Thursday, December 23, 2010
Ever notice the geeky activity (i.e. video games, card games, role playing, anime, cartoons, etc) you're most likely to see a high number of women in is anime and manga? Not an objective fact necessarily (though it might be and I just don't know), just an observation. In fact I may see more girls into anime and manga than I go guys. I've been to quite a few anime conventions and the stereotype of fat sweaty guys in sailor moon cosplay (costume play to those not in the loop) is like 1 to 200. Most of the slack is picked up by hordes and hordes of women. They're the male characters, the female characters, the animal characters, The furries(I've only ever seen male fursuiters so far.) everything! The artist's alley tables is filled largely with women, The anime club I ran in high school was primarily female/potentially primarily female (Even though there were more male regulars in the club, there were more girls in the school in general that were anime fans. It was a small school so I could gauge this easily.), and the anime club at the college I'm attending now is primarily female, and my the demographic of my anime-related videos on youtube is primarily female (Assuming they're telling the truth of their sex.).
Anecdotal evidence: it's right and wrong.
Anyhow, I thought this was fascinating because you always hear about how there are less girls in gaming (at least we used to) and there are all these articles on sexism in game, why the games that try to draw in girls are stupid, etc, etc. My dorm is filled to the brim with Magic: The Gathering geeks but not a single one is a girl. This is the same with the anime clubs I've been in. And When I'm in bookstores I see more ladies (though people in general) perusing the manga rather than the section where the Bone and Tintin compilations are. Tabletop RPGs are a different monster, there are definitely ladies in that area. In fact I think the ladies are drawn more towards JRPGs, not sure why, just a thought.
Anyhow, let's assume my observations have a modicum of truth, why are things the way they are? I can think of a few good reasons:
1) Marketing demographics
2) Most geeky activities have always had a "boy's club" exclusionary feel to them. 3) Handsome Men
1) Marketing demographics.
What's the difference between American comic books (Yes, Europe, I see The Beano, Tintin, and Asterix and I love those, but I need to go with what I know here.) and Japanese comic books? Well besides the fact when I say American comics you immediately think Superhero comics, you're more likely to find comic books in Japan that appeal to everyone and every interest. American comics used to do this until the comic code fiasco occurred and effectively purging the comic book scene of almost everything but surreal superhero comics. Nowadays you have tons of superhero comics that overshadow your occasional very good independently made comic. But in Japan, while the shounen (term for young boys) demographic is large, it doesn't necessarily overshadow everything else. I mean, I own a manga that teaches you statistics! There isn't exactly a limit to what is made there (due mostly to cheap production values).
This means there is a larger percentage of stuff, manga and their anime counterparts, geared primarily towards the ladies. In video games their attempts towards getting more girls involved have been a little... sexist. Not all of them are bad shovelware, but most of them are pretty bad stereotypical pink shovelware. That is not how you do it, game industry. You make things more gender neutral or gender inclusive in your games, that's how you draw the ladies in. I mean come on, who in the world is kidding themselves, The Spartans in Halo or the protagonist in any and all first person shooter is a dude. Or games like God of War where, what's this? A male protagonist? Why couldn't the god of war be a chick? Chicks too flimsy? What's that I hear? There's sex scenes and naked ladies in your game? What's wrong with doing a complete reversal? I'm not asking for people to just switch the sex around for all the popular game, I'm saying try to get into what a girl may like in a game without always going stereotype or... doing a cop-out like in pokemon where you just choose "Are you a boy protagonist or a girl protagonist" and the game be exactly identical, men and women experience things differently.
Card games I'm not involved in enough to figure out why it's a sausage fest. But superhero comics. Oh superhero comics... Obviously they're big fat teeanged boy power fantasies, look no further than nerdy loser Peter Parker becoming awesome yet nerdy when he becomes Spider-man and gets all the ladies. You get your muscular manly men and women that look like supermodels with more tracts of land. Gee, such respectful depictions of our fair ladies, I wonder why girls aren't interested. True, some are dressed more modestly and well characterized but really they're more likely to be the male power fantasy's object of desire than a female power fantasy.
2) Most geeky activities have always had a "boy's club" exclusionary feel to them.
Most geeky activities are fairly 'boys only" clubs. For some reason most of the stuff is advertised towards boys while the girls get dolls, fashion, pink, baby care, etc. Totally equal. So obviously for years, women have not been growing up with geeky things geared towards them due to sexist standards that never end.
Most of this is covered in section 1 but additionally, not only have these things been geared towards boys for years, they're hard to get into for people with casual interest, i.e. girls who mostly haven't been given a reason to be interested in thee things to begin with. Video games aren't hard to get into that's more of covered in section one. Everything else has years of continuity and rules. Superhero comic books have years of annoying continuity I'll explain next essay, tabletop RPGs have editions and edition wars, Magic the Gathering have different editions and rules and card types and card colors and for some insane reason people are able to memorize a bazillion of these, and different entry levels for different interests. Like my sister finds even the most basic and self contained fantasy or sci-fi to be "too complex" and I can see each different one as their own thing, but I think she sees it all as a single conglomerate she has to get attempt to understand all of. I mean Elves, orcs, vulcans, dwarves, wookies; to the casual viewer it's all the same to them and if it's not their cup of tea it makes even less sense.
But manga and anime are just single stories, every thing is right there for you like a book and since they're done by a single person (with their assistants) you have consistency unless the author says so. As as stories they have a beginning and an end, simple as that but with all the complexity you need in a story. No easy exclusion.
3) Handsome Men
This was partly a joke, but seriously, our space marines and superheroes are usually rugged male power fantasies, they're not there to look good for the ladies, guys don't know what attract ladies, that's why we suck so much and try so hard. But since it appears some manga writers/artists are women so they know exactly what they're doing and doing it right.
There's just something about the anime and manga art style, specifically of pretty boy that seem to draw girls in. I'd like to see say God of War's Kratos right next to Kyo Kara Maoh's Gwendal in an attractiveness poll and I'm almost willing to bet real money that Gwendal would win by a landslide.
And you know what else is abundant with beautiful men? The Video game equivalent of an Anime: BOOM! Japanese Role Playing Games. Final Fantasy, The Tales series, Even Kingdom Hearts.
So Is this silly? Yes. But does it have merit? Potentially. I suggest a study should be done; handsome men bringing in the ladies into geek oriented things. It's a stupid idea but I'm just spit balling like I always do.
So most card games are rooted in fantasy or sci-fi, same with video games because video games can be outlandish (they have things like dating sims, racing games, some first person shooter, etc, of course, it's the principle of the matter.), superhero comics, the books geeks tend to read and the movies they tend to watch.
Anime and Manga are like every other sort of book only with picture which tells you a lot about it's variety, like the aforementioned one that teaches you statistics. Which means whatever you could be interested in is potentially in that format. Cooking, action, adventure, mystery, romance, magical realism, historic fantasy, it's going to be there, trust me. There are some limitations due to Japan being sort of isolated but it's still a lot of stuff.
So in conclusion, yeah, just something to think about, check around your organizations involving geeky activities, and measure out the guy to girl ratio and get back to me, I'm rather curious about this and this is something you can take a look into too. Obviously things have diversified over the years, that's just the way things go, but these things go slowly so my observations might still be sound.
-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination is Your Greatest Power
Mousa the 14
Sunday, November 7, 2010
What happened to me? College happened! Yeay higher education! This also means I've postponed my "Namco's Embargo" and "Geek Entitlement and General Jerkassery" topics, mostly due to writer's block on the topics. Now, back to the show:
Geeky men are sexless homos. Kind of. Some of us are not, some of us are. Men are allowed to be geeky and still be fully functional members of society simultaneously, even though these qualities tend to almost contradict each other. But any of us who may be insecure, or might have poor social skills, or that unusually high number of us on the net with Aspergers, ADD, OCD, and ADHD (Not me, I'm not trying to be speshul on the net.), not so much. There's just something about this confidence thing that some people can't get enough of. It makes them look like leaders, look reliable and in charge. That's probably why some of them can get away with being jerks: If you're damn confident and charismatic enough, nobody is going to care what a jerk you really are or they'll at least tolerate it.
And of course they get it out of being sure of themselves, these confident men. A belief that they can feel good about themselves and gosh darned it, everyone else should feel good that this person exists. Color me shocked, turned out vinegar attracts more flies than honey becuase those who are insecure enough to be doormats aren't going to get squat. Turns out the movies lie, what a concept. Excuse me while I make a few false dichotomies for your entertainment value:
- Don't hold doors, that's for pansies and losers that let the world walk all over them. Let the people open their own doors.
- Nobody's gonna take you seriously if you say yes. Helping people's for pansies and losers that let the world walk all over them. Say no all the time, be a b******, they can help themselves, no I don't care how heavy that couch is.
- What's this? You're showing some semblance of feelings? What crap is this? Chuck Norris doesn't cry! The only thing you should feel is joy, lust, and RAEG! Having feelings and talking about them at any time is for pansies and losers that let the world walk all over them. MEN are emotionally deficient, got it?
Which mean those who are less then fit either by too much or too little weight have lost a portion of the battle but that's not a deal breaker. The insecurity is still there, becuase let's face it, some of us can be proud and pretty danged confident about our interests or whatever it is the heck we do, but really, those of us in the geeky and nerdy spectrum haven't exactly been praised for our encyclopedic knowledge of the Magic: The Gathering expanded universe. We're not allowed to like what we do without the general public looking upon us with with either ignoring us or general disdain. I mean, we have homebody interests: computers, documenting, organizing, math(a.k.a. Modifying Counter Strike, making wikis about Hunter X Hunter, collecting the entire DC Universe, and Dungeons & Dragons respectively, just to name some examples.)? These aren't MAN'S skills! Go outside and kill yourself ten buffalo and feast upon their testes while you make a sport out of their inflated stomach that involves beating each other up, you pansies!
So nothing to be proud of, skills traditionally unmasculine, extreme doormat tendencies if you're good and an entitlement obsessed overbearing jerkass if you're bad. And of course my entire post was self-deprecation which is also frowned upon becuase it implies insecurities and nobody likes insecurities. Good. Flipping. Grief.
Why can't the world just screw their standards of masculinity? Who cares about these flimsy standards? Yes I know men are providers, have their heads together and in the right place, I'm not talking about disregarding that, I'm talking about disregarding the standards of being a MAN in the social sense, not the familial or interpersonal relationship sense, but just the being yourself sense. Apparently anyone who deviates the norm doesn't deserve companions other than themselves or some other human low on the gender hierarchy than geeks, which is probably the homosexuals, because you can't get any more unmanly than digging dudes, amirite?
But of course this is just whining about a problem that I'm unwilling to change for myself. Most of your confident men friends may tell you changing is easy, just go out there and get our of your comfort zone. If that's their advice, obviously their minds are wired too differently for them to understand the roadblocks or history that built you up to your current mindset, or they don't want to/care to understand, or they are so far ingrained in their confidence mindset of doing anything easily that anything less is too unusual for them to comprehend. Either way, it's helpful unhelpful advice. It's basically helpful for confident people in hiding or in a rut and anybody who is even less than that are boned. You can try, but why put on a mask of being all "MANly" it accomplishes so much, but you may as well live a lie. Not everyone is raised to the proper standards of MANliness and some can act, but it's not who they are. Perhaps some of us are averse to violence, aggression, competition, athletics, or enjoy coding, showtunes, platformers, Dungeons and Dragons, or some combination of the above and more, why should it matter? Why should those all fall into other dark recesses of society with all who have those qualities as part of their make up?
Being the best version of yourself should be all that it takes to be a man. If confidence is difficult, then it is, and it may take a while to get it out there, but if people are going to look down on you for it, then to heck with them. An insecurity or two isn't going to kill anybody, though making an effort to break out of them would be preferred but we're only human, guide-dangit.
Look, I'm going around in circles and it appears I'm having trouble figuring out which parts I'm endorsing and condemning so I'm going to add this last bit of polish and head to sleep. The point is :The Standards are exclusionary, pointless, and demeaning and only breed insecurities, bitterness, and anger and not of the MANly kind either, but something cold and dark that breeds jerkasses and doormats.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The jokes could go on and on. And on. And on. And on. And on.
Avatar, The Last Airbender was an insanely popular animated series on Nickelodeon and their last hurrah before they would descend into mediocrity and Spongebob Squarepants again. The characters were interesting, complex, and funny; the plot was involving and mature, especially for a kid's show; it took it's audience seriously without doing too much or doing too little. Avatar was good. Insanely Good. In my cynical tweens I thought Nick was attempting to cash in on the anime boom by trying to release a series with a poor story and poor characters and try to draw people in based on Asian references and anime-type art style alone. I was wrong on more levels than I can even comprehend.
However, it was LONG. Or Long-ish. It had three seasons with 20 episodes in each season (except the last which had 21.). That's approximately 25 minutes an episode multiplied by 20... That's 500 minutes a season, That's 8 hours and 20 minutes per season give or take. aka A whole school/work day and we all know how long those feel.
So when it was announced to be a movie we all know it would be poor. You can't compress 8 hours of subtext, filler, and foreshadowing into 1.5-2.5 hours. Especially when a lot of that filler was dedicated to building the world, the characters, and not actually filler but more foreshadowing or filled with characters who will recur later on and be important to movie the story along (Yeah, the writers cared that much, for a kid's show mind you.). You'd have to cut a butt load out, make the plot more straight foreword, utilize Characterization Marches On (An odd but common of concept involving using the developed versions of a character's personality, or the most well know aspects, in an adaptation rather than starting from how they were in the beginning and letting them develop as such. It's sort of how like caricatures are made.) in order to keep the characters consistent and skip using movie time to develop them properly, but remove some of the foreshadowing and world building, you know, that sort of thing. Could've been a mediocre or average movie series.
But you can't trust anything in the hands of M. Night Shyamalan, can you? I have not seen his movies, I was a kid and didn't care about anything that was released. I hear The Sixth Sense was good and the one or two that came after were adequate or great, and everything following was worse than poor. M. Night Shamland is apparently a good director and technician but can't write anything worth crap has been flanderized as the "twist ending" guy. And he has arrogance too. I mean who stars themselves as the misunderstood hero of a movie you're directing? Anyhow, he's possibly so arrogant he finds only what he himself writes is worth directing. And that's when Last Airbender starts coming apart at the roots.
Now, I'm going to sound silly since I myself have not seen the movie. However I have good reason for this. I have heard from friends, trusted acquaintances, internet reviewers, official reviewers, and Roger Ebert that either this movie is poor and/or it does not do it's source material justice. The only guy I know who is contrary to this fact is.... well... My supposedly beloved Game Overthinker a.k.a. MovieBob is trying to desperately to give M. Night a chance. Poor deluded fool. Or perhaps I'm wrong. I don't study film, I'm going to be an engineer with an art and writing background. Perhaps technically it is good and the plot is poor due to compression. It's so hard to judge such things sometimes. Perhaps I'll rent the movie on a future date, but giving it money is the last thing I want to do right now.
So without further do, using the internet and half-baked research, I'm going to enumerate the changes M. Night made to the Last Airbender and why they're a problem...
1) The Bending.
If you watch the series it's difficult to see how in the lord's prayer he screwed that up. Bending is a lot like martial arts in the show, heck, let's not use technicalities here, it is martial arts, based off of real fighting styles. How it differs from martial arts is basically proximity to your opponent. With real martial arts you're going up and actually hitting your opponent. With bending you're making similar movements, to move your respective element. You're not going up to hit a guy, you're making the motions to hit a guy and then the element does the hitting for you. It's supposed to make sort of flowing motions, conforming to how you're moving. Sounds like a simple enough concept to grasp: Hire some real martial artists in those particular styles or styles similar, train your actors, make sure your choreography looks good and make your CGI flow with the moves.
No, instead we get spell casting. And by that I mean you stand around and to some cool movements and then your desired effect will occur after the fact, so basically like casting a spell. Heck, it doesn't even look like fighting in the movie, they're basically doing an interpretative dance and then BOOM, element moves!
Wow, all that dancing to move a single solitary rock? Apparently this is called Flynning. Aang almost had the right idea, though the entire "arm wiggling" thing looked a little silly and but with air bending it's meant to be more flow-y with the whole body. In this final battle scene it seems they finally got bending to look right, but why all the slo-mo?
Now real earthbending looks a lot like this:
You can really see the flow and if you watch other compilations you'll see just how this works and how M. Night Shy ruined it.
And the firebenders were just poor looking, I mean it makes you wonder how some silly looking and incompetent guys almost took over the world. I mean seriously, how did they when their bending takes so freaking long to perform? In fact, let's talk about the fire nation
2) The Fire Nation and the Firebenders.
In light of my previous "Interpretive dance" statements, I want to note how strange it seems that the fire people were able to conquer the world with such slow moving techniques. I mean when you think about it, fire is one of the least substantial elements, a wall of water, earth, or Air would've taken them down. The fire nation must have had some sort of edge, and i would predict those would be 1) The element of surprise (Who else was preparing for war, eh?), 2) superior battle tactics, 3) numbers, 4) something their element has the others don't. Number three is unlikely because the fire nation is a small mountain/volcano area, dwarfed by the sheer size of the other nations, separated or combined. It was obviously better battle tactics like kidnapping all the water benders, putting earthbenders in places like metal cells or rigs in the middle of the ocean so they have nothing to bend, and killing all the airbenders. I mean, you would need to have better tactics to take on the earth nation, they're flipping huge. The earth kingdom is like Russia, hampered only by the fact that it's cities are far few in between for them to be a singular coherent unit. The firebenders had strategic edge and military might.
But they had something else too. They didn't need a source for their fire, they were the source. At a first glance, M. Night Shanghai's decision for them to have a specific source was reasonable. all the other benders needed a source, naturally, so would the firebenders. Unfortunately this meant they carried around lanterns. Never mind this looked silly, it took away a bit of plausibility for what made the fire benders so fearsome. You could take earthbenders away from their earth by surrounding them in iron or taking them to sea and land-bound waterbenders need to take water with them at all times or they're pretty much screwed. The airbenders were monks, 'nuff said. The firebenders make their fire from their life, their chi, it's literally the heat of their energy is burning form. These guys had some sort of edge. and when Sozin's comet comes in their power is amplified greatly. In the movie it just gave them the same abilities they had in the TV show. Laaaaaaaaame. Compounded by how long it takes to bend anything in this movie, these guys shouldn't have been able to take over diddlysquat.
I shouldn't have to talk about this, but I want to talk about this. I realize everybody has talked this topic to death but I have an op non too. And yes, I am fully aware of the purity camp and the anti common courtesy-, er, "Anti-Political correctness" camp. And I say, I am not a centrist who thinks this is all silly and yet, I kind of am. When I first saw the announced cast all I could think was "They better damned good actors for M. Night Shyamalan to change their ethnicities or skin colors as it were." I was wrong. I have read enough reviews, talked to enough people, and seen enough clips to know that these kids cannot act. Or if they can, they were given too much exposition to express genuine emotion. either way, M. Night Sham screwed up with his casting choice. Except apparently, the actors for Iroh and Zuko. Strange the best actors in the movie are the bad guys. Even stranger that they're Indian. Like M. Night.
Anyway, jokes aside, Why would M. Night distract from the fans by doing something silly like change the characters ethnicities? To what end? All it did was invoke unfortunate implications since the bad guys are all dark skinned and the good guys are all white. I mean, if he really couldn't find enough Inuits or Native Americans to be Sokka, Katara, or the rest of the water tribes, he could've have at least used Indians; he's clearly in no short supply of them and I'd bet Dev Patel could be a far better Sokka, I can totally imagine it. At least Dev can act.
Why are the Fire Nation Indian anyway? Is it the Indian people's penchant for spicy food? Why not Latinos then if we're going to go with completely arbitrary choices based solely on how spicy the food is? I mean, judging by their architecture and clothing/armor style it's pretty clear that the Fire Nation are based off of Japanese people and I doubt it would have hurt them to use their East Asian surplus from the Earth Nation to make up the Fire Nation.
Speaking of Earth Kingdom, that big ol' conglomerate of Korean/Chinese outfits, is big enough and varied enough that frankly, I don't care what M. Night or anyone does with them. The Earth Kingdom is large enough and wide enough that you could use a plethora of actors to represent them; black, Indian, east Asian, Arab, it would all fit depending on the area you're in the Earth Kingdom, and that place is huge.
Aang I can understand, the kid is rather pale. The Air Nomads are equivalent to Tibetans, but I think he could be white or east Asian. But they picked poorly. You know how M. Night chose the actor for Aang? The kid sent in a Tae Kwan Do video of himself. M. Night picked the kid because he could look good bald, he was young, and he could do Tae Kwan Do.
So how did M. Night Shame screw up the characterization? Well let's start with Prince Zuko. Oh no, apparently his character is fine, but the hair. You see, Zuko's hair was a symbol of his development. One can note how angry and villainous he was when he was bald and had that tiny topknot. As he starts growing out of his "shame" and starting to see the error of his ways, he grows his hair out. Was Dev Patel too afraid to ruin his precious hair? They have make-up techniques for that sort of thing.
Katara, our faithful narrator didn't do anything. I mean, why follow the trend of women that are too good at everything or don't do anything. Why can't she be a competent team Mom like she was intended to be? Instead you give her prominent and important moments to Aang (like the liberation of the Earth Benders) and you even make Aang a better bender than her, even though he's new at this. Have you no Logic? I mean, apparently Sokka did more in combat than Katara did. Sokka!
And now for our Aang. Want to know the real reason for him leaving the monks? Let me give you a hint, it has nothing to do with usual Monk traditions like not having a family. He left because he was a scared little kid who didn't want to be the Avatar and didn't want to be a responsible adult so early. Certainly not a silly thing like "can't have a family". And Also, Aang? Serious? seriously, M. Night? that's the approach you take with the optimistic, happy go-lucky protagonist? Did you "forgot" your Prozac every-time you write Aang's part? I mean, i get it, kid running away form responsibility, weight of the world on his shoulders, his entire people has been eradicated; But did you really have to take away from his core personality? You can make Aang sad and angry, but remember, he's also a pretty fun kid!
Sokka was supposed to be the smart guy. He's funny and incompetent for the first season but there's an allusion to it in the first season: The Southern Air temple where people had colonized the temple and were using technology to emulate flight. The top Engineer there needed some help with some ideas and Sokka was the guy who helped the Engineer progress with his ideas. This was the first seeds of Sokka's "idea man" status. Also, Sokka's silliness was one of the few things great about him. Before Toph came along, he was the main deadpan snarker. He was clumsy, irritable, sarcastic, annoyed by the supernatural, and consistently overcompensated for his "useless" status as a non-bender. Sokka is funny!!! Which reminds me...
5) Darker and Edgier.
Why? just Why, M. Night. What possessed you to turn a light-hearted war story into something darker and edgier? IT'S A KID'S SHOW! it may be an intelligent show that takes it's audience seriously, but it's still a kid's show with loads of laughs, fun, and a whimsical and cheery protagonist. I can understand the need to make Aang's reactions more real or serious, but to take away from his personality? And Sokka? make him serious, will ya? How dare you! He's the heart of the show's comedy!
Perhaps he was looking for an Oscar or something and the only way he thought he could be taken seriously wa if he made the movie serious. I think he just really wanted to make the show's fans really really angry. Darker and Edgier is not a bad concept. Unfortunately people have this horrible tendency of abusing the concept and suing it incorrectly, over-exaggerating how dark and edgy something is and losing sight of the core of what they're doing. That's what happened with this movie.
So about how long is this movie anyway?
103 Minutes. That's an hour and 43 minutes.
Where da heck did the other 17 minutes go? Or 47 minutes if M. Night Shade wanted to make this a longer movie (which he should have by the way.)? He had 8+ hours he had to force into feature length film, what was stopping him from using as much time he was allowed to use? I mean, I'm pretty sure an 2 hours and like 5-20 minutes is like the maximum anybody has a movie out in theaters be. I mean Watchmen was 162 minutes, a whopping 2 hours and 42 effing minutes and it was still a decent adaptation of the graphic novel. He should have been maximizing every second, if not for fitting in the filler and Chekhov's guns (stuff brought up earlier in a narrative of no real significance and then crucial much later), to at least make the characters actual characters. Perhaps there's something I'm missing or don't know about. I mean, I'm not going to film school here, I'm a commentator pointing out flaws. If you film buffs can come up a plausible reason for this time issue then by all means please, let me know, because I'm a little confused about why M. Night Shaman wouldn't use more time when movies have gone on longer. It's like he was actively trying to make this as bad as putting a big middle finger on the screen for an hour and a half.
Now, there are like, a bazillion other things wrong with this movie that I cannot even begin enumerate. I wanted to go over the moon spirit thing and how General Zhao was killed, but I'm getting tired of dwelling on this subject. I need to see the movie to know all the other problems, many other websites have brought them up, and honestly, I am too lazy to do any more research. This took far longer than I had planned because I have other geek rant ideas lined up I want to get started on and this way overdue and probably no longer relevant. I'm simply here to note the things about the movie's changes that annoyed me the most.
I'm tired of this, next time it's gonna be...
Wait, Namco isn't sending us Tales games anymore? What gives?
-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power
Mousa the 14
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
EDIT: Some things I forgot to cover. Obviously One Manga is not the end all to free online manga reading websites. Mangafox and Manga Reader still exist. While One Manga had less than the other two, it's Great to Goof ratio was higher on the Great side. what's more, One Manga was loved for it's simple and easy to use interface, while the other sites were a little clunky. It will probably not help much because of geeks' sense of entitlement I'll cover another day. While reading online is simplier and we are getting stuff immediately, we lack disposable income and more often than not we believe "Internet=Free." So official websites following scanlator's model is a good idea, especially if it's paid for, but like everything, has it's flaws. There is no simple solution or perhaps a solution at all.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
So uh, yeah, Guess I didn't get the memo. When did JRPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games, for the non-geek visitors.) become a laughingstock in North America? Too busy playing manly army games and 90's comic throwbacks to care about something that uses primary colors with characters that have personalities؟
That was the Irony mark by the way. And was I being mean? Indeed. I'm still seething from my overview of Faux Hardcore gamers.
Now, the list of Faux hardcore gamer requirements are basically why JRPGs are considered a joke, but once upon a time these were the types of video games were loved. In a time before I was born of course, but that's not the point. If I were to bring up a game like Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and the Pre-Final Fantasy 7 Final Fantasy games, I would've thought they were talking about a completely different genre of games because a good majority of gamers seem to love those games for their compelling story lines, interesting characters, fun world to explore, gameplay, and whatnot.
Bring up anything post Final Fantasy 7 you're likely to get bombarded with a vitriol matched only by the Tea Party. But why is that? I seriously doubt JRPGs killed their dogs, and if they did we have bigger things to worry about, like finding out where the Allspark is or how to stop Skynet from killing us.
Well first of wall what do we have t compare them to? If there's a "J" in front of the RPG then J is obviously a qualifier to point out this is similar to but not likea set standard. Here's a poorly researched history lesson for you:
Video Game RPGs are mostly based around the Dungeons and Dragons. The DnD style of game was a complex story telling adventure that featured you and yoru friends exploring a new world as a different person as they fought monsters, explored towns, saved princesses all while upgrading their skills and weapons and maintaining an inventory as well as your health. Video Game RPGs are simplified versions of these because Video Games by definition are limited and therefore cannot provide much the depth, creativity, or numerous elements involved in your standard Dungeons and Dragons game or it's numerous counterparts.
Sacrifices had to be made and one can easily see what sort of Video Game RPG you're playing based on which sacrifices were made.
JRPGs are heavy on story and characters and because of that the decisions you make have little impact on how the story plays out except for a few changes in character development or a different ending when you beat the game. This meant a lot of gameplay was marginalized. You are basically watching an anime and a movie and your job is to move characters from A to B, make sure they don't die in non-plot related things, occasionally do some side quests that involve talking to certain people or delivering things, and fight on a usually non-necessary basis. A majority of JRPGs would make solid TV series or Movies rather than actual games where interactivity and decision making is key. In terms of actual figthing JRPGs basically are numbers game where you have to equio your characters with high ranking weapons and have them use high powered attacks, and maintain their health bar over 75%. All this in turn-based combat.
The numbers from the origin RPGs are there but the fun of actually being a person in the story is not. It's more like you're following some guy and his friends.
In Breif, and I quote someone else: "An angsty teenager with god awful hair struggling with groundless and poorly defined emotional problems through chapters of text boxes. "
Contrast with the common Western RPGs which take a more free-range open sandbox sort of style and has more emphasis on free range combat stuff a la Legend of Zelda or Assassin's Creed. but you tend to get a simpler story and you have a bigger opportunity to do far more sidequests. You can actually choose what class of character you want to be and what skills you can upgrade. Games with karma meters or dialogue selections allow for there to be slightly more effects on what you do, though usually not as much as people would like. The kicker is that usually the main story is nothing to look at and you find yourself eventually getting bored once the exploration becomes repetitive and you realize what you do doesn't have as much of an impact as you like.
In breif, and I quote someone else: "three hours of beating wolves to death in the rain in order to grab a handful of low-grade magical crap that you'll only sell a few minutes later. "
The false dichotomy here is basically choosing between more story and more choice. And more obviously the non-anime fan western audience want more choice.
However that's far deeper than what people actually complain about in terms of JRPG flaws.
Ignoring all the failings that involve appeal ling to the Faux Hardcore gamer, allow me to enumerate a lot of the commonly mentioned "problems" with JRPGs.
1) The Main protagonist is usually same broody emotional and emo or stereotypical energetic and excitable male anime protagonist.
1a) That is usually portrayed in an overly handsome/cutesy anime style
1b) And he wields a sword 99.99% of the time
1c) and has an annoying voice
2) The combat is turn based which is boring and lacks innovation.
3) Nothing you do actually matters
4) The art is 99.99% of the time going to be done in the typical Japanese animation style or as many call it, an anime style.
5) They lack replay value
6) The plots are usually cliche
7) No customization for anything.
9) Numbers are imperative in order to beat enemies rather than skills.
9a) Level grinding is imperative so you Can be stronger than the next boss
9b) No skill needed, just buy the next strongest weapons and armour
10) And It's not really roleplaying if you're going through someone else's story, limited to their personal skills with no variation, and it's their personality that drives the plot and not yours.
If there's more I remember, I'll add them but that's the basic outline ad they are frankly valid arguments. But it's hard to see why JRPGs were liked once upon a time.
Chrono Trigger still had the skill limitations and numbers crunching and you were playing as a set of established characters. But then The protagonist had a blank slate personality, what decisions you made in the game affected a great deal of the story, and the combat style was more of a faux-turn based one.
Earthbound has many of the similar failings Chrono Trigger had but it was open world, the writing was clever and the story was well done, and you had a lot of freedom in what you could do.
So JRPGs aren't necessarily a problem, it's that as games become bigger and more expensive to make it becomes more difficult to combine the best of both wolds to create something fun and interesting.
There is another factor I didn't mention that could be a cause of all this: Following the Leader. You see, Final Fantasy 7 introduced something new for it's time with a complex and fascinating protagonist with a deep and interesting plot even though it was wrought with all the things on the list many claim to hate about JRPGs. Well guess what, after the super success of FF7, many tired to follow in suit and thus nigh every JRPG we see these days is what one might call a rehash of Final Fantasy 7. Everything was starting too like trite and cliche after the original and now what we have left is a big ball of rage.
What can be done? Not sure, it seems like it's hard to break trends when you have budgets. We can only hope something new and creative comes our way like Okami, The World Ends With You, or the Tales of Symphonia/Phantasia battle system used for more RPGs.
-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa the 14
call me a semantics freak, but I coulda swore that these terms had specific definitions, but that could just be me. More a long time people have used the words interchangeably to simply mean "Socially inept guys we mainstream people don't like because they have non-mainstream interests, dress casually, act weird, and aren't particularly attractive."
Then why have two words? Words that are different yet supposedly mean the same or similar thing? and I'm sure people have their own personal mental dictionaries that give each of these words a specific term. even my mainstay, TvTropes.org, has separate definitions for each.
The distinction is subtle, too subtle for anybody to really care so they ignore it. However I believe that from all I've heard and read I can glean some sort of distinction.
I realize this may be futile. I mean, XKCD is laughing at me right now for it. But the alt text proves to me that even the XKCD guy has a version of it and in fact mine is quite similar. So without further ado I present the definitions.
NERD: A socially inadequate person who is noted not only for their poor social skills or lack of caring of mainstream interests and styles, but for their intelligence, display of said intelligence, and deep knowledge of a wide variety of fields or a specified field. The big difference between a geek and a nerd is that a Nerd's brilliance is usually within academic pursuits. They are Science geeks, math geeks, computer geeks. If it is an academic field with real life applications or at least has a real field of study and you are intellectually vested in it, you are a nerd.
GEEK: A subset of hobbyist, people who have an deep interest in traditionally non-mainstream subjects that are often considered childish in nature. Similar to the Nerd, they are usually socially inadequate and brilliant. Unlike the nerd, their brilliance tends to be dedicated to their specific hobby. Usual interests of Geeks fall under Science-Fiction and Fantasy Genres spanning all mediums. Another aspect of Geeks as defined by The Game Overthinker in his video on continuity found here. the short and paraphrased version is this: "Geeks glean fun from turning something that is already fun into work" such as playing video games competitively, Stop Having Fun Guys, or collecting the entirety of the Marvel universe's comics to "keep the continuity straight".
Geeks follow this mantra "(Insert Hobby here), My Anti-Drug: Because Crack is Cheaper"
Agree with me, don't agree with me. I think I'm right, but I'm just that one ranting geek among millions. I doubt I'm wrong but I dare thou to challenge me.
Though it does seem strange that some, including myself, are arguing over the semantics of an insult pointed in our general direction.
-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa The 14
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
When all Else Fails, you call Mousa the 14, that one ranting geek.
I had a lot to say about how geeks are all hating on furries. But now, I'm turning this car around. It's time I complain to the furries. Because you guys, furries, you give geeks so much material to hate you. You're mostly relatively normal people, I know that, One of my good friends is a furry. You're all people too. I understand that. But I also understand that a vocal minority, and a moderate majority of you are all IDIOTS!
You perpetuate negative stereotypes that give people a reason to make fun of you. And I'm going to use the exact same list I used to scold the haters Just to prove my point:
And that's all I have to say to you furries. Leave the trolls alone and they'll leave you alone. Oh, and Otherkin? Seek help. Please. I beg of you.
-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa The 14
I have a passing interest of gamers. And by that I mean I watch these guys on a regular basis. Danny Floyd and The Overthinker have helped refined my view of gamers, Same with this guy. He is awesome.
With my influences out of the way, time to talk about the core gamers. You see, Hardcore Gamer is a term that has lost it's meaning nowadays. I remember once upon a time, in a more innocent time, I had friends who considered themselves to be hardcore gamers and I was labeled casual. This was appropriate, I didn't play as much as them. They played a lot. They got 100% completions, they knew how to "wave dash", they knew how to combo, all that stuff. They were real hardcore gamers. They kept up with releases, knew the rumors, knew what was fake, cared about graphics and all that stuff. They cared about all that stuff. Me? I could barely keep up.
However that golden age of true hardcore gamer has gone and the name has been passed on to a different sort of gamers,a vocal minority who make it into the news, who get all the coverage. The ones Sony and Microsoft are pandering to. These new "Hardcore" gamers were of a different breed. They took hardcore for something completely different. They were immature, some young, some middle aged, but they were all insecure and masculinity obsessed guys. They took hardcore to be "Masculine", "Virile", "EPIC", all that jazz. They wanted these things and these things only:
1) First Person Shooters or anything similar. Sometimes Third person actions will do so long as it's dark and edgy.
2) Military Games
3) Games to be Darker and Edgier and Grim and Gritty.
4) The Women needed to be Hotter and Sexier
5) Their protagonist needed to be a personality deficient musclebound white guy with a perma-stubble and an attitude.
5a) Or the Protagonist was the first guy's personality deficient armored and faceless cousin who presumably looks like the first guy.
6) Everything needs to be Brown and Gray, no Primary colors because that's gay!
7) The setting? Only Battle torn or post-apocalyptic will do.
8) REALISM! REALISM! REALISM! Stylization is GAY!
I described more games than I care to count and while games that fit this mold aren't necessarily bad, I mean, Prototype is pretty good, I have no real qualms with the Call of Duty games besides the fact they're not my thing, and apparently Everyone Loves Metal Gear Solid. My problem is that the industry seems to be bending over backwards for this immature crowd's standard because... I don't know. They're the most vocal? They're older and therefore have more disposable income maybe? The point is that Sony and Microsoft seem to be bending over backwards against innovation, original characters, and using the entire color spectrum in order to make similar stuff that, on occasion, isn't all that interesting or catering to a group too small. These guys aren't the real Hardcore gamers, they think they are but they aren't.
These faux Hardcore gamers are an insecure bunch, most of who grew up with gaming and now they refuse to believe their favorite media isn't growing up with them. They refuse to believe that their game systems are toys and when they game they play with toys! It's not an insult, it's a fact, but they take it as an insult to their maturity, their age, and their intellect. And ironically, they regress by going over the top with high school varsity football homophobic macho testosterone fueled machismo in a rage and immaturity so great they make Chuck Norris look like a little girl. It's sad really that these are the guys we stick the modern day "hardcore" label to.
My annoyance grows more only because you can just tell these are the hardcore gamers Sony and Microsoft are pandering to. Have you seen a Playstation3/Portable ad lately? Those things are an insult to our intelligence as geeks and as true hardcore gamers. You haven't yet? Go look one up, YouTube is readily available and all, go on, I dare you. Adding "Sassy black boy" in the search descriptor might help too.
You back? Seen them? Now you see where I'm getting at here. Th tough guy attitude, the "hip" lingo, it's like they're not even trying. They think gamers are the Faux Hardcores and ergo treating us like we're idiots.
If I sound like I'm ragging a lot on Sony and Microsoft, it's because I'm really not seeing this issue with Nintendo. Sure they have their problems, what with all the shovelware, the excess in mindless kiddie games, all that stuff but it still dishes out a lot of good games with a palette that is wider than what Sony and Microsoft tend to make themselves out to be. Yeah they have their kiddie stuff, their moderate stuff, their stuff that uses the entire color spectrum, But you cannot deny what their claim to fame is and that's trying to pander to the Faux Hardcore gamers.
Why is it those faux hardcores and portions of the gaming industry don't realize that being a "hardcore" or "casual" gamer, (or, shall I say "Skill Players" and "tourists" to be more accurate) has nothing to do with the type of games you play but how you play them. The guy who does the gamer taxonomy I linked above already talks about that. It's about either you play games because you want to develop a useless skill because you derive fun form being an expert or because you just want to have fun
Anyhow, that's my thoughts on the Faux Hardcore gamers, how they have destroyed the definition of a true Hardcore gamer, and why they matter. Now if you will excuse me, I must rustle up some cash, I need to find me a backwards compatible PS3.
-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa The 14
Monday, July 19, 2010
Everybody hates Furries! Geeks hate them, normal people hate them, the media hates them, apparently CSI hates them but I'd rather kill myself than watch that utterly uninteresting show.
Why exactly? I mean seriously, why?
I want to say you all have no reason to, but honestly you have many reasons to.
1) They are easy to get a rise out of
2) They act like a repressed minority when they are at a minimum hobbyist, and at the most a subculture, but not a real one, but like how "gamers" and "Otakus" are subcultures.
3) Otherkin. 'Nuff said
4) You had a bad first experience with one and are projecting on them all because you are a deaf bigot.
5) There was furry porn and you assumed all of them were sexual deviants.
6) The furry porn thing part 2: They like animal-people, ergo, They are into bestiality, the sick perverts.
Obviously the last 3 are not legitimate reasons but they're real reasons nevertheless. I can understand why normal people would alienate them.
However I do not understand why we, the Geeks and Nerds, do. Why would we, the guys who love X-men (an allegory for tolerance), hate on a group of people based on their interests? Need I remind why why we're called Geeks and Nerds? Because we are ostracized by mainstream and popular people for having non-mainstream interests. Oh, and because a vocal minority of you refuse to maintain decent hygiene but that's a rant for another day.
But as I was saying, we enjoy fantasy, science-fiction, video games, superheroes, comic books, card games, anything that comes from Japan, and so muc hmore, and we're ridiculed for it or rather, we're ignored to the point of making use exiles. In fact, this is it, isn't it? That's the reason.
Geeks have a persecution complex!
We have always been considered pretty low on the frikkin' "food chain". And That sucks. We supposedly learned to deal with it. But then we find something even we consider too strange and we come down on it like a ton of bricks.
Need I remind you of the Geek Heirarchy?
Here's the Unabridged version. Either way, Furries get a raw deal. And for what reason? They're easy to troll? Well that's mean-spirited and non-nonsensical, but then, not everybody can be rational, tolerant, and not living proof of GIFT. Oy vey...
So anyhow, where was I? Ah yes, we were bullied so we bully someone even lower than we are. Now that's mature. I'm so proud that a group supposedly filled with intellectuals or at least reasonably smart people can be such idiots. I mean what are we, Republicans?
I mean seriously, why should we direct our fury at them when they did nothing to us? If anything we should be raging against the mainstream, the cool kids, the popular people, the sportsmen, all those guys, not our fellow shut-ins. But then, maybe we just don't like each other.
I mean us geeks are a divisive group. Besides a common interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy, our interests beyond that get pretty diverse and divided. we get further away from the common genre and become more interested in our particular niches. I mean how do you enjoy expressing your interests in genre fiction? Video Games? Reading? writing? Magic The Gathering? Anime? See? Our methods are so divided we have no reason to like each other. I've seen it all before. Everybody's got to hate on something from the "Weeaboos" to the "Casual/Hardcore/Retro Gamers", it gets pretty silly. We shouldn't be doing this. We enjoy stuff that practically bleeds, breaths, and sweats tolerance. Why aren't we learning?
So I guess all I'm saying is, we've been out-casted for our interests, so why all the hate?
-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination Is Your Greatest Power.
Mousa The 14