Question Their Quality, But Never Deny The Work Behind Popular YouTube Gamers

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I hate “The Big Bang Theory.” Understand that I don’t use hate often to describe something, but such is the case with that particular show. As an “out and proud” nerd such as it were, every time someone tells me that I must naturally love “The Big Bang Theory,” I tend to involuntarily cringe.

For the most part, I feel the way about many popular gaming YouTube personalities for largely the same reason. I find the quality of their content to be creatively cheap, and a bad image for the culture they have become the most vocal representatives of.

Of course please understand that isn’t meant as a blanket review of all gaming YouTube personalities. For instance, John Bain (better known by the handle TotalBiscuit), is one of  my most trusted gaming critics. For the most part though, the popular path to YouTube gaming fame of yelling at games and making cheap jokes along the way (let’s call it the PewDiePie effect) just doesn’t appeal to me, and quite honestly I don’t think it is meant to.

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It’s what has me somewhat conflicted about the recent YouTube content ID incident, which is threatening the livelihood, and in some cases very existence, of many of those YouTube personalities and their channels.

On one hand, I think that the literal implementation of archaic property and copyright laws that just don’t easily apply to video games is yet another in a shameful line of examples of the “world at large” not being sure exactly how to incorporate the medium properly into everyday life, business, and culture. I also do truly feel that these sanctions (many of which are completely bogus mind you) are just a taste of the world that is forming, in which the power and abilities of the individual is overshadowed almost entirely by that of the conglomerate, making it closer to impossible every day for that individual to shape their own fortune and make their own mark regardless of their current position in the world.

On the other hand, in terms of the content that we are potentially losing, I’m by and large unaffected. While there are some people hurt by this that I will miss, in the grand scheme of things from an entertainment perspective, I’m not ranking this occurrence with say the untimely cancellation of “Firefly.”

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Maybe you share that opinion. Maybe you don’t. To be honest, I don’t really care. That’s not because I don’t respect your right to have an opinion on that particular subject, but rather because I feel that subject is very much worthy of debate, and of differing opinions.

However, if your stance on this topic is one of joy because you feel that the role of YouTube personality shouldn’t be considered a real job, and that these people have been just coasting along off of a broken system, then I’m here to call you out for being wrong. On that subject, I leave no room for debate.

What you have to understand is this. The people who are potentially most affected by these policies (and the ones still to come) are the people who work hardest at what they do. They are not the ones that throw on a webcam, get a cheap mic, record their game play, and hastily throw it online with some poorly chosen metal music as bookends and call it a day. They are people who have learned genuine skills and talents, and have put forth 70-80 hours a week for years of their lives to get where they are today, which is a position to do what they love for a living.

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It’s true that many of them were using pre-existing content as the crux of their works, but since when was that a crime in and of itself? Many of those who are being harmed most by this had the proper permission to use the content they were featuring at the time they used it. To criticize them for doing so is not different that criticizing the “Mystery Science Theater” cast for just piggybacking off old movies, or to criticize “Siskel and Ebert” for just judging original works and making a living off of it. Hell, while you’re at it, you might as well damn every gaming website and blog who make their livings by reporting on the industry as opposed to solely creating original content.

Many people don’t do that, though. Why? What is the difference? Is it the YouTube format? Is that what makes people completely disregard the genuine hard work that went into these people getting to where they are at in life and instead dance on the grave of their dreams while its slowly being dug?

If so, that’s a real shame. Yes I admit the concept of a grown person essentially playing video games for a living doesn’t really qualify as the most practical, or certainly noble, of pursuits. However, it is what they love doing, and through a combination of ambition, luck, skill, ability, persistence, and most importantly hard work they found a way to use the very slim opening that YouTube afforded them, and turn it into a something they could not only live off of, but take pride in.

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There was a time when that kind of ambition and recklessness was admired and rewarded. It wasn’t always rewarded with financial gain mind you, but spiritually it was the kind of action treated with respect and looked upon for inspiration to make more of yourself and to retain the belief that with the right combination of work and passion you too could make something better for yourself, and maybe even achieve your dreams.

And now that same effort is being mocked. Maybe by only a minute portion of the jaded and uninformed (or possibly just the usual trolls), but even then that is too many. The idea that you are not a master of your own fate, and rather a slave to some idea of how things may be is a mental poison that is corrupting this world a little more each day and can in no way be tolerated by anyone with a shred of hope and life left in them.

Call out these YouTube personalities all you want for the quality of their work. Critique them, question them, or just ignore them entirely if you choose. But never, ever, deny those that truly deserve it respect for the work they put in to get where they are and their willingness to aim for something greater regardless of whether or not it was through traditional means.

Do that, and you might as well deny all of those born without a silver spoon in their mouth the right to eat.

The Biggest Games Still to Come In 2013

As much as I love “GTA V” (which, if you were wondering, is more than waking up to all the presents you wanted for the year on a white Christmas morning), trying to find video game news not related to Rockstar’s magnum opus is becoming quite the epic adventure itself.

Since the ghosts of video game present are a little tied up at the moment building their shooting skills (got to hit up Ammunation), to find something non “GTA” related to talk about, we’ll have to look towards the future.

It’s been something of an odd year for video games as even though it has seen some of the most high quality games in recent memory, they all seem to have been released early on, rather than continuing the traditional holiday season release rush. As such, while we may have a pretty good idea how the game of the year talks will shape up, here are some of the biggest games still left to get excited about, once your “GTA” addiction has subsided.

Watch Dogs

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What was one of the most touted games on the video game horizon has slipped a little bit in hype due to some questionable current gen graphics shown in a recent gameplay video, and something of a media silence since the last E3 showing, but still remains the biggest name left in 2013.

It’s easy to say that its got an even tougher path to glory in a post “GTA V” world, but while it may be an open world game, it’s unique hacker mechanics and the possibilities they provide when it comes to interacting with the world in previously unexplored ways, makes “Watch Dogs” more of an original superhero style game in the vein of “Crackdown” or “Infamous.”

Obviously when you’re mentioned in the company of such titles  you’ve got some raised expectations to try to clear, but so far “Watch Dogs” looks primed to provide a unique and memorable experience at the least.

Batman: Arkham Origins

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While “Origins” initially drew concern from fans who were unsure if the “Arkham” name could maintain its level of excellence away from developer Rocksteady, the more and more we discover about this game, the easier it is to get excited for it.

Drawing more design cues from the “Mega Man” series than any previous “Arkham” installments, “Origins” will see the dark knight take on some of the highest profile members of his rouge gallery on his never ending quest to save Gotham City. Though it serves as a prequel to the high profile original titles, “Origins” looks to  take Batman games in an interesting new direction that mixes old school gaming ideas with previous series features, and some fresh ideas (including an intriguing multiplayer mode), to form a best of all worlds experience.

Like “Watch Dogs,” this ones has some lofty goals  to live up to, but appears to be coming together well.

Beyond Two Souls

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Continuing the trend of wild card games that could really go either way on the quality scale, this spiritual successor to “Heavy Rain” is already causing some seriously divided discussion.

“Beyond Two Souls” continues to look like a different game every time we see it and, even as more and more of the game’s basic plot becomes clear, remains shrouded in mystery regarding what the overall product will look like and play like. We do know that fans of “Heavy Rain” will be happy to hear that it retains the interactive film gameplay of that title, while detractors will no doubt roll their eyes at the same news.

Quantic Dream has proven that they know how to create a game that differentiates itself from every other on the market, and can get people talking, with their distinctive style of game design. While it would be easy then to say that you can use your reaction to their previous games as a gauge for how excited to be towards this one, given the ambitious and exciting nature of “Beyond,” it may well be worth a trip outside of your comfort zone.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

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As someone who suffered through the dreadful “South Park” games of the PS1 and N64 days, its hard to imagine that an adaption of the influential animated series could actually prove to be something worth getting excited for.

Yet that is exactly the situation I find myself in. Surviving the closure of THQ, “Stick of Truth” has continued to look better and better with every showing. In marrying the series with basic RPG elements, developer Obsidian Entertainment has found the perfect outlet to showcase the deep cast of memorable characters, and ever expanding list of scenarios and worlds the show has crafted during its long run. Their execution of the source material’s style and humor has been dead on so far and, given the developer’s track record with RPG games, there’s more and more reason to get excited for the possibilities.

The only question now is if the game will actually honor its 2013 release date. If so, don’t be surprised if this ends up being a dark horse on some game of the year lists.

Among the “GTA V” Multiplayer Celebration, A Nagging Worry Remains

Try and deny “GTA V” its applause for the recent full reveal of its online mode, and you’ll be left arms to your side amid an explosion of ovation that the announcement deserves. Ever since “GTA III,” gamers have dreamed of “GTA” online, and the reveal trailer showcases a mode that is everything you could possibly imagine and dreamed of when it comes to the concept, and then some.

However, there is a catch.

See, if you give any number of players guns and put them in an online world, their natural inclination will be to find each one another and shoot until those who are not them are dead. While that is certainly an element of the “GTA V” multiplayer experience (the trailer is largely focused on PvP confrontations) it’s clear that the better intentions of this mode are instead focused on group play and exploration of not only the landscape, but of the potential scenarios that can be created within it.

Simply put, asking a group of 16 (likely) strangers to jump into the “GTA” world and consider violence against each other to be a secondary measure, is asking a hell of a lot. Now that isn’t to say it’s impossible, or won’t occur after a period of time where everyone gets bored shooting each other, but it does mean the better and more exciting elements of this newish type of multiplayer design may not always be present in every session, and may only be accessible should you choose to form a tight bond with like minded players or just happen to get lucky and draw a server of those individuals randomly.

I’d like to believe that gamers will approach “GTA V” in a manner befitting the outside the box design the online element looks to provide, but there is a pessimistic urge honed by years of experience in online communities built off major release titles that makes me believe otherwise, and worries that a genuine effort to provide something truly great may be squandered by the very people it was built for.

I’m not that one standing sulkingly amidst the applause towards “GTA V’s” multiplayer mode, and in fact nurse sore hands from joining the commotion as feverishly as any, but the question no longer seems to be is Rockstar capable of delivering the type of online “GTA” world we’ve always wished for, but rather if the hordes of loyal fans capable of fully embracing it.

New California Based Service Shows There is in Fact One Thing You Can’t Get Delivered in NYC

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Let’s not beat around the bush. The arcade scene is dead enough to replace disco as a cliché, and frankly deserves to be. Most of them were designed to pump more money from you than any villainized “freemium” game ever would, and the world of video games have progressed positively in a way that the scene would have never allowed for should it have remained the dominate form of gaming.

But dammit, I still do love them. To this day getting three friends and playing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is a guaranteed good time that may be bested by modern games, but is never really duplicated.

There may be good reasons why arcades are no longer prominent, but there is no good reason why the still entertaining machines should be relegated to ironic obscurity in hipster bars or the rare pizza joint and laundromat.

Fortunately there is a west coast company that agrees, and are providing a service that allows you to rent an arcade unit with unlimited play for $75 a month, with additional charges coming for multiple units. A subscription based service, you can keep getting new cabinets as long as you’re a member, and can even switch out machines mid-month if you’d like.

Currently available machines are based on your location, but examples include classics like “Pac-Man,” “TMNT,” “Galaga,” “Golden Tee,” and even one of the arcade holy grails, “The Simpsons.”

Unfortunately there is a limited area service, so many will not have the chance to experience one of the best opportunities to properly enjoy all-time great arcade games in their most ideal format without trekking out to a rare arcade spot, or paying prices that can exceed $2,000 for a home machine.

Hopefully All You Can Arcade experiences a profitable level of success then and spreads to more areas, as the look on your friends faces when they show up to see “The Simpsons” in your living room is well worth the asking price.

When Looking for Proof the Hype is Real About the Next Grand Theft Auto, Look at the Little Things

“Grand Theft Auto IV” almost had to be called “Grand Theft Auto IV.”

What I mean is, considering it was for a new generation of consoles, and featured an exceptionally long development cycle, calling it “GTA: Liberty City” or something similar would have never gone over well with the folks at Rockstar, nor the fans.

However obligatory the name might have been though, the final product never really felt right as being the true evolution to the world changing “GTA III.” It was abundantly clear that all of the focus went into creating Liberty City, and even though that still stands as one of the most impressive accomplishments of video game engineering, the rest of the game suffered from half-baked or just plain bad gameplay ideas.

While it’s true then that “GTA IV” pleased many fans and critics, there were an equal number of people waiting for the real successor to the series.

Based on the recent internet stopping footage that Rockstar released of “GTA V,” that may be soon upon us.

You’d think that there wouldn’t be anything more to say about the next “GTA” until it actually comes out, but the first gameplay trailer of the series proved that as much as we may think we know about the game based on previous information, hearing about the features and seeing them actually come together are completely different things.

Because when you see the game truly in action, it’s clear that Rockstar is aiming to create a game that doesn’t just appear to be alive on the surface, but is a living, breathing, and (most importantly) evolving thing. Sure major aspects like the three character approach appear to work better than we could have anticipated, and new or returning core gameplay features like hunting and purchasing property/stock look incredible, but what really amazes are the little touches.

It’s the things that only the most eagle-eyed of viewers caught like individual weapon stats, or how the mini-map changes based on your current transportation. It’s the new pot shop you can patron, it’s the clever names of the tattoos, and it’s definitely the fact your hand shaped mouse cursor in the game is in fact a middle finger.

Those are the things that “GTA IV” was missing. It’s those aspects that show Rockstar knows how to make a sandbox game on advanced hardware, and are now working to perfect an actual “GTA” experience, and not a tech demo wearing its mask but possessing none of its heart and soul.

When looking for proof that “GTA V” is going to be a game-changer, you may be tempted to point to the tantalizing seconds of footage that reveal a true “GTA” style multiplayer mode. However, for me, the fact the NASDAQ parody stock market is called BAWSAQ is real proof that Rockstar is back to having fun with the series, and in the process advancing its identity.

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