Why Does It Matter?

Why does it matter? 

It might be one of the biggest questions we use when it comes to arguing against changing something we do.

There always seems to be some sort of outrage accompanying everything these days.  More and more we have seen this with racial and gender depictions of characters in our entertainment – especially movies and video games.  The outrage is always met from the ‘other side’ with ‘Why does it matter?’, ‘Get over it.’, or something similar in that regard.  For most of my life I felt the same way about these issues.  Granted, I am also a straight white male that has been told or has read that I have ‘privilege and power’.  As strangely normal as that seems to a lot of people it is also stranger that I find myself in possession of power that many others don’t have and I didn’t seem to notice until relatively recently.  What has made it worse for me is that it has taken a toll on my life and how my mind has been programmed over the years. 

This is why it is so crucial to not only admit that there is an inherent inequality and bigotry in our society. In fact, inequality seems to drive our society.  It is generally what drives every storyline in nearly every book, movie, and video game. It is a lens through which most of the world likes to see the world because it somehow attempts to blur a lot of the lines we don’t want to see.  It is a very old lens that we have all worn at some point or another and it has only become a hindrance of change the longer we have worn it.

The big strong warrior saves the damsel in distress.  The huge (white) god like character seeks vengeance on those that wronged him and hooks up with all sorts of ladies in the process.  The fat plumber saves the hot princess from the clutches of a dragon and his henchmen.  Meanwhile, we go about all of this as business as usual and it all makes sense because it matches up with what we have and continue to engrain with children from birth until they soak it up and sponge feed it to their own offspring.

Boys love trucks, the color blue, guns, sports, and saving huge breasted, scantily clad women.

Girls love horses, the color pink, cooking, babies, and apparently also love helplessly falling into the clutches of bad men so they can be rescued by a different big strong man.

It also seems that white male characters dominate almost every important role. 

They are the primary protagonist in almost every video game and movie.  Even the bad ones generally have some sort of strange seductive righteousness more often than we’d like to admit.

Meanwhile, characters with darker complexions and different ethnicities are generally shown in ways that either focus on a stereotype or racial bias.  Why is it that so many people will go out and watch these movies or buy these video games without considering what they are seeing is contributing to continued racism, xenophobia, and often – hidden fears that build into normalized distrust and hatred.  Case in point – somehow, through most of the great series ‘Breaking Bad’ we looked at Walter White and Jessie Pinkman as tragic heroes that were only doing what they had to do (making and distributing methamphetamine) as a last resort.  Almost every other drug dealer and ‘bad guy’ in the show was generally assumed to be in a ‘normal’ role that strictly fit the character of non-white character.

I like to think that my generation is the first that will completely flip the script on a lot of these things.  I was raised in a climate supposedly ‘after’ racism was something in the past that we should learn about as a fact rather than a constant danger. Sexism was something that was generally scoffed at or held at an arm’s length because it was a silly accusation by some of the more ‘butch’ girls or ‘sissy’ guys.  Homophobia was still so comfortably normal that most of the slurs for homosexuals weren’t considered offensive language in many schools and universities – even now this is a symptom of a far worse situation.  Sadly, my generation hasn’t and isn’t going to be the one that ends this societal sickness. 

My generation is the first video game/gamer generation.  Since circa 1980 (I was born in 83) we have had video games in almost every home with a TV.  If we didn’t have a console we could hit up an arcade for our digital fix.  The games have become more violent, more racist, and frighteningly more sexist.  Say what you want about whether these things effect the minds of those that play them in any way (they do).  The fact that we watch these movies and buy these games by the millions and companies make money by the billions tells me that much of what we consider as entertainment, hobby, or digital lifestyle is also a manner of continuing these toxic cycles and societal structures.

Yet, I see promise.

Now we find ourselves in what seems to be a surprising situation in the internet age.  I didn’t have the internet until I was 14 or 15… even then, it was dial-up.  We have started to divert from the old paths and break through the boundaries that those in power constructed over centuries of impropriety. It’s difficult to admit a lot of these things to ourselves – no matter on which side we find ourselves or our opinions.  What has been considered ‘normal’ and commonplace is starting to morph into something new.  The new ‘normal’ isn’t about destroying those in power or wrecking their status as fellow humans.  It is about helping them and everyone else change out that old dirty lens through which they have looked at the world and see it through clear eyes and curious minds that want to know about other people and places rather than simply fear and hate them.

I see promise in the parents that let their boys grow long hair and style it as they wish or paint their nails any color they want.  I see promise in the parents that let their daughters buzz their hair, play with trucks, become soldiers, police, or fire fighters and choose not to paint their nails any color.  I see promise in my peers that have come out with pride that they are who they are and love who they love.  I see promise in a world that no matter how much it seems that hate wants to have a voice or cause distress and pain – love and understanding always seems to drown it out with a resounding cheer.  I see promise in the growing change and demanding of equality when it comes to all walks of life.

I see promise in the fact that I can answer the one question that seems to prevent people from changing their views –

 ‘Why does it matter?’.

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Warmer Weather Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Less Gaming

Now that spring has started to grace us with nicer weather it is starting to become more difficult to want to plant myself in front of a TV or monitor for hours of gaming.  Also, over the last few weeks I have found my interest in ‘new’ releases to be less than prime for commentary or even some sort of review.  Why?  Frankly, because video games have become rather dull in their current state of shooting guns or scoring touchdowns based on some sort of twitch reflexes.  While most gamers rarely have a difficult time setting aside a few minutes/hours during the week for their favorite titles; it becomes increasingly frustrating to see the days get longer and temperatures warm up and have a desire to stay inside after a cold winter.

There are a few solutions to this conundrum.

1 – Open The Windows and Doors – While this might seem obvious, there is a lot to be gained from having some fresh air come into your gaming area.  Just considering some of the basements and man caves in which I have been an invitee, they should sometimes be referred to as a ‘Stank Zone’.  Give your gaming domain a chance to air out and in the mean time you should also consider recycling all of those Mountain Dew cans and throwing away all those White Castle bags.

2 – Walk or Ride a Bike to a Friends Place – I grew up in the country (cornfield, Ohio) but that didn’t stop me from walking to my neighbor’s house 1/4 mile away to play some Tecmo Super Bowl on his SNES – even during the winter.  Give your car or your parents’ car/drive time a break and walk if you can to game out for a bit.  Hanging out in person opens you up for other gaming as well (that is coming up)

3 – Tabletop/Card Games/RPGs – Until recently I had never really experienced gaming from any other perspective than on a video screen.  I have started to put more time and effort into playing Magic The Gathering.  While games like this are for a relative niche group of gamers, I would highly suggest to any of my fellow/former jocks to give these games a fighting chance.  I grew up in a home with caring parents that were sometimes confused as to what some games really entailed.  To make this clear for any of you out there that are reading this as a concerned parent – Magic The Gathering is NOT a tarot card game.  Dungeons and Dragons isn’t satanic… and yes, you might need to lighten up a bit.

One thing that can be stated about the types of games in item #3 is that it will allow many gamers/nerds/geeks to feel like they belong to something.  Being a geek can be a lonely title, but when you are building decks based on your own creativity and growing knowledge or slaying dragons with friends there is something gained that takes away all of those lonely moments.

Take this nicer weather as an opportunity to get some fresh air, walk around your neighborhood or socialize and meet new people in the process.

Is It Time To Move To PC Gaming?

Now that we are coming to the beginning of yet another console generation you are most likely asking – “Should I wait this out?”.  That would be a good option if you could stick to it.  Considering the growing rumors that the next console generation will not allow you to buy games second-hand (used) or even bring a game over to a friends house to play it on their console;  It is starting to look more likely by the day that the PS4 (Oracle) and XBox 720 (Durango) are going to focus less on hard copy media (discs) and move further towards downloading and cloud based gaming.

This feels an awful lot like the console version of Steam/Origin.  Both of these game hosting services allow you to play your games through an online based client that essentially acts as a proxy game library.  Instead of actually having a collection of games on your shelf, they are in the Steam application under – you guessed it – Library.

With Microsoft’s online service already requiring users to pay $60 per year for online play and other features it will be interesting to see how they go about forcing people to do most of their gaming based on the ‘always online’ capabilities and the apparent desire to get rid of second-hand gaming.  This isn’t really that surprising in terms of the direction that gaming and entertainment have been going in recent years.  The sales of CDs and DVDs have plummeted because of services like iTunes and Netflix.  The question remains as to whether or not this is a good thing when it comes to gaming.

Console gaming is nice for many reasons, but one of the best reasons is the fact that you don’t have to sit at a desk on your computer to play these games.  You can sit on a comfortable couch, beanbag chair or even on the floor in front of a flat screen TV and game out.  That is slowly becoming a less exclusive reason as PCs are becoming easier to incorporate to your TV rather than a monitor.  The biggest downside to moving in the direction of PC gaming remains the initial investment and upkeep.

If you consider the amount of money people pour into their console gaming it isn’t really a good argument to say that it is cheaper than PC gaming.  XBox users are paying $60 a year on top of their initial console purchase.  Then there are DLC packages that often add another $20-50 to the price of the games they are playing.  After all of these expenses there are batteries for controllers or new controllers if the console is used regularly.  By the time you add up all of the costs a hardcore gamer might put into a console they could have easily bought a PC that could be used as a work station and gaming rig.  Not to mention the fact that most PC games feature free online play and more consistent patches and user mods.

A PC gaming rig also costs as much as you are willing to put into it.  You don’t have to have the same set up as someone else if you can’t afford it.  The best place to spend your initial money is going to be on a sizable case and motherboard.  The case is vital for multiple reasons (ventilation, size for expansion and video cards, USB ports, etc.) but the motherboard is the most important aspect when it comes to ‘future-proofing’ your PC.  Make sure that you have plenty of room for video cards and a powerful CPU to power everything.  You will need to also invest in a power supply to give your rig the needed juice to run.  Other than that, you can typically piece together everything else.

GPUs (video cards), RAM, Optical Drives and Hard Drives are all replaceable and changeable once the main components are installed.  If you are looking for a way to stick it to Microsoft’s XBox division and Sony’s Playstation division you should consider moving to PC gaming.  The time has come to take gaming to the next level and that means putting your PC in the living room and using your HDMI/DVI cord to link it to your television.

Looking for a few ideas on how to build a budget rig or a monster gaming PC?  Check out the wishlist section over at Newegg.com.  You should also talk to your computer savvy friends for advice or ideas on what could be the best build for you.  If you want even more input shoot us an email at officialnoobtubetv@gmail.com and include PC Building in the subject.

Happy Gaming!

 

Are Shooter Games Dead?

Now that the autumn rush for shooter games has come to a close and we are firmly in the doldrums of the gaming year there is a serious question that must be asked as we get closer to not only new consoles… but closer to the limit many gamers have for lacking creativity.

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Whether you are playing Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield or even Gears of War.  You are most likely playing a game with a 2, 3 or 4 after the primary namesake.  This is a problem on many levels and the obvious issue stems from the idea of pumping out sequels more regularly than Hollywood can push out another Saw movie.  As for the other issues signifying the agonizingly slow death of shooter games – here are a few:

  1. Fans Are Getting Bored – The entertainment industry has one primary component to making money and that is paying customers who are actually interested in what is being offered.  Call of Duty was able to grab an entire generation of gamers with new styles of playing a shooter – primarily the online component.  Halo snagged the XBox crowd with a great story and then some of the most successful multiplayer experiences ever put on a console.  They still sell in the millions when release day comes, but gamers are slowly finding their way to other titles than the popular COD series especially.  This isn’t to say that the sales are bad for COD or Halo, but the idea that a cash cow will last forever does not make a lot of business sense.
  2. Desensitized – Killing people isn’t as fun or novel as it used to be.  We have witnessed so many tragedies on TV it is becoming rather difficult to surprise anyone.  Some thought that blood in Mortal Kombat was too much ‘violence’ but now, years later – MMA is being pumped up like the Roman gladiator battles.  We have had shootings at numerous schools over the last 14 years.  Why is it that within a few weeks… and sometimes days – we are already moving on to something else?  The answer is simple – we just aren’t shocked anymore. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had a section where you shot up an airport full of civilians.  Black Ops 2 lets you butcher enemies with a machete.  We have fatalities in Mortal Kombat and execution moves in Gears of War.  Violence is old hat… it is expected and desired like someone’s morning coffee fix.
  3. Poor Parenting and Little Kids – When I reached adulthood and started paying bills I started to notice a few things had changed in terms of my view of the world.  The first was that I had become crotchety and easily annoyed by nonsense (which I think had been in my persona long before adulthood, FYI).  The second was that I couldn’t stand what I viewed to be a sudden change in parenting and discipline of children.  I will save you the ‘back in my day’ comments and leave it at this – if a game is for ages 17 and up, otherwise known as being rated M for ‘Mature’… your CHILD should not be playing it.  Not to mention, if they are on a microphone talking to other gamers around the world – you might want to listen to the language they are hearing and using outside of the game sounds and in their headset.

Madden – Preparing For The Super Bowl Hype Machine

The majority of traffic to NoobTubeTV over the past year has been for information on all things ‘Madden’.  This year will be interesting if you consider the release of the XBox 720 (or whatever they will call it) to be on the top of your anticipation list.  Regardless of what you are looking forward to in football gaming this year, Madden is most likely on the top of your list.

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Madden 13 is a game that came out of the gates strong with some new direction to Franchise Mode with the new Connected Careers Mode.  Some gamers hated this move and the direction of earning XP for players through on field production.  Other gamers enjoyed this new move for realism in player growth during CCM.  Either way you fall on this argument you will notice that it was always part of the hype machine after the Madden 12 cycle finished with the Super Bowl.

With the Super Bowl (and the new Madden Release Date announcement) only a few weeks away you should be fully prepared for the onslaught of Madden hype from EA Sports.

Some of the hopes for improvement in Madden 14 are –

  1. More customization of playbooks and depth charts/players – CCM cut off a lot of user creativity as it all but removed player editing and roster editing from the mode.
  2. Better OLine and DLine Interaction – This is something that is called for and demanded by the Madden community every year.  EA supposedly made this better by using the strength ratings in Madden 13, but given the constant issues with defensive linemen not getting proper sack numbers and the strange ‘Pancake Block’ stat for OLinemen, it is questionable as to whether or not EA knows anything about linemen at all.
  3. Smarter AI Decisions and Gameplanning – Why do CPU QBs get away with clear intentional grounding?  Why does the CPU call a HB Draw while down 5 points and 55 yards from the endzone with 17 seconds left?  Why does the CPU call a Timeout with 1:01 left in the 4th quarter?
  4. More Realistic Injuries – We have been calling for this for years.  The bottom line is that real time physics means nothing if injuries are random.

Are Shooter Games Starting To Lose Their Appeal?

You can only re-hash the same thing so many times before it is no longer desired.  This goes for movies (see – Saw, Rocky, Rambo, Star Wars (the new crappy ones) as much as it goes for music and video games.  In gaming we are starting to experience something that isn’t too dissimilar.  Every November we expect a new Call of Duty game.  While COD is the most common direction people look when it comes to games being the same every year, it is also a trend that is getting (or has gotten) old very fast.

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I am almost to my second prestige in Black Ops 2.  While this isn’t shocking to the many people that have already reached the 5th or 10th prestige it is something relatively new to me.  I didn’t prestige in Modern Warfare 3 and I thought I would give it a chance in Black Ops 2.  The problem with this is the fact that I am playing games and leveling up in their second and third iterations.  There have been some changes along the way, but the one thing that remains a constant is the move towards an almost exclusively multiplayer focused game that revolves around leveling, leaderboards and people trying to make it big on YouTube.

While there are other games that are being milked as a franchise (Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear, Angry Birds and let’s not forget sports games and their wonderful annual roster updates) – it seems that shooters are still the cash-cow that get most of the development attention.  There have been some reports/rumors that Call of Duty is starting to see a slight decline in sales.  Does this really surprise you?  Madden and NCAA have also both started to see a decline in sales over the last few years.  While there have been some fluctuations to these numbers in some cases, it should tell the gaming industry from production company to developer that gamers want new games with new ideas.

If you want to look for hope in gaming, take a look at what some of the indie game developers are putting out.  Support their cause, but please… demand creativity instead of sequels.  That is so… Michael Bay.

College Football Playoffs – The Nail In NCAA Football 13’s Coffin

It is starting to look rather bleak to be a football gaming fan this year.  Between the debacle with Madden’s limitations to the user and the growing distaste for EA’s monopoly on football gaming in-general.

Now that the NCAA has finally approved a playoff for college football to find a true champion it is a curious situation for EA’s yet-to-be released college title this year.  While this year and even next year’s titles will technically be correct in the bowls and the fact that the BCS will still exist… it does leave us to wonder what is the point of playing a game that will soon see it’s career/dynasty mode become pre-obsolete as gamers want nothing more than the ability to create the playoff system they have always wanted.

EA can’t catch a break.

What are your thoughts on NCAA 13 at this point?