Category Archives: Memories

Video Games and Me: A Personal Gaming/DA:O Retrospective


Video games have pretty much always been a part of my life. My father was a computer programmer and we have had a computer in my house for as long as I can remember. I started out playing some of those “edutainment” games, learning as few DOS commands as necessary to start them up. I have hazy memories of time spent with the Sesame Street characters of Letter-Go-Round, which was originally published before I was even born.

At some point in early grade school my brother and I got a Super Nintendo for Christmas, and I promptly forgot all that DOS knowledge I’d acquired. While my parents said it was for us to share (always a great idea with kids who don’t particularly get along, amirite?), even then I knew it was really for my brother. And sometimes for my parents. I remember them staying up until all hours of the night with their friends and family playing Hal’s Hole in One Golf. It puzzled me then and puzzles me now, but man, they loved that game.

But how could the systems and games we had be for me? All the characters you controlled in the games we had on that SNES, and the many more to come, were men: Mario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong & Diddy Kong, Link, Mega Man, Cloud, Banjo, and even Kirby, who manages to be male even while existing as an anthropomorphized balloon thing. Girls were in the games as objects to be rescued, to scream and be pretty prizes. Perhaps you could occasionally play them as side characters, and sometimes they even showed up as bad ass NPCs in their own right, but they were never the player character in my experience. Continue reading Video Games and Me: A Personal Gaming/DA:O Retrospective

We Feel Groove!


If I wasn’t playing videogames or watching cartoons as a kid, I was outside playing. I’d sink a lot of time into Pokémon, then go out and pretend I was my trainer from the game, going on adventures and meeting cute girls. Or I’d make up my own character who’d fight alongside Cloud, Barrett, and Tifa in Final Fantasy VII. I think most kids with active imaginations did this sort of thing, right?

Using the last of my Club Nintendo coins before they shut the whole thing down this summer, I downloaded EarthBound on the Wii U Virtual Console. I’ve tried playing it a couple times before on an emulator in high school, but could never get into it. Now, as an older, hopefully smarter person, fumbling my way through my late twenties and waxing nostalgic all too frequently, the game is a delight. It’s very much along the lines of how I’d play pretend when I was little, leaving the house to go on a big adventure to save the world, wielding a plastic baseball bat pretending it’s a sword—that kind of thing. Continue reading We Feel Groove!

It’s OK if You Don’t Play Games on Hard


I dated this guy once who refused to play video games on anything less than the hardest difficulty. He would play through the same part of the game over and over and over again (I’m talking 50+ times), getting increasingly frustrated. When it got to be too much, he would throw down his controller and stomp off in a huff, like the game had set out to destroy him, and it was working.

“Why don’t you change the difficulty?” I would ask. Back then, I insisted that I was fine just watching, when really I wanted him to go out somewhere for several hours and let me have the controller for once.

“Becaaaaause,” he would reply huffily, “I want an actual challenge.”

And so, I would continue watching this cycle for hours, waiting for the inevitable aneurism.

People play video games for a variety of reasons. Some people play because it’s a fun activity with friends or family members. Others just like to immerse themselves into a different world for a while. Some people like the challenge and the bragging rights of finishing. And others use video games to fight the stress of their own lives.

Your reason might be a combination of these things or something else entirely. And here’s the thing: All of those reasons are of equal importance. You’re a video game consumer. You paid money, and you get to have the experience you want with it. Playing at the highest challenge level isn’t right for everyone because not everybody is looking for a game to melt their eyeballs and make their brains explode. Some people just want to stare at a screen and do a thing and not have to think that hard. AND THAT’S FINE.

I play most games on Normal (when applicable) because, quite frankly, I want to see what’s next. I don’t enjoy performing the same challenges again and again WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS.

This because I could ride around on the Spinner ALL DAY.

And that’s it. Never mind. I meant ONE EXCEPTION.

Full disclosure: I played Dragon Age Inquisition on the easiest setting because I wanted to know how it ended, and it wasn’t moving fast enough for me on Normal. Eventually, I might go back and turn up the difficulty level and enjoy a bigger challenge, but for now, I know how DAI ended, and I’m fine with myself.

Bottom line? There’s no shame in being all, “FUCK THIS SHIT” and giving yourself a break. This has been a public service announcement from years of therapy. <3

Kaylan Finishes BioShock 2: IT WAS MY FAVORITE

The thrilling conclusion to Kaylan’s BioShock 2 Play Diary!! Need to catch up? Check out Part 1Part 2Part 3.

I thought I had gotten lost in the ocean, but I hadn’t I was just a silly goose; finally I checked my map after too embarrassingly long to admit. Once I got back on track I placed my key in the AirLock Access Plant and realized I had found the ACTUAL secret base. Now I’m not so disappointed. I take back everything I said last time about the hiding skills. Immediately I find a diary revealing more shitty parenting by Sofia Lamb. I don’t understand how you could experiment on your own baby. I mean, I’m just saying. The similarities between Eleanor Lamb and Elizabeth Comstock are interesting. Both of these poor girls were basically abused by their parental figures for a “Greater Good,” a “Utopia,” and that is fucked up. Also they were raised by bonded half-man-half-machine creatures. Songbird and Delta seem to care more for the wellbeing and survival of these two women more than their parents even cared to attempt.

There is love here.
There is love here.

I mean, it’s kind of fitting that Lamb is keeping Eleanor in a Prison Hospital, considering she’s always treated her daughter like a captive instead of her child. I wonder does she even love her? Does anyone else ever wonder these things when they play games? If she does love her, does she just love her ideals more? HEARTFUCKINGBREAKING. Continue reading Kaylan Finishes BioShock 2: IT WAS MY FAVORITE

Video Games for Game-Reluctant People

Everybody has at least one of those friends who, when approached with the idea of playing video games, responds with a hearty, “But I’m terrible at video games!” Two people said that to me this week. And I won’t stand for it, I tell you. Won’t stand for it!

I know how this happens. You’re a pre-teen. You go to a friend’s house to play video games. Within the first ten seconds of Super Mario Bros., you walk off a cliff or run face-first into a Goomba. Somebody laughs and takes the controller from you like you’re a total idiot, and suddenly you feel insecure. “I guess I’m just no good,” you say.

Continue reading Video Games for Game-Reluctant People

Shattered Soldier

I’ve already written about Akira Yamaoka’s music for the Silent Hill series. It comes as no surprise that he’s best-known for his work on that series. I have to admit though, much as I love those collaborations with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Joe Romersa, Silent Hill was not my first exposure to his music, nor is it my favorite. For me, it’s his soundtrack to Contra: Shattered Soldier, composed with Sota Fujimori.

contra Continue reading Shattered Soldier

Kaylan Continues to Get Lost and Name Little Sisters

Where we last left off, I had saved as I entered Dionysus Park and some dude named Stanley Poole is wanting to cut me some sort of deal. Basically, I began thinking, “I don’t trust you. You’re a bad person.” While wandering around I discovered a diary that helped ease some confusion for me. There is some dude named Mark, and he has a daughter named Cindy who seems to have become a Little Sister and he wants to rescue her. So, mystery solved. Now I can calm down because I did not make that up. After finding Poole locked away, I decide I hate him even more because he wants me to “deal with” the Little Sisters in exchange for train safe passage. Why? Because they can send memories to Lamb. Memories of what, though, I began to wonder as I wandered. This area is where I run into Houdini Splicers. My thoughts: fuck them I hate them.

Continue reading Kaylan Continues to Get Lost and Name Little Sisters

Casual Sexism Isn’t Stupid. I’m Stupid.

Am I doing this right? Help.

My favorite part of going to GameStop is when I remove MY PowerUp Rewards card from MY wallet and hand it to the cashier. And he turns to my boyfriend and asks him, “Did you want to use the points you’ve accumulated to pay for this?”

I just stand there smiling stupidly because that’s what I do. I just can’t ever make a decision! It’s so embarrassing. Points? What are those? I’m terrible at math. Is 85,000 points a lot?? How much is that in money?

Continue reading Casual Sexism Isn’t Stupid. I’m Stupid.

Gone, but never forgotten

Pursuant to yesterday’s excellent, enthusiastic conversation about Resident Evil 4 and subsequent conversion of Gamervescent into a RE4 fansite, I was made aware of this most excellent of tribute videos in honor of everyone’s favorite character, The Merchant.

Jason Rainey, truly you have blessed us all with this masterpiece.

We will never forget.

A Conversation about Resident Evil 4, Greatest Game of Our Time*

*One of, anyway. Don’t argue with us; you know it’s true, and if you try to deny it Jennifer and Brett will slap you in the face with a large bass.


JENNIFER: Oh man, where to start?? I guess I’ll give you my meet-cute with RE4. I avoided shooters at all costs when my then-significant other started playing it. I think I actually bought it for him as a Valentine’s Day gift, but I wouldn’t play myself. I was traumatized from sucking so hard at my first attempts at Halo (and way-previous attempts at Goldeneye). I was so drawn into the atmosphere and the scares of RE4, however, that I kept asking my ex to play it so I could watch. When I took a job that moved me to another city for a month, I took the Gamecube, RE4, and a shitty little 12-inch TV and figured it out how to play it myself away from the potentially judgy eyes of anyone watching. Looking back, I can’t believe I was able to play on that TV at all, let alone from across the room! I made it up to the first El Gigante, died 23 times (I counted), then abandoned it until I was able to play on a larger TV, at which time I realized that I did NOT just suck at fighting El Gigantes, I just sucked at fighting them when I couldn’t see what I was doing. What was your first play experience with RE4? What were you expecting going in?

BRETT: I had played and beaten Resident Evil 2 in middle school thanks to an invincibility code on the N64 version, and while I sucked at it, I was OBSESSED with the GameCube remake of the original, so while I was a fan, I couldn’t claim to be a hardcore one.

I remember being really put off by RE4 at first. The over-the-shoulder camera, the heavier emphasis on action, it was a little off-putting. It was originally part of that Capcom 5 series of GameCube games that Mikami was doing, and it looked like the least interesting of the bunch. My two best friends bought it and loved it though, and one of them loaned me their PS2 copy to give it a shot. I didn’t give it back until I’d played through it three times, then got the Wii version a few years later. The Wii controls are so perfect that I’m afraid to go back and get the HD release for PS3, even after playing Shadows of the Damned, Dead Space, and now the Evil Within.

That it was like no other game at the time is insane, isn’t it? And now every other third-person shooter that comes out anymore lifts so heavily from it. And originally it was going to be more traditional; they were pretty far into development before Mikami changed his mind! Modern gaming could have turned out so differently had that happened.

Continue reading A Conversation about Resident Evil 4, Greatest Game of Our Time*