Saturday, November 19, 2011

PETA vs. Mario . . . Mario Wins

Not long ago I wrote about how The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was after Battlefield 3 for allowing players to kill rats with a knife during the campaign. I felt that if PETA was going to do that, they might as well start attacking just about every game in the industry for something. This week, they attacked the beloved Super Mario, then backed off.

The new Super Mario 3D Land was released recently and one of Mario's many power-ups is the Tanooki Suit. This suit grants Mario the ability to glide through the air after he jumps and it has been a core power-up in many Super Mario games since the 1990's. It has always been clear that the suit is somewhat of a jump suit or costume, not actual fur, but PETA thought otherwise.

PETA released their own game, titled "Mario Kills Tanooki." In the game, you play as a skinned tanooki running and jumping after Mario, trying to get your skin back from him as he flies across the screen. The game portrays Mario and Marioland as being blood thirsty and gory.

PETA points out that tanooki are real life racoon dogs that are often times skinned alive for their furs. I am not endorsing that and neither is Mario. I personally did not even know that tanooki were a real animal and neither did anyone that I talked to about this. We all just assumed it was something made up for the series. I'm pretty sure than when I was playing my Super Nintendo (SNES) as a kid, I was not thinking about skinning are killing animals.

This is not the first time that PETA has released a game parodying another game. The title, Super Meat Boy, is a downloadable game that has grown quite popular. PETA created Super Tofu Boy to combat it. However, no one plays PETA's games. They get some media attention because they frustrate a lot of gamers, but they are boring, poorly constructed games. PETA is not really helping their causes attacking the industry.

Within days of releasing Mario Kills Tanooki, PETA backed off, saying that their game was meant to be "tongue in cheek." They told Mario fans to "relax" and explained that their spinoff game was meant to be a fun way to address a serious issue. There is one problem with that; there is nothing fun about playing a game as a bloody, skinned animal chasing an iconic video game hero across a nightmarish version of that same character's home turf. Nothing at all is fun or funny about that.

PETA had their sights set on Mario and missed badly. They bit off more than they could chew. It will be interesting to see how they address the video game industry going forward.

Here are links to an article about PETA's game and an article about PETA backing off of their Mario claims.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Some of My "Brilliant" Ideas

Occasionally, I'll think up something that I consider to be groundbreaking. Some of these ideas fade fast, while others float around my mind for years. However, each one of these brilliant ideas often times has at least one major flaw that I simply didn't realize when I first conceived the idea.

One idea that I had about a month ago involved our current roads and how they affect water. Asphalt can be a problem, particularly in cities. Rainwater can't get absorbed by it, so the rain doesn't make it back into the ground water supply, lowering the water table, and causing floods. So, I thought, "wouldn't it be amazing if at some point, someone, somewhere, invented a replacement for asphalt that can be used for roads and absorb water."

Later, I realized that if it could absorb water, it would most likely be able to absorb other liquids, too and that could be a problem. It would be pretty bad if antifreeze and all of the other chemicals that reach out streets, seeped into the groundwater.

My most recent idea is about agricultural fines. There are all kinds of fines for pollution and simply not running your farm how it is supposed to be run. However, many of these fines are too small for a lot of people to even care, so they do what they aren't supposed to do anyway. Also, some of the fines aren't properly enforced, causing more problems. I propose that fines be based off of income. Instead of fining everyone $1,000, why not fine a specific percentage (say 10%) of their income?

It would be fair because everyone would be paying the same percentage, so it wouldn't affect small operations more than factory farms and everyone should actually care about the money they would lose. So far, I have yet to discover any major faults with this idea, but I am sure that one will arise soon enough. Until then, I'll just keep thinking that I'm brilliant.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just Take Your Time And Make a Better Game

Over the past several years, it has become commonplace for major gaming titles to have annual release, but I wish it would end. If it is not a sports game, I don't want a new one to come out every single year, so stop it. Please, game developers, take your time and build a deeper, better, more polished game. Game publishers, don't push game developers to speed up the process. Meals that take all day to make are much more enjoyable than 90-second meals and games are the same way.

The Call of Duty series has been cranking out a new game every year since it has grown in popularity. Multiple game developers create the games, taking turns with each new addition to the series, so they do have a little more time, but it still isn't a lot of time. It is difficult to make a ground-breaking came in a year and a half. Little has changed over the past four games.

Many are saying that Modern Warfare 3 (which debuted yesterday) feels old. It runs on the same graphics engine that Modern Warfare 2 ran on when it came out two years ago. To survive in any business, you have to innovate. Despite this, Modern Warfare 3 is little different than 2 or even 1 and it is still thriving.

The Assassin's Creed series is another franchise that has grown greatly as new games have been released. There is even an Assassin's Creed movie going into production. Assassin's Creed is now following in Call of Duty's footsteps. Assassin's Creed: Revelations will come out later this month. Last year, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was released. Assassin's Creed 3 has already been announced and will be coming out in time for the 2012 holiday season. Will the series get watered down?

There were two years between the release of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. There were five years between Battlefield 3 and its prequel, Battlefield 2. Before BF3 was released, its developer, DICE, said that the Battlefield series wouldn't receive annual releases. I breathed a sigh of relief when I first heard the news and was thankful for a breath of fresh air; that might have been pre-mature.

This week, the president of Electronic Arts (EA; the publisher that released BF3), Frank Gibeau, announced that we should expect a BF4. BF3 has only been out for three weeks, so I hope this announcement doesn't mean BF4 will come out next year. Will this ever end?  

As gamers, we owe it to ourselves to push those who make the games we buy to create something worth owning. We should push developers to push themselves to work harder. So, why don't we?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Please PETA, Leave My Video Games Alone

The German branch of PETA has made the video game, Battlefield 3, its latest target. They are upset because during the campaign of the game, players are allowed to kill rats with their combat knife and toss them away. As much as I don't like what's going on, I can understand it coming from PETA. But, if you are going to say that video games condone animal cruelty, then you have to call out all video games.

In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, players can shoot chickens and watch feathers fly around. In Fable 1, 2, and 3, gamers fight off wolves. Every year, Cabella comes out with a new hunting game. If PETA is going to get mad at Battlefield 3, why stop there? Just be anti-gaming. PETA could argue that virtul violence involving imaginary animals is wrong, too.

If fantasy violence is out of the question, role-playing games would die, fantasy and adventure games would diminish, and maybe even The Sims series would end because players could kill off their own pets. The problem with PETA attacking Battlefield 3 is that there is no place to "draw the line," allowing the possibility of things getting completely carried away. And of course if you call out games, then you have to address movies, television, books, comics, etc. etc. etc. It would never end. So, PETA, please stay away from my video games and do some work to actually protect animals.

Here is a link to the article that brought this to my attention.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Love Music and I Hope it Loves Me, Too

I love music. I listen to it everyday and I freakout when my ipod is misplaced (like right now. I haven't seen it in several days.). The music I listen to can change to mood I'm in or reinforce the feeling that I have. If I'm stuck in a rut, I can start playing some Korn or get nostalgic with some old Linkin Park and everything gets a little better.

Theres just nothing like hearing a beloved song on the radio and getting lost in the riffs and melodies. Some of your best times can be had jamming out to music with friends (or alone). There are always those songs (or sometimes just parts of songs) that get to you every time you hear them. You may not even know why, but there's something about the song that reaches you at a deeper level and that is something that doesn't disappear. There is simply nothing like music.

Music is creative and artistic. It can be premeditated or completely spontaneous. Sometimes it is totally serious and other times it makes no sense whatsoever. It can make you sing, dance, laugh, cry, smile, or enter a mosh pit. Music is capable of bringing the masses together or give people something else to hate. Like anything, there is a good and a bad, a ying and a yang; there's balance.

Over the years, my musical tastes have changed, but many bands have never faded away. I first listened to Korn when I was in 6th or 7th grade and they are still one of my favorite bands. I started listening to Linkin Park even earlier than that and occasionally I'll still go back and listen to one of their albums in its entirety. Some things never change.

Concerts (although they have their bad moments) have given me some amazing experiences that I've been able to share with friends and loved ones. I've also been lucky enough to meet some of those I've looked up to and they have never let me down.

My love and passion for music is why I want to create it. Music have given me so much during my 20 (almost 21) years and I feel obligated to give back to it. Of course, I get something more out of the exchange as well. Writing music gives me another creative output (like this blog) that I wouldn't be able to get writing for a campus magazine or doing a term paper for a journalism class. Plus, it is an amazing thing to be able to share your work with people you care about (once you stop worrying about whether or not they like it, anyway.).

No matter what happens with school and my career, no matter where I live or who I live with, music will always be there for me. Music will always be a huge part of my life and I wouldn't have it any other way.