My name is Alissa and I'm a junior English for New Media major. I spend most of my time talking about games and figuring out what to do when I grow up.
I'm hoping to find a career niche that works well with my interests, but until then I'll just talk about video games here.
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If you have the misfortune of getting locked in conversation with me, it’s almost inevitable that the topic of video games will come up. I can talk non stop on the games I played growing up and my experiences with them. If we get stuck on the topic of Mass Effect, I’l be spewing praises of the game left and right. Even if we were to cross into that vast category of ‘games I haven’t played’, I’ve kept up on my reading enough to manage a halfway informed conversation. Or at least I used to be able to.
The domain of games I haven’t played is growing larger by the week. Sadly, I’m hardly playing video games anymore. I could fall back on the dead-xbox or busy-with-school excuse, but even if I had a functioning xbox and all the free time in the world I probably wouldn’t be doing a bunch of gaming. I still love video games and the idea of them, but I can’t seem to get into them like I used to.
The last three games I’ve bought were Catherine for the Xbox, Harvest Moon: Animal Parade for the Wii, and No More Heroes for the Wii. I haven’t beaten a single one. I’ve put maybe 5 hours each into Harvest Moon and No More Heroes. Both are great games, both deserve my attention, but I can’t bring myself to dive into them like I used to. The last game I can remember beating is Portal 2, which I beat the day it came out.
Its not that games have lost their luster to me—I freaking love the idea of them and still stand by my beliefs that they’re the most productive form of entertainment media—its just that I’ve gotten to the point where the idea of gaming means more to me than the actual game.
I have been playing Skyrim when I can, as well as Saints Row: The Third on the weekends, so my most time consuming hobby still has a presence in my life (albiet a smaller one). To be honest, I want to be playing games more. Thinking back to my childhood and remembering the presence games had with my sister and I at the time makes me miss the days where we threw hours at Super Mario World, passing the controller between deaths and trying to take down that third Castle.
Maybe my hobby just needs a push to get back on the right track. Maybe when I get a new xbox or an upgraded computer I’ll be able to get back into games again. Or maybe I’m just waiting for the right game to come along. Whatever it is, I’m hopefully it’ll happen soon.
I still think that the current lineup for the Kinect is a gimmicky waste of time, but stuff like this makes me happy it exists.
Amidst the busy family-ing of Thanksgiving, I got a invite to a beta weekend of Star Wars:The Old Republic. ToR is a Massively Multiplayer Online game based on the two Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games put out by both Bioware and Obsidian Entertainment in the last decade. I had to sign a fancy non-disclosure agreement so I’m not entirely sure how much I can say about the game, but I had a great time and will definitely be picking it up upon release.
Typically, I don’t like MMO styled gameplay—run around, get a quest, go from point A to B, kill 10 of something, get exp—but ToR managed to capture my enjoyment despite this.
I’m ashamed to say it, but I’ve been playing Skyrim also. Due to my gaming console being dead and my main computer being a MacBook, I’ve been playing on PC over at a Gaming LAN center in Sioux Falls. Before when I played Skyrim, I was just messing around. This time around, I’m still messing around but I’m doing so expansively. I’m only at level 10, but I’ve been exploring like crazy. I’ve died a stupid amount of times simply because I get in over my head or try to sneak attack a giant with a great sword; an overall bad idea, which I wouldn’t recommend.
I picked up a few extra shifts at work this weekend and haven’t had much of a time to do anything else as a result. Our tiny store was uncharacteristically busy this weekend which is a great thing given that we’re a small store in a medium sized midwestern city competing with GameStop, BestBuy, Walmart, and other major retailers for business. I’m a little sour that I didn’t get time to finish my homework during my Sunday shift like I usually can, but overall I’m thrilled that we’re actually seeing an increase in business around the holiday shopping season.
As a personal goal, I’ve been playing the SNES game Earthbound this week. I’m planning to make a full-blown post on that once I level to the point where I’m not constantly dying, so I’ll speak more on that later.
I’ve played a good share of video games by this point in my life, but somehow I’ve missed out on playing some of the most popular older titles. It seems like every time I get into a conversation about gaming with someone I get looks of utter disbelief over the games that I haven’t played.
I’m 19. I’ve got both a job and a decent amount of free time. Its about time I play some of those classics. I’m going to play at least an hour a day on whatever games I pick up until I finish them.
I’ve already got a list going, but I know there are more out there so any suggestions, along with which game in a mentioned series I should grab, would be appreciated. :) Assume I haven’t played anything good ever; you might be right.
- Earthbound (SNES)
- Metal Gear Series (PS)
- Resident Evil Series (PS)
- Silent Hill Series (PS)
- Super Mario RPG (SNES)
- Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES)
- Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
- Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (GBA)
- No More Heroes (Wii)
Goals in Course:
I really didn’t have any goals coming into this course, aside from to pass it. I wasn’t sure what to expect on the first day, but now I know I really enjoy what this course teaches. I was exstatic when I found out I’d be in a class that required to me to keep a blog on something I’m interested in. I’d tried a few times in the past to start a blog, but I’d never had the motivation or content to keep it up. MCOM 225 gave me a reason and motivation to finally do something I had been wanting to do for a while, all while learning about personal branding and the changing news medium of the internet.
Asses (honestly) your own performance
What did you do well?
I think I’ve don a pretty good job so far of providing blog posts that actually have some content to them. With everything I’ve wrote about, I never had to push myself to write more. I got started and everything just came. More often than not, I’d look at what I had written, decide that it was too long, and trim it down a little.
What can you do better?
I know I need to improve with updating my Tumblr and especially my Twitter more often. The week flies by so fast sometimes that I don’t realize how little I’ve been posting. This is something I’m working on improving. This week I plan to get at least 2 more posts out, not including the one I’m writing right now. Twitter is another story. I currently have two twitter accounts; @AlissaMcAloon, which I made spcifically for MCOM225, and @Gliitchy, which is my personal account I’ve had for almost two years. I don’t struggle with updating my personal account— I’ve got nearly 1400 tweets on that one—but I do struggle with balancing the two and tweeting in a more ‘professional’ sense. I’m thinking about dropping my @AlissaMcAloon account and only having the one.
Finally, discuss your routine. How are you gathering info to blog about?
I blog about whatever strikes me, usually whatever is going on in my life at the time. Sometimes I’ll see a tweet on my twitter feed that sparks an interest, such as the post I’ll be doing later today.
I’m probably the only person I know who didn’t spend the entire weekend playing the latest Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim. I’m also probably the only person I know who didn’t like the last Elder Scrolls game, which was Oblivion. I’ve tried four or five times to get into that game, but each time I just get bored.
Skyrim showed promise though, so I told myself I’d check it out.
Release weekend came and went and I hadn’t even touched Skyrim. I think I had some pretty good reasons though, given that my mom had long since been planning to take my sister and I to the (internet and xboxless) Black Hills that weekend to see family. Also, my xbox died, in case you’ve somehow missed that information.
Monday night, I finally got the chance to play Skyrim. And my overall impression is….
I went into the game with as open of a mind as possible. Irritation based bias crept in, however, when the game crashed right as I was about to finish the tutorial level. I only lost maybe 10 minutes of gameplay, but it was a boring part to replay. Stay close to the wall, jump over to that roof, don’t loot or kill anyone because your hands are still bound for some reason.
After I had replayed the beginning, I played through the first actual bit of the game. It was a cave, so I wasn’t yet offered the open world freedom I was looking forward to, but my hands were no longer bound and I got to experience my first taste of combat. Also, in Skyrim you can pick up damn near every object you see. I had reached my inventory weight limit through countless swords, armor pieces and broomsticks before I even left the dungeon. My opinion of the game went up slightly at this point.
After leaving the first dungeon and parting ways with the man who had led me through the tutorial, I was finally given the one thing I enjoy about Western RPGs; a massive open-world map to explore. I took a second to get my bearings, noticed a quest indicator on my compass telling me where to go, and promptly took off in the opposite direction. Screw the story. The main plot in Oblivion was a large part of what killed it for me. The next half hour of game play was just me running around with no purpose.
At some point, I decided to let my bias go and actually try the main story quest, or at least the first mission. I headed towards that map marker and found myself in the town. I’d love to tell you about my opinions on the main plot so far, but as soon as I reached the town I went crazy. I picked up side quests, sold my stolen goods for money, picked up a elven archer for a follower, tried to pickpocket a ring off his girl friend, failed at pick pocketing a ring off his girlfriend, killed his girlfriend…
It was a busy day.
Before I killed his girlfriend—which was self defense; she attacked me after I made a grab for her ring—I picked up a quest from her and her brother. I had to travel up to the top of a really tall mountain to retrieve a golden trinket that was stolen from them. It sounded good to me; I’d be actually doing a quest and I’d have all that space and mountain to explore.
Despite wanting to explore, the trip to the mountain was mostly uneventful. The only notable place I discovered was a large stable area. I’d heard storys from friends about how awesome the horses were in Skyrim so I stole one. Must not have been a very good horse because its owner only chased me for a minute before giving up.
I’d seen comics joking about the horses in Skyrim, but I’d assumed most of them were joking. My assumption was proven wrong when I walked a horse up a mountain.
And I’m not even exaggerating. Scaling the mountain, there was maybe one time where gravity and physics chose to pay attention to me and wouldn’t let me clim higher. Once. With how that horse was walking, I should have fallen backwards off of it to my death. (see: here)
When I reached the top, I was met by a bunch of bandits; presumably the ones who had stolen the golden trinket. I dismounted my stolen horse and started to fight them off. The horse had been content to just walk away from me and back down the mountain side. That was until an enemy archer missed its mark and hit the horse instead.
That thing turned straight around and charged the nearest bandit. The poor man was dead in two kicks. I watched dumbfounded as the horse made quick work of the rest of the archers. It turned from their corpses before the last one even hit the ground. I assumed it would go peacefully down the mountain side.
I was wrong. It charged at me.
And that was my first death in Skyrim.
(Oh, and I guess I actually sort of had fun in this game. For now, I’ll still say ‘meh’ until I have some time to actually get in to the game instead of just messing around.)
The words ‘red ring’ will make any Xbox 360 dependent gamer cringe. The infamous red ring, seen above, is a pathetically common problem with the 360 systems made between November of 2005 and July of 2010. The problem itself is an overheating problem, but keeping your xbox in a well ventilated area may or may not protect it.
When you see the green ring go red, you’ve got a few options. If you’re lucky enough to still be under warranty, contact Microsoft ASAP. They’ll provide you with a shipping label and have a fixed xbox to you in 3-4 weeks. If you’re like me and not quite that lucky, you still have a few choices, albeit more expensive ones. Option number one is to contact Microsoft. For the small fee of $100, they’ll take your system in, fix the common problem with their hardware, and get your system back to you in 3-4 weeks. If a month seems like a while to go without your system, some local stores deal with console repair. Prices vary where you go, but it’ll still put you out around $100 bucks.
Me? My xbox just red ringed for the second time. I got my system in 2007, so sending it in to Microsoft is out of the picture. Luckily, the store I work at in Sioux Falls is one of the few local businesses that does console repair. Sure, it’ll put me out a bit during the holiday shopping season, but the other options (a new system) put a bigger dent in my pocket.
Monday night I’ll be finding out if my system is even repairable or if I’ll be tossing it to the curb and buying a new, “red-ring proof”, xbox 360 slim. Here’s hoping for good news.
At the local game store I work at we rarely get pre-orders on the major games. It’s unfortunate but understandable, given that we can’t offer the map pack and DLC pre-order bonuses like Best Buy and GameStop can.
With the Modern Warfare 3 release, smaller stores are just getting screwed over. We’ve been taking what preorders we can get for MW3, including some for the Hardened edition. About a month before MW3 is set to release, the store owner got a call from our distributer; since we are a smaller chain, we won’t be receiving copies of the Hardened edition. We were told that since Activision is cutting production in half, only major stores will be able to sell it.
We had seven preorders for the MW3 Hardened edition. We had to call all seven of those people and tell them that they wouldn’t be getting the game they had been promised. Oh, and by this point GameStop and the other major retailers had already cut off pre-orders for the Hardened edition. So these people, obviously loyal MW3 fans, are being screwed over for doing something as villainous as supporting a locally owned store.
Nice one, Activision.
It was taken by a friend of mine in the expo hall of Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), a giant video game convention I attended in Seattle, WA over the summer. The convention itself always had something going on, including the expo hall where fans lined up for literally hours to play demos of upcoming games. PAX was a busy time for me so, despite having flown across the country to attend, I didn’t get to play a ton of games and I barely spent any time in lines. This picture was taken while I was playing one of the few games I got to try out.
The game is SSX, an outrageous snowboarding game published by EA. There have been several games in the SSX series. I played many of the earlier incarnations (SSX, SSX: Tricky, and SSX3) when I was younger, but the recent two games (SSX:On Tour, SSX: Blur) had lost the personality I loved about the series.
The latest game, simply called SSX, is a throwback back to the roots of the series and back to the games I love. The reason I love this picture so much is because when it was taken, I was interrogating the SSX representative about every tiny aspect about the game.
Talking a mile a minute, I asked him about character customization, about why they changed the controls, about new features, about DLC, about everything. I almost felt bad for the guy because I was in a fit of nostalgia filled excitement and wanted to know everything about a game that was getting its soul back.
Considering I plan to talk a lot about video games in this blog, I figure I should make a long post explaining my background and beliefs in the topic.
I grew up spending a lot of time around video games. My dad and mom were both on the geeky end so computer emulators and consoles seemed like a natural fit in our household. I remember spending a good chunk of playtime just playing 8-bit games on the spare computer, but my childhood was balanced enough where I still did normal kid things; I was in soccer for most of elementary school, I was a girl scout, and playing barbies with my younger sister was an almost daily routine. In fact, I can only remember video games as a part of my childhood and not as the center of it like most parents worry now days.
My first video game system came in the form of a brown paper bag from a garage sale. Inside that bag was a Super Nintendo and a good variety of 20 games. For years after that, playing games became a family affair. My younger sister and I would play Super Mario World after school, always on the terms that she could be player one and that I was Luigi. If we were feeling adventurous, we’d sneak a few rounds of Mortal Kombat or Super Street Fighter; two games we were not aloud to play being so young. My parents have since divorced, but some of the happiest memories I have of them together involved watching them play MLB or Madden together before bed. Video games were a huge part of my childhood, but not in an unhealthy or overbaring way.
After my parents split up, most of my geekier habits came from time spent with my dad. My father, a computer programmer and long time gamer, was the one who purchased my second family game console; a Sony Playstation. Moving from the Super Nintendo to the Playstation was a huge jump, and not just in graphical means. While going from 16-bit to full on 3D polygons was quite a difference, the actual progression between the two systems was more of a maturity thing. For once, I wasn’t just playing a game to play a game. When I picked up that controller, I was part of a story. When I was playing as Spyro the dragon, I wasn’t just playing the game to pass the time. I was playing because I wanted to save the day and get the dragon eggs back from the evil Rypto. With the playstation, gaming became so much more for me than it had been. It wasn’t just about having fun anymore; it was a full blown experience.
Years later, my dad surprised my sister and I with a Playstation 2 and we were flat out amazed by the improvement. Most of the games that I look back on now as my favorite games were for the Playstation and the Playstation 2. Tomba, Digimon World, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and all of my other favorite games were the first games to actually make me feel involved in the game. The Playstation era gave birth to my love for immersion and emotional attachement in video games. Though on the PC, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was another favorite game of mine during this time period. Knights, with its ‘light-side, dark-side’ morality system offered my first glimpse into non-linear storylines in games.
I’ve since grown up and moved out of my childhood home, but the unique love I have for video games hasn’t changed. I’ve sense picked up more recent systems such as the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii and experienced some of the big gaming titles of our day. Role-playing games (RPGs) took new life on these newer systems, offering in depth character creation, nonlinear plots, and fully voiced dialog choices. Bioware developed games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age kickstarted me into the opinions I hope to share as this blog goes on.