Posts tagged ‘gaming’

October 29, 2009

Getting my spook on: an epic fail


Normally I love the Halloween season. Yes, season. I have at least three large storage containers stuffed with rubber bats, glow in the dark skeletons and other creepy 3-dimensional objects that only see the light of day for a few weeks each year.

I could blame my apathy this year on pumpkin spice deficiency since giving up flour and sugar (mostly), I could let the economy take the rap, or lean on the overused “too busy” excuse, nevertheless it’s two days before the kiddies come knockin’ and for the first time in more than a decade, I have failed at Halloween–at least in the real world or what us online gamer’s refer to as “IRL” (in real life).

World of Warcraft’s annual “Hallow’s End” celebration is in full swing and after numerous attempts I landed the Horseman’s Baleful Blade, a sweet, epic sword that I needed desperately since turning prot sans a decent 1-h weapon. Blizzard does an amazing job with Hallow’s End and I guess to some extent it does satisfy my appetite for the visual side of all things spooky, plus I get to put on a costume and pretend I’m eating candy–virtually. No mess, no calories, no expense.

On Sunday, I made a half-hearted attempt to embrace the macabre (aside from the weird goings on I’ve experienced of late in my home) by taking my son to see Paranormal Activity followed by a visit to the Halloween Store at the mall (which was a blast!) and then the pumpkin patch. He’s a bit past the pumpkin patch stage of life, but luckily he’s not opposed to waxing nostalgic for his mom.

The movie was great. Stark, simple, believable . . . that is until the very end when the film maker resorted to a cinematic cliche for final effect. Were it that he was paying homage, it might be forgivable, actually it’s forgivable anyway for the sheer entertainment value of the previous 90 minutes and the creeps I had at 2 a.m. for the next two nights.

On to the pumpkin patch. Hadn’t been to this particular one in many years, but wanted the real thing, so I braved the crowds and the shrieking toddlers for a chance to get my shoes dusty and my paws on the perfect one or two pumpkins. After much deliberation and finally submitting to the dreaded wheelbarrow, we opted for two big ones: a dark, bumpy, ugly, sinister pumpkin and one fat classic orange one. Excited to go home, decorate the house and attack our squash, we got in line with the rest of the suckers paying $15 + per pumpkin only to discover it was a cash-only transaction. Of course, I had none and we walked away empty-handed.

On the way home we began calculating the patch’s gross profits based on how many people were there, what the hourly turnover might be and what the average person seemed to be spending. Aiming low and keeping all these things in mind, we estimated that the pumpkin patch is generating close to $10k per day. And they can’t afford to splurge for a credit card machine?

I’m not the only one who failed at Halloween this year. Seaside Haunt is gone and the folks at the Ventura Theater, for the first time in a long time, were unable to create their annual haunted house at their home on the Avenue, because they’re too busy preparing for the Rey Fresco Halloween bash. Sigh. And, the annual appearance of the potato bug inside our home, an event which for us signals the beginning of the holiday season, has yet to happen. Hmmm… maybe that’s my answer.

June 18, 2009

Parental responsibility and the power of media

The other night at the video store I overheard a conversation between a mother and her son. The boy was somewhere between 4-6 years old.

Boy: Mommy, look there’s Scream! Can we get it?

Mother: No, I don’t think so, we watched it 6 times last week. Let’s find something else.

A few minutes later, she approached the clerk and asked, “Can you help me find Nightmare on Elm Street?”

Call me a helicopter mom (btw: I don’t care if you do) but I only recently became semi-comfortable with my son seeing gratuitous violence in movies and TV. He’s 14.

It’s interesting to me that discussions about violent or disturbed behavior in kids almost never point to movies as a negative influence, but time and time again video games are made the scapegoat.

A 17-year-old boy charged with murdering his mother and attempting to murder his father when they forbade him from playing Halo3, was recently sentenced to life in prison (trying kids as adults… a discussion for another day). The boy claimed that, because animated characters in video games don’t die forever, but respawn after they are killed, he believed his parents were also immortal. During sentencing, the judge actually placed some of the blame on gaming:

“This Court’s opinion is that we don’t know enough about these video games… It’s my firm belief that after a while the same physiological responses occur that occur in the ingestion of some drugs. And I believe that an addiction to these games can do the same thing… The other dangerous thing about these games, in my opinion, is that when these changes occur, they occur in an environment that is delusional. Because you can shoot these aliens, and they’re there again the next day. You have to shoot them again. And I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea, at the time he hatched this plot, that if he killed his parents, they would be dead forever.”

Let’s pretend for a moment that the judge is not completely out of touch. Life 101=we die! The parent’s felt they were doing the right thing by taking away the boy’s video game, but they were clearly disconnected from the true underlying problems he was dealing with.

The common denominator in both these scenarios, besides media, is parental irresponsibility. What kid by the age of 17 doesn’t know that people die? Further, by that age, the difference between right and wrong should be well established in a person’s psyche. At the same time, I’d like to hear one good justification for allowing the images of murder, torture etc. in slasher films to enter the consciousness of young children.

I’m not saying violent movies make violent kids. I’m not saying violent video games do either. What I’m exploring is the possibility that psychological/behavioral disturbances are created, at least in part, by the stupidity and obliviousness of distracted, ill-informed parents who fail to protect their kids through responsible censorship of their entertainment media.

June 11, 2009

An overdue welcome


It’s been many moons since Chris O’Neal joined our stable of freelancers with his gaming column “The Gamer’s Notebook.”

Last week, Chris attended the E3 convention in Los Angeles and gave VCReporter readers lots of tasty video game previews to nibble on as gaming advances to levels unimagined only a few years ago.

Take a few minutes to read his story, look at the pictures and drop him a line. We’re the better for having him on the team.

November 10, 2008

4 days

Gamers rejoice! It’s only 4 more days until Blizzard releases WofLK making level 80 the new level 70 on World of Warcraft. Expansions have a way of leveling the playing field as we all become noobs at least for a little while. If you play, then you know that Blizzard has slowly been incorporating the new content via patches. The only thing we’re really waiting on is the continent Northrend, quests to 80 and much anticipated new class: Death Knight. Every day someone asks me if I plan to roll one, but I haven’t decided. It’s gonna be time consuming enough to level up my warrior from 70 to 80 and my priest, who’s only 61. Nevertheless, I am excited. Two new arenas were revealed this weekend and they make the old content look amateurish in comparison. The big questions for me are: Who in Ventura will have the expansion for sale on Thursday (Gamestop?) and will my computer be able to handle what is purported to be quite the memory gobbler.

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