Tag: Ready Player One

The penultimate week

The penultimate week

My apologies for the absence this last weekend, oh loyal viewers — wherever the five of you may be.

I took a little time for myself following the Honors Conference (both my panel and a few friend’s panels I attended on Saturday) to focus on the last few assignments I have to complete before the semester is over. Next week.

I’ve also spent a good chunk of the weekend letting the existential dread of realizing that “this week is my last full week of college” drape over me like a heavy blanket.

Seriously, what? That’s not real. Who allowed this?

To be fair, I may go back to school one day and get a Masters or teaching credential so I can be a teacher in my later years. Seems like that would be a cool way to give back after I make a name for myself.

But that’s not really a matter for here and now. I’m mostly just nervous about the incoming inevitability of having no excuses to not go after that name.

Because that is terrifying.

So I’ve been relishing my last few college-oriented assignments. Turning in my Internship hours, pulling my novel’s prep work together for the physical Honors project and watching old Stephen Colbert videos for Comm Law.

For my Gaming in American Culture class, my last assignment (other than the final paper) is to read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One for our discussion on virtual reality this Thursday.

Or… In my case, to re-read Ready Player One. Much like Ender’s Game, I read this book a few years ago. Well before the Spielberg adaptation was even announced.

Thus, similar to Ender’s Game, I’ve decided to take my re-consumption of the story in a different form: Listening to the audio book.

Cue YouTube-style Audible shill.

But not really, because Amazon isn’t paying me. If anything, I’m paying them — or at least my family is.

I will say the re-listen has been pretty worth it. Not only does the audio book make it easier to reacquaint myself with differences between the written and cinematic versions while doing other work, the act of listening is that much more fun because Wil Wheaton is reading it.

Wheaton’s reading leads to some beautifully meta moments, because he is personally mentioned in the story.

For instance, Wade Watts (the story’s protagonist) talks about Wheaton as a great representative of user interests on an elected council in the virtual reality world of the OASIS.

He says those lines without a shred of irony or winking to the audience, and it’s great.

But yeah… That has basically been my life. Everything y’all missed over the last couple days, other than helping a few friends through their own stressful life situations and watching Kill Bill with my family. Alyson had never seen it, and we needed to rectify that.

I know it’s a hot take for me to say it, but that movie is genuinely still incredible. A visual splendor.

If you need a little stress relief, like I have with all this impending graduation fatigue, go watch yourself some Tarantino. Or play a little Don’t Starve.

That’s my advice.

The Rochlins watch GTFO

The Rochlins watch GTFO

My Gaming in American Culture class has taken me all over the proverbial map when it comes to consuming all different kinds of media.

From tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons or Barbie to re-reading books like Ender’s Game or Ready Player One with new lenses. From watching terrible video game-based movies like Tom Hanks’ Mazes and Monsters to documentaries like Second Skin that touch on the psychological effects of an increasingly isolated digital culture.

For my upcoming class, I had to watch a kickstarted documentary from 2015 called GTFO.

But this time I was not alone. GTFO is all about the treatment of females in the video game industry — both in production and play. That particular subject matter drew interest from other members of the Rochlin household:

IMG_2577

I’m assuming they would have otherwise rolled their eyes at the prospect of a documentary about video games (or at least Aly would), so it’s nice that we all had a subject to collectively appreciate.

… Well, it’s not nice that we had to appreciate the examination of sexual harassment/discrimination/misogyny/insert-buzzword-here in any industry.

That’s about what you can expect here, if you’re interested in the subject.

Subjects ranged from women being pressured in professional eSports, the distinct lack of females in game production (only occupying about 10 percent of the industry), the day-to-day harassment in the voice chats of games like Call of Duty, and more large-scale harassment public scandals like Gamergate.

Though Gamergate was a smaller subject, as the major example of harassment highlighted was Aris Bakhtanians’ treatment of Miranda Pakozdi on a livestream marketing campaign for Street Fighter x Tekken in 2012.

I wasn’t privy to that particular story prior to the documentary, but luckily journalists like Jason Schreier have always done their jobs well.

It’s crazy stuff, but not that crazy. Which is an unfortunate takeaway of the documentary to me.

When interviewees shared and even read out examples of terrible rape- and death-threat filled messages they’d received while gaming, my mom and sister seemed pretty shocked.

And yeah, there was some pretty graphic and intense shit read out.

Yet I’ve been gaming for a long time and saw the proliferated multiplayer days of Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 — before I refused to fix my broken console to spite my friends for some ultimately forgotten comment that annoyed me.

I’ve seen that kind of stuff happen, and I have a lot of female friends who play video games that have similar stories to tell.

So I can’t say I was surprised by anything in the documentary.

Which is unfortunate in itself, but the reality of the situation.

However, it’s not a reality that everyone knows about as multiple subjects remarked. The fact that such a well-composed and thorough documentary exists is great in that regard.

I’d definitely recommend watching it for that reason: More awareness is never a bad thing — even if it might put you back $5 for the day.

Especially given some interesting ideas fielded, such as hoping that encouraging more women to get involved at all levels would cause the toxicity to recess. It’s much harder to attack a woman if there are eight in the voice chat than if there’s only one or two.

But that’s enough of me sucking the oxygen out of the room.

I watched a documentary about treatment of women with a couple women, so it only seems right to let them have the last words.


Dara’s Corner:

I’ve always been aware of misogyny and how it is used in the video game industry. However, I was not prepared for how deeply pervasive it really was portrayed in this documentary. It think a lot of the problem stems from the anonymity allowed, and like my husband says, “on the internet, no one knows you are a dog…”


(And Introducing) Aly’s Corner:

Yayyy I finally get one of these! I walked into watching this thinking I’d be bored out of my mind, but it was actually super well done and intriguing for me. I never really considered myself a gamer, mostly because I can’t just sit down and spend hours finishing a game (Jason can attest to that), but the treatment that women in gaming go through is everywhere in society, and it’s kinda scary to see.

An impossible choice

An impossible choice

I want to put more effort into the post with my thoughts on classes this semester, so I’ll be saving that for tomorrow.

However, today I’m going to sort of ruin that by spoiling my thoughts on the class I’m looking forward to most.

All in service of discussing an existential crisis it has delivered unto me.

While most of my classes are wrapping up my Comm major, Psych minor and Honors distinction, one in particular stands out as being taken purely for myself.

An American Studies class: Gaming in American Society.

I’m no stranger to the American Studies department, as I did take an AMST course on  American Character during sophomore year. Yet that was mainly to fill a general education requirement.

I took Gaming in American Society simply because I adore gaming. Plus I have 21 years of experience in American society, I suppose.

After one class I’m already convinced taking it (as per the recommendation of my friend Mimi) was one of the better decisions I’ve made in my college career. Especially as a final semester swan song.

It’s a 400-level course with a good amount of “dumb fun” elements to the curriculum given its subject matter.

Our novel selection includes Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. We’re also watching a whole host of movies including 1983’s WarGames and 2012’s Indie Game the Movie, all about the development of titles like Super Meat Boy and Fez.

In other words I’ve already consumed a large chunk of the required materials.

The stuff I haven’t yet consumed seems plenty interesting in its own right, even outside of the bias that comes from knowing they stand in a pantheon of enjoyable media.

Hell there’s even a day where we’re just going to spend our three-hour class just playing Dungeons and Dragons. How sweet is that?

Another objectively cool element of the class is that essays are replaced by a long-form research project where we get to choose a game to analyze. Then the three papers we write will be pulled into one mega-paper as our final.

As someone who writes pseudo-game reviews on this blog and actual reviews for papers like the Daily Titan (big Nintendo hitters like Mario and Kirby at that), I should arguably be the most excited for this portion.

Yet I’ve hit a conundrum.

How the hell do I pick just ONE video game to analyze when I could arguably do it for any of my favorites?

Should I analyze one of my favorite nostalgic games of all time, like Pokémon Crystal?

Or for that matter one of the objectively better Pokémon games, given it is my favorite video game series. Perhaps Heartgold and Soulsilver or Black and White 2?

Maybe I should pick a game with more of a cultural impact considering I’ll need to write about its wider historical context. I could potentially use Ocarina of Time (or its 3DS remake), as much as games of that caliber have been analyzed to death in the past.

The Nintendo fanboy in me could downplay itself as well, leading me to analyze a game I enjoy but haven’t spent quite as much time with. Kingdom Hearts 2 or Simpson’s Hit and Run on the Playstation or even something like Don’t Starve or FTL as indie representation out of Steam.

That said, I could pick a game I straight up haven’t played before just to get a fresh take. Final Fantasy 7 has been gathering dust in my Steam library for a long time, and I do want an excuse to finally play it.

Even with all those options in the abstract, my mind did immediately wander in a particular direction when I found out about the assignment.

Recently, especially with the advent of the third Choose your Legends event in Fire Emblem Heroes, I’ve had the desire to go back and play Sacred Stones. My first and favorite Fire Emblem game.

Part of me couldn’t help but think about an interesting analysis coming out of Sacred Stones due to it being the first title released after Fire Emblem’s western debut.

… I was admittedly primed to go in that direction from watching The Geek Critique’s assertion that Smash Bros. Melee was a “kingmaker” for their series the other day.

That’s my most developed idea at the moment, but frankly I’m more than open to coming up with more in the weeks to come.

There are simply too many good games out there in need of analysis.

So I suppose that brings me to a call to arms of sorts. If any of you have ideas for a game I should try to analyze for my research paper (assuming it’s within my means), let me know somewhere on the Internet.

It’ll definitely be taking an unreasonable amount of my brain power for a good long time.

Script Doctoring at its finest

Script Doctoring at its finest

If I haven’t made it totally obvious around here, I like movies.

I like movies a lot. A good chunk of that love comes from my dad, who was a pretty serious actor for a while and continues to work in the movie industry, currently for Fandango as I’ve discussed in the past. Thanks to him I’ve seen all kinds of flicks from throughout cinema history.

As time has progressed, seeing movies with him (and the rest of my family by extension) has essentially become a fun exercise in script doctoring. While a ‘script doctor’ may be an actual industry term for someone who consults on a script before it is put into production, I mean it more in a post-viewing thought experiment sense. Being able to walk away from a movie and discuss what could have been done to improve upon it.

Granted there are elements of hindsight involved knowing everything that happens as a finished product rather than seeing it in its fledgling development. A development that may be plagued with other problems that lead to less than stellar end products.

But we discuss things with those points aside. We have no real qualms given that none of us have any intent to create our own movie anytime soon. It’s just fun talking about how we might have improved certain things.

Superhero movies have been an excellent source of that internal debate for the last few years. Especially thanks to the Marvel and DC cinematic universes attempting to create larger, cohesive universes. That kind of large-scale project opens up tons of opportunities to pull from previously established canon in both the comics and movies to determine what might be better ways of moving in the direction those studios are going toward.

DC movies are the obvious ‘easy target.’ You’ve probably heard all of the comments: They ruin a bunch of popular characters. They’re doing everything to catch up to Marvel in too much of a compressed timeline. The dark, gritty approach to superhero storytelling isn’t utilized well.

For the most part I can’t say I’d argue. There are plenty of recent DC movies that I thought I would love just based off trailers which wound up being disappointing. Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman come to mind immediately.

However, there’s plenty of good things going on in the DC cinematic universe. Things that we all want to work out better in an overall context because of how iconic the characters are.

The Batman and Justice League animated series’ from the 90s/00s were huge parts of my childhood. I knew Batman and Superman and all of those characters growing up because of how iconic those shows were, given the fact that I was never much of a comic book reader.

Outside of the big characters like Spiderman or Hulk, I wouldn’t know anything about Marvel until they began their own cinematic universe. Though, to be fair, as amazing as that universe is there still are flaws. It just happens that the flaws are less noticeable due to how much is going well around them.

I would also say that the MCU has been a big thing to me because of how amazing an example it is of creating an extensive universe. Of crafting stories that all tie in together and create one giant experience.

For someone who wound up becoming a writer, it’s amazing to see.

But all of that aside, I feel like I’m getting too tangent-y with what should otherwise be a simple post. Basically, I love discussing the flaws and successes of each superhero movie with my family because of their merits as good cinema and because of the engaging universes they create.

That post-movie critique is frankly as important to me as the movies themselves.

This summer, I’ve taken those interests in post-critiques to a whole new level. My realm of consistent YouTube views has expanded into more analytical channels, rather than simply let’s plays and other video game stuff.

Some notable examples, because I’m honestly using this post as an excuse to promote these people include:

  • NerdSync — A channel focused on looking at not just obscure bits of comic book stories and trivia, but looking at them through the lens of the real world history that led to in-universe decisions. Great 10-minute watches which have taught me so much more about comics themselves that also often promote other comic book-related creators on YouTube.
  • Captain Midnight — More or less the same idea as NerdSync, examining decisions in comic books (primarily their movies) through the lens of real world decisions and general tropes surrounding them. Includes interludes on every video showing commercials and media properties from earlier decades related to modern-day cinematic counterparts that are very recognizably stylized and pretty cool.
  • Mother’s Basement — Kind of does for anime what channels like NerdSync do for comic books. Examining the problematic or successful underlying writing tropes and such which go into beloved shows. Loves to bash on Sword Art Online, which I find hilarious having never watched the show but knowing just how hated it is by anime fans.
  • Just Write — If you want to be a writer like I do, this channel is a good place to spend some time. They look at popular media (be it books, television, movies or some combination of the three) to pick apart specific traditional writing clichés or innovations. Some really notable pieces on shows like Westworld or the modern-day Star Wars trilogy that I love and have been able to use as some writing inspiration for my own novel.

These guys join a pantheon of other more analytic-focused channels that I now enjoy the catalogs of, amongst mainstays like Game Theory, Cinema Sins and Wisecrack.

None of these creators are the reason I decided to write this post in the first place, however. I found a brand new addition to this list today that really pushed me over the edge.

Nando v Movies is a channel that looks at all different movie genres (though primarily superhero flicks) through an analytical realm similar to the others I listed. Picking apart tropes and clichés to see what works and what doesn’t.

But Nando does something a little different to stand apart from the crowd.

He is, essentially, a very well-researched script doctor.

What my dad and I might do just based off knowledge of the cinematic universes we’re observing after watching a new DC movie, he does using a full breadth of comic book history to draw upon.

He quite literally acts out brand new scripts for scenes that either minutely or majorly change a film in a way that drastically changes things. I don’t think I’ve seen any videos of his that misses the mark in making both good and bad films better in some way, shape or form.

He doesn’t just look at the major cinematic universes too, though his work on lackluster DC flicks are pretty amazing. He also looks at the Marvel Netflix shows and other major blockbusters. Star Wars, Ready Player One, Jurassic World. All of which are given minor adjustments with so much heart that they feel like they could be easily canonical.

Even if he too acknowledges in part one of his Justice League rewrite that he has the benefit of hindsight and no movie-making pressure. That’s sort of where I stole my own earlier disclaimer from, as a disclaimer.

Side note, investigations and fan theories for the current Star Wars films have become some of my favorite things. Because I enjoyed the Last Jedi, but I’d almost say I enjoy fan-generated ideas for the Last Jedi better than what we got in theaters.

Now with all this said, I don’t always agree with the content of the creators I’ve mentioned here today. But I feel like that’s just as big a part of the magic behind watching them as the amazing theories and insight they’ve been able to cobble together for mediums I haven’t paid too much attention to.

The Internet, for as divisive as it can be, is an excellent place to pose ideas and invite civil debate. I love having the opportunity to compare my own ideas and headcanons to their own.

So that’s essentially my pitch for the day as I finish this post seeing I’ve somehow almost hit 1,500 words. Go out and find some analytical content for your favorite things.

It’s not only an excellent way to kill time, but an excellent way to kill it with engaging, thoughtful material.

The Del Amo Mall Bizarre Goods Tour

Today my journey to the Del Amo mall as a chauffeur for my sister got a fair bit more interesting when I was able to drag my buddy Juan along for an impromptu hangout.

All-and-all it was a great time, far more than it would have been if I just went and sat around by myself. We had lunch, explored a bunch of kitch-y stores, made fun of some really silly products and talked about all the important things in life.

Like video games.

But that’s another story. I thought it might be fun to take another look at some of the photos I took of some ridiculous things around the mall. Because that seems just quirky enough to probably be interesting, and it’s a real easy kind of post to do while watching Ready Player One with my family.

So let’s begin with this:

img_0144

Boxing Jack-Jack and the raccoon from Incredibles 2.

I’ll be honest, the scene where Jack-Jack fights the raccoon is probably the best part of this movie. But… Wow. How could you make a toy that looks so unsettling?

I understand the idea that they’re sock puppets. It makes sense. The interactivity of the toy is also cute, since both characters make noises when they punch their arms.

I just wish the thing didn’t make it look like both a small baby and a raccoon weren’t twink boxers. Because god damn is it just… Not great.

Luckily there were a bunch of other cute Incredibles toys for parents to buy. Don’t buy your kids this unsettling bit of nightmare fuel, parents.

img_0146

Here’s a clothing shop that’s just called “Q.” I don’t know why it’s just called Q. I didn’t go inside so I’m not sure what the gimmick is.

It’s just Q.

Honestly, I don’t have anything else to say about the place. I just thought it was so bizarre that it was worth pointing out.

Unlike this next picture, which has so many bizarre things to it that I can’t stop talking about it:

img_0147

Seriously I’m not even sure where to begin here. The clashing art styles all being thrown together immediately stand out of course, but it’s the fine details that really just dig into your cerebellum.

Like why is Naruto wearing Goku’s outfit while standing next to Goku in a much more soft, pastel tone.

Why is Crono from Crono Trigger hanging out with Black*Star and Sonic the Hedgehog and Kirby? Except Kirby is red instead of pink.

Why is Bijou from Hamtaro sitting on top of Cloud’s shoulder? She ain’t in any Final Fantasy games.

Oh and let’s not forget the extra bizarre inclusions. Why is Nyan Cat in the top corner? Why is Navi from Ocarina of Time hanging out without any other Zelda character anywhere on the piece?

Ultimately though, I think there’s just one question to ask.

Who allowed this photoshop hodgepodge to be a thing?

I could honestly talk about that thing all day. But I won’t because I might actually descend into madness if I do.

So instead I’ll talk about this.

img_0149

Anybody remember Xiolin Showdown? Because I do!

I used to seriously love this show growing up. So when I saw this PSP game sitting in a shop, I couldn’t not take a look.

img_0150

I never owned a PSP or anything, but this game seems like it was probably pretty cool. I wonder-

Wait.

img_0151.jpg

Oh no… What did they do to your face little guy?

I… I can’t even look at that. It’s physically painful.

Okay let’s move on to something hopefully less nightmare-inducing, shall we?

img_0154

I spoke too soon, there are just as many nightmares over in toy land.

I don’t know whose decision it was to make ‘Mighty Muggs’ a thing, but they made a very poor choice when it comes to overall design. Especially if they were hoping to compete with things like Funko Pops.

But hey, let’s look at something less terrifying, shall we?

img_0155

Like check out all of these god damn copies of Wii Fit.

I don’t know who out there decided to trade in all their copies of Wii Fit to Book Off in the Del Amo mall, but I just wanted to give an extra special shout out to all of them.

Because look at how amazing this collection is. It’s literally the most stocked game in that store, and it’s beautiful.

Worth the trip all by itself, honestly.

Though that wasn’t the only amazing game that made this trip worthwhile.

img_0156

My Stop Smoking Coach. For the Nintendo D.S. An Ubisoft title.

Only one dollar.

To be completely honest the fact that I didn’t go out of my way to buy this thing out of sheer curiosity’s sake may just be my greatest regret.

Actually I got ice cream because I didn’t buy this game, so I guess I don’t regret it too much. But if I see this thing again next time I go to the store, I’m definitely going to go out of my way for it.

Here’s another game that I thought was interesting from a series that’s probably a little more well-known.

img_0158

Harvest Moon: Save the Homeland.

I don’t have too much to say about this overall. I threw it over to my friend Sam who’s a huge Harvest Moon fan and she’s never played this particularly title in the series.

I just wanted to throw it out there because it probably has the most nationalist title I’ve ever seen. ‘Save the Homeland.’ Can’t help but imagine the Von Trapp family showing up to beat off some Nazis.

That was about all I had in terms of video game stuff. But I did have a little more to cycle back to from our stop in Disney earlier:

img_0160

Check out this Porg. Everyone loves Porgs, right?

Well, this is a Porg mug that has a scalped Porg. So you can drink it’s brains.

For the children, right?

I don’t know maybe that isn’t as funny on here as it was in person, where Juan pulled his now infamous ‘drink of my Porg’ line.

So I’ll let that one fly and move into this last fun thing I pulled out of our last trip to GameStop on the way home.

I’m not a huge basketball person, but my Twitter has been rampant with talk about LeBron James joining the L.A. Lakers. I have my own opinions about that whole thing and how… Ridiculous the number of dollars thrown around for one man are.

But that’s neither here nor there.

In the end I think it’s all worth it just for what this GameStop employee did to this NBA 2019 advertising stand.

img_0163

Pure genius.

It’s about as good a place as any to end off, if you ask me.

Hopefully you enjoyed this romp into weird shit I found today. If so let me know! Also don’t hesitate to send me any weird things you might find, because I thrive off that.

April 2, 2018 Articles Published

I have an unexpected two-for-one deal for everyone in the audience today.

That’s right, one newspaper, two Jason-branded stories. Deal of the century folks, I can tell you that much now!

… Okay, so I guess that’s not really a novel situation for me to be in all things considered, but it really did come up at the last-minute in today’s case. See, it all began with an unfortunate bit of timing.

Though it wasn’t exactly ‘unfortunate’ for me necessarily. But I’m overly qualifying each statement at this point so I’ll stop fooling around.

Last Friday, my family had plans to go see the new Steven Spielberg film “Ready Player One.” We all absolutely loved the book, so it has been on our list of things to do together pretty much since the film was first announced. Our tickets were purchased well in advance…

But then my Dad got stuck with work at the last-minute. Since he couldn’t go, my sister and Mom didn’t want to go either. The only issue with that was I had already promised our Lifestyle editor Hannah a review of the film. Plus we had four tickets already bought.

So I did the next best thing and brought my friends to a free movie.

As much as I wound up being disappointed that I couldn’t gush about how much I liked the movie with my family that night, it was a pretty dope day hanging out with my friends, playing video games and seeing a movie.

Also, as I just mentioned, I really liked “Ready Player One.” It’s not exactly a heavily story-driven film by any means, and the actors aren’t anything to write home about… But visually the film is just gorgeous, especially for the way it diversified each world the heroes travel between.

Plus, despite not exactly being super accurate to the book, the different take on Cline’s overall framework is pretty cool in its own right, so I’d argue the movie is a perfect companion to the book rather than being a replacement for it.

Sort of like the characters going through similar situations, but in alternate universes. That’s the best way I can think to put it.

I obviously don’t want to play all my cards here and not direct you right to the review, so you can see my thoughts on the film through this link here. All I’ll add at this point is that I highly recommend seeing it just for an enjoyably pretty moviegoing experience.

Especially with the Stanley Kubrick scene in the middle of the film that just continues to blow my mind with how gorgeous it was.

However, as promised, I still have more to go into.

See my first day back from Spring Break in the newsroom was a busy one. I was essentially juggling five different things all at the same time.

Not only was I fact checking and section editing stories as usual, I was also helping to set everything up for my movie review, transcribing out a 47-minute-long interview for a profile I’m working on (more to come on that soon enough), studying for two exams I have this week and working on a completely different story I was thrown at the last-minute.

Over the break, a 19-year-old man who does not attend CSUF was visiting some friends in the University House apartments near campus. At some point, for one reason or another, he fell off the third floor balcony and was hospitalized in a  “critical” but not “life threatening” condition.

Even though the event happened early on into the break, our advisor wanted us to do some sort of follow-up. That responsibility went to me.

I tried to get in touch with our University Police department, but they were not involved in the case and directed me to Fullerton Police.

So I called Fullerton Police and had to cycle through multiple different departments, likely because people were off thanks to Easter. Eventually I did manage to get in touch with Sergeant Dan Castillo, who gave me some real basic information but directed me to the officer who was a watch commander that night.

A few hours later, when Lieutenant Michael Chlebowski was in the office, I called back and talked with him for some more specific details about the case and why the Fullerton Police won’t be following up on it.

It was an easy 300 words to write, and even then my editors cut it down quite a bit from the looks of the final piece, but I can’t really complain. With Comm 471, easy points are easy points.

If you want to read that story in its entirety, check it out here.

You can also see my full archive of writing for the Daily Titan over on the right!