Thursday, January 31, 2013

One Million Time Bombs

I'm taking a break from the usual stuff I do here on The Non-Gamer's Gamer's Blog today to reply to something Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said today. You probably know what's coming because it's been all over the news.

"I think video games is (sic) a bigger problem than guns. Because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games and the Second Amendment limits what we can do about guns." He said these words in a discussion, on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown," laying the blame of recent school shootings on guns and video games, but noting that video games were a bigger societal threat than guns.

My reply is simple. You, Senator Alexander, are ignorant and misinformed, and should learn to think before speaking. If you are right however, we have a huge problem in this country, and the entire world.

The video game industry is gigantic. Certainly not as big as the gun lobby or the tobacco lobby, but still very big. Their profits range into the billions yearly. Do you know what that means? Somebody is buying a lot of video games. Millions, tens of millions, buy and play video games every single day, for hours and hours at a time. Many of them could be considered obsessed with their chosen hobby. I'm not judging, I'm just saying.

If video games truly do affect people, and cause them to go on shooting rampages at schools, we as I said, have a huge problem. If even a fraction of these people as affected as the Senator says, there are at least a million time bombs out there. Ready to blow at any minute.

But that's not true. After all, what were the violent video games that Hitler played? Or Caligula? Was Al Capone a big Call of Duty player? It's not true at all.

The NRA used to have a slogan they were proud of - "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." it's partially true. Guns help, but it is people who kill people. And let's face it, if you give a psychopath a butter knife, somebody might die. Do we outlaw butter knives? No. But there are better ways.

I grew up around guns, hunting specifically. I had to take a course before I could use a gun. In my father's home the guns and ammo were stored separately, and locked away. And I grew up as not a gun guy, but I'm educated, and have ideas how we could make this better.

First, get over yourselves, you don't need automatic weapons to hunt. And guns should not be available at gun shows or Wal-Mart. If you want to collect guns, you're not allowed to own ammo. You're just a collector, remember? If you want to own a gun, take a three week gun safety course, that's what I had to do. Also I would take a hint from Chris Rock, and tax ammunition. A lot. If one bullet cost $100, you will think before you shoot. Have the money go to victims of shootings.

And Senator Alexander, get off of video games, they are not to blame. And please start thinking before you open your mouth, because if you're right... I would guess you're surrounded by Halo players, who are also potential time bombs...

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Namco Museum and Xevious

Just to show you all what a big old fart I am, and how out of touch gaming-wise I am, the very first free download I ever got from the PlayStation Store was this - Namco Museum. Yeah, I'm old. Deal with it.

As the name might imply it's a small collection of old games from the 1980s, namely Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, and Xevious. To be fair, it's actually the trial for Namco Museum Essentials, and has much more available but I haven't purchased the whole package yet. And I have looked, but there doesn't seem to be an option to buy it. One problem with this one is that the games are presented in their original arcade form - vertical, on a horizontal screen. Oh well.

With the exception of Pac-Man, these are all games I spent a generous amount of time with at the arcade. I was never big into Pac-Man, but the others I loved. Dig Dug I've talked about before, everyone knows about Pac-Man, and Galaga is really just a color evolution up from Space Invaders. Xevious is the one I want to talk about today.

Xevious was a vertical scroller from back in the day, 1982, known for its bouncy tunage and unique breaking glass sound effects when you blasted the disc things that spun through the air at you. That effect is recreated here but the controller again makes what was easy on the arcade game difficult here - shooting and bombing simultaneously.

Xevious is a fun game without becoming too monotonous, although it remains much the same throughout. I remember the ship you pilot is called oddly the Solvalou, and that the sides of the arcade game showed pics that didn't exactly match the game itself. Always fun, even in this format.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Not Dig Dug

Digger is not Dig Dug. Or at least that's what I've been told. I had never heard of Digger before I downloaded it for free from the PlayStation Store, and despite looking a heck of a lot like Dig Dug or even Mr. Do, I am assured this Canadian game created by Windmill Software in 1983 is an original.

The PS3 version is in HD, making it quite crisp and vibrant on the TV. In its first form it was quite a feat of computer and sound engineering, but now is available in many formats for free online. The theme music is called "Popcorn," a catchy tune that unlike a lot of videogame electronic tunage does not get annoying quickly. Older folks will remember the song from decades past.

The game itself does unfortunately resemble Dig Dug quite a bit. You are a miner in a digger/bulldozer rolling around underground in a mine. There are prizes to grab, monsters after you, and instead of pumping them up, you shoot them. Same result. Sound familiar? It does have its own peculiarities, but is just as fun. Not Dig Dug, but still fun.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's a Fish Eat Fish World

I am always leery of movies, especially sequels, with long names and longer subtitles. I guess I should have the same aversion to that type of thing in video games as well. Here, we have another free download from the PlayStation Store called Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown.

Now I had never heard of Feeding Frenzy before, but apparently the game from Pop Cap and Sprout Games has been around for a while and is even available to play free online. The set up is pretty simple, you're Boris the Butterfly Fish, you eat the fish smaller than you and avoid those bigger than you. When you eat enough little fish, you become a bigger fish. Simple as that, survival of the fittest basically.

I really kinda dig this very simple game and wish I'd tried it sooner. Regular readers of this blog know I have a lot of trouble with the PS3 controllers. Feeding Frenzy actually offers an easy and efficient way to get used to using the controllers. The more I play, the more practice I get in for future games of other types.

Besides being a great gaming practice games, it's also kind of relaxing with a fun score. I dug this game a lot.