Monday, February 28, 2011

Link Extravaganza!

Nintendo 3DS launch title list has been released. Pilotwings is definitely the best game on that list.

Stereotypical gay characters advertise in Japan for Final Fantasy. Bonus: The comments all talk about how much of a better villain Kefka was over Sephiroth.

In honor of Zelda's 25th anniversary last week: 25 Things You Didn't Know about Zelda.

In case you haven't seen this by now: New Skyrim trailer is out.

Obama won't be defending DOMA anymore.

Also, Hawaii has civil unions now.

The best part about the prank phone call on Scott Walker, was how readily he disclosed information to the 'fake' Koch brother without them even asking.

Indiana deputy AG fired after he tweets that the police should be using live ammunition on the protesters in Wisconsin. Lulz.

California wants to collect sales tax on Medical Marijuana.

New study helps reveal how Earth got its breathable atmosphere.

Walking Cactus discovered in China (unfortunately, its not what you think it is).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Retro Review: Final Fantasy VI

Our generation is highly nostalgic. We have a tendency to place on a pedestal anything we remember fondly from our childhoods. How many early 90s R&B dance parties did we have at Canfield? Too many probably. This holds true for games as well. We often look back and think to ourselves that every game we've played as a child was the shit. The fact is, most of the games we played as a child were probably garbage, and when we play through them in our adult life we look at them through a rose tinted lens. So today, I'm going to take my favorite game of all time, Final Fantasy VI, and review it without taking into account all of the nostalgia surrounding it.

The Story: Final Fantasy VI's story line is a classic Star Wars ripoff. There is an evil empire trying to harness power for world domination and you are part of a small rebellious group trying to stop it. The protagonist is just like Luke Skywalker, in that she has some innate power which she don't know how to fully use. Lets face it, the story is a bit bland and has been done many many times before. So why does everyone always praise the game's storyline? Because the bad guys actually succeed in blowing up the world, which is undoubtedly awesome. But the main storyline basically disappears halfway through the game. In the World of Ruin, why aren't the Returners around to help stop Kefka? Where is Bannon and Arvis? They are never mentioned once after the world is destroyed. I realize that in the World of Ruin, the game shifts to become more character storyline based than anything, but it practically makes all of the events which happen in the World of Balance irrelevant.

The Characters: The character development is Final Fantasy VI is superb and I can't think of another game which outclasses Final Fantasy VI in this category. We all know how awesome Kefka, Locke, Celes, Ultros, Edgar, and the rest of the characters are, so I'm not going to go in depth about them. I do however want to point out, that lots of people credit Final Fantasy 7 for the introduction of the whiny protagonist which has been a reoccurring theme through the Final Fantasy series. This is not true though, as Terra is just as whiny and emo as Cloud and Squall are. Seriously, all she does in the WoB is cry. Part of the reason the game starts out so slowly is because half of the beginning scenes consist of Terra QQing and its annoying. Also, it would've been nice to have some more development of Relm, Strago, and Gau (Mog, Umaro, and Gogo don't count as they are technically secret characters).

Still one of the best scenes in Video Game history

Gameplay: The battle system was pretty standard for RPGs in that era, so I really have nothing to say about it. The dungeons were never too long or confusing (except the Tower of Magi ... fuck that place), and the weapon system was also adequate. The random encounter rate was a bit too high, which can be frustrating sometimes. My biggest problem with the gameplay comes from the Esper system. Now, don't get me wrong, the Esper system is one of the better magic systems out of the Final Fantasies, however it definitely had its problems. The biggest problem with it is that it strips the individuality out of the characters by the end of the game. It didn't really matter who you had on the team or how good their equipment was when all characters can just spam Ultima all day. Each character's individual skills (like Tools or Throw) are basically useless in the WoR since magic is just leagues better than anything else in the game.

I played a mod one time, which changed the Esper system slightly and it made the gameplay really amazing. Basically, Espers had equipment restrictions on them (like one could only equip to Terra or Celes) and not all Espers taught magic. The mod made Terra a Black Mage, Celes a Red Mage, Relm a White Mage, and Strago a Time Mage, and no other characters could learn magic. Instead, the fighters equipped special Espers which only boosted their skills and stats. They also improved some of the more worthless skills, like Cyan's sword techniques, which charge up so slow in the original that they were unbearable and not worth the wait. The result has a bunch of characters who actually felt different from one another while still keeping the original system roughly in tact.

Now its time to discuss the elephant in the room: Final Fantasy VI is one of the buggiest games I have ever played. Looking back at it, I am shocked that Nintendo even allowed it to published in its current form. Obviously the most famous glitch is the Relm Sketch glitch, which grants the user a ton of items but can also delete all of your saved data. This glitch occurs when Relm tries to sketch an invisible enemy, and its incredibly easy to reproduce. Luke got it by accident on his playthrough a couple months ago. There is also the Evade bug, which if you read my character analysis, you'll know I exploited quite a bit. Basically, one of the most relevant stats in the game doesn't actually work, invalidating a ton of equipment and making other pieces of equipment (like the ones which boost Magic Block) super powerful. Also, Vanish + Doom/X-Zone kills any creature or boss in the game ... as if the game weren't easy enough. In fact, there are enough relevant glitches for someone to write an entire FAQ about them. LOL.

Music and Graphics: The soundtrack is one the best in the genre and the graphics were really good for their time, so there isn't really much to say here.

Overall, I think the game amazing and its still my favorite of all time but I think its delusional of people to not recognize its multitude of flaws. If I had to give it a modern metacritic score, I would give it something in the high 80s. Its really good, but it has its problems and doesn't have widespread appeal nor a high replay value.

BONUS: Zach says the following about the game: Terra wasn't hot enough, Sabin could've looked like less of a douche, Kefka should have been playable at some point, and the scene escaping the Floating Continent was a bitch.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday News

EA says there won't be a Mirror's Edge 2.

Blizzard release dates for next few years have been leaked.

Apparently, we shouldn't worry about Dragon Age 2 being dumbed down from the first.

A Game developer's opinion on how to make piracy work in favor for a gaming company. 

Here is a quick little rant about Misogyny on Reddit. My favorite quote from the comments: "Reddit is where angry, white-male libertarians go to feel angry about the world without having to actually do anything about it."

Huffington Post article states that Video Games may actually be good for you. The comments by the old people on this article are amazing.

Scientist are now about to detect Alzheimer's with startling accuracy.

Another study out which says Ecstasy isn't as harmful as previous thought. 

Google Earth continues to be an awesome resource for archaeologists.

China surpasses Japan as the largest economy in Asia.

GOProud will not be invited back to CPAC. When are these people going to learn that their party doesn't give a fuck about them.

For some reason, Libya and Bahrain aren't getting near as much press in America as Egypt did. The situation in those two countries is much much worse. The governments are opening fire on the protest and hundreds and being killed.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Today marks the 100th post for Life of a True Gaymer!!!! Yay for Milestones!

In order to celebrate the milestone that I never thought I would be celebrating, I'm going to share some interesting statistics about this site.

- This blog has a total of 5,397 Pageviews as of today. 

- The most used tags are: 

1) MTG - 29 times
2) News - 21 times
3) Politics - 15 times

I didn't mean for the blog to be so heavily magic focused, its the just the only game I play consistently so I have the most to say about it.

- The most popular articles (determined by pageview) are as follows:

3) Today is Judgment Day (72 pageviews) 

4) Continuing Koth's Rampage (67 pageviews) 

- Most of my pageviews are from going to the site directly, Networked Blogs on Facebook, and Google search results (yeah the blog appears on Google searches).

-Most of my pageviews are from the United States, Canada, the UK, and Japan. Which all make sense since I know people in all of those places. However, I also have 30 pageviews from Russia, 30 from Malaysia, and 20 from Slovenia. Apparently, I have international reach. 

Thats all for now. Remember that I'm always taking contributions or article suggestions, so just get in contact with me. Hopefully, this blog can make it to another 100 posts! Yayayayayayay!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Top Ten Creatures in Standard

Its been a long while since I talked about competitive magic in any capacity, but competitive standard has been my primary gaming focus as of late. Next month, there are two major cash tournaments here in LA, so I've been keeping up on Standard and preparing for those tournaments. Instead of sharing my deck list for that tournament and talking about its match-ups and other boring things, I'm just going to share with you what I think are the best creatures in Standard so far. The goals of this post are as follows:

1) Try to give myself a better understanding of the format by forcing myself to write about it.
2) Try to give the more casual players who read my blog a glimpse at the kinds of creatures that are good in the tournament scene.
3) Try to display pretty pictures to look at for those who do not give a shit about magic.

On with the list!

10) Avenger of Zendikar

This is a card that took a while to catch on for some reason, but its obviously really powerful. If you drop this onto the battlefield, your opponent has to deal with it immediately, or else you just win. Even if your opponent does successfully stop the Avenger before you can pump up all of your plants, you still have a mini army of defensive blockers to buy you some time. This card is number 10 only because it has narrow applications (i.e its only good in Green ramp decks).

9) Fauna Shaman/Vengevine

I put the two of these together since they are rarely seen apart from each other. Together, they make a blazing fast, combo engine which can tear apart unsuspecting decks. Vengevine is really one of the best cards to stop Jace, and the fact that you have to exile it to stop it completely is just amazing against non-white decks. These cards are number 9 simply because they don't see play in the most powerful decks ... in standard anyways...

8) Wurmcoil Engine

When Scars of Mirrodin first came out, I was convinced that this was the best card in the set, and easily one of the best creatures in Standard. I tried my hardest to take advantage of it, but this creature has one glaring problem: it fails the Jace test. The Jace test is whether or not this creature can fight the planeswalker and win in a one on one battle. Playing a Wurmcoil Engine, and then having your opponent play a Jace and bounce the engine is just brutal for you and sets you way back. The creature is nuts against aggressive decks though, that often can't fight past it. I suspect Wurmcoil Engine's stock will shoot up once Jace rotates out of Standard, but for now this creature is number 8 on the list.

7) Signal Pest

This was one of the break out cards from Mirrodin Besieged in my opinion. Its pretty easy to get a turn three kill with an aggressive deck by playing one of these on the first turn. Its one of the reasons why these aggressive decks are so fast at the moment. Its also hard to chump block, making it likely to survive an attack even with its shitty power/toughness. If your opponent drops a Signal Pest on turn one, expect the round to be over quickly.

6) Grave Titan

Let me be honest here, the titans ruin Standard for me a little bit. Its ridiculous that every color has access to these super efficient and powerful creatures. Grave Titan is one of the best because he works so well both offensively and defensively. I mean paying 6 mana for 10 power worth of creatures is a pretty amazing offense, and having three creatures to block with off of one card is a pretty amazing defense. Its a card almost every black deck needs to consider running. Its stock fell a bit recently with printing of Go For the Throat in the latest set.

5) Goblin Guide

Goblin Guide is one of the most aggressive creatures ever printed. One mana for a 2/2 haste in Red is so far above the curve its disgusting. Sure it has a drawback, but the drawback is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, and sometimes the 'drawback' is actually helpful for you because you get to see what card your opponent is about to draw. A turn one Goblin Guide can easily get in 8 points of damage against a control deck if they don't have a way to stop it immediately.

4) Lotus Cobra

If theres one creature in standard that you absolutely have to kill the moment it hits the battlefield, its this one. If you play a turn two Lotus Cobra and play a fetchland on the following turn, that gives you access to five mana on turn three, which is just absurd. It doesn't even have to tap to generate the mana for you, so you can beat down with him in the meantime or use him as defense. Things get stupid real quick if you start chaining ramp spells off him like Harrow. If you're playing in Standard and your opponent drops a Lotus Cobra, KILL IT IMMEDIATELY!

3) Squadron Hawk

Oh Squadron Hawk, you're so deceptively good. At first glance, people look at this card and don't understand what all the fuss is about. Its just a 1/1 Flier that fills your hand with more bad creatures. Put let me put it this way, when you play a Squadron Hawk, you immediately draw three cards, and all of them are creatures. This card is easily one of the best ways for white based aggressive decks to play around cards like Day of Judgment. All you need is one piece of equipment out to turn your hand of stupid little birds into legitimate treats post-board wipe. But hes not just good in aggro decks, control decks love him too. Playing one creature to draw you into three more chump blockers is an amazing tempo gain for a W/U control deck. Then hawks allow you to have enough time against an aggressive deck to draw into a Day of Judgment or Gideon to stop the onslaught completely. At the last Pro Tour, there were more copies of Squadron Hawk played in the top 8 decks than Jace. That should tell you something.

2) Primeval Titan

Primeval Titan is a card advantage machine. I can't think of another creature in standard that has just an immediate swing in the game the minute its played. He only costs six mana, which in a green deck you can reliably play him on turn four. After one swing, hes already netted you four extra cards, which is just ridiculous. Take note that his ability allows you to get any land, not just basic lands. So grabbing up copies of Valakut and going for a combo kill is pretty easy to do with him. The printing of this card has opened up a ton of various Green based ramp decks, which have been the top dogs in Standard for the past six months. If you're playing in Standard and you don't have a plan against the Primeval Titan based decks, expect to lose horribly.

1) Stoneforge Mystic

It didn't take a genius to realize that this card was going to be amazing when they printed her over a year ago. This bitch gets exponentially better with every new set thats released. Obviously, her use is tied hand in hand with the amount of good equipment in the format. It just so happens that Standard has a ton of good equipment. There are so many good targets in standard that she can grab a piece of equipment for every kind of situation. Also, if she manages to stay out for a turn, you can use her second ability to play equipment at a reduced cost, uncounterable, and at instant speed. Her partner in crime is number 3 on the list, since she provides the equipment so Squadron Hawk can lay on the beats. Stoneforge Mystic, more than any other card in the artifact based block (Scars of Mirrodin), demands that you play artifact hate in your sideboard, else you're gonna get blown out by a hawk carrying a sword in its mouth. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Zach Vs Alex: Green/Red Beats Vs Blue/White Control

Finally, we get around to posting the latest run of the duel deck series. We tried for a very long time to make the perfect video. We had to figure out a good way to hear Zach, how to up the quality of the videos, how to split up the videos, and how to best represent this match-up. We actually played the match-up several times to try and capture the perfect game, but alas, we couldn't really do it (although one of the games did last for 45 minutes haha). These videos still represent a typical game of an aggressive deck vs a defensive deck. The quality of these videos is still a little off, so we'll be working on trying to fix that in the future. Zach says that the quality of these videos is better when your watching them in Chrome than in Firefox, so keep that in mind.

U/W Vs G/R Part 1:

U/W Vs G/R Part 2:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Blizzard announces that they are going to try and release Diablo 3 this year!

In other news, Blizzard is also thinking about releasing a console version of Diablo 3.

Looks like Activision's business strategy of flooding the market with sequels and spin offs killed Guitar Hero.

A Metriod Prime 1.5 design doc has surfaced from retro studios.

Sony got smacked down when it tried to subpoena Google, Twitter, and Paypal in the PS3 hackers case.

The Skyrim class system explained.

Interesting preliminary review of the 3DS.

Quick look at Dragon Age 2.

New study shows how snakes evolved without legs.

Courtesy of Cooper: One fingered relative of the T-Rex found.

Brief diversions found to vastly improve focus in new study.

Drug/supplement apparently induces lucid dreaming. This is now on my 'to try' list.

Rogue planets could harbor life.

Friday, February 11, 2011

30 Games Condensed Into One Day

So I noticed that on Mitch's Facebook he is doing this 30 Games in 30 Days thing, where he talks about a game a day based on certain categories. I was immediately intrigued and wanted to do my own, but I realized that would take up an entire month's worth of content on this blog. So instead I'm going to do them all in one day. Because of this, my explanations will be a bit short, but I will make more in depth posts about a few of these categories in the future. So without further adieu, here goes my 30 Games in 1 Day:

1) Your Very First Video Game: Super Mario Bros.

This is a little bit of an assumption for me, because I really don't remember exactly. I have vague memories playing this, Zelda, Duck Hunt, and some random NES Trivia game way back when I was still in New Jersey. I honestly couldn't tell you which of those I played first, but because Mario came with the system, I would say its a fair guess.

2) Your Favorite Character: Locke Cole (FF6)

This is the first of many FF6 entries you'll be seeing today. I'm not sure why I love Locke so much, but I do. I also think he's shaped my personality a bit, and definitely has influenced many a DnD character of mine.

3) A Game That is Underrated: Boom Blox 1 and 2

Lets ignore the fact that I've worked on both of those. These games are really good. They are some of the best party games on the Wii and I feel like they are criminally ignored.

4) Your Guilty Pleasure Game: Any Modern JRPG (ex: Tales of Symphonia, Arc Rise Fantasia)

JRPGs used to be my favorite genre of video game. They used to be really good back in the day, but now each and every one is just one giant cliche. There has been so little innovation in the genre this generation that its a little bit sad. Nevertheless, I still find myself with a JRPG itch that I need to scratch every now and then, even if the games themselves are mediocre.

5) Game Character You Feel You Are Most Like: Raine Sage (Tales of Symphonia)

Raine is an Archaeologist, who tries to be as logical as she can at all times. However, she often gets really excited about certain things to the point of acting like a little kid about them. She is constantly trying to find a balance between being both very logical and very emotional at the same time. She also tends to get angry a lot and smack people.

6) Most Annoying Character: Navi (Ocarina of Time)


7) Favorite Game Couple: Locke and Celes (FF6):

I realize that there are probably more interesting gaming couples, but for some reason I just really like Locke and Celes' relationship. I imagine the reason why I like them so much has nothing to do with the relationship itself and everything to do with the Opera scene.

8) Best Soundtrack: Suikoden  and Chrono Cross (Tie)

I honestly don't know which of these soundtracks I enjoy more. Both of them have strong Celtic influences, which I just find interesting. If you haven't played either of these games, do so now. Also, JSJ would kill me if I didn't mention Suikoden in this category.

9) Saddest Game Scene: Celes' Awakening in the World of Ruin (FF6)

So Celes wakes up on a tiny island. She is immediately informed that everyone she knew, including her first love, is dead. Her caretaker, and only living friend at this point, dies shortly after she wakes up (yeah I realize you can save him but its a pain in the ass). Celes then does what any sensible person would do in her situation: try to kill herself. I'm pretty sure I teared up while watching Luke play this scene a few months ago.

10) Best Gameplay: Super Smash Bros. Melee

Smash Bros changed the way we look at fighting games. I really can't think of a single game that I've spent more time playing than Smash Bros. I'm listing Melee over Brawl in this category though, since Melee can be enjoyed equally by the ultra competitive and ultra casual players at once. Also Brawl had tripping, which is not good gameplay.

11) Gaming System of Choice: Wii


12) A Game Everyone Should Play: Final Fantasy 6 and/or Chrono Trigger


13) A Game I've played more than 5 times: FF6

I've played this game all the way through more times than I could count. I've beaten it on Super Nintendo, Playstation 1, and on GBA. I've done Single Character Challenges, Low Level Challenges, Natural Magic Challenges. I can't think of a single game I've beaten more.

14) Current (or most recent) Gaming Wallpaper: Marth (Super Smash Bros. Brawl)

Super Gay

15) Post a Screenshot from a game your playing right now: Dragon Age: Awakening

16) Game with the Best Cut scenes: FF10

I honestly don't know about this one, since cut scenes for me are sorta whatever. I'm choosing Final Fantasy X since I like the colorful, water themed style of the cut scenes. 

17) Favorite Antagonist: Kefka FF6


18) Favorite Protagonist: Peach (Mario Bros. 2, Super Princess Peach)

Peach is awesome as a protagonist, mostly because she tends to kick so much ass. I honestly don't understand how she gets captured all of the time, clearly she can take care of herself. I'm sure she lets herself get captured because she likes the attention. Stupid bitch.

19) Picture of a Game Setting I wished I lived in: Earthbound


20) Favorite Genre: Strategy RPGs

Think Shining Force, Fire Emblem, and Final Fantasy Tactics. I really love this style of RPG. They help me scratch my strategy itch during the times I take a break from playing Magic. 

21) Game With the Best Story: Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger's story is amazing. Its simple, its interesting, and doesn't try to take the user on ridiculous twists and turns like most RPGs do.

22) A Game Sequel Which Has Disappointed You: Donkey Kong Country Returns

I realize that 'old school difficulty' is the new fad in gaming right now, but there is a reason that type of gameplay got phased out overtime. I shouldn't have to play every level 10 times in order to memorize the exact pattern of the level. The original Donkey Kong was hard, but it wasn't nearly as hard or frustrating as this sequel.

23) Game I Think Has the Best Graphics or Art Style: Okami

I'm a sucker for watercolor. I can't help it. Kirby's Epic Yarn should get mentioned here too, since it was visually amazing. I guess I'm just not a huge fan of ultrarealistic looking games, since I think they always look awkward.

24) Favorite Classic Game: Pac Man

I love eating pills.

25) A Game I Plan on Playing: Diablo 3

Supposedly, this game will be out this year. I look forward to wasting my life away again.

26) Best Voice Acting: Dragon Age

Voice Acting in video games tends to be pretty painful for me. 90% of it is just so bad. Dragon Age is the only game I can think of at the moment whose voice acting didn't offend me.

27) Most Epic Scene Ever: The Fall of the World of Balance (FF6)

The Fucking World is basically destroyed! I don't think things could get more epic than that.

28) Favorite Game Developer: Nintendo

They've just been the most consistent throughout the years. Blizzard, Bethesda, and Bioware should also be mentioned.

29) A Game I Thought I Wouldn't Like but Ended Up Loving: Final Fantasy VIII

I admit that I bought into all of the disappointment surrounding this game without playing it first. Once I actually sat down and played it, I ended up really enjoying it. I just wish they had left the last disc off. The game's story was amazing up until its stupid twist at the end.

30) Your Favorite Game of All Time: FF6


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February's Dino of the Month: Velociraptor

Lets get one thing straight right off the bat: the "Velociraptor" thats pictured in Jurassic Park does not exist. The thing pictured in Jurassic Park was more of a cross between a Deinonychus (size) and a Troodon (brains). I'm pretty sure that the only reason they were called Velociraptors in that movie is because its a cool name for a dinosaur. The real Velociraptor was only about a foot and a half tall ... and they were feathered. They are basically giant chickens.

Bak Bak!

So where were these ultra mega chickens found? If you said American Southwest, you would be very wrong! These guys were actually native to Mongolia. They are disgusting filthy Mongols... gross!

Also remember that part where the Velociraptors are chasing those little white children through the research lab, and they are smart enough to open a door in order to find the children? This was totally 100% impossible. First off, given the size of their brains relative to their bodies, its highly improbable that these guys were smart at all. In fact, most modern day mammals are probably smarter than they were. Even if they were somehow smart, it would still be impossible for them to open that door. Their Radius and Ulna (Forearm bones) were articulated in such a way as to make rotating their wrists impossible. Their hands/claws were always oriented facing each other, as if they were about to clap.

Hopefully, I have completely ruined your image of the mighty Velociraptor. So what, if anything, were Velociraptors actually good at? Being internet memes!

TL;DR: Fuck you Spielberg.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday News

Mario Sports Mix is out now. I'm not really sure how I feel about this game, but it does have Dragonquest slimes in it, which is a huge plus.

This is a  helpful little video regarding the best way to clean game cartridges.

Bunch of new info on Elder Scrolls: Skyrim has been revealed. The game is shaping up to look amazing.

Dragon Age 2 ESRB notice sheds some interesting tidbits about the new game.

Reddit hive mind mentality does something stupid. Its not really a surprise I guess.

I already don't shop at  most of these companies for their anti-gay policies. The only one thats really surprising is the Jack Daniels maker.

Arizona apparently wants to secede now. LOL

Of course Israel supports Mubarak.

Speaking of which, Mubarak has finally stepped down as President of Egypt. I urge everyone who has not been following the events in Egypt over the past week to educate yourself on the crisis.

Kepler has been doing some awesome things recently.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Courtesy of April Yu

Here is a song written by April about Cube Drafting in Magic: the Gathering. Its sung to the tune of Party in the USA:

"I hop to the store at 6pm with a dream and a hope to win
Welcome to the format of power excess, am I gonna fit in?
I sit down, cube drafting for the first time
Pass to my right, I'm looking for a sign
This is all so crazy
All these cards are so famous
My tummy's turning and I'm feeling kinda anxious
Too much pressure and I'm nervous
That's when I get passed my seventh pick
And a Mana Crypt was in
And a Mana Crypt was in
And a Mana Crypt was in

So I put my hands up, I'm drafting my deck, the butterflies fly away
I'm grabbing the spells like yeah
I'm passing the cards like yeah
So I put my hands up, I'm drafting my deck, I know I'm gonna be OK
Yeahhhh there's a cube draft going on today
Yeahhhh there's a cube draft going on today

The drafting's done, sorting through my spells
Everybody's looking through their decks
Oh, who's this dragon that taps for cards?
It's gotta be a Niv-Mizzit

This broken card, don't really want cut it
This definitely ain't standard constructed
'cause all I see are foils
Guess I'll splash this shiny Recoil

My tummy's turning and I'm feeling kinda anxious
Too much pressure and I'm nervous
That's when I go through my land again
And I see Badlands is in
And I see Badlands is in
And I see Badlands is in

So I put my hands up, I'm building my deck, the butterflies fly away
I'm adding my spells like yeah
Then cutting my spells like yeah
I put my hands up, I'm building my deck, I know I'm gonna be OK
Yeahhhh there's a cube draft going on today
Yeahhhh there's a cube draft going on today

I feel like scooping up my board
I'm almost dead on turn four
But the topdeck stops me every time
Rip Damnation and I feel all right

So I put my hands up, I'm playing my deck, the butterflies fly away
I'm tapping my lands like yeah
I'm casting my spells like yeah
So I put my hands up, I'm playing my deck, I know I'm gonna be OK
Yeahhhh there's a cube draft going on today
Yeahhhh there's a cube draft going on today"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Business School Update

I started school a little less than a month ago, and its crazy to me that its already been that long. This past month has gone by in a blink of an eye for me. I forgot that time passes quickly when one is actually busy.

Luke and I really haven't been that social as of late. My classes are Mon-Thurs from 7pm to 10pm, which means that I'm leaving for class around the same time that Luke is leaving work. The only time we see each other on weekdays is when I drop him off to work and for the two hours or so that we have together when I get back from class. As such, we've been more inclined to spend the weekends with each other hibernating than going out or inviting people over to play games. We basically only have one day a week to hang out with other humans, and I don't expect that to change until at least May.

The commute from North Hollywood to Playa Vista really isn't that bad thus far. Going to class around seven means that I have to sit in traffic a little bit on the 101, but I basically enjoy smooth sailings once I get onto the 405, since most of the traffic on the 405 is going to the Valley at that time. The ride home can be annoying sometimes though, since the construction on the 405 will cause traffic in random places even late at night.

The Classes:

Accounting: This class scared the crap out of me for the first few weeks. The professor's style is to bombard her students with a ton of information all at once, and then sorta it out as the class moves along. Its four weeks into the class and we're still talking about the readings we did in the first two weeks. As we progress though, I find that I'm getting the material more and more, and that I'm sorta excited to do homework for this class. The professor is amazing and is super enthusiastic about Accounting (I'm not really sure how she can hype up something so boring). She also has Asperger's, which I think makes her a lot more interesting. The people in the class are a little douchey, but there is less group interaction in the class than I had thought there would be.

Statistics: I was under the impression that this class would have a focus on doing statistical analysis in Microsoft Excel. This seemed amazing to me, as its super practical and I need to brush up on my excel skills anyways. But alas, it turns out that although our text book discusses Excel a lot, we don't need to actually learn any of the Excel specific material. Basically, this class is now the exact same thing as AP Stats, which is fine. I know most of the material so this should be an easy class. The teacher is this cute little Asian lady who talks in Engrish, so thats a huge plus.

Management: The material in this class is basically everything I wanted to learn in Business school. The class is literally just 10 students and the professor intimately discussing interpersonal psychology. Its pretty amazing. A lot of people who I've talked to in the class described it as 'touchy feely,' but thats not how I would describe it at all. I think people are calling it 'touchy feely' since its the one of the few theory based core courses. Personally, I prefer classes now with a more theoretical framework, and I think that has a lot to do with Luke's influence on me, since I used to hate classes like that in undergrad (damn you cultural anthropology!). The professor got her PhD at CMU, so we instantly bonded over Pittsburgh.

Economics: This class is basically the bane of my existence. The problem with this class isn't really the material but the professor. Last week, he spent about 45 minutes of class time trying to discuss politics with the class. The class before that he spent the first hour having a conversation with one student about US/China relations. He spends so much time trying to discuss politics that he doesn't have adequate time to go over the actual course material, so when he finally gets around to talking about the material, he skips around rapidly and doesn't explain complex concepts in depth. I swear one day in class I'm going to explode and be like, "We get it, you're ultra conservative. Now can be please discuss the fucking chapter now?" His English is also poor, so its hard to understand him when he actually tries to teach the material. Usually, this wouldn't be a problem because I can follow along with his lecture notes he provides. But since he skips around so much and goes off on tangents, hes impossible to follow along with. Basically, I have to teach myself all of the material and be super vigilant on doing the practice problems every week to make sure I understand everything.

Besides the distinct lack of Luke and Alex times, there are a couple other downsides with being in this MBA program. Class has caused me to start smoking again, but I'm still only smoking about 1-2 cigarettes per day. This is a huge improvement over the almost a pack a day I used to smoke. As long as I stick with American Spirits I should be fine (they are so much work to smoke that I don't want to smoke them often). In addition, I'm still trying to find an internship to do and a used car to buy, but I've just been too busy to properly research either of those things. Buying a used car is pretty important for me right now, but it involves so much work and we don't have much time on the weekends to run around dealerships.

Overall, things are going well. I've been super studious as of late and have been on top of all of my work for the first time in my life. It feels nice to be a good student for a change.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Exclusiveness - The Gaymer's Dilemma

I was listening to NPR during my drive home yesterday afternoon and I stumbled upon an interesting series called "Fractured Cultures". This series examines how the American culture is a dynamic of several subcultures and yesterday I was surprised to hear them give a segment about the Gamer community in NYU. You can read the short article yourself, but it was mainly a description about Final Fantasy and its fandom that has taken decades to build.

But my post has nothing to do with that. When asked about the response to the development of movement based games (Kinect, PS move, wii), one NYU gamer said, "I personally liked that my mom didn't understand what buttons to press, and how she couldn't play the games," he explains. "It was something that I enjoyed that other people couldn't."

While NPR immediately states that "67 percent of American households already play some kind of video game or another", I find it ridiculous that this attitude of exclusiveness still exists within the gaming community. We are no longer in the age of arcades (RIP), which means gamers no longer have to be in localized areas to congregate in order
to geek-out. But what about the exclusiveness of it all? The gamer expressed that gaming was something he could enjoy while others could not. This ideology isn't exclusive to gaming, but it is something that did emerge to counter act anti-gaming attitudes over the years. To be a gamer, was to be against the norm (or square) and that was something to be proud about. Playing "Grand Theft Auto" was like taking your parent's car for a joyride and every prostitute you beat with a bat was a moment of pure ecstasy - you know your parents weren't going to be happy with it and it didn't matter.

Regardless of what it was then, the attitudes now towards gaming and gamers have shifted drastically. Similar to Zach's article about the shift of what's popular from the gamer geek lifestyle, video games are emerging into every day life of millions of folks. And why shouldn't it be? News outlets are constantly discussing the positive effects of gaming on intelligence, self-esteem, and even surgical skill development. The benefits are great and everyone should have equal access to them.