Tag: Thought Experiment

On social media culture and overthinking everything

On social media culture and overthinking everything

This morning I got a rejection letter from the Washington Post on my application to their summer 2019 internship program.

It’s a shame, but considering they were only accepting 27 people out of over 1,200 applicants… Yeah I can’t get that upset about it. Plus I’m not exactly new to rejection this year, so it isn’t something I’m going to linger on for too long.

Granted if I don’t get positive news from the Boston Globe internship I applied for I’ll have to figure out something totally different to do with my summer, but I already have a bit of a baseline with Gladeo, Boom and some other possible upcoming opportunities.

So I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this post as a sympathy grab. Kind of the opposite actually!

I’m writing this post more as a symptom of how I’ve been overthinking the nature of sympathy grabs on social media and the skewed perspective that comes with a purely text-driven medium.

Sounds complicated, I know. Refer back to the “overthinking” part of that sentence.

But I’ll break it down into my thought process in its entirety.

After seeing that rejection email in bed this morning (because I’m one of those people who checks my email as soon as I wake up), I couldn’t help but deliver a corrupted, well-worn cliché to my mom this morning. Something along the lines of:

“Nothing like the sweet sting of rejection in the morning to remind you we’re living in a cruel, indifferent world.”

Clearly a bit of extra cynicism baked in from recently re-reading Stephen Jay Gould’s piece on “Nonoverlapping Magisteria” for my Evolution and Creation class, but to me it was funny nonetheless.

In fact, I thought the idea was funny enough that I considered posting the phrase up on Twitter with no context just to hopefully elicit a laugh.

Two different trains of thought stopped me from doing so.

The first was a concern that if I did post something like that, it would garner a primarily sympathetic response. Rather than having everyone laugh a little at the idea, they would just apologize and ask what happened.

That’s not to say sympathy is a bad thing, even if it is for the Devil. This just wasn’t a situation where I was actually looking to garner sympathy, and it seems disingenuous to present myself as though genuinely begging for attention online (where sarcasm and such is much harder to read).

The second train of thought ties into that idea from more of an aggression-avoidance point of view. I wouldn’t have wanted to post something like that only to receive a dozen messages accusing me of being thin-skinned and not handling rejection well.

Obviously cueing some sort of message about all millennials being snowflakes somewhere in there.

Because you know that would inevitably be included in the conversation.

Of course some of you will probably say that by backing down from my conviction to post something in light of potentially negative messages I’m just confirming the whole thin-skinned thing. I happen to see it more as not provoking a hassle that would be agonizingly predictable to deal with, but do with that as you will.

So in the end I decided not to post that particular post. All of the back-and-forth in my own head considering things twenty steps ahead that I probably don’t even have to worry about eventually talked me out of it.

What can I say? I’m a fan of overthinking simple things.

As a fun aside to further prove that point, I was a part of the chess club back in elementary school (nerd alert, I know) and one time got an opponent of mine to quit in the middle of a match by talking over a number of different steps he could possibly take as I worked on my own move.

Which makes me sound like a dick to children in hindsight… But to be fair I was also a child, so that’s not unreasonable.

Many years in the future I think it’s a funny little anecdote to reflect on.

With all that said I wanted to leave the thought experiment up to all of you for further debate.

Do you put yourself through these kinds of moral quandaries when posting things on social media? Or am I alone in grossly overthinking what should be a quick 200-character goofy, dumb post.

How do you feel more generally about the culture of essentially begging for sympathy online, or at least what becomes the perception of it by a viewing audience?

Let me know, it’s a subject I’m genuinely interested in right now.

To Shave or Not To Shave

To Shave or Not To Shave

I’ve been bumbling around most of the day trying to figure out what I should write my daily post about. Unfortunately, a steady diet of homework and chores doesn’t make for a particularly exciting topic of discussion.

So I’m just going to take the route of a thought experiment, debating something I’ve been considering over the past few days over text. Maybe that could help me decide on what to do — or maybe I’ll get some helpful input from my wonderful audience.

That’s a shot in the dark I know, but it’s a shot I’m willing to take.

Ever since I shaved at the beginning of the semester, I’ve had considerations running back-and-forth in my subconscious mind on whether I should grow my beard back or not.

If I keep shaving, I keep a more youthful, exuberant look. As exuberant as I can look, at least.

Clean-shaven baby face Jason is an easier look to manage to an extent, as letting my beard grow out too far always left it looking scraggy and unkempt. Plus my beard came in patchy the first time around and that never went away.

I honestly prefer the more even appearance to a patchy beard, where a lot of emphasis was drawn to my much less hairy double chin. To be fair I’ve been working on that, and I’d hope the exercise is doing its magic… But personally I only see slow progress at best.

However, growing out a beard comes with its own advantages. For instance it looks a bit more mature.

I assume.

Not sure if my beard made me look more mature, but in general I’ll just go with that. There’s some internal debate as to whether I prefer the youthful look to the mature look, so I’m not confident on which side of the fence that argument lies.

I am somewhat more confident that I feel a little more confident with the beard, however. Ever since I started shaving, contrary to what was my belief, I seem to be breaking out more and more. One nasty little pimple repeatedly replaced by another, with smaller patches of acne throughout…

It’s kind of frustrating considering how much work I try to put in to clear it all up. I don’t know that having a beard would solve the issue necessarily, but it may very well cover it up better.

Would I have better chance with the currently undiscussed, mysterious girl who I have my eyes on right now if I had a covered face? Who knows.

I certainly don’t. But I’m terrible with girls, so I’m not sure I can take my own internal dialogue there seriously.

A beard is also somewhat easier to maintain than being clean-shaven, just in different respects. Rather than having to take a razor to my face every other day in the hopes of holding back the tide of stubble that threatens to become more visible with each passing hour, all I’d need to really worry about is edging the beard and keeping it from growing unruly.

Plus it’s low key very relaxing to sit around and run a comb through your beard. Don’t know how many of you have experience with that, but it’s true.

So that’s about where I am right now. Do I keep clean-shaven, wasting more time every other day and risking more visible cuts/acne? Or do I let my beard grow out again, try to appear more my age and have something kinda fun to play with/maintain?

The only reason I’m coming to this debate in any significant capacity is because November fast approaches. When I first grew my beard out it was for a No Shave November competition at the Daily Titan, and I’m not sure whether I want to once again make that the catalyst for a bushy beard beginning.

I guess if you have an opinion, let me know somewhere on the ol’ Internet here.

But if not, I’ll just be here stewing in a pot of my own contradictory thoughts and insecurities. While writing essays and such.

My favorite place to be.

Networking Matters

It’s the cliché you’ve heard a million times when it comes to breaking into whatever industry you want to break into.

I know I’ve heard it more than my share of times, especially considering the extra emphasis journalism places on not just networking for jobs, but networking for sources.

Usually I’ll just roll my eyes when I hear someone say it. Because everyone says it, despite the fact that it’s intrinsically simple and somewhat obvious advice.

But that advice played a big hand in two things that were relevant for my work today.

So I figured I should throw my hat in the ring just this once and remind you all that if you aren’t networking often, you should be.

The first case comes out of an earlier adventure. Remember when I went with my friend Mimi to see the Blizzard employees speak at the Fullerton Public Library?

While I was there I passed my business card along to one of the presenters, who said he would get it to someone in the HR Department.

Lo and behold, just a few days later a Blizzard Entertainment/Activision employee had signed up to be a Gladeo interviewee. Not the same person, granted, but still. I was highly appreciative.

Thus in the not-so-distant future I will be doing a profile of someone at Blizzard. Which is pretty awesome not just in terms of someone being interested in the work I’ve been doing, but also because I love video games. So who knows, if that goes well perhaps I’ll get access to more Blizzard employees and I can say I’ve gotten a wider breadth of understanding about the company under my belt.

So yeah. Going to random events just to network was a successful strategy for me.

My other more recent example is a bit esoteric, so stay with me.

When I was in elementary school, I spent a lot of time playing chess. Which sounds like I’m just inviting my own eminent torment and bullying I know, but it’s true. I was part of the chess club and everything.

Wasn’t too bad at it either, considering I won a number of trophies in little competitions. #HumbleBrag

One of the reasons I was so good at it was because I learned from a guy named Chessmaster Steve. He was, needless to say, the best.

Though I haven’t really thought about or heard from him since all those years ago.

Until today, if the obvious build-up to a point wasn’t obvious enough.

See when Chessmaster Steve was not teaching elementary school kids chess (even if I had assumed at the time that was all he did), he was apparently a trained physical therapist. One who now works for the Office of Veterans Affairs.

As it turns out, one of the Gladeo League reporters has been having trouble finding a physical therapist to talk to for a profile they’re working on.

So, long story short, my mom has kept in touch with Steve for all these years, and I was able to make contact with him so we can try to have the reporter set-up an interview.

Apparently I was playing the long-game when it comes to networking as well, because that’s a connection that I never in a thousand years would have imagined might become relevant.

That’s essentially my elevator pitch. Like I said I’m usually the person who rolls his eyes when someone says it, but networking and making solid connections is super important.

So make sure you get on doing that ASAP for whatever job it is you might be after.

Lecture over. Hope you all took notes because this is 100 percent going to be on the exam.

Running on Empty

Running on Empty

What’s this? Another blog post being written after I was at the gym?

Gee whiz. Who would’ve guessed.

But wait, this time my joking references to being at the gym serves more of a purpose than slyly telling the world that one day I’m going to be a swole boi. I actually have something gym-related to discuss!

Though briefly considering it’s not a super complex subject and also I’m hanging with people tonight. So won’t be spending a hell of a lot of time on this.

While my Featured Image for the day might look like an advertising picture for Planet Fitness, I assure you that it was taken more for the line of treadmills in the background than for the logo in the foreground. I just tried to angle my camera in such a way that I wouldn’t be grabbing anyone’s head, even from the back.

Because you know it’s a gym. Wouldn’t be right to accidentally point out anybody despite their anonymity to me personally.

I wanted to grab a photo of some of the treadmills because I had (what I feel was) an interesting observation.

Are public gyms vaguely totalitarian in design?

Now don’t click off just yet. I don’t actually have anything malicious to say about gyms. I’ve quite enjoyed actually regularly going to one for once in my life. Makes me feel good, feel fit. Spry even.

I just feel like there’s something kind of 1984-looking about a bunch of total strangers gathering together and standing next to one another, totally oblivious to one another’s struggles, each focusing on this strange pursuit of attractiveness our society forces upon us from birth.

What, too heavy?

Alright fine it’s not like I’m genuinely concerned the treadmills in the gym are powering some kind of mind control device in the back room. I just think it’s kind of bizarre to imagine.

Same thing often comes to mind when I’m stuck in traffic, actually. Looking around, seeing everyone in the bubble of their vehicles minding their own business.

I know there’s definitely a psychological idea about being enclosed in such a situation and how it effects one’s empathy in regards to other people… But it’s still pretty fascinating to just kind of see all those brain doodads in action.

Now I’m sure you must be wondering where I’m going with this.

Well.

I’m not really going anywhere with this.

I just wanted to pose that idea out into the aether. Seemed like a good space filler considering I spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies and eating pizza.

The antithesis of my gym workout I know. But what can I say. Hanging out with friends has its benefits.

That’s really about all I have to say on the matter actually, because I’m really enjoying re-watching Emperor’s New Groove.

So I guess if you’ve got any thoughts on the strange construction ethics of public gyms, let me know somewhere on the Internet.

A Short Essay on Short Essays

A Short Essay on Short Essays

I don’t know why I insist on writing these posts after going to the gym lately, because really it’s just detrimental for my ability to imagine and write coherent posts.

Though perhaps not as much as the insufferable heat wave yesterday.

I’ll count my blessings where I can.

Speaking of that heat killing all of my motivation, it seems I’ve been fluctuating between work-focused and not at all work-focused quite a bit the past few days. After doing next to nothing yesterday, today I actually got my stuff together enough to be productive. Notably with a job application I’ve been working on that is, admittedly, a far-flung idea for me to feel completely justified talking about in-depth.

Doing that job application has gotten me thinking a little bit about one part of this app, and many others for that matter, that feels somewhat strange to me at the moment.

The personal essay.

I don’t typically put a lot of thought into the idea of writing essays. Growing up I put myself through the wringer of the Advanced Placement course pathway in high school, which included AP Language and AP Literature. We had to write a lot of essays in those classes to prepare us for the AP exams, so I was used to the idea.

Essays also continued to be synonymous with college courses. Every undergraduate-level class has some kind of writing requirement and all of my Communications courses are all about writing.

As a result, you would think essay requirements showing up in job applications would just come in stride.

Which, to be fair, they do for the most part. Whenever I’ve applied for the Daily Titan an essay has always been required, for example.

But for some reason the essay that was asked of me in this current job application stuck out as… The worst, most stand-out part of it.

It took me a little while to figure out exactly why. But I think the conclusion I’ve come to says something about me and the way I tend to approach work.

For me essays make a lot more sense in a job application when they ask for some kind of very specific information. Using the Daily Titan application as an example, the essay portion of that involves answering a couple of questions pertaining to the potential job.

What does the paper do well? What does it not do well? What can you bring to the job you’re applying for that would make it better?

Things like that.

Sure it’s arguably formulaic to go down this route, but the sense of direction those questions bring do make for a straight-forward task. Answering the questions, while utilizing them as conduits for inserting stories of one’s experience as a means of showcasing that individual’s abilities.

The application I’ve been working on doesn’t really have any sort of driving questions like this to give potential employees a sense of direction.

As far as premise goes, this application simply asks for an autobiographical essay to tell the hiring staff something that cannot be garnered from the surrounding questions in the application. Given the fact that it already asks for degree-earning information, references and work samples outside of the essay, that leaves a vague opening for what can be written.

That somewhat vague nature exacerbates a potential pitfall in writing the essay. Or at least it does in my head where I’m more than likely over thinking things, but that’s another story.

If you have an essay for a fairly serious job application essentially asking you to write about anything you want outside of your direct work experience, where is the line in terms of being too casual or not casual enough?

Obviously the whole thing can’t just be the tale of how you won X reward or accomplished Y task, but it’s also probably not great form to do something jokey or entirely non-serious since the serious aspects might be in one’s resume off the bat. Looking like you take the job not at all seriously while applying to it seems like a quick way to lose a potential job.

Now all of this is more of a theoretical thought experiment, as the pragmatic side of me has already sorted out the balance of serious-versus-personal qualities to write about. But seeing my personal preference lean so heavily in the direction of a structured, serious or even academic paper versus one that lets me express myself in an open, even goofy way is interesting. Introspective even.

Perhaps all those years of AP classes really did screw me up for the rest of my life, just like I joke about.

This seems like the perfect opportunity to ask an actually interesting question at the end of one of these blog posts. Where do you feel you stand on the spectrum I described here?

Do you prefer if a job (or anything for that matter) asks structured, serious questions of you? Or more open, vague questions?

Let me know somewhere on the internet, I’d love to hear it!

Stealing from Sports’ Traditions

Stealing from Sports’ Traditions

I may not be a very sport-y person, but if there’s anything I enjoy about sports it would be the team naming conventions.

Yeah I know that’s a strange thing to latch onto. But trust me, there’s a through-line to this conversation. Which, spoiler alert, is video game related.

Because hey if you wanted to see me spend an entire post talking about sports alone, you should have been around for this discussion I did a while back about watching the behind-the-scenes goings on at a baseball game.

As a home-grown Southern California kid I do have some interests in sports teams that come from some semblance of nostalgia. Namely the Dodgers when it comes to baseball and the Lakers when it comes to basketball. I’ve gone to see them many times over the years, so there are fond memories there even if I’m not as much of an avid follower of their games as I am Nintendo games.

However neither are striking examples of the kind of naming conventions I enjoy when it comes to sports teams. Like… What even does the name ‘Dodgers’ stand for? If anything, you wouldn’t want to be good at dodging a ball when you play baseball. Don’t you get to walk when you’re hit by the ball while at bat?

Come on Dodgers, get your act together.

Granted there is something interesting about them specifically. The fact that both the Dodgers and the Giants were originally East Coast teams before coming to California.

Inherently that brings up some questions about the permanence of a name if it can be so easily uprooted and moved around. Like yeah now we always associate the Dodgers with Los Angeles, but they weren’t always so closely linked with the culture here. That’s kind of fascinating, honestly.

Though according to official records by Major League Baseball themselves, the only reason those teams moved were simply to bring baseball to the West Coast. Which is a kind of underwhelming answer to an intriguing question.

But hey that’s a long tangent isn’t it? What I was going to get at was the fact that I enjoy seeing sports teams that are named after singular entities which could potentially duke it out.

The phenomenon tends to be more prevalent in high school and college sports, in my head. At my high school the main rivalry was the Sea Hawks versus the Mustangs. Though I did have some school spirit, for the most part I couldn’t care less which campus actually won. It was just kind of cool to imagine some kind of battle between a vicious hawk (which my biology teacher told us was actually based on a real life bird known for crushing bones) and a majestic hoofbeast.

I imagine the same thing could be said for many small-town sports rivalries. Certainly the idea of two forces of nature going at it is much more exciting than some other team names. Like the Patriots. Or the Redskins.

Much less racist too.

As I already mentioned, I’m not just bringing up this idea because I have a sudden passion to talk about sports. Or racism scandals. There was actually a spark that got me thinking about the subject of sports team names.

Unofficial Pokémon battle tournaments.

Yeah you heard me right. Bet you didn’t think anyone would be relating competitive Pokémon battling to actual real life sports in your daily blog posts today. Well I am, so you best be ready for it.

There’s actually a healthy amount of comparisons one can make between the two. When preparing for a Pokémon battle, trainers are restricted to six members, much like sports teams are limited to X number of team members on the field. Those six Pokémon fit different roles, be them wholly offensive, defensive or supportive. Or they could be some combination of the three.

It’s not hard to say that my hyper-offensive glass cannon Mega Beedrill in a battle is comparable to a football team’s leading quarterback, or that my heal-passing Audino is supportive much like a shortstop on a baseball team that quickly gets the ball from base-to-base for multiple outs.

I don’t know, I think it’s a pretty easy comparison to make. Maybe you disagree, but it’s all just an unapologetic segue anyway.

The reason I’ve come to think about this subject is because of the lengths I’ve seen certain Pokémon-playing YouTube personalities go to when establishing battle leagues that are steeped in the traditions of real life sports.

There are about a billion examples out there, but the one that’s most impactful to me is the United Championship League (UCL). There’s no real specific reason why other than the fact that most of the circle that competes in it are a close-knit group of Pokétubers that I tend to watch fairly often.

Which yes is possibly one of the nerdiest things I’ve said around here. But does it look like I care?

The UCL started about three years ago and carried an interesting aesthetic:

It comes to mind today specifically because the draft for Season 3 happened over this last weekend. Based on the video that was put up by TheKingNappy not too long ago, it took five hours just to get teams assigned to each competitor.

Yeah that’s right. This is a Pokémon battle competition with an extended team draft and a classic branching tree tournament board. On top of that, each team tends to do a pre-game discussion where they determine which members they’re bringing based on the opponent’s overall draft and how they’re building their teams up as a result.

It’s kind of crazy to thing that that’s almost exactly the same thing as a real sports league, but I adore one and can’t bring myself to seriously care about the other.

I think part of the reason I do care so much about the UCL — other than the fact that I’m a Pokémon junkie in general — is the fact that another real life sports trope they use so well is the naming convention.

Every team in that league names themselves the same way. City name (or some other location) followed by a Pokémon name that matches in some way.

Tucson Terrakions.

Pittsburgh Pichus.

So on and so forth.

Though of course it would be a terrible mistake for me not to mention my absolute favorite Pokémon sports league name:

The New York Mankeys.

Shout out to ShadyPenguinn for coming up with literal perfection. That’s the kind of name I wish I was clever enough to come up with on my own. Not only is it a solid team name, it’s a great reference to an actual real sports team too.

I just love it man. I basically wrote this whole post just so I could say New York Mankeys out loud. It’s just the kind of name that makes me giggle whenever I hear it. More of the world deserves to hear about it even if it couldn’t give a damn about Pokémon.

Now before you ask. Yes. I have had moments where I’ve tried to figure out what my Pokémon sports team name would be. Though I haven’t exactly come up with a good answer as of yet.

Incorporating my favorite Pokémon Gardevoir would be tough without stretching my location to Gardenia (though Gardenia Gardevoirs is a cool name).

I do like the sound of something like the Manhattan Beach Mimikyu, though again that requires relegating my location to somewhere I’m technically not, a city that’s my city’s rival if nothing else.

Unfortunately I’m just not sure which ‘R’ Pokémon I would use to go with Redondo. Ralts sounds a little not intimidating, though they fit the Gardevoir line love. Roserade also doesn’t seem right, despite being one of my favorites.

Also let’s be honest. As much as the Redondo Rayquaza sounds dope, I’m not sure I’d want to use a Legendary. It seems a bit cocky.

The Redondo Rhydon might work well. I have a pretty strong affection for him too, and Rhydon certainly sounds like the kind of Pokémon that could fit a sports team.

I guess if you want you can leave your suggestions in the comments below. Or you can say what teams you might be able to make using your home region. That’d be cool to hear!

In the meantime, I’ve got a five-hour livestream recap to catch up on. So I’m going to go off and do that.

In the meantime, I suppose I should come up with some kind of moral for today’s post.

Uhh…

If you’re a sports guy, don’t make fun of nerds that like Pokémon. Because we do wacky competitive things too.

And if you’re a Pokémon guy, don’t make fun of nerds that like sports. Because they built up a cool structure that we can do stuff with.

Let’s just all live together in harmony. Liking weird things that we all like without judgement.

Yeah, that’s a good lesson. Nailed the ending.

Why I hate Funko Pops

Why I hate Funko Pops

Remember the other day when I got meta about the human brain and talked about money? In that post I mentioned the fact that my trip to the mall with Juan inspired some other ideas I was hoping to talk about.

Welcome to the post talking about the other things I was referring to there.

Yeah I bet you weren’t expecting a conversation about Funko Pops, were you? They don’t exactly seem like the kind of thing in my area of interest.

I’ll admit that they aren’t for the most part. In fact, I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops overall as my clickbait-y title might suggest.

If anything I’m willing to admit they’re rather cute for the most part. Plus I have been known to collect a somewhat useless series of plastic figurines in the past myself.

img_0368
At least I only collect the Smash Bros. Amiibo…

So really there’s no reason I should hate this fairly harmless Hot Topic-stuffing collectible mogul, right?

Not really.

See I don’t necessarily hate Funko Pops as an inherit object that exists. What I absolutely abhor is the corporate design mentality surrounding Funko Pops.

As anyone who knows anything about Funko Pops must know, there are Funko Pops that exist for literally anything AND everything.

You like anime? Pick your favorite, there’s a series of Pops to go with them.

You like HBO television series like Westworld? God knows I do, and there’s a series of Pops to go with them.

You like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? You like video games? You like football? Actual real life football?

Because there are pops for all of those things and an infinite amount of other things I won’t bother to go into because look at this catalog. It’s nuts.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.15.33 PM
That’s 213 pages not even counting the ‘discontinued’ models

Especially the whole sports side of things. Side-rant I get being in love with sports and following, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers if you’re super into baseball. It’s just bizarre to have a series of collectible figurines representing actual real people that you can stick in your house.

But okay you get the point. If you’ve got an interest, Funko has a Pop to fit it.

Inherently I don’t have a problem with this business model. The fact that this company has invented a series of figurines so simple that literally any form of media can be molded into it is genius, and something the whole world probably wishes they figured out first.

The marketing possibilities are also inherently genius. Did you know there are exclusive Funko Pops that are first available at places like large-scale conventions?

As someone who has played many video games to 100 percent completion, and thrives on games like Monster Hunter where the whole idea is to collect exclusive bits and pieces of monsters to create new specialty armor, I can understand the itch many collectors have when it comes to Funko.

So yeah, if you want to go out and collect Funko Pops, more power to you. My family certainly does, and there are series I’d probably be more than willing to pay for a full collection of.

But that’s only considering the ‘first edition’ idea of these Pops. My problem comes with the alternate forms.

“Wow Jason, that’s ironic. You don’t like Funko Pops for producing alternate versions of characters when you talk endlessly about rare variants of characters in Fire Emblem Heroes like they’re the second coming. What a hypocrite.”

img_0061
Lord knows I’m still after Tana…

Yeah I hear you audience, I know.

It’s no secret that I appreciate ‘special editions’ as much as the next guy. But Fire Emblem Heroes and Funko Pops are a little different at their core.

In FEH, the special variant units are just as free-to-start as every other unit in the game. Sure there are practices under the surface that encourage players to eventually spend money, like releasing five valuable banners in a row with few orb giveaways in between, but still.

You could just as easily start the game when a holiday banner is running and be just as likely to receive that unit with free orbs as anyone else.

With Funko Pops, every single one costs money. Just as much, if not more money in fact.

For example:

Do you like Deadpool? Okay, here’s a Deadpool figurine. That’ll be a nice little thing to display to show off your interest in the character.

But wait, why not also buy Deadpool in his pajamas? That’s cute right?

How about Deadpool on a scooter?

Deadpool except he’s Bob Ross? He did that in a 30 second T.V. spot you know.

Okay but imagine this. Deadpool. Except he’s a variant from a spin-off Marvel gotcha game that may or may not be in any real canon.

That’s something you can buy.

Too expensive for you? I can understand that, perhaps you’d just like the OG Deadpool figurine, and maybe some smaller accessories to continue to show your Deadpool love.

Well, would you like the Deadpool keychain with his swords out? Or perhaps the one with the rubber duck and bath cap on?

2bj0ul
Aren’t old memes just the best?

“Alright, alright we get it,” I hear you in the audience say.

I sure hope you do. With the simplicity of the Funko Pop formula, any single character can be given infinite minor modifications and be considered a special variant.

But unlike the model in FEH, where you could theoretically earn the special version for free, every single Funko costs real life money.

Now there are arguments to be made that these are physical objects rather than digital characters in a video, and thus there’s more value to collecting them over time in terms of things like eventual trading or simply selling collections much like with comic books and vinyl records.

There’s validity to that idea. But that isn’t really what I’m here to discuss.

What I’m here to discuss is the fact that a business model allowing for infinite cash cow-ing on the same property over and over and over again, rather than keeping to a finite cap of collectability, is inherently infuriating.

I would be more than happy to spend 60 bucks over the course of a few months to collect five Deadpool figurines based on characters from the movies if I enjoyed them that much. What I wouldn’t be happy doing is spending literally all of my money for forever to keep up with every ‘left hand raised 60 degrees’ variation that can be squeezed out.

That’s not even just for Deadpool too, as much as I keep harping on him. He just happens to be a good example of a character that lends himself to more ridiculous, outlandish variations and repeated re-releases. Any character can have a variant where they wear a different outfit or hold a new pose.

Funko Pops certainly aren’t the first to abuse this model, but they abuse it pretty hard. It’s probably rather petty to be bashing them so hard for it out of nowhere, but I’ve seen similar ideas ruin things I’ve loved in the past.

Does anyone remember Pokémon Shuffle?

img_0365
Still have that jingle stuck in my head.

Shuffle was a spin-off game released first on the Nintendo 3DS and then on mobile devices in 2015. It was something of a continuation of the Trozei and Battle Trozei series that became a free-to-start microtransaction-laden title. And I adored it.

Seriously, for the longest time if you had asked me what game handles the microtransaction system most fairly, it would have been Pokémon Shuffle. I played this damn game on my 3DS for years, and I have distinct memories of doing so both on my high school and college campuses.

The game ran on an ‘energy’ system, where you could play five games at a time before needing to wait for everything to recharge. Unless you spent gems, the in-game currency you could buy with real life currency.

img_0366
It has been forever since I played this game, opening it up for this was wild.

There are also a bunch of other details related to items you can either grind out or purchase, but the energy was the important thing to me. See those five hearts of energy recharged at a rate of a half hour per heart.

In other words, you could play a full set of games every two-and-a-half hours. Compared to a lot of other games with energy or stamina caps, this was insanely generous.

For a student like me, it essentially meant I could play out my games, go to whatever class I had, then get out to find a full set of energy hearts waiting to be used. Combine this with the semi-regular updates (though eventually the levels got kind of ridiculously difficult) and frequent special in-game events, and I was more than happy to play for years.

But then I stopped. You know why I stopped?

img_0367

Special.

Character.

Variants.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 2.57.15 PM
Image courtesy of Serebii.net

Just look at this insanity.

My screenshot here hasn’t even captured half of the special variants for Pikachu alone. There are Pikachu wearing every cap that Ash ever wore in the anime. Pikachu wearing costumes modeled after Legendary Pokémon. Hell there’s a Rayquaza costume Pikachu AND a shiny Rayquaza costume Pikachu.

Again, Pikachu isn’t the only problem, but he’s emblematic of it. Everything technically started with the ‘winking’ starter Pokémon line.

This ridiculous cash cow, the infinite special variant system, is what burned me out of Pokémon Shuffle in the end. I was more than happy to keep playing to collect all 700+ Pokémon as a mark of personal completion should they have gotten that far.

But because the game’s creators wanted a way to keep the game going forever and come up with more challenging ways of potentially forcing players to spend money on limited time only extra special dudes, I didn’t feel like it was worth keeping up anymore.

Funko Pops embody the same problem, in my opinion. If you’re going to release the same figures over and over and over again with slight variations just to squeeze out as much money as possible, then why should anyone bother trying to collect them all in the first place?

I’m sure other people will have their justifications for it, but that’s a path I can’t see myself going down. I’d much rather stick with collecting something finite in my real world collectibles. Something I can eventually look at and say ‘this is a complete set.’

That’s my rant for the day. What do you think? Is the idea of infinite variation healthy for a brand like Funko? Or is it detrimental in their long-term viability as a reasonable company, as I’m more inclined to believe.

Though obviously I’m probably in the wrong since, let’s be real, people will continue to buy those things no matter what I say. So the more they can print up the more money they’ll make.

God bless capitalism.