Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Bad-News Media; Hack N’ Slash Video Games

We Didn't Start the Fire..:

My grandmother came out of her room this morning complaining, as usual, about how bad the world is getting, from politics to natural disasters to celebrity scandals. Course, all she does is watches the news channels (which is understandable, because sometimes the only thing decent on is the news, with all the reality junk on all the time. And as I've said before, the need to have background noise on all the time means you have to have the TV on some channel that has the same thing on it 24/7. Weather, sports, the news. That's why Headline News is so convenient for this. Anyway, so she comes out complaining about the state of the world, and all I can think of is Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire," in which he lists in effective fashion the newsworthy stuff that's gone on since our grandparents were children. And it's very apparent if you listen to those lyrics, or look into history books that the same amount of crap went on back then, but that it wasn't broadcast to everyone in the world within seconds of it happening, via TV or the Internet. Now we get to experience first hand, but with the cool dispassionate smile of the news anchor, the floods, the fires, the murders, the wars, the disease...everything that makes this the certain end times, all digested into one half hour of despair. But things like this were happening back then, too. I wonder how CNN would handle the Teapot Dome scandal now, or what type of human interest story would have been made out of the Pony Express or the atrocities of the Mexican war of the late 1800's. Just because our grandparents and great grandparents didn't know about all the bad stuff doesn't mean it didn't happen. They just didn't have Gretta or Geraldo to report on it all.

And of course I could go into Postman's idea about the visual medium being just as important as the message, or how dispassionate it all becomes, how desensitized we all are to everything that goes on, how it effects today's children, how the constant media coverage only intensifies the need for copycat acts, or the need for attention through the media....etc... but I won't go into all that right now. :)


Hack 'n Slash

I've been playing Ragnarok, an online game from Korea that is similar in methodology to most online games. See a creature, kill it, get XP, see a creature, kill nauseum. This particular game has very relaxing music and a neat 3d style graphic background that sets it apart, and it's been functioning for years that way. I finally have a computer that will handle it. And while I'll play it, for as long as it's free (2 weeks), I don't know if I'll actually pay to play it, for the same reasons I won't play most other video games. There's no story line, no reason I should be emotionally involved with the main character. I guess I'm spoiled with the rich storylines of Final Fantasy III and VII, the Zelda games, and Half-Life. The last being an interesting example of a first person shooter with an engaging story line that makes it stand above Doom and all the other Shoot 'n Kill games. I want to play games where I actually care about what's going on. If I have to waste my life sitting in front of a computer screen playing video games, at least make it worthwhile. I'm also playing Psychonauts right now, and finding it to be much different than what I thought it would be. More about this game later...

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