In the spirit of a week devoted to giving thanks (in the U.S., anyway, but foreign heathens around the globe should feel free to join in), this edition of Hit or Miss is entirely devoted to Hits. Understand that as a natural curmudgeon, embarking on a quest of such concentrated enthusiasm nearly killed me. I will endure my three new ulcers for you, my lovely heathen readers.
So this week: President Obama uses Little Big Planet to improve education; a truly generous soul builds the coolest PC mod of all time; Red Octane wants a subscription model for Guitar Hero DLC; and Microsoft patents a system to let gamers help their fellow gamer. Ugh. See? An entire paragraph without a single snarky, mean-spirited zinger.
Unless you count that last sentence, I guess.
I mean come on. How could even the coldest, darkest heart not warm at the thought of government dollars being used to turn a video game into a learning tool? And by “video game,” I mean a real video game and not bullcrap like Oregon Trail. To a kid, that was about as fun to play as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie: The Novelization was fun to read.
And hopefully gamers will also now finally get over Obama’s recurring “turn off their video games” stump speech line he often used during the campaign, and realize he obviously has nothing against video games. Not any more than he does against kids watching too much TV or wasting too much time on Facebook, anyway, and I believe you will agree those are all reasonable points. Besides, we all know we’re supposed to fear Obama for potentially taking away our guns, capitalism, and grandparents, not our video games. And our dreams, I think. I’ve kind of lost track.
Merry early Christmas, anyone who hasn’t seen this yet.
Let me provide a little read-it-out-loud audio commentary for this video, reciting exactly what went through my mind the first time I saw it:
“Whoa, the Back to the Future DeLorean in Crysis? Neato. Burnout Paradise already beat them to it, but — Damn that’s an awesome cockpit view! There’s even the console where you set your time destination and everything… and the digital speedometer! And… holy hell, it’s at 88MPH and sparking just like in the movie… IT JUST WENT BACK IN FRICKIN’ TIME! This is frickin’ amazing!”[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZAaKH0FYO8 560×340]
“If only you could somehow send it without driving it, just to see the cool fire marks it… wait, he just jumped out of the car… and it went on its own… and oh my God there are frickin’ burning tire marks floating in the sky. If it comes back on its own, I will lose my shit. I will seriously lose my shit.
“Oh shit, it came back on its own. Covered in ice. “
And then I think at that point I fainted. If whoever made this thing can now turn their attention to building the time-travelling phone booth from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it will make my life. Pretty please?
Bill & Ted mods? Excellent! *air guitar*
Look, I’m as wary as anyone when it comes to Activison, subscription models, and a franchise they iterate on about 62 times a year. I’m pretty sure those elements are the human equivalents of honey, a delicious salmon, and a bear trap. But at the risk of opening myself up to digital limb ensnarement, this… this actually sounds like a pretty good idea.
Maybe not for Guitar Hero, no, since the Guitar Hero franchise has a fraction of Rock Band’s DLC. But if I could pay a flat, reasonable rate every month to gain access to all 1,000 (hot damn, 1,000?) downloadable songs for Rock Band, how could that possibly go wrong?
They could charge a monthly price that literally costs an arm and a leg? Well sure, but I highly doubt they will. Any non-Goro human being would only be able to afford four months, and I don’t think Harmonix is that crazy.
Activision, on the other hand…
This is what my brain is doing after
I read any Activision-related story.
In the world of the future, video games no longer force you to feel bad about yourself. Back in the day, if you lost all your lives on the first screen of Pac Man your shame would force you to live the rest of your worthless existence howling lamentably at the moon in the nearest wilderness. Now New Super Mario Bros. Wii plays itself, just in case all that “playing” is too much of a hassle.
And here we have Microsoft’s approach, which is empowering psycho-obsessive gamers who would already write a 10,000 word FAQ for Feeding Frenzy 2 to do the work for them. According to the patent, gamers will even be able to take screen grabs to supplement their guides, and illustrate them for more specific advice. I believe Microsoft even provided a prototype example of what this would look like:
Okay, with that obvious joke aside, provided Microsoft can restrain jerks from drawing cocks all over their guides, this system seems like a great idea to me.
Any gamer who squeals that these sort of assists are robbing games of their challenge are missing the point, because that is the point: They are designed explicitly to rob games of their challenge. You know why people like watching movies? Because they can fall asleep during one and still make it to the end. And even then, any film that’s described with the word “challenging” by a critic is instantly cast down to the Sundance Channel.
People don’t like difficult things, least of all during leisure time. So anything that reduces the barrier to entry in gaming is fine by me. Don’t like it? Don’t use it. And meanwhile, everyone who does need it will get to enjoy the pastime you and I love so much. And isn’t sharing your beloved pastimes with the people you care about one of the bestest and warm-and-fuzziest feelings you can get in life?
Annnnnnd… there’s ulcer number four. Screw this, I’m going outside and calling the first person I see an ass face.