This will likely be my last blog entry until next week, as the computer is getting packed up later today. The movers are arriving at 8:30am EST on Friday… a mere 6 hours after I return home from hosting tonight’s karaoke show. The move shouldn’t take more than a day to complete, for the most part. I’m not looking forward to the arranging of furniture, setting up all of the electronics (2 computers, 2 TVs, PS3, Xbox, PS2, PSX), and the thrill of unpacking boxes over the course of following few days. Unfortunately, Saturday will be spent finishing with cleaning this apartment and moving any leftover items to storage and Sunday will generally be a rest day as I’m going to be wiped out. This whole process (ordeal?) has been a trying and rather lengthy one, but the benefits of 50% lower rent and not living on a steep hill with 6 weeks of winter left to go will hopefully prove to be worth it.
Before I sign off, I came across a pretty stunning revelation while packing up my “older” consoles and games yesterday. If I had to ballpark the number of games that I have across the three consoles that I packed– my PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Xbox– I would put that number at about 150. Of those games, I can honestly say that I’ve played through (“beaten”) not even 10% of these.
Making random observations about some of the games as I packed them away, there were several that I had not even played yet. I’d either picked them up on impulse (Forza Motorsport) or bought them because I had wanted to play them at some point (Yakuza 2, Final Fantasy XII). My raison d’etre when it comes to gaming can be called into question when facts like these come to light. Do I buy these games to play them or to simply collect them? I strongly want to side with the former of those two answers, as I do enjoy playing video games very much and have had days where I’ve played for hours. I don’t know if that answer would be the right one, though.
Here are a couple of examples to consider:
- I bought Yakuza 2 mainly because I read glowing things about it over at NeoGAF and was concerned that I might not be able to find it if I waited too long. I’ve played through about half of the original, and I like it, but I’ve not finished it. I’m now in a weird spot: Do I finish Yakuza and then start the sequel from scratch, or do I just scrap the original and start playing the sequel?
- I bought Final Fantasy XII simply because I’ve bought just about every other game in the series, but I’ve not played it. Same goes for Final Fantasy Origins for the PSX. Despite owning every Final Fantasy game except FFIII and FFXI, I’ve only beaten FFIV– and that was the SNES game back in 1991. I got to Disc 2 playing FFVII, I lost interest in FFVIII quickly, I couldn’t get into FFIX, and I think I got about as far as facing Seymour in FFX. Come to think of it, I own FFX-2, but haven’t played that either– and I bought that game on its release day.
Having so many games to choose from is a double-edged sword. It’s great to have such a big collection, but what game do I decide to play? How can I stay focused on that one game when there are so many others to choose from? Maybe I’m playing Final Fantasy X, but on one particular day I only have about 30 minutes of gaming time… so I decide to spend it playing a less-intensive game or retro collection of games. Then I get caught up in setting new high scores and I forget about FFX for awhile. Once my retro appetite is fed for awhile, I try to go back to FFX, but I forgot what I was doing and can’t get back into the flow of the game… so it goes back on the shelf and I have to pick something else. (This actually just recently happened with Persona 4, which I’d played for about 10 hours in December, but haven’t been back to since before Christmas.)
Perhaps moving into the new place can inspire a new beginning for my game-playing routine. If I can become active as a freelancer again, I know that would obviously help to narrow my focus and get me to play through more games from beginning to end (Call of Duty: World at War was the last game I finished.)… but with the state of the gaming press corps as it is, I don’t know if latching on anywhere will be easy. If freelancing doesn’t work out, then I need to find a way to alter my playing habits from trying a bunch of different games at once to focusing on just a few (or a couple)… but that’s easier said than done.
At this point, though, it’s time to press the Pause button for a few days and complete the moving process. I hope to be able to get back online later this weekend, but I’ll be able to send Twitter updates via text messaging until I can get the computer up and running again at the new place.
Have a great weekend!
Finally, the moving process has come down to the last 96 hours of work. There’s been a ton of packing and moving unnecessary stuff into storage (since I’m going from a full apartment to a two-room living space), and that’s going to be continuing through Thursday. I’ll be offline from Thursday afternoon until at least Saturday (January 31), but the movers will be here on Friday and I’ll be “officially” relocated then. After that comes the unpacking and setting everything back up again. Fun. This will indeed be my worst week in a while; between working an extra karaoke show last night, recovering from this cold that won’t go away, and the general aches and pains that come from moving a ton of stuff… I think I’m going to need a vacation after this week ends.
I do thank those of you who have been checking things out here recently, and I promise that things will be back to normal in within another week or so.
Here’s what’s been going on in my absence from writing:
- Rediscovery: I’ve rediscovered my PlayStation 3 recently, and it’s been nice. My PS3 collection has swelled to number 15 games, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve shown more than a passing interest in the console– aside from watching movies on it. I’m giving Fallout 3 another go (more on this shortly), enjoying Ridge Racer 7 (as I’m a huge fan of the series), and hitting the links with Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds. What’s even better is that we’re on February’s doorstep, a month that is set to deliver Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection and Street Fighter IV. Welcome back to the fold, PS3.
- Fridge-cleaning: An unfortunate result of adding these new games is that many of them required installations to my PS3 hard drive, and my free space is a shade over 18GB… and that’s after deleting a lot of downloadable games that I bought from the PlayStation Store (such as Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty, Mortal Kombat II, and others). I suppose that buying a bigger hard drive should be in the cards, but I am not a good person to perform any kind of surgery on my electronics.
- Boo-thesda: This story is the reason why Fallout 3 will be the last Bethesda game that I purchase. Look… I’m fine with other platforms getting the DLC expansions as they were promised, but not bothering to patch Fallout 3 to remove level caps and allow players to keep playing after the game’s ending on the PS3 is inexcusable. Why the slap in the face to all of the PS3 owners who dropped $60 on the game? Did Microsoft slide Bethesda a little more money? Did the game not sell enough units on the PS3 side? I have no idea and won’t hypothesize here, but if you’re a multiplatform publisher, there’s no reason to arbitrarily decide which platforms get patches like this one. I’m seriously contemplating unloading Fallout 3 now for decent trade-in value and 5GB of my HDD space back after hearing of this.
- Xbox Update: Recent additions to my Xbox library– which now outnumbers on PS2 library– include Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2, The Simpsons’ Road Rage, Forza Motorsport, and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe. I saw a copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus for $10, but I don’t know if I could justify the $10 just because I wanted to unlock and play Konami’s TMNT arcade game.
That’s about it from here for now. During the move, I’ll still be active via my Twitter feed… so,. if you have a Twitter account, drop me a quick 140-character hello. If not, drop me a comment here and I promise to reply as soon as I am able. It’ll certainly be nice to not having moving as part of my daily recap come next week. Unpacking may be a big part of it, but I’ll take that over moving. Ugh.
Oh, and before I go… even though I’m pulling for Kurt Warner to lead the underdog Arizona Cardinals to victory in Tampa on Sunday… I just don’t see it happening against that vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Pittsburgh will force Arizona to try and win the game on the ground and will key on the Cardinals’ wide receivers (like Larry Fitzgerald), and unless Edgerrin James can find some holes, I think that the Cardinal magic ends Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Arizona Cardinals 21.
Before I head to bed for a few hours– after an exhausting day of moving boxes and heavy furniture– I wanted to share a few more thoughts that popped up while surfing the web earlier tonight… errrr… this morning:
- I’m bothered by the fact that SEGA is not releasing OutRun Online Arcade for the PlayStation 3 (via the PlayStation Store) here in North America. Europeans are getting it, so what’s the deal? Is it a SCEA decision? Did Microsoft pony up some money for exclusivity here? I haven’t read or seen any evidence to support any sort of argument, but it’s a pretty lame decision. If it’s an exclusivity deal, it’s likely a stupid move. If it’s a licensing or approval decision by Sony, then shame on them. More games for sale usually equates to more revenue. No matter what the reason is, I’m frankly pretty upset by it as I’d been looking forward to playing this game.
- I think that it can be argued that the PlayStation 2 is the NES of the 21st Century. The game library is vast and varied, the number of units sold is frankly astounding– 50 million PS2 units have been sold in North America alone. I do think that there are some key differences, most notably that the NES controller remains the most accessible console controller ever due to its simplicity (whereas the PS2 Dual Shock controller sports 4 face buttons, 4 bumpers buttons, plus Start and Select buttons). Still, like the NES, the PS2 library is diverse and plentiful, and it will be considered a benchmark in console gaming for years to come.
- As far as my move is concerned… it’s progressing. It’s been slow to develop as I’ve been working at the new place getting things ready. Monday was a furniture moving day (my back is still screaming at me), and the rest of this week will balance the completion of cleaning the new space and getting it ready for the move and prepping boxes and stuff from here for the move. I’ll be completing the move on January 30th and will be officially moved into the new place by the Super Bowl (hopefully).
I’m hoping, if time allows, to take a trip down to GameStop later today to try and put an e-mail coupon for 20% off used PlayStation 3 games to good use. Money is still wicked tight, but I need to jumpstart my PS3 interest and am hoping that, by finding a used game or two, I can use the console for more than just DVD and BD playback. I look to also have some gaming time in the cards over the next couple of days, which will be nice after a weekend full of moving prep.
That’s it from here for now. As always, feel free to chime in with your comments and other input. I do have another trip to Video Game Castle planned for late February, so I’m still taking suggestions for Xbox and PSX games that you think I should be on the lookout for. I may even try to snap a few cell phone pics to show you what the store looks like.
Until next time…
I apologize for not having been around too much recently; I’m in the not-so-fun process of moving and really haven’t had much spare time to type out any thoughts as of late. It’s certainly not for a lack of thoughts to share (like about Nintendo’s domination of the December 2008 NPD charts, the fun that is Magic Ball on the PS3, and a regained love of the Hot Shots series on the PS2), but all of that is going to have to wait until next month (after the Super Bowl), once I’ve officially relocated and gotten my bearings.
I’m hoping that, once the move is complete, I can get back to not only updating Consoleation regularly– but to also begin freelancing again. I’m crossing my fingers that internet access at the new place will be more reliable than it’s been here, which means more time online with both this computer and my PS3. The good news is that this move will hopefully alleviate some of the financial stresses that have been wreaking havoc on many facets of my life lately. It’ll be nice to have more than $5 extra per week in my pocket.
In the meantime, I’ll be updating my Twitter feed with whatever information I can cram into 140-character chunks.
Before I go, here are a few thoughts… just to get them out there while I have a few minutes:
- Nintendo’s continued domination of the sales charts indicates to me that Nintendo can certainly charge $180 for the DSi and people will buy it, despite any complaining about high price points or rendering of current hardware gradually meaningless. Nintendo’s track record on this subject is amazingly consistent: The GBA SP came along not too long after the original GBA design, and it sold a ton… the DS Lite came along not too long after the original DS design and propelled the hardware to the dizzying heights we see today… and it won’t be too long after the DSi launches that Nintendo will push it hard and, despite the loss of the GBA port, see it sell millions of units– even in a recessionary climate. It makes no sense for me to complain, I guess. I’ll just begrudgingly accept the new portable juggernaut.
- Nothing bothers me more than seeing the poor condition that people either return rented games in or used games show. Seriously… is it so hard to return a game to its game when you’re done with it? Must you use the games as coasters or Frisbees? It’s alarming how a game that was once purchased for $50 or more can be devalued to a worthless piece of plastic simply because some people don’t know how to take care of their games. It’s a senseless waste of money.
- It’s by no means a perfect game, but Magic Ball on the PS3 is a blast to play. I haven’t had this much fun with a Breakout derivative since Nervous Brickdown for the Nintendo DS. I haven’t yet tried a multiplayer game, but the single-player game is a worthy experience itself. Things can get a little busy on the screen and it can be too easy to lose sight of your ball on the screen, but the idea of destroying each level, a piece at a time, seems more worth investing some time than just destroying blocks.
- After spending some time recently with Hot Shots Tennis and Hot Shots Golf 3 on the PS2, I’m thinking about giving Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds on the PS3 another try. I’m not a big fan of the analog system used in Out of Bounds, but the accessibility that the Hot Shots series affords to sports like golf and tennis is remarkable. If you’ve played Out of Bounds, sell me on whether it’s worth another go or not.
That’s it for now. Today’s shaping up to be an extremely busy day in terms of moving preparati0ns, so I need to get a little sleep. Thanks to all of you for reading Consoleation, and I hope that you’ll check back in next month for some new content.
Now that my week is officially over, I have the next couple of days to get some game time in. I know that I’ve been saying (threatening?) this for a few days now, but it’s really time to follow through. I’ve become a little too preoccupied with online activities (Twitter, web surfing, blogging, etc.) and haven’t really set aside any real gaming time. I have a feeling that some of this has to do with my recent exploits in attempting to build my Xbox collection and its associated travels, plus I really haven’t felt “the spark” to stop my other activities and put gaming back in my schedule.
That being said, I’m going to try to reserve my gaming time for during the day, with any online non-gaming activity maybe coming during my first hour of being awake. (I do keep some weird hours, like a West Coast sleep schedule here in New England.) I’ll do the online stuff at night, so as not to wake my neighbors with thumping game sound after 10PM.
That’s the goal, anyway.
I do think that another problem is that, after being a deadline-driven gamer (thanks to review deadlines and such), I’m drifting between GADD and some indecision about what game to focus my energy on. Quite literally, I have progress saved in over 50 different games right now. For the Xbox, due to having to try out my game purchases to make sure they work, I play for a few minutes and then reset and put another game in. I have multiple choices on the PS2 and had (up until just before Christmas) been focused on Persona 4… but I’ve since lost my way and haven’t touched it in about a month. I could work on Yakuza and my still-unplayed Yakuza 2. I could try playing any of the PS2 Final Fantasy titles again (except XI). Or… I could actually use my PlayStation 3 for something other than a movie player and get back to Dead Space or maybe continue my NHL 09 or Tiger Woods 09 seasons.
When I was more active in writing and reviewing (and when my online connectivity was more stable), this was never a problem. It was a very simple process: Editor assigns title… reviewer buys or receives title… deadline is assigned… play game to completion… write review… the end. Without that direction, I’m feeling lost.
Perhaps I need to get back into writing for someone again to regain my sense of purpose? I’m not sure. That might be the answer, but then other problems crop up, like money to rent or buy relevant games and being able to devote enough time to write three pieces a week. Complicating matters is the fact that I’m going to be moving in with family for awhile (as of February 1st) as hard times have made it too difficult to survive on my own with only one source of income. It would probably be wise not to seriously look or commit to anything until the move is completed.
The lack of direction and motivation is what concerns me. It’s not like I’ve lost my love for video games; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I need to find my purpose and desire to play and gain focus and balance that with my love for talking about them here with you.
Have any of you ever felt like this, or something similar? How did you fix your broken compass and find your way back to more balance between playing and writing? I’m very interested to read any thoughts on this.
Now, in order to actually have time to play later today, I should probably try to get to bed before 5am… so I can get up before noon.
(Note: By the way, thanks to all of you who have been checking out the blog lately. I know that a lot of you have seen the blog link via my Twitter feed, and I really appreciate all of the comments that you’ve left here and the conversations that we’ve had via Twitter. I know that 40 page views may be small to some, but seeing that for my Excursion entry was really special. I know that I owe some of you some Gunvalkyrie impressions, and that game is on my list for today.)
Well, I just returned home from my trip to Video Game Castle– an independently owned video game store that’s as much a cluttered gaming museum as it is a store. Since money’s been tight as of late, I really haven’t had the urge to visit until today… but I’m glad I did make the drive. I was able to stay within my set budget of $40, I saw some interesting stuff, and I ran a fun Tweet fest while at the store.
Before I mention what games I added to my collection, I wanted to talk a little about the store. Upon entering the store, the first thing that you notice is that it’s rather… disorganized. If you can get past the aesthetics, though, the inventory looks like a console gaming museum. Today alone, I saw games for the 3D0, 32X, Sega Master System, CD-i, and Vectrex. There was a used SEGA CDX just waiting to be bought, plus I saw a top-loading NES and Tiger’s ill-fated Game.com. The owner still buys all systems and software, too. I’ve actually been privy to take a peek at the store’s storage area in the basement, and the number of consoles and games down there is astounding. I love going to the store just to get a look at the games of the past and remember when they were relevant.
I still remember the first game I ever bought from Video Game Castle… it was a new game called Secret of Mana, back in 1993. Yup. That was over 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve made periodic trips back there to buy games and systems. I once bought a 3D0 from there, but it died within a month; so the owner took it– and all of the games I bought– back and refunded me with no issues. These days, I just drop by to see what rare stuff there might be.
As for today’s additions, I scored five Xbox games, with some feedback from my Twitter buddies. They are:
- Crazy Taxi 3: If you read my most recent blog entry, you’ll remember that my first Epinions review was for Crazy Taxi on the Dreamcast. I was– and still am– a huge fan of the game, so picking up Crazy Taxi 3 was really a no-brainer. I will admit that I was rather underwhelmed by Crazy Taxi 2, but a disc that has all three Crazy Taxi games on it for $9 is a good deal. (No manual, though. Boo.)
- OutRun 2: Look, another SEGA arcade driving game! Upon the recommendation of mister_raroo, I made the decision to snag this… and it was a good thing, since it was the last copy and the over package was in great shape. This one cost me $9, as well.
- Burnout 2: Point of Impact (Developer’s Cut): I love the Burnout series… even Burnout Paradise. Adding this game to my collection for $8 was something I wanted to do mainly because of the Crash Junctions. When you don’t have time for full races, or if you just want to wreak all kinds of metal havoc, Crash Junctions are a quick way to have a blast. Burnout 3: Takedown is still my favorite in the series, but I’ll have fun with this game, too.
- ESPN NHL Hockey: I am a hockey fan. I love the Skills Competition. The game was $3. It was a cheap moment of weakness.
- Gunvalkyrie: Again, I took mister_raroo‘s advice. I’m a little nervous about this game, as I have read that the difficulty isn’t exactly forgiving… but it’s an action game and looks interesting… and hey, it’s from Smilebit! It’s worth taking a chance for $8. if any of you have advice for how I should approach playing this game, pleasde let me know.
Well, now it’s off to the mall to exchange a shirt that doesn’t fit me. I’m hoping to get some game time in later tonight, though. Between these new games and two new games I downloaded from the PlayStation Store (Mahjong Tales and Cuboid), I have plenty of catching up to do. I also need to put together a game collection list. Any suggestions on how to approach that?
OK… time to put my coat back on. See you later.
After all of the sadness and solemnity regarding the recent events at 1UP and the end of EGM, I decided to take a look back to trace my start as a writer. Although I’ve had a few high points in my time trying to “break in” as a member of the gaming press, I don’t think that I ever really made it… but it’s been an interesting ride. I believe that I can honestly say that my skill as a writer did improve over the last 10 years, and I think that is an accomplishment to be noted.
I really wanted to share some of my earliest work, which began in 1999 contributing user reviews at Video Game Review. Unfortunately, the site is a shell of its former self. Instead, I submit to you my body of work at a site called Epinions, for which I compiled over 100 reviews and features in 2000 alone. This was my first review, covering Crazy Taxi for the Dreamcast. I look at it now and can’t help but to pick it apart. No formatting. Too much use of first-person speech. Too many references to The Offspring. It was an enthusiast review with little technical skill; I even went so far as to say that the game had “infinite replay value.”
The truth about my Epinions pieces is that I wrote many of them while working tech support in a call center for an ISP. There were decent amounts of downtime, and Epinions was paying out for each page view… so I figured that if I could churn out more content, more people would click. I wasn’t really thinking about how professional each piece looked or how technically sound each piece was. I was more concerned with completing each piece as best I could between phone calls while trying to tap in to my experience with many games at the time.
As time wore on, I branched out from software reviews and discussed hardware (like the SEGA Nomad, Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance, the SNES, and the TurboGrafx-16), video game violence, and even a piece breaking down E3 2000.
The one big thing that all of these Epinions pieces did for me was to land me my first “job” as a reviewer, submitting work for About’s video gaming subsite. of course, with the dot-com bust occurring at roughly the same time, that gig didn’t last long… but I soon after wound up latching on at SonyWeb (before Kikizo was born) and then submitted work for several other sites over the years, in between “real” jobs, a very difficult divorce, and other obstacles that always seemed to keep me from really dedicating myself to writing.
I look back fondly on all of my work. I remember having to complete ridiculous turnaround times for games like Metal Gear Solid 2 and God of War. I was fortunate enough to receive and review BUZZ! for the PlayStation 3 in advance of its retail release last year thanks to Jason at Games Are Evil and his contact with SCEA. It’s been a stellar experience for me, and if you’ve been looking at the linked reviews, you’ll (hopefully) notice that the quality of my work did improve as time went on.
Don’t get me wrong… I would love to write about the industry that I love and be able to make some sort of living doing it, but that’s not really the goal for me anymore. It was a dream, and I’m willing to accept that it’s not going to come true. I do think, though, that it may be foolish to give up altogether on writing… but what do I do now? Do I simply maintain this blog and see who visits? Do I attempt to put a portfolio together and see what positions are out there, if only to measure what (if any) response there is? Do I think about maybe writing a book? I just don’t know.
My goals are different now. I’d like to be able to continue honing my writing and at least become a recognizable name to some of the other people who I look up to and recognize. I’d like to be able to know that people read my work and enjoy with they read. Payment and monetary gain just isn’t my focus; I am fortunate enough to be able to make ends meet (albeit barely) by running karaoke shows four nights a week, and I love my job. I guess I look at my writing as a way of giving back to the industry that I love so much and has been synonymous with me since the late 1970s. If I can share my experience and knowledge and spark up some good conversation, then that is payment enough for me. It sounds silly, but that’s honestly how I feel. Just knowing that people keep clicking on my Epinions reviews or read this blog brings a huge smile to my face.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” crooned Semisonic’s Dan Wilson back in 1999. My humble beginnings back then have grown into experiences that are very special to me, but those were beginnings leading to a dream that’s no longer important. My new journey is just beginning, and I’m hoping that you’ll be following along for the ride.
For at least some of us out there in the video game blogosphere, there’s been this hope or dream that one day we’d get “seen” by a major publication or web portal and get a chance to write about what we love for a living. As the popularity of video games has steadily increased over the years, many writers saw that dream become a reality… and some of them were able to score jobs working for Electronic Gaming Monthly– a magazine that has been synonymous with gaming for over 20 years now. While there were some arguments about the quality (or quantity) of what we saw between the covers of each monthly edition of the magazine, writing for it or having your work published inside could still be considered an honor.
Yesterday, for those living that dream and for those who dared to dream… the dream died. Electronic Gaming Monthly abruptly met its rumored fate and was shuttered, while its companion web portal, 1UP, suffered huge staff cuts. 40 EGM and/or 1UP staffers lost their jobs. These cuts add to other job losses that we’ve already seen in the gaming press corps recently, including cuts at GameSpot in December. It’s become apparent that getting that dream job isn’t a dream anymore. The era of expansion is over, and we now have a large pool of experienced writers, producers, and other personnel that are looking for jobs that they quite possibly will never find in the same industry again.
I do feel for those people who lost their jobs. I’ve been laid off without any advance notice before. I was working as a Disc Jockey for a theme restaurant in 2004 and had been there for eight months. On a December Friday, I had decided to drop into work early to pick up my paycheck and begin preparing for what was to be a fun Friday night; we were having a promotion with a local rock radio station and were holding the finals of our Madden NFL 2005 tournament, and I was extremely excited. Upon parking my car and heading to the rear entrance of the restaurant, I saw the two day shift managers bawling. As I approached, one of them managed to stammer that the place had been shut down and that we couldn’t go in. It was true; the powers that be had ducked out on rent and taxes for the establishment and local law enforcement was stationed at each entrance, preventing entry. We had just worked there not 12 hours ago! Why now? What happened? Will ownership resolve this? Nope. We did receive our paychecks that day and were told to cash them immediately, and were then told that we all were without jobs.
I was shocked. I was angry. I was fearful for how my bills were going to be paid. I was desperate to find a new job, but gigs like that were (and still are) extremely rare… and my qualifications weren’t exactly ringing ones. I was able to file for unemployment, and received a letter of apology a couple of weeks later, but that really did little for my psyche. I work in an even better role now, literally singing for a living, but it’s far from perfect as bad weather or certain holidays can rob me of hundreds of dollars in a given month; just in December alone, I lost $400 of my monthly income due to holiday-related closings and reschedulings, leading to a late car payment and selling of my Nintendo DS just to keep food in my mouth.
It’s the same scenario here for those who were affected by yesterday’s events. Although it takes a lot more skill to do what these people did for a living (as opposed to talking on a microphone and press some buttons on a computer like I did), it was still a dream job. It’s not likely that all of these people will find work in similar situations again. If they manage to do so, it’s entirely possible that other publications and web portals will see similar fates to EGM’s as the economy continues to worsen. My sincere wish is that everyone is able to find some sort of job in the not-so-distant future and that they can weather this economic disasterbacle.
The video gaming press will continue to press on, in spite of these contractions. Perhaps well-known destinations like IGN, Game Informer, GameDaily, and others will be able to bring some of the displaced workers on board. Enthusiast sites are still continuing to grow and evolve, and perhaps a few of these will be able to step towards the forefront. There will still be many worthy gaming blogs whose authors will continue to turn out great material. When the economy does eventually begin its recovery back from the sorry state it’s in now, new sites and publications will pop up and reignite the dream for many aspiring writers.
As for me, the dreamer, I am fortunate enough to be able to continue to write about games without the pressure of relying on my writing to make my living. Sure, I don’t have deadlines and I really can’t afford to get the latest or greatest games to write 1,000 word reviews of, but I can continue to share my commentary and experience with no pressure. I’m driven by passion and my love for video gaming in general now, more than being buoyed by a dream that I could one day become the next Andy Eddy or Ed Semrad. I hope that people read my writing, and I’ll continue to write for as long and as often as I am able, but the dream ends here. Today.
While there aren’t any confirmations yet, it looks like Electronic Gaming Monthly’s days are numbered; in fact, according to John Davison, we could know by Wednesday morning.
It’s not a surprise to me that EGM is on the verge of folding. I know that some may not agree with my thinking on this, but I’m failing to see the relevance of print media versus the wide-open and immediate accessibility of online media in today’s marketplace. Yes, some print sources may score exclusives and many members of gaming’s print-based media corps still can turn in solid work… but I can’t help but to wonder what the purpose is.
Throughout the 1990s, EGM made up the core of gaming-based material that I read every month. My collection once spanned multiple bookshelves, dating back to the Sendai days of Semrad and Harris. EGM’s monthly (and sometimes more often, thanks to EGM2) appearance either in my mailbox or at local magazine racks was something I looked forward to with eager regularity. I can still remember taking trips during lunch breaks to a newsstand to pick up all of my monthly mags, such as EGM, GamePro, GameFan, and Video Games and Computer Entertainment, to name a few. EGM gave me information on new games and where I could spend my money. EGM supplied me with industry fodder to use in conversation with co-workers and friends to try and hook them on games like I was.
As the internet became more prevalent, however, print media needed to offer me more to make it worthwhile– such as when the Official U.S. PlayStation magazine came along and offered demo discs. I’ll admit that the disc hooked me, but I did read the material that the editorial staff worked so hard to produce. Still… the magazine’s info seemed somewhat dated in many instances as I had already seen a lot of the same source material covered online. I read the reviews to see what the writer’s stance was on a certain game, and there were occasional features that caught my eye, but without the disc to entice me, I never would have subscribed or spent money on the mag at retail.
Game Informer lives on, but I get it because I wanted the discount card. I wouldn’t read it otherwise; their inconsistency in writing and scoring reviews is maddening.
My sympathies go out to any of the editorial staff from EGM who may be joining other gaming press corps members who find themselves in the unemployment line currently. Times are tough all over, and there’s no sign of improvement on the horizon. I can only hope that things turn around soon and that new online portals open up, giving rise to new opportunities for those displaced by these recent layoffs and for those who still have the passion and drive to write about the industry that we all know and love so much.
I had a notion this morning of getting out of bed and taking a trip down to my local mall, much like I used to do in years past. My trips to the mall are painfully predictable, and yet extremely satisfying as I hit all of the video game-related storefronts: GameStop, Target, Sears (awesome clearance deals), FYE… and then, I’d wrap up the trip with a visit to the arcade.
Sure, the golden age of coin-ops passed by long ago, but there is something to be said for playing these games and getting lost in an arcade atmosphere as the ambient sound engulfs you. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much time I’ve spent in various arcades over the years, but coin-ops have always been a large part of my life. Camping trips were made more tolerable by a trip to the rec hall and some time in front of Mr. Do’s Castle or Galaga. Weekly visits with my grandmother always culminated with a visit to a mall arcade, where I played everything I could with my $5 in tokens… I still remember the first time I beat Dragon’s Lair and had a bunch of people watching behind me. As I grew older, arcades became an escape from the trials of young adult reality… I would spend evenings at the local mall arcade playing NFL Blitz or Top Skater to kill time until I was to meet some friends at karaoke.
As console gaming has grown in popularity, the need for and allure of local arcades has all but vanished. I was recently shocked to see that the same local mall arcade that I used to frequent for years recently closed its doors. Now, aside from a few coin-ops at local bowling alleys, the era of the arcade is nearly at an end. While it’s true that the spirit of these games lives on thanks to retro compilations (such as Namco Museum, Capcom Classics, Midway Arcade Treasures, and so on), playing the ROMs of these games just isn’t the same as standing in front of the original coin-op cabinets and pitting your skills against the machine or against a human opponent who you may (or may not) know.
Arcades had a great run, and I’ll always have stories and memories to share. I’ll hold onto my last token and keep it a symbol of what once was. It may have no cash value, but its sentimental value is priceless.