Monday, August 30, 2010

My Problem with Swearing in Gaming (Enthusiast) Journalism

I'll be the first to admit that I do swear pretty much everyday, but that my mind is cognizant of the situation I am in and is able to somehow turn the swearing switch off and on.  Where I don't swear is in anything I write about gaming.  I also try as hard as I can to not swear in forums either, including at Colony of Gamers.  When I do swear there it is usually to point out something someone else said in the thread through the use of quotes.

With that out of the way I have a major problem with the amount of swearing I see and hear in gaming (or enthusiast) journalism.  I use the word in quotes because many people feel that most video game writers sit in the enthusiast section and really aren't journalists in the broad sense of the word.  In many ways I agree with that since most sites, including CoG, fit into the enthusiast genre more than mainstream journalism.  Then there are the pulp sites like Kotaku, Destructoid and the like that may have some people with journalism backgrounds, but take a fully "throw the spaghetti at the fridge and see what sticks" mentality.

I was recently checking out one of the blogs I read regularly.  I won't name it, but they recently added another contributor to the blog.  A person I had worked in the past with on another site I used to write reviews for.  Reading this person's blog posts there are a lot of the f-word being used.  This person has at least one kid and reading through the posts I just don't see a reason for the swear word to be there.  It doesn't really add anything to the conversation at all, so I'm not sure why you'd put it in there.

I don't listen to podcasts either.  I never know when a podcast might have a swear word in it and it really takes me out of the conversation when one is used.  These are freely available sound recordings that any child could go in and download from iTunes or wherever.  Many of the people that do podcasts that I know also are in the radio industry.  Would that industry allow you to swear without using the 7-second delay?  Of course not.  So, I don't understand why the mindset changes from being on the air to doing a podcast.  Yes, you're in a more comfortable situation, but I would think a radio personality would be pretty hardwired to not swear when talking into a microphone, but maybe I'm mistaken.

I know I'm missing out on a lot of things by not listening to podcasts.  Are there any gaming ones out there where swearing is used sparingly or not at all?  I would guess some of the more major sites like Gamespot, IGN and maybe even Game Informer wouldn't allow swearing, but am I right about that?  I also realize we have print magazines out there that allow swearing and that's fine because they made that decision long ago.  However, as gaming journalists (or gaming enthusiasts) we should really be talking about gaming at the lowest denominator we can and allow children to hear stuff they might be interested in without swear words flying about.

Maybe I'm a prude in this respect, but there are many gaming journalists out there, or what I consider gaming journalists, that don't resort to swear words to spice up their reviews, opinions, interviews or whatever.  I think this is yet another example of what divides the enthusiasts from the actual professionals.  We're probably too far down the line to change anything about this, but I implore those aspiring gaming journalists out there to not resort to swearing and think about the full range of people that may be reading your site or listening to your podcast.

Fact is I'll simply stop reading or listening if I feel a swear word is used for no apparent reason at all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Growing Up 8-Bit: Sample PDF

Since the Kindle Sample doesn't really hold any content from the book outside of the cover and much of the Table of Contents, I've decided to upload a sample PDF of the first eight pages of the book starting at the Preface which explains my unique perspective with playing games my whole life.

The PDF document should be downloadable to anyone via this link.  Enjoy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Excerpt from Growing Up 8-Bit

Here is the excerpt about Yars Revenge, one of the best games I played when I was younger.  This should give you an idea of how each game is presented in the book and what the general writing is like.  Hopefully this will entice you to pick up the book through Amazon as noted in the post below this one.  Without further procrastinating, here is the excerpt:

Yars Revenge (Gaming Milestone)

Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari
Systems Played: Atari 2600
Released: 1981

If you’ve never played Yars Revenge, can I suggest trying to find a 2600 and a copy of this game?  Hours upon hours of my early life was spent with this game on the 2600.  My grade school friends and I used to get together on weekends and just play this game, handing the controller between us.  I was young when this game came out, so I can honestly say I don’t think I knew the story behind the game until I recently looked on Wikipedia.  I remember seeing the comic book that came with the game, but heck that I remember what the story was.  Basically these two alien races are fighting each other over the fact that one destroyed a Yars world and they’re seeking revenge.

It is interesting to note that the game was designed by Howard Scott Warshaw, who went on to create the horrendous E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial game.  In Warshaw’s defense, he did only have five weeks to create the game, but it can certainly be pointed out that the massive money loss for Atari on E.T. started the snowball of Atari going belly up.

Yars Revenge was the best selling original game on the 2600 and that title is certainly deserved.  You play an insect that can shoot a pellet from his mouth.  At about a third into the screen vertically is a neutral zone of static where you can’t be killed by either the roaming/homing single shot or when the cannon on the right turns into a swirl.  Your task is to take out the shield around the cannon by shooting or touching/eating the shield so it gradually disappears.  The key thing with eating the shield is that it helps you build a missile on the left side of the screen that you will then use to take out the cannon either in its static form or if you’re lucky when in the swirl mode.

The trick of course was when firing the missile to line up correctly and hit the cannon.  To exasperate this, on some stages there was a full rectangle shield that the cannon was in and you’d have to shoot/eat it down enough to get a missile shot to the cannon or await its change into the swirl.  As you went on and your points got higher the color of the shield changes and the cannon changes to swirl mode more often and at the higher levels gets a heat seeking power added to it that makes the neutral zone even more important to you since you are faster than the swirl, but watch out!  This game was highly addicting and even the simple sounds fit right in with the rest of the game.  For those interested, there are several videos on YouTube showing the game off.  The way I explain it probably sounds strange, but once you see it in action and remember that it is from 1981 it will blow your mind.

Growing Up 8-Bit Available Now

I know it's been a while since my last blog post, but I figured this area would be the best place to give some excerpts from my newly released book, Growing Up 8-Bit.  The book is about my experiences and real-life connections to the over 100 notable games I played that came out between my birth in 1976 to 1990.  This books is the first of at least three books.  The next one will chronicle the years 1991 to 2000 and the other one will cover 2001 to 2010.  Both will probably have more games than this initial book.

The book is set up with over 100 chapters in the Table of Concepts by system, game and real-life event.  You can feel free to jump back and forth between games or read through the whole book if you so desire.

The book is available currently only through the Kindle service on Amazon.  The nice thing about Kindle is that you don't need the eReader to purchase and read this book.  You can download a client that allows you to read it on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.  All the software downloads are available here at this link.

The book itself is priced at $2.99, the lowest price I could set it at in order to get 70% royalty from Amazon.  Those of you outside of the US can also buy the book.  Here are the two links to the US and UK versions of the book:

US Version

UK Version

With that out of the way my next post will be an excerpt from the book itself since Kindle's Sample download only goes through part of the Table of Contents and doesn't really touch any real content.  This will be about Yars Revenge, one of the best games I ever played as I was growing up.  It is part of the many gaming milestones I note in the book in my opinion.

Thank you for reading this and please feel free to purchase Growing Up 8-Bit.  I hope to have it available to Nook customers as soon as Barnes and Noble opens up its publishing website that is supposed to happen sometime this summer.