PieHaus Digest – Pro Daisy 2002

Forget all the modern gaming crap for a moment and let me offer a slice of my life leading up to the Casual Gamer I am today.

Let’s go back, umm 13 years, when times were simpler, and gaming was getting interesting and taking a turn for the worst at the same time (bloating budgets, wannabe movies, dumb-downed gameplay, with a corrupt and/or unskilled gaming press shoving it all down your throat; you saw what happened). OK, off-topic, I mean… just trying to say this is an informal snapshot of life surrounding that hobby; a new feature about old stuff. Continue reading “PieHaus Digest – Pro Daisy 2002”

Hey U – Give Me Real Controls

The Wii Remote & Nunchuk was last generation’s innovation in violence – still strong today, still better than the competition. This was the method of controlling the last true console Resident Evil experience the world would know: The Umbrella Chronicles.

For the previous console cycle, there’s a seldom-stated lesson Capcom briefly learned (see RE4:Wii) then immediately forgot (see their “HD” games): if you’re pretending to KILL in a video game, do it properly. It’s just a shame we don’t have to pretend anymore: modern games, such as Capcom’s premiere action series, have gotten so smart that they play themselves (step aside Super Guide). The games don’t hesitate to handle much of the excitement on their own, and work hard to convince us that quick-button-context-flashback-retrospection-cutscene was an artistic achievement (“Best QTE of 2012,” is there such a thing?). Opponents of violent gaming love to point out how video games “teach kids how to kill”, but I know that’s rubbish cuz most games suck at that, especially as more games suck at being games. It’s supposed to be like watching a movie, right? Why not an effing GAME? Thru these last couple generations of analog masturbation, popular shooters have more or less surpassed “REALISTIC EVERYTHING” – nevermind the gameplay. And in a (not really) fun twist, “more realism” cheerfully graduated to “more Hollywood”; new gameplay became movies that look like gameplay. “Wow, it’s like playing a game,” – thanks, my confidence in the new generation is at an all-time high.

Before proceeding, I want to be clear that the major ideas in the blocks of text below don’t necessarily apply to every genre or gameplay mechanic. Many of our favorites are derived from things like tennis, team sports, board games, gambling, mazes, vehicles, boxing puppets, and Donkey Kong – there’s no reason to mess with certain core elements. However, TANGIBLE VIRTUAL VIOLENCE has a raw, engrossing quality that the majority of the Industry has not been interested in embracing for some time; fluid human movements seek the spillage of human fluid, yet they insist gamers don’t like movement and just seek Mountain Dew. Trapped in the game industry’s electronic erection contest, the prestigious computing “arms race”, we continue enduring their fake war: fake gameplay and fake value. Cash and companies continue to perish in the high-priced struggle to show violence; rarely do we see genuine imagination towards playing violence. It doesn’t have to be this way; we can still search for decency. Aim off-screen and raise your real arms to rediscover what’s in front of you: the gameplay in your hands.

/wii joke

Continue reading “Hey U – Give Me Real Controls”

What Is Casual?

Casual, hardcore, non-gamer, casual-gamer. What do all these mean? What language am I speaking? If you’ve read any “insightful” feature articles on videogames in the past 5 years, you’ll know these terms pretty well. Let’s start with where these popular phrases originated, and how these words became “categories”.

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Bejeweled 2+Blitz

Imagine a game that took pity on you. The game knew you were down on your luck, you didn’t really know what you were doing. That things weren’t working out with your new girlfriend and you felt you couldn’t relate to friends anymore and your self esteem was at an all time low. A game that would let you sleep with her win. After the mild exhileration you felt worse afterwards. Bejeweled 2+Blitz is such game.

Bejeweled
Bejeweled makes a big fuss out of the most minor of achievements in an attempt to improve your sense of self worth.

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King of the Jungle

It’s 2 am.

We just held a party at this house. Pre-drinks included some sort of Wii Fit Plus championship. It was Ok. Obviously I didn’t take part because Wii Fit Plus is an uncool, casual, kiddy extravaganza, and any fun the party guests were having was just hollow, fake fun, compared to the hardcore gaming experiences they could be having. Their laughter, hollow, fake laughter. Obviously such shallow gameplay couldn’t hold them so we had to walk to the pub to continue the night. We arrived at the pub and they said they were closing, the bottleshop was still open so we bought a couple more cartons and walked home, knowing only the despair of Wuhu Island awaited us.

Upon returning, the unwashed masses returned to their Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus, gleaming whatever hollow enjoyment they could out of the household’s two Wii boxes; the second Wii, purchased by my casual gaming housemate, symbolising the kind of callous opulence Australians lived in during the naive days of Emperor Rudd and his economic stimulus packages. The other hardcore gamers and I discussed hardcore subjects like international communism, capitalist-anachronism, and the scourge of democracy in holding back this society from ideological purity. But as the beer and goon ran dry, so too did the crowd thin out, the short lived thrills of Wii Basketball running thin. Desperate for companionship, and the cheeseburgers retrieved from the mainstream, 24 hour Mcdonalds, the hardcore gamers and I went back to the living room.

“What silly game are the bongo drums for?” asked the most beautiful girl in attendance. I glanced over at the gimmicky, novelty plastic drums and fished out the game so desperately attached to them, so obviously strangled at the design stage and shoehorned with ridiculous sound based controls.

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

There are so many ways you could demean this game.

Continue reading “King of the Jungle”