Responding to My Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

Well, for the second month in a row, I’m proud to announce that I’ve been nominated with another one of these blogger awards. I had a lot of fun doing the last one, so I’ll be happy to do this one as well. This time, I was nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award by Athena from AmbiGaming, who runs a very well-thought out blog delving into the themes of her favorite games, asking hard-hitting questions few others in the gaming sphere have the courage to ask.

The award’s name is decidedly apt seeing as how…

“The Sunshine Blogger Award is a peer recognition for bloggers that inspire positivity, joy, warmth, and any other emotions you feel when you think about the sun.”

Rules:

  • Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

The Questions:

“If you could change one thing about AAA gaming, what would it be?”

A lot of people probably want me to answer microtransactions or any number of transparent, greedy cash-grabs on AAA publishers’ parts. While those trends are indeed awful and should be excised from the medium posthaste, they don’t tend to show up in games actually worth playing, and therefore, I would argue it wouldn’t improve the status quo substantially in the long run. A lot of people use it for an argument for how gaming as a whole has declined in the past decade, but in reality, it’s no different than those companies issuing horrible games bearing famous licenses. The greed was always there – it just manifests in a different way. If anything, we’re better off now because the internet allowed people to become savvier with the AAA industry’s shady tactics.

Instead, the one thing I would change about AAA gaming is the nihilistic tone many mainstream releases take. I think a lot of artists, Naughty Dog in particular, want to recapture what made the New Hollywood era such a force to be reckoned with and translate it into games. However, the anti-heroes that plague AAA gaming don’t come across as analogues from that New Hollywood era; they come across as analogues from the Dark Age of Comic Books. It really makes certain games grating to get through. Why would anybody help these horribly unlikable characters meet their goals? What’s the point of trying to win a game when the world is beyond salvaging? More importantly, it’s a pointless effort because a lot of those classic moments needed a certain something to make them what they are – and I would argue that certain something is forever lost. That’s not a bad thing; gaming just needs to forge its own path rather than walk the road they have no idea how to navigate.

“Do you think pineapple belongs on pizza?”

If anchovies can, I don’t see why pineapples couldn’t either.

“Is there an article on your site that you would write differently, knowing what you know now? Which one?”

A lot of my early reviews really aren’t that good; I barely go into any detail for a lot of them, and I don’t walk through my opinions particularly well. One off the top of my head is my BioShock: Infinite review. I originally gave it a 9/10 and argued it was one of the best games of the decade and that Ken Levine is one of the best writers in the medium. Looking back, it was just merely an ordinary enjoyable game with vaguely better-than-normal writing. In a lot of ways, it’s like The Last of Us in that it really benefitted from the fact that its competition when it comes to storytelling didn’t quite inject themselves into the mainstream, making it easy to ignore them and declare Bioshock: Infinite the best of the best. If you want a game that tackles similar themes in a much more thorough way, try Virtue’s Last Reward.

“What’s the weather like near you today?”

It’s been pretty sunny the last few days around 65°F. I think the worst of the cold weather is done for the season.

“Do you like pancakes or waffles better?”

I’d say I like pancakes slightly better, but waffles are pretty cool too.

“Is there anything about your gaming hobby/habits that you don’t like?”

The long load times big-budget games tend to get saddled with tend to make me not want to get into them in favor of 3DS or Switch games that load in a matter of seconds. If I’m sufficiently invested, this doesn’t make a difference, but if I’m still not to the point where it’s good, there’s a chance I won’t see it through. As a result, I find my gaming habits to be somewhat unpredictable, and that can get annoying.

“Do you have a preference between JRPGs and Western RPGs?”

I prefer JRPGs over Western RPGs. Narratives tend to be stronger when the protagonist is an actual character rather than a custom-made avatar. Indeed, one of the many reasons Planescape: Torment is my favorite Western RPG is because it has a protagonist with a substantial background.

Also, I like the more turn-based combat over the real-time combat Western RPGs usually have because they’re more intuitive and have greater potential for boss battles. For whatever reason, Western game developers aren’t as good as their Japanese counterparts when it comes to designing boss fights. Some of the only exceptions have been when Western developers are working with a Japanese franchise (Metroid Prime) or when they’re imitating the style of a Japanese genre (Undertale).

“When does an open-world game begin to suffer from open-world bloat?”

An open-world game begins to suffer from open-world bloat when you find yourself with the ability to go anywhere and do anything, but no clear idea on which goal to tackle first, thus ensuring that you do nothing at all. Alternatively, it suffers from that problem when you’re ten hours in and have completed several objectives only for you to realize the plot has not budged an inch. Knowing how to have a good sense of pacing certainly helps.

“What is the most memorable line of dialogue in a game?”

This is quite a difficult one considering how many games I’ve completed, but the first one that sprung to mind was “A puppet that can no longer be used is mere garbage. This puppet’s role has just ended.” Anyone who has played the game will know which one it is.

“Quick! You have 3 seconds to grab one game from your collection. Which one to do you grab and why?”

I’d grab Persona 4 because it’s one of my all-time favorites. Indeed, it was the first game I thought of when asked that question.

“Do you collect anything? What is it?”

Other than the obvious, I’ve been amassing a film collection. I’ve taken to watching classic films at home, and I want to keep my favorites in a collection – especially ones I feel get something out of being watched a second or third time.

My Nominees:

Mr. Panda from Mr. Panda’s Video Game Reviews – I’ve always enjoyed reading his reviews of Nintendo games. Recently, he reviewed a walking simulator that, in stark defiance of nearly every console game made after 1995, doesn’t allow players to save. Also, it crashes a lot.

The3rdPlayer from 3PStart – An old-school gaming reviewer who has been writing an interesting retrospective of the Phantasy Star series lately. Currently up to the third installment, and certainly worth looking into.

The Otaku Judge – He reviews practically everything that catches his attention whether it’s anime series, films, or video games. His was one of the first blogs I began following, and his opinions are always fun to read. Recently wrote a review of the good Thor: Ragnarok.

Nick the Gent from Deconstructing Video Games – Like Athena, I really admire his ability to truly delve into the games he plays. At the end of last year, he wrote a solid piece on the classic console FPS, Goldeneye to celebrate its 20th year anniversary.

My Questions:

  1. To prove the artistic merits of the medium to a skeptic, which game would you choose to demo to them?
  2. Gaming’s critical circle is pretty dire if you ask me. What piece of advice would you give to them so they could improve?
  3. What was your first gaming console?
  4. Do you prefer 2D or 3D games?
  5. What is your favorite graphic novel/manga?
  6. What was the first album you ever purchased for yourself?
  7. What is your favorite album few people in your social circle have heard of?
  8. What is your favorite decade in music?
  9. Do you tend to get a lot of snacks at the theater?
  10. Which film do you think lived up to the unanimous critical acclaim it received?
  11. Which film do you think utterly failed to live up to the hype?

Thank you once again, Athena for the nomination! I’ll look forward to seeing how my nominees will answer these questions.

21 thoughts on “Responding to My Sunshine Blogger Award Nomination

  1. 1. Journey.
    2. Review games on merit not your politics. If you hate a certain genre avoid reviewing those type of games and leave them for someone else to assess more fairly.
    3. Atari 2600.
    4. I prefer 2D games.
    5. Gunslinger Girl.
    6. I honestly cannot remember the first CD I bought.
    7. Most of the albums I like are pretty mainstream.
    8. Eighties music.
    9. Nah. I don’t like to eat whilst watching a movie.
    10. Terminator 2.
    11. The Matrix sequels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1. I really need to give that game another shot.
      2. I would say that’s a problem a lot of independent critics have; a lot of them seem to be biased against Nintendo for some reason.
      3. That’s impressive. For me it was the SNES.
      4. They’re both good, though I find myself leaning toward 3D games.
      5. I might have to look into that at some point.
      6. For me, it was Led Zeppelin’s fourth album.
      7. I have quite a few to choose from, but one of them is Cure for Pain by Morphine
      8. The eighties is a better decade in music than I think most people give it credit for.
      9. Me neither; I tend to get distracted too easily. Plus, I like to save my money.
      10. I agree wholeheartedly.
      11. I didn’t watch anything past the first one, and most sources assure me that’s for the best.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed this despite not getting tagged.

      I don’t think I could bring myself to fully dislike BioShock to same degree as The Last of Us because I give it credit for at least trying to be intellectually stimulating. The latter gets a lot of praise for its subtext, but nothing about it is particularly insightful. However, I do admit that having played more story-heavy games, such as Undertale and OneShot, BioShock has been revealed to be a weaker effort than I originally thought. Indeed, I’d say Ken Levine’s weakness as a writer is that he needs people around him to tell him what does and doesn’t work.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man, thanks so much! I’m definitely honored to be mentioned ans again- glad you’re enjoying the Phantasy Star articles!

    This gives me something to do today before my power goes out- so it might take a couple of days but I’ll gladly take part in this soon!

    Also, bravo to your answer on AAA games. I found a number of times where I’ve started trying a game that’s got a whole mess of acclaim from the gaming community and the characters have turned me off from being able to relate or want to continue with the narrative. There’s nothing wrong with having an anti-hero, if you know how to wield them the right way. The market is just saturated with them at the moment, it seems.

    Thanks again and congrats on your nomination, as well. Definitely well deserved!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome! And I am enjoying that retrospective.

      Your power’s going out? I guess that’s better than when an outage is unplanned, but it doesn’t make it not annoying.

      I think that’s borne from a desire to mature and be taken seriously. I myself have no problems with anti-heroes; I was perfectly fine with Solid Snake among other characters. In all honesty, I think I would prefer a villain protagonist over the AAA variety of anti-heroes because at least that suggests a degree of honesty with on the writers’ part. This is exactly what happened in the comic book industry around thirty years ago after Watchmen was issued. Just like the Dark Age of Comic Books, it ironically makes gaming come across as even more immature than back when they were all about having fun. Fun is a concept everyone can get behind. This faux brand of maturity has a much more limited appeal. Was there a game in particular that made you not want to engage with the narrative due to its unlikable characters?

      Thanks! I look forward to reading your answers as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, being hit by two snowstorms has been a little bit of an issue, electronically speaking, haha

        I can’t think of a particular AAA game off the top of my head that I’ve had this issue with at the moment, though I think the most recent game I had an issue with finding likable characters in (and I feel like I should restate that this is totally my own opinion) was Final Fantasy XV. If it weren’t for the mechanics in that game, I feel like I would have dropped it in the first act. While they aren’t anti-heroes, that was the most recent issue I’ve had with character disconnect. That’s also why it’s so tough for me to play the ‘evil’ route in games. When half of your party is saying “well… I guess… if you insist…”, the narrative falls apart to me. So far as anti-heroes go, though, I think I’ve had issues with getting into games like God of War and the GTA series, which I would love otherwise, because even if they are justified, it gets tiring after a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on the award!!! You deserve it for bringing so much sunshine! 🙂 And thank you so much!!! I’m incredibly honored by your kind words, support, and nomination!! 😀

    Here are my answers:

    1. Journey
    2. Be honest
    3. NES
    4. 2D, but I love both
    5. Death Note
    6. Pokemon: 2 B A Master?
    7. Hehe, I mostly listen to anime theme songs and game music, so I guess most anime theme songs
    8. Lots of music questions, I guess 90s.
    9. No
    10. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
    11. The Hunger Games movies

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1. I *really* need to give that game another shot.
      2. Yeah, with gaming critics, you’d think the rule was “Opaqueness is key”.
      3. Mine was the one right after it.
      4. I prefer 3D, but there are plenty of great 2D ones out there.
      5. I remember back when that was popular. I should probably look into that at some point.
      6. Going for a soundtrack album, eh?
      7. That would make sense.
      8. Yeah, when the eighties doesn’t get a lot of heat from classic rock fans, it’s the nineties. I just think it’s sour grapes because both decades are much better than they would lead you to believe.
      9. Me neither. I find I can’t concentrate on a film while eating. Plus, I like to save money.
      10. I have that in my film collection. I’ll probably get into that before the end of the year.
      11. I liked the films, but not to the extent where I would defend them from someone who didn’t. Its flaws are pretty indefensible.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah, that nihilism in the AAA sphere is a big one. One of the problems with trying to ape other mediums is that generally, by the time yours gets around to it en masse, the audience has already seen it and moved on. The darkness wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t nearly so many games taking part in it. Altogether, the entire thing just falls flat, especially when none of them really have much to say about it except just bad for bad’s sake.

    Since I’ll be answering these questions as well, don’t want to get into spoilers, but my 3 second game would be Persona 4 as well. Although that’s probably pretty obvious by now.

    And I hate loading. I’m a pretty patient guy in general, and I know in a lot of cases it’s a necessary evil, but especially with some games in the more recent years, starting up the game then having to wait a couple of minutes to actually get to your first bit of play, it’s not fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s definitely another one of those cases where something made it big, meaning that writers who didn’t have the level of comprehension to realize what made it work tried it out for themselves, only copying the vague surface elements while lacking any kind of nuance. Similarly, I think a lot of gaming critics fall in the trap of assuming that because something has never been done in the medium before that the first try is automatically good. While innovators are important, that’s just not always going to be the case. If that theory had any leg to stand on, Pac-Man 2 would be considered a postmodernist masterpiece for being one of the first games where the player is a character in the story when it’s (rightly) considered garbage.

      I thought it might be. As of this writing, it’s my favorite JRPG of all time as well.

      That’s what makes the 3DS and Switch so great; you can press start and load a game in a faction of the time most mainstream titles take. With games putting such a big emphasis on graphics, a lot of time is spent waiting for the game to load. It’s entirely indefensible when a critically acclaimed console-exclusive game is poorly optimized to the point where load times will take longer than usual simply because you happened to save in a texture-rich environment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you didn’t go for lootboxes for the first question. As much as I like the so-called “dark fantasy” games I have… it gets to be a bit much when every game is gritty and grumpy and has surly characters (at least, some of them do). And I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of open-world bloat… Doing everything and finding out you’ve done absolutely nothing is definitely a good place to draw the line.

    …what about waffles and ice cream?

    Anyway, congratulations, and thanks for playing along and writing up such wonderful answers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I didn’t want to give the obvious answer. Don’t get me wrong – lootboxes blow and whoever came up with them should be ashamed, but I feel getting rid of them wouldn’t actually encourage the AAA industry to improve. Indeed, what makes Ride to Hell: Retribution such an abhorrent game isn’t just that it’s broken beyond imagination, it’s that it really is a distillation of the absolute worst excesses that era of AAA gaming partook in. Then again, I’ve noticed that can really be said of a lot of other terrible works. On that note, I may not have liked The Last of Us, but it played a crucial role in shaping my beliefs of what does and doesn’t constitute a good gaming experience. It probably wasn’t in a way Naughty Dog would’ve wanted, but that’s fine by me. Inadvertently or not, they were at least partially responsible for this site’s existence.

      Have you played an open-world game that suffered from the dreaded open-world bloat?

      I don’t think I’ve had those two together; I have had fresh waffle cones, and those are good.

      You’re welcome. Thanks for the nomination!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll have to thank Naughty Dog again, then. You make an interesting point about the excesses of AAA gaming. That’s a very good way of putting it…

        As much as I hate to admit it… I would say a game like Dragon Age: Inquisition and (unsurprisingly) Mas Effect: Andromeda had some bloat, although I think the latter had a little more padding around the edges. Don’t get me wrong; I had a lot of fun traveling around, but once I sank 40 hours in and was nowhere near the end… unfortunately the sidequests of the second half of the games went largely unnoticed unless they were “pertinent,” like a companion quest or something.

        I highly recommend it, then!

        Liked by 1 person

      • My brother think the same. We both play for artistic experience as well. Sometimes we play to release tension (fighting games). I think videogame shouldn’t be ashamed of itself and try to morph into something else other than game. Perhaps, I did not communicate myself clearly. That’s all.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: March 2018 in Summary | Extra Life

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