Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Poll Results: Obama is Most Like Arcturus Mengsk



The results are in for Burke's Joystick first official poll!  If you recall, the poll question was: If  Barack Obama was a character from a video game, which character would he be?  The choices were:
Pac Man
Capt. John Soap MacTavish from Call of Duty
John Henry Eden from Fallout 3
Jim Raynor from Starcraft
Kane from Command and Conquer
Gordon Freeman from Half-life
Arcturus Mengsk from Starcraft
Commander Shepard from Mass Effect
Vladimir Makarov from Call of Duty

The people have spoken!  The result:  Arcturus Mengsk from Starcraft!

This is a wise choice.  Truth is, the political rhetoric of Arcturus Mengsk, versus the latter reality, are quite similar to what we have experienced from Barack Obama. 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Gamers: Please Don't Vote





Let me tell you a story:

Back when I was a prisoner in a government-run public school, one of my social studies teachers said something profoundly stupid, so profoundly stupid that I remember it to this day.  During a discussion on the importance of voting, he said:


It is important for every American to vote.  Remember, it doesn't matter for whom you vote, just as long as you vote!

Now, even back then when I had little political knowledge or interest, that statement just sounded so...wrong to me.  I mean,  "it doesn't matter for whom you vote"?   In other words, it's not the outcome that matters but the process?  I remember scratching my head over that at the time, just knowing at some ineffable level that that was the type of statement that summed up everything that was wrong with the public school curriculum.  Taking that to its logical conclusion, it means there is no qualitative difference between casting a vote for Adolf Hitler or George Washington.  Really?   Talk about runaway relativism!

Now, why do I bring this up?  Well because of this bombastic press release from Microsoft:



Friday, August 24, 2012

Science Fiction & Gaming 1: On the Zerg-Infested Screen



[Note:  I am sorry that I haven't had much to post here the last week or so.  Don't worry, this blog is not done yet!   Rather, I just needed a break to handle some matters.  Eyestrain headaches were starting to kick in from the writing I was doing here and elsewhere, plus I found myself spending more time that I thought possible finding and installing a new video card toy for my old PC - what a difference it has made in my CoD:MW3 performance already!   Lastly, it is the closing days of summer, so I didn't want them to go to waste as I have all fall, winter, and spring to blog!

Moving on....

One of the reasons I love modern gaming is that I find it to be a hypothesized science fiction future made real in the here and now.  We don't look at it this way because like most science fiction that has become science fact, we sort of just accept it as another humdrum facet of the modern world.  I mean, imagine taking such incredible titles Battlefield 3, Call of Duty, & Skyrim back to 1979 when all we had was the Atari 2600 - it would have blown our collective minds to see such technological marvels!  Unfortunately, modern gamers do not appreciate how fortunate they are to live in a world filled with such technical marvels!  Instead they just bitch and moan about how the graphics aren't ultra realistic, or there is ONLY a 30 hour campaign, or even that publishers are releasing TOO MUCH DLC for their game!  Poor little rich girls & boys....

I have always found it interesting that some early science fiction authors actually anticipated the modern era of gaming.  The following article is one I wrote a number of months ago detailing how William F. Wu prophesied not only the development of the modern real time strategy genre, but also the eventual arrival of e-sports.  Check it out!]

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spec Ops versus Media Matters




I'm not a soldier, but I play one in video games.  If there is one thing countless hours spent in such shooters as Call of Duty, Battlefield, Arma, and Red Orchestra have taught me its that soldiers are most definitely NOT wimps or cowards.  I mean, as much as the media likes to constantly say that the FPS genre teaches kids that war is fun, the truth of the matter is that anyone - kid or otherwise - who has spent a few hours in a shooter quickly learns that warfare, particularly modern warfare, is deadly business, a message quite distinct from Hollywood and its action movies where the hero never gets much more than a flesh wound - I'm looking at you, Expendables 2.  It is for this reason that I have always believed that the modern shooter is probably the greatest tool for promoting peace the world as ever seen.  Video gamers have seen the virtual horrors of war and have no desire for it to play out in real life.

It is for this reason that real life soldiers, particular those Special Op folks who often sneak behind enemy lines and do the impossible, have my utmost respect.  So why does the American Left hate them so?


Biden & Battlefield



"This week Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a senior center in Iowa. Which explains why the seniors were like, 'Is this Hell?'" –Jimmy Fallon

 

Poor Joe Biden.  Personally, I think our VP is a rather nice fella.  Unfortunately, he just isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.  We knew this long before he was ever VP - I mean, he was caught plagiarizing time and again.  Then there are all those wonderful gaffes caught on film:



And liberals like to make fun of Palin.  Wow.  

Well, ol' Joe did it again with this incredibly racist statement a few days ago:


Remember when Bill Clinton complained that Team Obama "played the race card" on him?   Well, it looks like they were planning on going back to that well in their desperation to talk about anything but Obama's abysmal record.  Unfortunately for them, this time they went too far and needed to put Joe back in the attic

Now, what has this got to do with EA and it's Battlefield series?  Well, today I read an interesting story that the next installment of EA's famed Battlefield series, Battlefield 4, is not going to be moving on from the modern era:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Fallen Enchantress Obama Bug


Tomorrow looks to be a fun day as the long expected Beta 4 for Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is due out.  I know what you are thinking:  isn't that the sequel to 2010's biggest gaming flop?  Well, not exactly.  To be exact, Fallen Enchantress is the ambitious stand alone expansion to Elemental:War of Magic.  That is, it aspires to become the game we all hoped EWOM was going to be before the whole thing crashed and burned, and then some!  And let me tell you something: based on Beta 3, there is good reason to be optimistic that it will succeed. 

Initially, I wasn't that optimistic - Betas 1 & 2 were merely marginal improvements on the EWOM formula at best.  However, Beta 3 surprised me with its noticeable shift in quality.  Instead of coming across as a grade 'C' Civ clone, Beta 3 made FE finally feel like its own game - and quite an interesting one at that.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Homefront...The Movie?



Did you hear?  Kaos Studios' first person shooter experience, Homefront, is going to be a movie!  Really!  Check out the trailer here:



Okay, I wasn't truthful with you.  Yeah, the above trailer is from the remake of Red Dawn.   Funny thing is, this might as well be the movie version of Homefront as the two plots are identical!  Check out the Homefront trailer:




Yeah, try and tell me the Red Dawn remake isn't Homefront in disguise....

Monday, August 13, 2012

Everything I Needed to Know about Politics I Learned from Medieval 2: Total War



My interest in how gaming and politics often mix isn't a new one.  For example, take this editorial I wrote in 2008 (then, like now, we were on the cusp of a big election) explaining how a solid strategy game like Medieval II: Total War could actually be an edifying experience when it comes to explaining the political art of nation-state politics.  While M2TW might no longer be the top dog in the strategy genre (Crusader Kings 2 would be my new champion), the lessons that M2TW taught me are as valid now as they were in 2008...or 1008 A.D. for that matter.  

Someday I really need to revisit this topic using CK2....

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The New Face of Gaming



The above photograph, taken by Brant Ward, comes from an article entitled Struggling GameStop reinventing itself.   The article is an interesting one, detailing how GameStop plans on incorporating the sale of refurbished products into its core business.  But what really caught my attention was that photo.  That's no kid buying video games!  Truth is, despite what the mainstream media might lead you to believe, THAT is closer to the real face of gaming than any photo of a raging teenager.  As I wrote in my blog's mission statement (find it on the right sidebar), gaming isn't just kids stuff anymore!  In fact, according to the most recent data from the Entertainment Software Association, the average age of the gamer is now 30 (down from 37 - a strange statistical blip considering the nation is getting older and not younger), with 37 percent of all gamers being over 36 (and 25% over 50, according to another survey I read last year - sorry, can't find the link).


Friday, August 10, 2012

Kotaku, Super PACs and Games as Propaganda


Ya know, when I first started this blog I was doubtful that I would have much fodder to work with on a day to day basis.  It really was just a lark for me to combine two of my passions - politics and gaming.  However, if the last two weeks or so are any indication, it looks like I might be on to something as I haven't been at a loss for material lately.  Even more interestingly, others have begun to mine the political-gaming angle since I started this blog - you can thank me later. ;)   The most recent foray into the world of politics comes from Kotaku.  In a recent entry entitled Some Americans Think A “Super PAC” Is A Video Game. Most Don’t Know What One Is, they write the following....


CoD: Black Ops 2...Starring Barack Obama?


Well, this is interesting.  It seems Frank Woods, one of the devs of the original Call of Duty: Black Ops, has been spilling the beans regarding all sorts of details concerning what content will be packed into Black Ops 2.  Amongst the many tidbits is a reference to the Commander-in-Chief himself, Barack Obama:

U.S.S. Barack Obama – An aircraft carrier.

Clearly, in the near future world of Black Ops 2, the current president will have an aircraft carrier named after him.  Interesting, that, seeing how Obama might preside over the most damaging defense cuts in US history due to Obama's inability to balance the budget during his four years in office.

I will say that I am a bit disappointed that Obama won't actually be more of a part of BlOp2.  I mean, I would love to have a mission where the player needs to quadruple the US deficit in three years!  I wonder what type of kill streak that would earn you? I also wish VP Biden would make an appearance, too.  Maybe a double kill could earn the player an audio clip of him saying "this is a big F*#@ deal!"?  That would be neat. 

I wonder if Obama & Biden play Call of Duty?  I bet Biden is the guy who always blows himself up with a grenade.  Obama probably brags about how great he is and then gets pwned in every game.  Of course, he then proceeds to blame lag, the game, Microsoft (or Sony if it is a PS3), hackers, and a faulty controller for his poor performance.  Eventually he just rage quits.  Basically the same way he handles himself as president.





Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Space: The Final Conservative Frontier



Have you ever noticed how every space game represents the conservative ideal?  Rarely do you find a space-themed game where the player needs a space ship just to pick up his government cheese at the nearest space welfare office.  Rather, be it Eve Online, the X-series, or Space Pirates and Zombies, the gameplay always revolves around the player setting out on a new life free from the hassles of the old world, one where he is free to pursue fame and fortune as he sees fit.

These thoughts were brought to mind after trying my latest space squeeze, Evochron Mercenary.  Check out the game's description:
Trading commodities while sneaking past hostile forces, racing the best pilots in the area, mining for diamonds, negotiating for survival, spying for a curious energy company, cleaning dirty solar arrays, transporting an impatient passenger... and that's just on a Monday. The life of an independent mercenary is rarely without excitement. At times, you may choose to work under contract, while at others, you may want to take matters into your own hands in a quest to build your reputation and fortune. Your spacecraft awaits. Your adventure begins in the Sapphire solar system.
Let's be honest here:  none of this would be possible if the game was set in a Leftist/Progressive/Marxist/whatevercodewordisbeingusedthisweek setting.  I mean, that whole paragraph would have to be re-written to something like the following....

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I'm Still Only in Saigon


"How many people had I already killed? There were those six that I knew about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face...." - Captain Willard, Apocalypse Now

Yeah, you are probably already thinking that this is gonna being an Apocalypse Now-themed entry.  Not really (hint: it's actually gonna be a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3-themed entry!).  It's just that I spent the weekend watching that classic war movie and realized I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  I mean, I used to watch a VHS copy of an ABC broadcast of it over and over again as a kid.  Couldn't get enough of it!  What fascinated me then, as now, is how Francis Ford Coppola took the Vietnam War as turned it into a moody, nightmarish and almost science fiction-y trip into metaphysical madness.  To this day, the opening sequence of that film gives me the chills:



The foreboding jungle, the dream-like sound of the helos, the weird colored smoke, the Doors singing about "the end"....it is thematically perfect!

What a great movie.  To bad we never got an open sandbox PC game based on it!  Imagine how cool it would be to accept missions and explore the weirdness of Coppola's Vietnam from a FPS perspective, while slowly unraveling the campaign that is Kurtz. 

 Anyhoo...Call of Duty.  I guess it sort of is like Apocalypse Now in that it is a story of war and madness.  And just like how the audio recording of  Kurtz really "put the hook in" Willard, the frenzy of this shooter has really put the hook in me over the past three / four months.  I know, PC gamers are not supposed to like this game; it is only for console kiddes...yada, yada, yada.  Let me tell you something: that is BS.  There is a reason why the CoD franchise has such a massively rabid following (and rabidly massive, for that matter): it is a solid gaming experience that is meticulously crafted to keep you playing.  There is a wealth of game design wisdom in CoD, the likes of which game designers will be studying for years to come....


Friday, August 3, 2012

A Different Kind of Biased Review


So, yesterday I posted an entry on Stardock's release of The Political Machine 2012.  Not surprisingly, some reviews have begun appearing on this niche title over the last few days.  Leading the review pack, as always, are the fellas over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.   Now, if you are not familiar with them, RPS is a wonderfully witty site that covers computer gaming and news with a particular focus on PC gaming.  However, RPS, being largely staffed by our English cousins across the big pond, does display a typically European left-wing bias whenever the subject touches on politics, as seen in their involvement with the politically juvenile propaganda game, Curfew.  Not surprisingly, their review of The Political Machine 2012 displays a similar bias as well, albeit, knowing how these guys work, I suspect more than a little of it was designed to create a dust-up for their amusement.  Anyway, just thought I would post some excerpts here.


Political Machine 2012 Released


This one sort of sneaked past me.  Seems Stardock's US presidential election simulator The Political Machine has been released!  I haven't played this game since the 2004 version was released...or was it 2000?  Regardless, I do recall enjoying my experience with that title since it did seem to capture the essence of a modern political campaign, dirty tricks and all!  Unfortunately, I never did devote as much time to it as I should have.  Why?  Well, because I am a political junkie.  Sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but here is the thing:  when you are an avid watcher of politics like I am, the last thing you want to do after slaving over a hot political stove all day is sit down and game politics!  I guess it is sort of like a football player leaving the grid iron after a long, tough game and then sitting down in front of their Xbox to get in some time with Madden NFL.  I need a break!  


Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Poll: President Obama as a Video Game Character





Time for a new poll!  Here it is:

If President Obama was a character from a video game, which character would he be?

  1. Pac Man
  2. Capt. John Soap MacTavish from Call of Duty
  3. John Henry Eden from Fallout 3
  4. Jim Raynor from Starcraft
  5. Kane from Command and Conquer
  6. Gordon Freeman from Half-life
  7. Arcturus Mengsk from Starcraft
  8. Commander Shepard from Mass Effect
  9. Vladimir Makarov from Call of Duty

If I missed your choice, let me know in the comments section.  You can find the poll at the bottom of the page.  I look forward to reading the responses.

...And yes, I will conduct the same poll for Romney.