MonthJune 2012

Eternal Adolescence

There is a lot of worthless reality television. I popped my head from behind my iPad this evening to see two people at the dentist. This was not a storyline. There wasn’t anything funny going on. They were just sitting at the dentist about to get dental work done. Seriously.

This is what passes for television? I enjoyed watching television from the 90s with a storyline. I have enjoyed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (after I made it through all The Next Generation). I have started watching Stargate SG-1 again in addition to various other movies Netflix has to offer.

Kyle Baxter wrote a great piece tonight, The Eternal Adolescence of Beavis and Butt-Head.

Beavis and Butthead—once the epitome of idiotic, crude humor—both seem smarter in comparison to these reality TV show characters, and the show itself does, too.

I watched the show back during the original run periodically and it was very dumb. It very funny. Now, it doesn’t seem to stupid. At least the show had a point, a plot, and an attempted to tell a story.

I think it’s very telling how the quality of television has dropped to the level where these adolescents seem smarter by comparison.

Beavis and Butthead once reveled in being the lowest of the low for television, using it for laughs, but also using it for satire. Now it no longer is. Perhaps that should give us pause about the kind of culture our generation is watching and, therefore, supporting.

I remember being a boy and wanting to be like a professional basketball player. I wanted to be a zookeeper. I wanted to work with animals or for National Geographic. Not to say I had the best role models, but they were not celebrities who reveled in being ignorant drunkards.

Freedom is killing you

Julien Smith’s post Give in to the machine gets to the heart of a problem I’ve always had when I had too much free, unstructured time.

Freedom is killing you. This is the problem most of us with day jobs have too. We’re so used to being told what to do during the day that we never let our own internal machine develop.

Think about it: Would you even have graduated high school if you weren’t forced to be there?

Would I have followed through and finished high school? My gut reaction is to declare, but of course! It’s what you do to get a job and move up in life. But honestly, I’m not sure if that’s really the case for me. I don’t know if I would have stuck with it if I didn’t have to. I had other desires and ambitions.

I wanted to write and I was fascinated with print design and the fledgling web design industry. I had a lot of interests that didn’t seem to coincide with what school was trying to cram into my head.

After I graduated high school and went on to and college my free time grew immensely. With that new-found free time I didn’t apply it to my studies. I didn’t apply it to any great craft. I didn’t apply it to much of anything. I slept some. I drank gallons of Mountain Dew in a vain attempt to feed my creativity and to learn as much as I could about the world and specifically web design as I thought I could.

I took classes, I did ok in them but I never excelled like I had in high school. All my life I had been told to work to my potential and push myself because I was smarter than that. Then, when I was in college, all that exterior prodding goes away. Sure, I didn’t fail out of school and I knew enough to keep my grades up fairly well but the fire was gone.

The motivation was gone. I had worked and worked hard to get into college which was supposed to be a challenged and I wasn’t challenged. I drifted through and for the first few years of my life out of school I didn’t have a fire underneath me.

I worked hard at whatever job I happened to be doing but the fire and drive wasn’t there. I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I had to motivate myself, I had forgotten how to be self-motivated.

I don’t mean that in the “are you a self-starter” job interview question kind of way. I always worked hard at my jobs. Often times too hard for what I was getting in return in either money or respect. But I continued to work hard because that’s what I knew would eventually lead to better opportunities.

A couple of times since graduating college I’ve tried to in a freelance capacity. I’ve tried to work as a web and print designer and that dream ended with a parade of poor choices.1 I’ve tried to work in tech support as a remote worker and there wasn’t enough structure for me. I entertain the idea of becoming a freelance writer, technical or otherwise. But every time when I really think about it and get down to it, I prefer to work in a structured environment.

I like the security of money and time off. I like the security of having a consistent income and having the freedom, albeit comparatively limited, to do what I want to do with my life when I am not at work.

There is a trade-off with freedom. Sometimes too much can be just as bad as too little. When there is too much freedom, I lack the discipline to make it work in my favor because it was always a should and not a must.

  1. Hindsight is always 20/20. 

Give me co-op or give me death

I am having a really hard time getting excited for any of the new games coming out. They’re all sequels or far deeper into the series. Borderlands 2 is coming out again. This time with new characters and more guns!

I can hardly get excited over more piles of useless guns laying strewn around after every battle or random enemy encounter. They’re littering the world like so many worms on sidewalks after a rain storm.

There is a new Gears of War game being teased for E3. I played the first one for an afternoon for a couple of hours intneding to go back and finish it. But I never did and never have touched any of the sequels since.

I am sure the games are getting tweaks and changes but the play style doesn’t speak to me so I don’t enjoy it. Like the time I rented the Chronicles of Riddick:Assault on Dark Athena
and Hitman: Blood Money
from Gamefly and then realized I cannot play stealth games.

I am the barbarian. I crash into a room wielding axes or with guns blazing with no thought of myself or others. I am not sneaky. I am not stealthy. I won’t wait for my opening to make a kill. I will barrel into the room and overwhelm with force. This is not what those games were built for and I die, a lot.

There is another Halo 4
game being released. I will buy it. I will play it. But I will do this more because most everyone I know on Xbox Live will be playing it too, as well as half the Xbox-owning world at least until the Next Big Thing comes out. I enjoy the series well enough but it’s changing hands with this release so there are going to be some growing pains and changes I won’t like.

We’ll see when it hits shelves and people get their hands on it how it is received and how the new company take the reins on a beloved series that has a rich history behind it.

Speaking of trading games, the Call of Duty
franchise annoys me because they’re split it between two game developers. This means two things.

  • Two totally different versions of the game every other year.
  • A new game Every. Single. Year.

This seems excessive. There doesn’t need to be a new version of the same thing every single year. And the continuous ignoring of cooperative game play rubs me the wrong way. I fault the Battlefield
series for this as well.

There is almost always more than one person on your side on the screen in the war at any time in the game. There is usually a squad of 4 or more. Why can’t at least one if not 3 or more of my friends be those other players? Why must I be stuck with useless AI drones who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn instead of real human beings who can aim and shoot and talk to me? I just don’t understand.

I’ve heard the excuse of it “ruining the story” which is a cop-out. The story is kill those Nazis/Arabs/Zombies/Aliens because this is World War II/Desert Storm/The Future. I don’t buy it. If you don’t want to do co-op because it’s hard or because you don’t care enough about it or if it would be technically challenging that’s fine. But don’t claim it would ruin your story when the story is point and shoot.

It may not be all the games that are coming out that don’t entice me. It could be me tastes and where I decide to spend my time are changing. I bought Serious Sam 3
which is a series I love more than any other and I haven’t touched it. Maybe because it’s on the computer and not the console. I don’t know. I need to make time for that game in my life because it’s mindless fun and great with friends.

I have played entirely through and enjoyed Saints Row: The Third. The Saints Row series is what Grand Theft Auto
would be if it had a sense of humor. The situations and weapons just get weirder and funnier. The story line gets crazier and more outlandish and it’s just fun.

The game doesn’t take itself seriously. I mean there’s a giant dildo bat, an octopus-shooting rocket launcher and a fart-in-a-jar grenade. Do I need to explain further?

The big thing that draws me to games today is the co-op. I love to play cooperatively. Part of it is because I like talking to someone while I play and the other part is that it’s more fun for me to play through things with friends and not alone.

Saints Row: The Third has co-op through the entire campaign. This is why it has earned a lot of hours in my Xbox. The multi-player and co-op in
always earn it high marks for reply value and fun. The firefight missions allow co-op play with at least three friends and the campaigns are the same.

I’d rather go into battle with a good friend at my side and not a pre-programmed AI player any day. I will live longer and have more fun too.

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