for me and also for my daughter. Although I’d had live experiences with the geek community through PAX East, the comic con community was something else entirely: more dedicated, more comfortable with themselves, and far more progressive than I knew the geek community actually was.
But there’s always going to be those out there who don’t get the community, don’t want to get the community, and are more than willing to not just dismiss the things that the geek community loves, but will outright spew hate and insults about them.
I’ve been a lifelong geek, before it was “cool”, and still am today. I write a blog on video games. I wear geeky clothing (even to work, where no one probably knows what the heck it all means). I go to these conventions now that I have folks lined up to go with, and now that they’re semi-near me so I can travel to them with minimal expense. But watching those cosplayers, standing out in the courtyard of the building, about 500 feet from one of the main streets in the city of Manchester, I realized I would never be as hardcore as those folks.
1. The Things We Share – Oct 19, 2015
It’s really hard to get past the day-to-day crap we have to deal with when viewing our community through an on-line lens. It seems that one segment is always angry about something, which makes another segment angry about the people being angry, and the snowball of crap just keeps growing in size with no end in sight.
But that’s not who we are. We don’t agree on motives; we don’t agree on tactics; we don’t agree on outcomes. We do agree that we love what we do and no matter what side you take in whatever argument that’s raging this week, that shared love of our hobby is indisputable. When you sit and watch people at conventions or other gatherings where people are celebrating their love of a common fandom together and without vitriol, it makes you realize what opportunities we miss out on every day by being at each other’s throats.
What you have, though, is that feeling in your gut that you experienced something amazing. You might not remember what it was specifically, or you might not be able to remember every little incredible thing that happened during the event, but when you think back to it later it gives you a feeling of excitement and wistfulness that’s even better than just remembering where you were or what you did. Memories seem to fade as we get older, but the emotional impact somehow still remains.