Monday, March 26, 2012

Xbox Live: Multiplayer, Mic's, and Kids

You've got your mic on. You're kicking it playing Call of Duty, Halo, or some other equally awesome, violent, competitive multiplayer game. You hear a tiny, quiet voice attempt to insult your gameplay.

Yes. You're hearing right.

Everyone's heard that video games may or may not effect kids in a negative way. My opinion is that they can but most of the time they don't.

I mean look at me for example. Generally I'm not an agressive person. I played my share of "violent" video games back in the day and I turned out just fine. And when I say violent I'm talking violent for their time (Doom, Duke Nukem, Wolfenstein).

Clearly today's games are a lot more realistic. The characters actually look like people and weapons; well they look like real guns. If a kid has descent enough parents they'll know the difference between reality and fantasy (I hope).

I'm not trying to write a research essay but there are many articles and websites stating the positive and negative effects of video games on children. sites a study by Walsh (2000), stating that aggressive behavior in children is linked to the amount of time a child plays video games. In other words the more time played the more aggressive a kid may be. So parents: watch what your kids are playing and put a limit on the amount they play.

The purpose of this post is not to go on about video games, aggression, and children. Moreover, I wanted to get across the effect that adult gamers may have on children. AKA: what you say through your mic everybody hears; including the little ones.

A lot of the multiplayer games I am speaking of (Halo, COD, Gears) have mature ratings to begin with. Us gamers know that online interactions are not rated. If you're a non-gamer parent you may not. In short, it makes me upset (to say the least), when a child is on XBL absorbing negative language, racism, and sexism. All the while their parent(s) are clueless.

I want to feel free to speak freely and talk "smack" when needed. I do not want to have to worry about the 8 year old that may have just heard me cuss someone out.

 In short parents need to monitor their child's Xbox Live use and/or not allow their child to use a mic while playing a multiplayer game.

Game On!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The 90's: Game's I Loved

My last post was about the games that influenced me as a gamer today. The majority of these games included games from the 90's. It got me thinking, what other games did I love as a kid? Well here they are and where you can download them (some of them). Many of them have several versions; I have included the links to the versions I remember. 

Some great websites to find these games and other abandonware:
C-DOS Abandonware

Anyone who had Microsoft played this pack of games. It included a lot of card games and the basics like Tetris, Minesweeper, and chess. My favorite game in the pack had to be Chips Challenge.

I also spent a lot of time on MEP playing:
I watched the TV show on PBS and played the deluxe edition on PC. I had ton's of fun with it and what do ya' know, it's educational.

My brother and I used to play Double Dragon on the Sega Genesis. It was great playing multiplayer as I wasn't the best at it. It was my first "action" game on a console.

Another game I played on the Sega Genesis. I honestly have no idea what version of the game I played. All I know is I absolutely loved it.  

Drum roll please...

 PaRappa the Rapper
This game was so entertaining that I had to put a video up of it. Pretty funny stuff. I played PaRappa the Rapper on the PS1. It was a 90's style of guitar hero.

I played PaRappa on a demo disc. I never owned the entire version. Most of the time the sensei would tell me that I failed. Probably a good thing my parents didn't spend the money. 

Game On!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Yesterday's Games, Today's Gamer

We all have those games that stick with us. The one's that started it all; that sucked us into the addicting world of video games. 

These are the games that I love and cherish because they made me the gamer I am today :)

California: Gold Rush was one of the first computer games I remember playing. My Dad taught me how to run it in DOS. Remember DOS!? Kind of makes me feel old. 
"Unlock door," "Take Money," I loved using the keyboard; commanding the character with my typed words and controlling him with the arrow keys.

I'd always get stuck in the jungle and die of malaria. It was stressful, even as a youngin', but I kept trying (and failing).

My Dad had a huge influence in the growth of my gaming. Growing up there was always a computer readily available. At times there were more computers than people in the house.

My Dad and siblings would sit in different rooms and we'd have a mini LAN party. It was the coolest thing messaging each other warnings about the "meat heads" and the location of the rocket launcher.     

Doom is the prime example as to why I am a gamer. Wolfenstein was the first first-person shooter game I ever played but Doom...Doom is the reason I am playing COD and Halo today.

I started playing computer games long before I ever played them on a console. I remember having a Sega Genesis and playing Sonic the Hedgehog but nothing pulled at my heartstrings quite like Crash Bandicoot.

I remember getting the PS1 with my brother; he got an NHL game and I chose Crash. Crash was my Mario.

It was just pure fun. Running from boulders, chasing after creatures to jungle music (aku aku!), and facing the evil Dr. Neo Cortex.

Myst was released in 1993. Did I understand the plot? Probably not. I think I was too young to really appreciate the beauty of the game. 

Although I do remember being stunned at how realistic the graphics felt. The library, the forest (one particular tree freaked me out a bit), and the architecture. 

Myst is the game that made me appreciate video games for their artistic value and story lines. 

The Sims was the quintessential game of my youth. My sister and I would pull all-nighters building houses and controlling our Sims. Often making them go crazy and trapping them in between walls.  

I bought every expansion pack, game guide, and magazine having anything to do with the Sims. I was obsessed. At one point I even wanted to be an architect.

The Sims stuck with me. To this day I still enjoy the game (Preferably on the PC). 

I play multiplayer games/Xbox Live because of Halo 3. Straight up.

At one point in my gaming "career" Halo 3 was all I was playing. I loved the social aspect of it; meeting fellow gamers and being competitive.

It changed my life forever. Because I loved Halo 3 so much I became more immersed in a gaming lifestyle and began exploring other games.

Thanks Bungie!

Game On!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Xbox. I want you to be perfect.

I can't tell you how many times I've been playing my Xbox and thought "Why hasn't Xbox done this yet!?" and "How cool would it be if my Xbox could do this..." Be magical Xbox and do this:

1. Music
 Everybody get's annoyed when a gamer blares their music through their mic. You. Me. Everybody. It sound's terrible and 90% of the time it's just crappy music. So why can't we share our music with our party (legally of course)? I'm no expert but I know it's possible. It's Microsoft dang it!

We can all listen to and IHeartRadio for free on Xbox live, just not together. There's got to be a way to run one of said music programs, in a party, while playing a game. Mash all of the party members "liked" songs together and ba-da-bing!   

2. Expansion Packs
This doesn't apply to many games. Actually I can only think of one game. The Sims 3.

I used to play it for hours and hours on the PC. So, naturally I was excited when I heard it was coming out on consoles. Then they came out with The Sims 3: Pets. Same game plus cats and dogs. Come on! Did it really have to cost so much for a slight change to the original? Why not put it on XBL as an "expansion pack/add-on."

I should have waited until it was cheaper.
Wait. I shouldn't have bought it. 

3. Internet Search
Just going to be honest. I'm not impressed with the Bing search on Xbox Live. It was not what I expected. I think I was just being a bit loopy and imagined something amazing. Like a computer. I have to remember that a game console is not a PC. But come on, it kind of feels like it's going that way?

My expectations were clearly too extravagant for my little Xbox. I want a search option that gives me more than just the option to spend more money (games, music, movies).

How about a full on Bing search with cheats, blogs, and actual websites?

4. Social Networking 
I love twitter. Twitter on Xbox Live I just kind of like. If you've used it on your Xbox then you know what I'm talking about. I don't even feel the need to go into detail. Xbox simply needs a better Twitter program.

So you know how there's buttons/links on websites to "like," "follow," and "share?" How about something similar for Xbox Live accounts? Find a cool image; share it with your XBL friends. Read a cool blog; friend the writer.

Oh the possibilities.  
Why doesn't such an awesome company do the amazing things that I know it can!? Maybe the next generation console will live up to my expectations.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'll Never Abandon You Xbox

Why I need a PlayStation 3

 I am an Xbox junkie. Why the Xbox 360 became my console of choice I'm not sure. As a kid I had my fun gaming on a PC, Sega Genesis, and PlayStation One. As a teenager I dabbled with the PlayStation 2 and expanded my taste in PC gaming. Sadly I completely ignored the idea of Xbox.

Currently it's all about the Xbox 360. However, I've been thinking lately and it's time for PS3 and I to start a relationship.

I'm missing out on a lot of great games. I hear about them, I play them, and I think "I've got to go buy this game." Then I remember it's a PS3 exclusive game. Oh the agony.

 Here are the games that are successfully selling me on the PlayStation 3:

 I read an article previewing this game and couldn't wait. I love a game that is visually simple but stunning as well. It seems Journey will be all that I hope for and more. Possibly coming to Xbox? Woot!                                                                                                                 
 Little Big Planet 2
Played a chunk LBP2 and felt like a kid again. It was a lot of fun playing with multiple people. There's not many games out there in this genre that people get excited about anymore (excluding Nintendo games?). Plus those little rag dolls are just darn cute.
 The Last of Us
Any thing with an apocalyptic theme gets me. I love it all. Movies, books, and games. Especially games. I think most people wonder how it would be if such an apocalypse occurred. A video game allows you to experience it. Minus real life. 
 Twisted Metal
I played Twisted Metal back in the day on the PlayStation One. Destruction, creepy evil clown, causing chaos! What more could you ask for? I can't wait to experience Twisted Metal as an adult.
 Uncharted 3
I know what attracted me to this game but I'm not sure how to put it into words. It was hyped up and I've heard nothing but good things about it. Got to love some Nathan Drake.
 Infamous 2
I played maybe 15 minutes of this game and loved it. Sliding along buildings, jumping across a city, electricity from your hands!? Simply put: Awesome.

These games are breaking my heart. I need 200 bucks and my love sickness will be cured via PS3. They are why I want a PS3. Not to mention Blue Ray, PlayStation Network (Free!), and all the old PS1 games I could relive. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eight Games I Bought, Played (part of), and Tossed

Let's get this straight. I would never "toss," a video game. I wouldn't throw it to you in a game of catch, chuck it in the garbage, and I would never mix it with a salad. That would just be weird.

I often get overly excited about a game and my impulsiveness kicks in. I see it, I want it, I buy it. I bring it home and I unwrap the plastic. After a short battle, I finally peel the seal off of the case. Finally it's in my Xbox. Game on!

Then I play it for a while. I try to get into the game but it's just not clicking. I get bored. I forget about it and it begins to collect dust on my shelf. Eventually I blow the dust off and sell the game. My memory is cleared of the game. All but my hopes and expectations.

Here are the eight games that I "tossed." Why eight? Because it just worked out that way.

Alice: Madness Returns
I was expecting a creepy, gruesome, murderous Alice. The character control was terrible. The scenery was beautiful. Still, no blood, guts, or gore. Just Alice bouncing around.

 Saints Row the Third
I hate doing this but what's all the hype? I haven't played the other Saints Row games and I found this one just Okay. I need more than okay. I need GTA.

This game had advertisements everywhere. And when I say advertisements I mean billboards. I felt like I was being watched. The interaction with objects was touchy. The missions were mediocre.

I wanted a new first person shooter. I'm usually on board with all games from Bethesda. Brink not so much. The movement was to rigid. I didn't feel the the characters flowed very smoothly through the environment.

I don't think I've ever seen a wink of anime before this game. It was too much. Too many cut scenes and too little game play. The puzzles were fun the first few times but became repetitive.

Child of Eden
I bought my Kinect within the last year. Like most people that aren't children it doesn't get used very often. Child of Eden is a techno soundtrack visualized. Music cool. Visualization cool. Game play cool; for five minutes. 

TDU2: Test Drive Unlimited
It was terrible. I hated it. Glitches. It's a driving game. Can we just drive?

Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary
I'm having trouble admitting this one as I am a huge Halo fan. Halo was the beginning of my Xbox life. I have played all of the Halo games but the the original. Maybe that's why I didn't like it? It felt too primitive (eek).