Review: Video Games: The Movie Is A Gushing Love Letter with Little Substance

Full disclosure: I backed the Kickstarter for this. Read on though and you’ll see how that’s clearly not affected my view of it.

When it comes to video game documentaries, I’ll watch pretty much whatever I can get my hands on. As a medium, it’s had little coverage in this form and as someone who takes as much an interest in where games come from as the games itself, I lap this stuff up. When Video Games: The Movie first announced its Kickstarter, I backed it at the level to get the movie at release without hesitation. I knew little about its creator but I just wanted to see more of this stuff get made and when it came out today, I dove right in. Unfortunately, it’s ultimately just a shallow, gushy love letter that preaches to the choir and little else.

It turns out Video Games: The Movie’s writer/producer/director Jeremy Snead, actually does video work for the industry itself, often in the form of trailers. This is evident when you watch the movie. It’s full of quick cuts, licensed musical backings and flashy motion graphics, where I surprisingly noticed more than a few glaring typos (geez guys, it’s spelled veteran, not veteren.) It also has no sense of pace, always feeling like it’s in a rush, spazzing back and forth between time periods and topics with no consistent flow. You can look away for a minute and come back to see it talking about something not at all related to what it was before. Despite clocking in at over 90 minutes, it still manages to skip all kinds of important industry history, including several of prominent game consoles and it all but entirely ignores the massive role personal computers played in the rise of the medium. It hits a lot of the key historical beats that most people already know about and doesn’t even acknowledge many others. As someone who already knows a lot of this history, I found myself dumbstruck by how much was omitted.

A number of industry veterans and fans of the medium are interviewed throughout, everyone from Nolan Bushnell to Wil Wheaton to Hideo Kojima to Chris Hardwick. There’s a couple of important historical figures but not as many as I’d like to have seen in a movie ostensibly about the industry’s past. I also have to say that including three people who were also listed as being Executive Producers (a reward for backing the project at the $10,000 level) felt a little weird to me. Especially David Perry and Cliff Blezsinski, both of whom got segments dedicated to pimping technologies they both have investments in (cloud gaming and VR respectively.) All of this is backed by narration from Sean Astin, whose delivery is so wooden that I honestly wouldn’t have known he was in it if his name wasn’t in the credits.

My big issues are with how the movie presents information and what it leaves out. As I said above, many important gaming systems and basically computers as a whole are excluded in all but a pass on a motion graphic timeline. In addition, several key elements of gaming’s history are either omitted or distilled down to the point of misrepresentation. A segment is devoted to the famous 1980s crash that all but killed the console business until Nintendo came around and revived it. Notice there that I said the console business. Computer gaming actually thrived after the crash but nowhere is this mentioned. The movie also blames Atari’s infamous E.T. game as what caused the crash, when in fact is was just the most prominent story of a crash that was already well in progress by that point. Later, a segment is jarringly shoved into the middle of the movie to deal with the subject of gaming violence and it’s demonising by politicians. Rather than show how this came about and how it’s since largely gone away, it just spends several minutes hammering on about how violent kids are a parental problem, not a gaming problem and how wrong everyone is to blame them. Guess what guys? We won that fight already! The US Supreme Court was with us and aside from an occasional tabloid story, violence in video games is no longer a mainstream cultural issue. This was a movie made largely in 2014, why are you still acting like we’re on the defensive?

Beyond that, Video Games: The Movie deals with almost no other criticisms of the gaming industry. It’s cultural impacts, social impacts, the problems of representation, the business challenges that have been building for more than a decade and are coming to a head right now, there’s no mention of any of these. Most of the information is presented in the form of either old trailers or commercials, many of which are clearly low quality pulls from YouTube and occasionally with an industry personality talking over them. Those are fine in moderation but it’s not really what I want to see the majority of a documentary consist of. Furthermore, this movie which is supposed to be about the medium, spends almost all its time focused on the AAA side of the business. Indie games get a short segment to tout the same usual lines about creative and corporate freedom, mobile games are left out entirely except for Angry Birds, the cultural revolution that is Minecraft only gets some B-roll and aside from a mention of Steam by Wil Wheaton, the resurgence of PC gaming is ignored. Don’t get me wrong, I love AAA games and am glad to see something these days that doesn’t just speak cynically of them but it also feels like Snead is kind of kissing up to the industry that provides his bread and butter when he’s not making documentaries about it.

Make no mistake, this is a love letter to the medium and the industry of video games but my question is, who was this actually made for? People who are existing fans of video games probably know a lot of what the movie talks about already. Preaching to the choir is fine and all but did you need a crowd funded documentary to tell people a stripped down version of what they already know and love? If you’re someone who doesn’t care about video games, I don’t see how this is going to change your mind about anything. If you’re hoping to get a history lesson, you’re better to spend a couple of hours on Wikipedia where you’ll actually get a complete story.

Video Games: The Movie is a documentary that uses a flashy presentation to cover up the fact that there’s little underneath. What information hasn’t been excluded has been boiled down and distilled to something that doesn’t do justice to the history it’s trying to convey. This is a movie made for people who are just going to nod their heads in agreement with it because they were already sold on its ideas before they even sat down. Documentaries are supposed to be more than that, they’re supposed to provoke independent thought and discussion and enlighten from those. All this does is just go “VIDEO GAMES AMIRITE GUYS?!” for over an hour and a half and honestly, I think we can do better than this.

Posted in Business, Coverage, Culture, Movies, Predictions, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Murdered: Soul Suspect Is A Lot of Soul In A Weird Vessel

NOTE: This review contains no spoilers.

The rise of achievements and trophies in games has given a pretty reliable way to tell when a game is either shovelware or was rushed out. Their design is almost always done at the end of development. If a project was rushed, they’ll often be for easily programmed triggers like completing story levels or grabbing all the collectibles. There will be little creativity or challenge involved, sometimes comically so. These are required for your game to ship on consoles though so they have to be done and you can see when they’ve been hastily created out of obligation. Such is very much the case with Murdered: Soul Suspect. This was a bummer for me as I was looking forward to this game but as I progressed through it, what I saw was something that was clearly rushed but also obviously had incredible ambitions and still ended up being something special to me somehow.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is an extremely flawed product to put it mildly but it’s also just super weird in many ways. Airtight Games is listed as the developer in most places. They had been around for a decade before going out of business right after this shipped, after stripping down to a skeleton crew to get it finished. They also had never released what I would consider a good game. They made Dark Void, another good idea with bad execution, Quantum Conundrum, a first-person puzzle game that tried way too hard to have personality and just came out boring, a couple of mobile titles and an perplexing Ouya exclusive that no one cared about. Surviving for a decade in spite of this track record is impressive on its own. However, when you check the credits of Murdered: Soul Suspect, you’ll see it listed as co-developed by Airtight and Square Enix Japan, with most of the project’s creative leads being Japanese. Co-development with console games is very rare now, co-development between a Japanese in-house team and an American external team basically never happens. There’s some narrative under the surface of this I hope we get to see some day. Was Square Enix unable to finish this themselves and just outsourced the rest? Was this Airtight’s idea that Square Enix decided to finish in-house as that studio slowly crumbled? Given Airtight’s past quality, was it their fault this clearly shipped before it was ready or like most new IP these days, did Square Enix just decide not to back it properly? There’s something fascinating there for industry observers like myself to chew on, I’m sure of it.

From the very beginning of Murdered: Soul Suspect, you can see signs of a rushed project. The game’s title screen is just a short, looping logo animation with no sound. The load times are abysmal for a dated looking Unreal Engine 3 game on a new console. The many CG cutscenes just look like heavily compressed captures of in-engine footage. Some of the flavour text from collectibles is very detailed, other stuff is only a sentence or two (more on that later.) I ran into numerous scripted events that wouldn’t trigger, requiring a checkpoint restart at best and a console reboot at worst.

And we haven’t even gotten to the game play yet.

At its heart, Murdered: Soul Suspect is trying to be an adventure game. Your character is a detective in Salem, Massachusetts who is a former hardened criminal who has reformed into a streetwise homicide detective. There is more backstory you can fill out in text from collectibles but to say that your character’s past isn’t well fleshed out is an understatement.

You start off being shoved out a window by a serial killer and dying as a result. You become a ghost, something you seem to adapt to and become pretty cool with jarringly fast and aim to solve your own murder while also catching the serial killer in the process. Since you’re a ghost, you can walk through walls within your current environment, to go into a new building requires an open door or window for reasons largely unexplained. You can also possess people to hear their thoughts, though they never have more than two which are always useless filler and many people in Salem are just mental carbon copies of each other. At certain story points, you can also influence a person’s thoughts and see key objects through their eyes. You also possess a cat once in a while for some dull platforming sections. Ghosts can possess cats and yes, that’s just something everyone knows and accepts from the get go in ghost world. You also get teleport capability and the means to remove certain, specific ghost walls that block your path sometimes because why not? Along the way, you cross paths with a young girl whose mother has gone missing. This girl is a Medium, a person with a special ability that lets her see, hear and interact with ghosts. What’s the reason for this? Look, stop asking questions and just roll with it OK? Through mutual need, you end up working together to solve this case, though your character ends up doing most of the heavy lifting.

The core game play of Murdered: Soul Suspect involves investigations and a ton of collecting stuff. You will enter an environment and proceed through some rudimentary challenges to reach your investigation point. If you’re by yourself, you’ll sometimes have to take out demons, which appear at set times in the story. These are forced stealth sections where you have to sneak up behind a demon and perform a one-step QTE to take them out. If they see you or you fail said QTE, you have to run away and hide until they get bored. It’s frustrating and has no real narrative justification. If you’re with your sidekick, you’ll often have to distract guards and cameras to guide her through the environment to where you need to go. These sequences are trivially easy and are clearly there to just pad out the game’s already short length.

Once you reach an investigation, you search for clues in the environment and choose from them to determine either the killer’s motives and/or what they’re going to do next to stay on their trail. The UI tells you how many clues there are to collect (plus you don’t always need them all), when you leave the zone where they are (which is always a small area) and if you try to solve the case early, it will even tell you if you’re missing the right clue. On top of this, you get three chances to screw up choosing the right clues, a mechanic that exists for no other reason than because someone said “There has to be a fail state here!” I’d love to tell you what happens when you use all your chances but the choices are usually so easy, I never actually failed more than twice. Some of the puzzles go so far as only having three options to choose from and since you still get three chances, you literally can’t fail. In some environments, there are also optional side investigations to provide peace to some troubled spirits but these work the same way and are even easier. All you really get for them is a small, unrelated side story and a trophy/achievement for each one. This game has almost Gone Home levels of formal elements at times and if you know what I thought of Gone Home, that’s not a compliment.

The other main element is collecting and boy howdy, there is a boatload of that to do. This is something that feels to me like it was always intended to be in the game but probably not to this degree. Throughout the environments, there are papers to pick up, plaques to look at and hidden object sets to reveal. All of these are clearly marked and many are in plain sight but a number are cleverly hidden away as well. They reveal back story about your character, other people in the story, the killer you’re pursuing and even the history of Salem. Some of this is interesting and better fleshes out the world and characters but some of it is very sparse, like there wasn’t time to finish writing it. They’re all optional but if you’re an obsessive collector, you’ll likely find the challenge of getting everything much lighter than some other collectible heavy games. Make no mistake though, like the demon stealth sections, this is just a weak padding device. Without this, the game could probably be finished in only a couple of hours. I collected about 85% of what was available and I still saw the credits in less than eight.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is an aggressively linear game but when you get out into the town of Salem itself, you can see it had ambitions of being much more. You’re actually free to wander around the town and I can see that they probably wanted this to be not necessarily a big open world but one where you could choose to go where you wanted and tackle the story in your own order. Indeed, the entrances to all the various environments you will eventually go to are open from the outset but trying to step into any but the one you’ve been directed to go to results in your character just turning around and saying “Not goin’ that way.” The town is sparsely populated with people who either just stand in place the whole game or are stiffly animated and walking the same looping route. You can’t enter any other buildings, there are no cars moving and much of the town is blocked by “ghost buildings” you can’t pass through. In the end, Salem just serves as another level to get collectibles in, a lot more since you’ll visit it several times. It’s more filler as the game shoves you down a pre-determined path. It’s clear this wasn’t the way the design was intended though and I would have loved to see this game stay in the oven long enough to become more free form.

That’s really the key take away of Murdered: Soul Suspect. This is a game that had lofty ambitions. That’s obvious when you play it. You can not only see that in a general sense but in many cases, you can specifically see what they wanted it to be. Yet for whatever reason, whether it was Square Enix being squeamish about a new IP, Airtight’s mediocre development history or something else, the project was stripped down to a small shell of what it could have been and shoved out the door to try to lose as little money as possible, rather than just cancelled. There was incredible potential here and the framework was in place, they just squandered it and burned not only this brand but the potential for larger budget, console adventure games in the process.

So I’ve spent many words dumping on this game but I also said it was something special to me. Despite the long list of problems, I really enjoyed my time with Murdered: Soul Suspect and though it’ll probably never happen, I’d love to see someone else take a kick at this can. The characters needed more fleshing out but in the moment, were often well realised. You empathised with their plight and what they were up against, a feeling I don’t often get in games. The voice acting was well done as was most of the core writing. The story is a murder mystery and it excels at that. My girlfriend and I recently watched the phenomenal British mystery series Broadchurch which kept us guessing about who the killer was right up until the end, when we found out we were both wrong. The same thing happened with Murdered: Soul Suspect. I had several ideas who the serial killer was and the conclusion was something I never saw coming, yet was fulfilling as well. It also neatly tied a bow on the tale without just being sequel setup. This is so exceedingly rare to see from big publishers now that it’s refreshing when it does happen. While the developers had to neglect major aspects of the game part of Murdered: Soul Suspect, they still managed to hang onto the story they were trying to tell and managed to make it compelling and worth seeing through, even if the path to get these was tedious and frustrating. That’s an impressive accomplishment unto itself if you ask me.

Had this been a $20 downloadable game or even a $30 retail product, I think it might have been considered better and sold much better. Yet Square Enix chose to make this a full-price retail release, essentially guaranteeing it no audience and extra harsh reviews. In the retail console space, absolute quality and polish are required to ensure your game sells. What did they expect to happen with this? Development troubles aside, their publishing strategy with this game was so mishandled that while it may never have succeeded, it could have failed less than it probably has. It likely wouldn’t have saved Airtight Games but at least it might have done well enough to get a second shot with a fresh team.

If you’re someone who thinks games should be about game play first and stories second (as I usually am), the flaws of Murdered: Soul Suspect will probably be too much to give it your time. Even as someone who was surprised by it, I think paying full price for this is a poor value. However, if you’re someone who does like a different, good story that’s not told in a cliché way and has deep characterisation, it’s something quite special and in rare cases, that’s enough for me to like a game in spite of itself. Heck, how many mystery games in general do we get these days?

The most frustrating types of games to see for me are not the bad ones, it’s the ones that clearly could have been great if they’d just been given the chance to be and Murdered: Soul Suspect is most certainly that. It’s a game that was made with heart and well, soul, it just didn’t have everything else it needed and that’s a shame. It’s something different and cool though and in a console space where that’s becoming more and more rare, it’s maybe worth experiencing just for that.

Posted in Reviews, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So That Was E3 2014 (With Video)

I’m going to talk about E3 on a wider scale here but if you want to hear a discussion about individual games, check out the latest RambleCast where, Chris Cessarano, Chris Woodward and I dig deep into the specifics of what we’re excited about.

So, another E3 is in the books, the first since we had the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One! There was a lot of cynicism of the usual flavour going into the show this year from the so-called “enthusiast” press. The usual “Is AAA doomed?”, “Are consoles doomed?” nonsense that always tends to crop up more around this time of year and which seems to at least partially be washed away by E3. The prophecy du jour last year was that E3 was irrelevant because we’d all be playing games on tablets exclusively in a few years. A lot of those people have gone mysteriously quiet on that now that the Xbox One and PS4 are selling better than their highly successful predecessors were at this point in their lives.

This year, there are still questions about E3’s relevance but of a different sort and one I can get on board with more. The question now is that whether or not a big, glitzy, press and trade only show is really necessary when it’s dead simple for even small companies to directly talk to their fans on their schedule now. Last year, Nintendo skipping out on their press conference and doing live streams was seen as yet another sign that they were doomed, despite having enough wealth to run their current losses for something like 40 years. They did the same thing again this year but Jeff Gerstmann pondered that Nintendo may be ahead of the curve, despite being a traditionally slow and conservative company.

Rather than spending millions on a full-blown press conference, they spent a fraction of that to put on these streams, largely pre-recorded to avoid any unfortunate live flubs and made them available so that anyone be they press, fans or industry people, can watch them whenever they want. They conveyed all the information and trailers they wanted to but in a more polished way and for cheap. People seemed to love it too because it continued throughout the whole show and also allowed for much longer demo sessions than a live conference would provide. I guarantee you that Sony, Microsoft and most of the big publishers were watching that and thinking similar things. Why spend so much more to come to a scheduled trade event where you’re jammed in with your competitors when you can control the message yourself to a more captive audience? For as much as I love the glitz and glamour of E3, I could totally get behind more focused events from industry participants themselves. With EA’s huge hot air show and multiple other large companies having huge, empty booths because they have no games to show, I wonder if we’ll see more of that soon. If we do, I dare say E3’s relevance is legitimately questionable then.

Overall, I’d say it was a good show but as is to be expected from certain elements, it was still looked down upon as something to be made fun of, along with the audience who are clearly just lining up in greater numbers to be good little marketing drones. It’s true that E3 is really just a marketing event but you know what? I like video games a lot and during E3, we get to see and hear about a whole lot of video games, including a decent selection of indie games now too. So, why is that suddenly a bad thing? It may be a marketing event but since I’m not an idiot, I know when I’m being marketed to and I don’t drink the Kool-Aid wholesale, I just take the information I’m given, figure out what games interest me and what I want to keep an eye on. I know a CG trailer when I see it, I know what’s legitimate game play and what isn’t and I know what games will have to show me more before they get my money. Any hardcore gamer with half a wit’s knowledge of how this industry works also knows that. You don’t have to like E3 or the AAA industry, but if all you can bring yourself to do during the week is make snarky comments about it and the audience that watches it (though you’re totally not doing that just because you say so), then maybe you should just keep quiet and consider how much you’re really serving your audience. I’m looking at you Idle Thumbs and Jim Sterling. I like E3, I like the kind of products they show there and the way they’re presented. If you think that’s something to be ashamed of, ride your high horse back to your echo chamber because I don’t have time for you.

What I also took away from this year’s show was a big shift in publisher priorities from last year. When I wrote about E3 2013, I talked about how two big things everyone was pushing last year were open world and second screen experiences. It seemed almost every major trailer you saw had the big zoom out reveal in the end where they showed how you were just one of thousands of people having an impact on the game world. This was often followed up by a demonstration of how you were going to be able to use your tablet or smartphone to interact with the game in some small way when you couldn’t be at your console because you must be playing the game every minute of every day! Whether hacking into other people’s games in Watch Dogs or flying the drone in a friend’s game of The Division, you were always going to have something you could to when on the train or the toilet.

This year, there was a whole lot less of both mentioned.

Several of those open world games have come out and some like The Crew and The Division are still coming but across the board, there were a lot more games focused back on being either single player or tight, small group multiplayer. I love me a good open world but I also love a focused single player experience or playing with just a small group of friends. A lot of the publishers seem to be focusing on those again and that’s great. As for the second screen stuff, I don’t want to say I told you so (OK, maybe a little) but so far, it appears I was right when I said that no one gives a crap about that stuff. Microsoft made no mention of SmartGlass, Sony made no mention of tablet integration (they didn’t even mention the excellent PlayStation app) and while Ubisoft acknowledged tablet play in The Division by showing it in the game’s UI, it was never uttered at anyone’s press conference or demonstrated live. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard a word about Watch Dogs’ second screen stuff since that game launched. Hardcore gamers don’t want a second-rate mobile hand-me-down experience, they want the full thing they paid for and casual players aren’t going to be lured into buying a console and $60 game because they flew a laggy drone around on their phone while commuting. It’s a dumb idea and it seems to have landed with a thud which is a great thing because there are far better things to be spending all that development money on.

This has also unfortunately been the Year of Delays. A lot of what people were excited to see at this year’s E3 was originally set to come this year and is now coming at some nebulous point in 2015. For me personally, I have such a backlog to get to that I really don’t mind. I’ll always take a delay to ensure a quality product in the end. But if you’re Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo, there’s definitely going to be worries about whether momentum can be maintained in hardware sales. The Wii U is hurting bad and needs software right now and there’s a lot coming but most of it isn’t this year. Nintendo plays the long game so they’re just doing what they do but it’s still a worry. To their credit, they could have thrown the Wii U under the bus and focused on the successful 3DS but they didn’t and they’re doubling down to make it a success. The PS4 and Xbox One have had spectacular launches, exceeding most people’s expectations but that will only continue so long without a lot of new software and the last thing they need is the press juicing up a new wave of cynicism if these machines aren’t flying off the shelves this holiday. There is still some big stuff coming this year and there are still many great reasons to own a new machine but will it be enough or will people just hold off until 2015? It’s tough to gauge. Sony and Nintendo both made me happy I own their systems and Microsoft has eventually sold me an Xbox One but in all cases, I would have been happy to wait until next year if I didn’t have them yet.

What I really enjoyed about this E3 versus most of the past ones is that all three of the hardware makers took out a lot of the fluff and ancillary crap from their presentations. With the exception of Sony’s big sag in the middle to talk about Powers and a few numbers (plus, monstrously high expectations after last year’s curb stomping of Microsoft), all three of the big shows were just game after game after game. No stats, no charts, no real business crap, just showing tons of stuff that’s coming to get people excited. That’s exactly what those events needed to be this year and they all nailed it.

It was also hugely refreshing to see the executives from these companies learn to act like bloody human beings who actually enjoy what they do and want to serve their customers. Phil Spencer from Microsoft and Shuhei Yoshida from Sony both went on Giant Bomb’s after hours streams, shows where everything is super casual, people are half in the bag and they just shoot the breeze about games. They weren’t super on message and PR handled, they were just rich business guys who love games, talking to gamers about games. Phil Spencer spent a lot of his time praising Nintendo and Shu Yoshida was the same lovable character he always is. Nintendo spent the front part of their presentation making fun of themselves, including having Fils-Aime and Iwata have a big Matix-style brawl, followed by Robot Chicken bits. Also, look at this photo of Shigeru Miyamoto showing Mario Maker to some young kids:

That is just damn amazing. These are multi-millionaire businessmen, they don’t need to do these things to be effective at their jobs but they did because they love gaming and gamers and wanted to show that. The business world at large can take away a valuable lesson from the game industry and E3: Act like a damn human being who loves their job and people will remember that. It costs nothing and brings so much.

Of course, it also wouldn’t be a week in video games without a new controversy and this time, we got it because there are no women characters in Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s co-op mode. This was another charge led by certain individuals and press outlets that are known for this (I’m not naming them, they don’t deserve the credit) and while there are valid points I agree with at the core, the target and escalation of the sentiment is ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, Ubisoft blundered their response to this spectacularly and made themselves look completely tone deaf and stupid. They did themselves no favours and their excuses deserve to be torn apart. There is also a very real problem with a lack of inclusiveness in video games and I’m not at all against there being more female and minority characters to choose from, especially in an industry with the insane budgets of modern AAA. More choices are always a good thing.

However, Ubisoft is also possibly one of the biggest champions of diversity in the AAA industry and of all the many valid things to point at as being examples of poor inclusiveness in video games, people chose the company that has an entire Assassin’s Creed game with a black woman hero protagonist (an instalment which I might add, few people bought, despite it being quite good) and an entire DLC campaign for an Assassin’s Creed game that was about a black man overthrowing slavery. Of all the places to go after for a lack of inclusiveness, to instantly declare war on and to throw language at like “hates women” (which a lot of people did), they picked the one that has done more for this very noteworthy cause than anyone else in this industry. I just don’t get it. Battlefield Hardline was right there, an entire series I don’t think has ever had a playable woman in it. Instead, they chose the series that has more diversity than almost any AAA series as an example of how it’s lacking. Hell, Ubisoft’s own co-op demo for The Division had a woman playable character in it, shown being played by a real person. It makes no sense to me. I wonder how many people who took up arms during E3 due to inequity in video games have been glued to the World Cup ever since. If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, this bit is rather pertinent.

I’m sure some people will cherry pick what I said above to justify calling me part of the problem. If you do, you’ll be wrong but do so if you want, I don’t care, I’m used to it. I don’t think in binary absolutes and doing so doesn’t help your cause, it just causes entrenchment and makes otherwise valid struggles that much more difficult to overcome for everyone. The wonderful Aisha Tyler (a hardcore gamer and three time host of the Ubisoft press conference) says it better than I ever could. If you don’t care what I say, you should care what she says.

As a whole, I saw a lot at this year’s E3 that I’m very excited about but a lot of it I’ll have to see more of before I put down my money. There was a lot of CG and scripted demos this year but in terms of juicing my interest to see more, there’s a lot for everyone to be happy about. Every year, Best Buy Canada and Future Shop hold a crazy E3 pre-order sale where if you pre-order three or more games, you get $20 off each. Every year, I pre-order anything I am vaguely interested in and then cancel what drops off my radar before it ships because cancelling individual games doesn’t lose you the discount so everything I do want I get at the six month price on day one. Hot tip there for next year if you live in Canada. This year, I pre-ordered twenty-three individual games, five more than I did last year and not everything I ordered last year has even come out yet. I probably won’t end up keeping them all but it just shows how much I saw that interested me.

Even if I only keep half those pre-orders, that a ton of incredible games coming and for someone like me whose main hobby is gaming, this is an incredibly exciting time. Everyone has their own tastes of course and maybe you saw more or less that interested you personally but if you’re into games, I defy you to not be interested in at least a couple of things on display at E3 this year. The AAA industry and indeed the games industry as a whole are still at an interesting crossroads, full of uncertainty and more than a little press-led fear. Even so, there are still companies, large and small, devoted to giving us a lot of awesome stuff and I think they’re delivering.

The onus is now on us to step up and support all the good stuff we want to see more of. People love to complain how safe the industry plays things and how there’s no innovation in games any more but you can’t say that on one hand and then just buy Call of Duty and Madden yet again with the other. If you want to have different experiences, you’ve got to open your wallet and support them, otherwise we will see more people playing it safe. The industry showed us some safe stuff to be sure but they showed a lot of new, potentially great things that are coming too. If they’re good, we have to show them. I will be, hopefully you will be too.

Also, on a sort of unrelated end note, I just wanted to give massive props to Giant Bomb for the incredible job they did with their coverage and live shows this year, sadly the first year without Ryan Davis. It was very entertaining and I learned a lot and enjoyed myself. After several months of being almost insufferably cynical, Jeff Gerstmann seemed to be really having a good time and loving hosting the live shows. I can’t remember the last time I saw him smile and laugh so much. It was really refreshing and I hope the show made him happy and has made him excited for the future. Great job guys, I still miss Ryan but I’m glad you’re all still here. You’re doing him proud.

Posted in Business, Coverage, Culture, Predictions, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All the Best to TotalBiscuit (With Video)

If you watch video game content on YouTube, chances are you know who TotalBiscuit is. He’s one of the biggest names on there and one who I’ve been watching since at least early 2013, if not earlier. I still don’t consume a ton of gaming video content but before discovering him, I watched basically nothing but Giant Bomb. Since then, he’s become a regular staple in my video rotation. I enjoy that he often differs from group think (not unlike myself), that he speaks honestly, he’s transparent with his audience about his business and often his life and that most of all, he puts real effort into the quality of the content he puts out, unlike so many other popular channels. Without a doubt, he’s among the top of his game.

If you follow him at all, you also probably know he’s kicked plenty of Internet hornets nests over the years. He is direct and honest with his community but sometimes that also involved poking (or perhaps more accurately, stabbing) trolls rather than ignoring them, something I’ve also talked about before. He’s since admitted to having some potentially deep seated issues that cause him to feel compelled to do that and he’s seeking help for that stuff. I can relate to a degree. Personally, I like people who can be straight up and honest and while I’m often not one to mince words myself (see the title of this blog), there is a line that he perhaps crossed more than he should have. I still believe his honestly and commitment to the long-term evolution of YouTube as a legitimate means to cover games far outweighed any of that though. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the impact he’s had on how video games are covered and discussed.

A while ago, TotalBiscuit revealed that a cancerous mass had been discovered in his rectum. In the VLOG, he is once again honest and talks about how he procrastinated getting a diagnosis and that while it ended up looking to be something easily removed, it probably would have gone much better had he just gone to a doctor right away. He used this to encourage his audience to not make the same mistake. Unfortunately, today is was revealed when he went in for surgery that in fact, it was worse than originally thought and he actually has full on cancer. He will need chemotherapy, though only the pill based form which is still no picnic but far better than it could have been, in addition to more surgery. He seemed to indicate that the prognosis is good overall but still, this is some heavy stuff he has to endure.

I don’t know if he’ll ever read this post or see the accompanying video (I doubt he will with the well wishes pouring out online right now) but I just wanted to take the opportunity to wish TotalBiscuit and his family all the best in this difficult time. As I’ve consumed more of his content and gotten to know more about him in the last couple of years, I’ve realised that I have the type of connection with him that I do with the crew from Giant Bomb. I don’t know TotalBiscuit, I’ve never met him and yet it makes me happy to see he has new content out and it brightens even dark days a little bit to see it there. It’s like comfort food for me. He makes a regular point of saying that he just makes content and we watch it, that he’s not our friends and we shouldn’t treat him as such. I get that completely and I don’t treat the crew from Giant Bomb that way either. Nonetheless, when you consume someone’s content and hear them openly talk about their lives as these people do, you do feel a connection to them in some way, even if it’s distant and tangential. It’s why when I hear of illness or even death in the life of some random Hollywood celebrity, I might go “Hunh, that’s too bad.” and just move on with my day but when Ryan Davis passed away, it hit me like a ton of bricks and sent me into a long depression relapse. You may not be their friend and you may know it but there’s still something that causes emotional reactions in you.

TotalBiscuit’s news of his diagnosis and a subsequent post he’s put up in which he discussed both his own behaviour and how he’s now seeing the disgusting bile spewed forth from some despicable Internet people who are making fun of this situation really struck a nerve with me. It’s showing how he’s evolving as a person as well a just a personality and it takes a lot of courage to continue to put his consciousness out there in a way that so many others don’t. It’s both noble and humbling that someone who will get attacked for anything he says is willing to still go so personal because though he rightly assumes he’s not his community’s friend, he does see it as important they know personal things about him.

It’s no exaggeration to say that a good part of the reason my YouTube channel exists is because of TotalBiscuit. I liked what he was making, knew enough about video to try to make my own stuff and thought it would be a fun challenge, intellectually, technically and in particular, in helping my overcome my social anxieties. I liked his format but didn’t just want to copy what he was doing so I thought taking my love of retro games and co-op to the format was a neat direction to go. I’ve been cranking out content for over a year now and though my channel still has so few viewers as to barely make it worth the effort (I’ve whined about that elsewhere), I continue to do it because it’s a great learning experience and it does indeed help a great deal with my anxieties. With every new video, I think I’m improving a little bit more and the quality of what TotalBiscuit does is the bar I aim for. I’m still miles away from said bar but his content keeps me motivated to hit it. Despite my channel’s minuscule size, I still love making stuff for it. The impact this has had on my life can’t be understated and he’s the reason it’s here.

I don’t know if you’ll ever read this TotalBiscuit–John–but if you do, I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus wishing you, Genna and the rest of your family all the best. You’re one stubborn son of a bitch and there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll kick this thing to the curb and come back stronger than ever. I’ll continue to happily watch whatever you make and your loyal community will be here for what comes after. People like you and the Giant Bomb crew have helped me through some very dark times in my life and your content has made some very bad days better. As my recent unemployment drags on, I can see more of those days ahead but knowing I have your stuff to look forward to helps them pass easier.

Best of luck sir, you are an inspiration to me and undoubtedly many others and though you don’t know me at all, you have helped me more than you know. Thank you for everything you do. Fuck cancer amirite?!

Posted in Coverage, Video Games, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why YouTube Buying Twitch Is Probably Not A Good Thing (Ironically With YouTube Video)

Well, the seemingly inevitable has likely happened. YouTube (i.e. Google) is reportedly about to buy Twitch for $1 billion. Yes, this is being reported as rumour and isn’t confirmed yet but come on, you know it’s happening, I know it’s happening. If it wasn’t, one of the companies involved would have denied it but they’re keeping tight-lipped. It’s happening.

I’m not surprised to see this at all. Twitch getting bought was inevitable. Short-sighted venture capitalists want their investments back with a profit and they want it now, plus I’m sure that much like YouTube when Google bought them, Twitch is burning through cash on bandwidth alone, despite their existing advertisers and partnership program. While YouTube’s bandwidth needs are no less than cosmic, Twitch’s are arguably worse because it requires a constant stream of high bandwidth to feed content into their system and then it needs that same amount of bandwidth multiplied by each user watching your stream and it needs it all at the same time whereas YouTube can spread it out as not everyone watches simultaneously. And that’s just the live stuff, we’re not even counting the additional bandwidth and storage needs for archived streams. Plus as we all know, the advertising market isn’t healthy and is made worse still by scumbags who use AdBlock.

My biggest concern is not that Twitch was bought but much like with Facebook buying Oculus, it’s who bought them.

The initial reaction I’ve seen by many people I follow is that this is a good thing because it will hopefully solve the constant lag and other reliability problems Twitch has had almost since the beginning. I agree that getting access to YouTube’s monolithic infrastructure can only improve things and I welcome that, though YouTube isn’t perfect when it comes to bandwidth either. Almost everything else I’m not so sure about.

YouTube has a lock when it comes to on demand, user created video online. There are other choices but YouTube’s where 95% of people go and if you want your video noticed, you have to have it there. Twitch is essentially the same in the streaming space. There is competition but these are de facto monopolies here. Now they’re joining forces and one company will control both of these spaces. Lack of competition is never good for consumers. Truth be told, I don’t think consumers will see as much direct impact from this as content creators but as someone who does create content on both services, I’m obviously concerned about that. Plus, let’s be realistic here folks. What affects us also affects you because it impacts what content we produce, how much of it and the quality of it.

Twitch’s service from a bandwidth perspective may improve and that’s definitely good but I’m not going to mince words here: The service in general from both of these companies for content creators (at least the majority of us who aren’t huge) is terrible. They have awful management platforms, they’re unreliable, they’re buggy, their support is awful (though you can at least occasionally get help from Twitch on Twitter, with YouTube you’re left on your own or to their useless forums) and they only promote what’s already popular, leaving newcomers largely screaming into the void. I don’t see how combining two companies who are bad at service into one will make the service any better.

In less general terms, I have a couple of specific worries with Google imposing itself onto Twitch. The first is the massive bugbear that haunts any gaming YouTuber and that’s copyright. If you follow gaming YouTubers at all, you know about the Content ID apocalypse that happened last year, when hundreds of channels had thousands of videos taken down or their monetization removed by an automated system enforcing claims for copyrights on either the footage, the audio or both. In almost all these cases, the videos were covered under Fair Use and in fewer but a still staggeringly large number of cases, the claims were either incorrect or outright fraudulent (i.e. made on behalf of people who didn’t actually own the rights to the content they claimed.) When this happened, many YouTubers lost their livelihoods because the burden of proof and appeal is always on the channel, not the claimant and even if it turns out a claim was a mistake or fraudulent, the YouTuber doesn’t get back the money they lost while under the weeks long appeal process. Hell, false claimants aren’t even punished or barred from making future claims. To a point, this problem has stabilised but it’s far from resolved

Google is spineless when it comes to copyright and the DMCA and doesn’t have a robust or efficient process for channel owners to deal with claims because they’re a de facto monopoly, they don’t have to. Yet, they just bought a company whose entire business model is built around copyright infringement. Twitch is a gaming only streaming service, you’re not allowed to broadcast anything else on it. Yet gaming video is the more hotly contentious sector on YouTube when it comes to copyright. How are they going to handle this? I don’t know, Google obviously has a small nation’s worth of lawyers who had to have discussed this before they put any cash on the table for Twitch but their track record on this issue is nothing less than horrendous, whereas Twitch is very liberal with it. Maybe it’s legally different when you’re live streaming and maybe that’s why Twitch hasn’t been sued out of business yet. Or maybe there’s a reckoning in the pipeline for them we haven’t heard about yet. No one knows but Twitch getting YouTube’s copyright policies put on it won’t be good for streamers.

The second is the very different way these two companies handle partnership with content creators (i.e. how content creators make money on the services.) Twitch has requirements that you have to meet to get a partnership but when you qualify, you can do so but only with Twitch itself. When you’re partnered, you get a piece of the revenue from ads that display on your channel. With YouTube, while you can partner with the service directly (as I am for the time being), a while ago, they allowed the creation of Multi-Channel Networks or MCNs. You may have heard of Polaris, Fullscreen, RPM, Machinima etc., these are MCNs. The original idea was to give collectives of YouTubers a means to organise as a group, sell their own ads and generate more revenue and opportunities for themselves and by extension, YouTube itself.

The problem is they left MCNs completely unregulated, allowing just about any idiot to create one or become a sub-network of another MCN or even a sub-network of a sub-network, essentially becoming a pyramid scheme at that point. This ended up flooding the market, with now hundreds of MCNs being created, many of which are either run by people with no idea what they’re doing or worse, are scammers who are taking advantage of naive (often young) YouTubers, taking a chunk of their money while providing little or nothing in return. There are a lot of good MCNs but there are a lot of shady ones too and their reckless and irresponsible behaviour is a big part of why last year’s Content ID crackdown happened and why only the big channels get carte blanche on that issue now.

I’m sure many of these MCNs are salivating at the opportunity to get involved in Twitch now as well. Is that really what we want? I’m not sure it is. I’m not convinced Twitch’s one-stop method of partnership is ideal either and I think giving content creators the ability to shop around is critical. But just folding the still largely unregulated and out of control MCN scene into what is basically the sole source of gaming live streams I don’t think is the best solution either. There has to be a happy medium and neither service has hit it yet but the MCN genie is not one easily put back in its bottle, especially when you see ones like Maker being sold to Disney for half a billion dollars.

As a content creator who is desperately trying to find some kind of audience, this deal just muddies the water further for me and others like my in my opinion. Taking two monopolies in their field and combining them into one even bigger monopoly only benefits the companies and their shareholders, no one else. There’s nothing in this that will make life better for YouTubers and live streamers, though there’s a lot of places things could get worse. I don’t see Twitch losing its brand and becoming just another tab on the YouTube home page but it’s definitely going to get a lot more integrated into Google’s hive mind.

If you’re someone who just consumes online video, you may think this is no big deal to you but make no mistake, what affects content creators absolutely affects you because it alters what we produce, how much we produce and how much effort we put into it. The bigger channels that get the red carpet and champagne rolled out for them already simply by virtue of being popular will continue on business as usual. The rest of us may do the same or we may be faced with getting squeezed even more, at a time when it’s already a Sisyphean struggle to get noticed, even when you make good content. Any way you slice it, we have less competition in online video now and less competition is only good for one group of people and it ain’t us. I really hope YouTube doesn’t screw this up but history doesn’t inspire hope. But hey, we’ll see, it’ll take a while before any changes take place.

Posted in Business, Live Stream, Video Games, YouTube | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Be A Good IT Person

This is a post I’ve been meaning to make for a very long time now. I’ve had the framework in my head for what feels like forever but I never actually sat down and put it to words. Being unemployed has given me even more time to ruminate on it.

Working in various forms of IT for as long as I have has given me a lot of time to think about the best ways to do my job and it’s also given me a lot of opportunities to see how peers approach it . It still amazes me that even though the IT field has existed on a large scale for quite a while now, so many people still get some of the most basic elements of it so wrong. Stuff that really shouldn’t be hard to understand seems to evade so many in this field. I thought it would be a good exercise to put down some knowledge I’ve taken from my now extensive experience that I think is critical for people to know who want to excel in IT and be both well regarded and satisfied. Many who do this job are often bitter and miserable and while we sometimes have cause to be, I don’t think it has to be that way and I think that a lot of it comes down to the individuals themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing IT people in the world, many of whom are better at this than I am and I’m not saying that the advice I put forth here should taken as bible truth by everyone. I do however, think there are fundamentals here that can be universally applied by all members of this field and most if not all of them are not adhered to often enough. These won’t solve all your problems as someone in IT but I think if you derive your own personal creed from some of these basics, you may find yourself satisfied and I dare I say, enjoying a career that many consider brutal and unfulfilling.

So what has almost 15 years of IT taught me?

1. You Are In the Customer Service Industry
IT is not a standalone career path and like most others, it’s derived from something else. Make no mistake, you may spend your day working with Information Technology but whether you’re a help desk rep or a person maintaining infrastructure, you work in customer service. You may not be working a returns counter in retail but your goal is first and foremost to serve your users (or customers) by providing them as reliable, easy and friendly a technology work environment as you can. Without your users, you have no purpose and neither does any of the stuff you work with.

You may be the one guy in charge of an entire company or you may be a person within a larger team with a narrow scope of responsibility that never involves interacting with a user. It doesn’t matter, your goal and ultimate scope are always customer service. You may be different than the guy working the returns counter in retail but at a core level, you both work in the same field. This should be the driving factor behind everything you do. IT people who either don’t believe this or don’t adhere to it are often the ones regarded as having a bad attitude. If your #1 goal of coming into work is not to provide the best customer service you can, you’re doing it wrong.

2. Your Users Are Not the Enemy
This is really a more general rule but I see a lot of IT people not following it. Do you get annoyed when you go somewhere to get service and it seems like the person is having a bad day and taking it out on you? You know what I mean, when you are there to conduct a transaction and the person treats you like you’re a burden and making their day worse. Don’t you hate that?

That’s exactly how you come across when you act dickish to one of your users. No matter what has happened in your day, be it work related or personal, you should never take it out on your users unless they give you a reason to (and yes, sometimes they can.) The user likely isn’t the reason the server crashed or you were denied an important budget item and they almost certainly aren’t the reason you had a fight with your spouse. Treating users like enemies rather than allies is the biggest single reason many IT departments and user bases don’t get along and often see each other as headaches and impedances.

Without your users, you don’t have a job and without you, they don’t have working technology. It’s a symbiotic relationship, not an adversarial one. Treat your users as enemies and they’ll do the same.

3. There Are No Stupid Questions
You’re super good at this stuff. Of course you are, you wouldn’t have the job otherwise. Thing is, your users likely aren’t super good at this stuff and many IT people often forget, that’s kind of the point. If they were as good with technology as you are, they wouldn’t have a need for you now would they? So don’t be a smarmy prat when someone asks a question that seems elementary to you.

I know computers like the back of my hand. I don’t know anything about fixing cars but I would be pretty annoyed if a mechanic acted like I should already know why my check engine light is on. So why should I roll my eyes and act like I’m talking to a five year old when someone asks me why their bookmarks bar in their browser is missing because they accidentally clicked the wrong thing?

You may be an expert in your field but chances are, you’re basically an ignoramus of 95% of other fields out there. Don’t treat people who didn’t choose to go into IT as though they’re stupid of below you intellectually. Truthfully, while you certainly have to have a good head on your shoulders to do this stuff, let’s not kid ourselves, we aren’t rocket scientists or brain surgeons.

4. Fight For Your Interests
Far too many companies in the world see IT as a burden and a black box. Our departments only cost money, they don’t make it (at least not directly) and the executives see money going into us and because they don’t understand what we do, we’re often first on the chopping block. One of the biggest problems I’ve seen in my career it IT managers and departments that don’t put up enough of a fight to get what they want and need.

IT is important, it’s mission critical in fact. A company can survive without almost any other department for at least a short time but no IT people means that if something breaks, they’re effectively crippled. We may not directly generate profits but make no mistake, a successful company without IT is no longer successful and we are instrumental in ensuring profit is made. It doesn’t matter if times are tough or not, you need to be good at explaining why IT needs what it asks for and you need to be willing to take the gloves off, get in the trenches and fight for those resources with everyone else.

If you’re denied stuff you need now, it will only make things much worse later on and you have to be willing to speak up and make that known. Cowering back and letting some clueless executive tell you what can wait is a failure on your part. It’s not easy taking a stand, even less so in companies dominated by type-A salespeople but ultimately, it’s what you have to do to provide the best customer service which as stated above, is the industry you’re in.

5. You Gotta’ Love It
I’ve worked with a lot of people in my time who got into IT when it was the hot, upcoming career path because they saw it as an easy way to make good money. They took a bunch of training, got the paper certifications they needed, punch in, punch out and make their money. That’s a lousy way go about any career.

If you don’t enjoy what you do, how can you do it well over the long term? If this is just a paycheque and not something that interests you, gets you fired up and that you don’t ever think about when you’re outside the office, how are you ever going to do the best job you can? You have to be engaged with what you’re doing. If you’re just going through the motions, you’re not giving the work the attention it deserves.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you just need a job and the argument that “You should do what you love and if you don’t love it, you should do something else.” is a simplistic, reductive and often unrealistic way to look at the job market. There are things I would probably love doing more than IT but in reality, they’re not likely to happen or at least, not to bring me the stability I need. That doesn’t mean I don’t love what I do though because I absolutely do. I love technology and I love discovering how to best use it to improve the lives of others. If you’re working in IT and can’t wait to get home every day so you can focus on anything else, you should probably find and pursue something that interests you more because just going through the motions ultimately serves no one well.

6. Always Be Learning
This is something I sadly neglected at my last employer because I got comfortable and spoiled there and getting laid off unexpectedly gave me a real wake up call. Like almost any other field, there are always new things to be learning about it and you will never be in a state where there’s nothing left to be enlightened with. Really, this should be obvious in the field of technology where things are always advancing at light speed. Yet many people (myself included) think they know all they need to and just sit still.

Even if it doesn’t look like your job needs more knowledge than you have, keep acquiring it anyway. Read articles, do online courses, run experiments, request training opportunities. Do as much learning as you can whenever you can. It may help make your current job better or it could open new and exciting doors for you going forward. Becoming complacent in the technology field is the worst thing you can do and stagnation is ultimately a death sentence for your long term advancement.

I learned this the hard way and now I’m struggling to regain lost ground. Don’t ever let this happen to you.

7, Be Inventive
One of the greatest things about modern technology is how it can be bent and shaped to serve our needs in ways we or perhaps, even its creators never thought of. Some things are more rigid than others but you’d be surprised how if you just colour outside the lines a bit, you can pull off some downright miraculous stuff that can save time, money or just make something more useful to you and your users.

Never be afraid to experiment or to push the envelope of something you have at your disposal. Just because the manual doesn’t talk about doing a particular thing doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, it just means the people who wrote the manual didn’t think of it. The IT people who advance farthest are often the ones who innovate and disrupt, coming up with new and different ways to solve problems that deviate from the norm. It shows a bigger depth of problem solving and critical thinking skills on your part and the one things I’ve learned is that the more you hone that skill, the more unforeseen opportunities will just seemingly appear in front of you because you know to look for what isn’t readily apparent.

So there we have it, some of my tips that I’ve gleaned from my years in IT about how to be better at it. Really, a lot of those rules can be applied to any number of different career paths but they have all served me well in my time and I think if more IT people followed them, this is a career path that would be better thought of. I’m sure there are many more things out there too and if you work in IT and have your own rules and creed, I’d love to hear about them!

IT can be a great and rewarding career but it’s too often thought of as something you do for a few years until you can advance out of it or until you figure out what you really want to do with your life. It doesn’t have to be this way and it’s something you can do for a long time and love doing on top of that if you just look at it a certain way and spread that enthusiasm to those you surround yourself with and serve. Sure, I’ve thought about changing direction before and I may still some day but right now, I’m still looking for an IT job to replace the one I lost. Not just because I’m damn good at it but because I want to keep doing this. This can be something you love doing, just look inwards and find what calls you to it. If nothing does, that’s OK too but you should think about what can make you happier in that case.

We can be heroes but it’s ultimately down to us. Make yourself a hero!

Posted in Business, Personal, Technology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

UPDATED: Watch Me Beat Daikatana Live This Saturday, May 10th @ 9:00am EST!

UPDATE: The event has now been moved back a day to Saturday, May 10th instead of Sunday, May 11th. We were supposed to do our Mother’s Day stuff on Saturday originally but scheduling changed. Hopefully this will get a few more viewers. :)

Hey, remember when I did Extra Life last year and made a stretch goal to play through the horrendous Daikatana in a single session as a stretch goal? Ahh, good times. Well, if you’ve been keeping track, you may remember that I haven’t done it yet. Life’s been all kinds of ridiculous the last few months and that’s a big part of why I haven’t done it yet but honestly, I’ve just been poorly organised too and there’s no real good excuse for waiting this long.

Well, no more excuses! I will live stream my playthrough of Daikatana on my Twitch channel this upcoming Sunday, May 11th, starting at 9:00am Eastern Standard Time!

I’ve got a newly reloaded, jank-free PC and I’ve got GOG’s version of Daikatana all setup and ready to roll. According to, it will likely take me 12 hours to get through the game (though there’s only two entries so who knows really) so it’s going to be a long day of watching me suffer through what is widely considered to be one of the worst video games ever made. In other words, it should be a hoot so some hang out and chat with me throughout the day! I’ll have the Twitch chat open as well as Skype so we can shoot the breeze while I suffer.

In addition to that, the Extra Life 2014 campaign is already under way and I’m all registered up so if you’ve got a few bucks and want to kick in to this year’s campaign early, feel free to do so over on my campaign page. There’s not a lot of content there yet as I haven’t figured out what my targets or stretch goals are for this year but rest assured, there will be some and any contributions you make now will count towards those.

I hope to see you on Twitch next Sunday and once again, thank you all for your generous contributions to this great cause last year. I hope my 2014 campaign can be a roaring success once again. I love doing this and I love the cause it supports and none of it would be possible without you all. Thanks again, see you Sunday!

Posted in Video Games, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment