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pup Name: Brian Rowe
Date of Birth: 9/7/1980
Location: Brew City USA

All-time favorite game: Fallout 2 (PC)
Least favorite game: Friday the 13th (NES)

Posted: March 22, 2006 (10:08 AM)
I am completely addicted to Notpron. If you haven't seen it before, head to this site and try it out. It's been about 3 days, and I am still only on level 8. With 138 total levels, beating this game better open the gates of hell or something suitably dramatic.
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Title: Sick of swords
Posted: March 20, 2006 (12:12 AM)
I've been trolling around websites, looking at all the MMO's coming out over the next year and a half, and I'm not all that excited. What is with all the fantasy settings? I play World of Warcraft regularly, but I don't get into the swords-n-sorcery settings as much as other people seem to. Give me sci-fi, cyberpunk, or even a modern day setting, but please ditch the orcs and elves for a while. It's complete overkill.

From a company standpoint, I thought more companies would have been trying to differentiate themselves from the competition. Instead, it's almost all the same old thing. I do think Huxley sounds interesting, but I don't really know that much about, Webzen, the company behind it.
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Title: Pimp my bike.
Posted: March 16, 2006 (10:55 PM)
I found these spoke lights through a Google "I Feel Lucky" search. I need to get some for my single-speed. If nothing else, you at least need to check out the Demo Video for an awesome 80's inspired advertisement.
I'm such a bike dork.
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Title: PSP News
Posted: March 15, 2006 (02:35 PM)
I wanted to pass along some news from the Tokyo developer conference as reported by the game development website, Gamasutra.

Highlights of future developments:
- Support for Macromedia Flash
- Support for RSS feeds and GPS
- PSX emulator with online game distribution. No information on release date or how controls will be adapted to single analog.
- U.S. price drop to $199, though possibly without memory stick, headphones, and case.

Sounds like some good stuff to me. Being able to have a portable PSX just about makes the price worthwhile. On top of that, with the price drop, consumers can put that extra $50 into worthwhile additions like a 128mb memory stick and a hard case.
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Title: Addition to previous entry
Posted: March 15, 2006 (02:20 PM)
Anti-gaming sentiment and Hillary Clinton may be old news, but they are still present. Reading an article from Times Online, I came across some statistics that Clinton and her cohorts are using to back up their position. Just to show how misleading and destructive ignorance can be, here are the findings being used;

"Researchers from the University of Oklahoma recently found that two-thirds of school fights were instigated by regular video game players, but only 4% were started by children who had never played such games."

"Other studies showed that violent games would not cause serious problems in healthy families, but could do so in families where children were left alone for many hours."

I will not make a claim that these findings are innacurate, but I do think it's very possible that they are being misinterpreted. Both findings fail (or possibly neglect) to consider that kids who have family problems, social problems, violence issues, and/or behavioral disorders may be more prone to play games. Instead, they assume that games are the cause of these problems. I bet that most of us here know, or possibly are, someone who picked up gaming as a means of escaping from a negative environment.

Just look at the latter finding again. Of course the second family is going to have problems if they are not spending time together. By that logic, I could easily make a statement like, "Breakfast cereal caused serious problems in families where children were left alone for many hours." I just knew that Trix bunny was bad news.
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Title: So many sad little kids.
Posted: March 15, 2006 (01:57 PM)
I think that video gaming is now well beyond the point where non-gaming parents really need to start paying attention to the medium. We have the ESRB ratings, and that is definitely a step in the right direction. While I have my gripes here and there (yes, Ratchet and Clank is okay for a twelve-year-old), the ratings can be of great benefit. Because the parents can now get a general idea of content, there will be less instances of parents saying, "I can't believe you recommended this for a kid." Let me change the focus here though, because the ratings have been discussed to death. Parents need to also be mindful of which systems are right for their children.

Week after week, I get to see the sad faces of little kids who own XBOX 360's. 8 year olds whose parents decided their children needed this latest and greatest toy. The problem is that there are no games geared towards kids, with the possible exception of Kameo. They come in every few days with the hopes of a new title coming out, but end up searching the regular XBOX titles for something backwards compatible, usually to no avail. The situation always ends with the parents cursing me or Microsoft, but in the end, they should only be blaming themselves.

Video game developers are under no obligations to make games geared towards young kids. It is a good choice to occasionally make them, if only to gather a fresh audience, but the decision is their's to make. If these parents had done just an inkling of research before scurrying off to buy a 360, they would have seen that the system is geared towards older-teens and up. Of course, this all ties into the naivete of many non-gaming parents. They still make the assumption that games are for kids, despite 30+ years of history and all the attention given to violent content over the past decade.

At this point, you may be thinking that this doesn't affect us, but it could. That disgruntled parent who only sees Teen and Mature games sitting on the shelf is now one step closer to jumping on the anti-game bandwagon. Most people like to make assumptions and remain ignorant of reality. Think about this for a second. How many people have you met that think anime is all about Pokemon, that all comics are superheroes in tights, that hip-hop is all about the gangsta life and bling, or that horror films are synonymous with slasher films?

I don't want to blow this topic too out of proportion, but it really does all tie together. Parents need to be educated, not only about the ratings system, but with regards to all aspects of gaming. The question then, is what are we supposed to do about it? In a very real sense, all of our concerns exist in a bubble. A non-gaming parent is never going to read this, or any of the other writings on the subject out there. We need to break the bubble and defend ourselves. I'm not saying to make a sign and start marching down the streets. If you are in retail, make sure parents understand these issues. If you are in a store and see a parent making a questionable purchase, speak up. They will thank you for it. If you see a negative article in a paper or magazine, take a few minutes to write a letter. The last thing I want to see is people like Hillary Clinton get their way, but they will if we don't speak up.
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Title: BEATMANIA!!!!
Posted: March 14, 2006 (09:49 PM)
I've waited patiently, way too long, for Beatmaina to get a US release. If it weren't for the hefty price tag associated with importing it, I would have gotten it long ago. Only 14 days left until I can finally have a little turntable in my hands. I don't even know how to explain how desperately I want this game.

It all started at a Warped Tour in 1999 (maybe 2000). My friend Nick and I happened into an out-of-the-way gaming tent with some free arcade machines. There it was, nestled in back; Beatmania. I played over and over, even opting to skip some of the bands I went to see. $45 to spend most of my day playing a video game? Doesn't matter when something is that good. I even had a little competition going. I kept returning to see my high score beaten by the same person, to which I replied with an even higher score. This continued all day until I talked my friend into going back for one last round. There he was, my mysterious nemesis. We played a few rounds, and I'm happy to say that I wiped the floor with him. For the next few years, I searched every Warped Tour in hopes of coming across another machine, but to no avail.

Soon enough.
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Title: The wonderful world of retail
Posted: February 18, 2006 (08:29 PM)
I've been out of things around here lately. I took a little break from gaming to focus on writing other things, including resumes. It is definitely time for me to seriously pursue another career. I just don't know how much longer I can live the life of an impoverished salesperson at Best Buy. On good days, I feel like I'm treading water. On the rest, I just despise everything. This job is sucking the life out of me. So begins a little rant about the world of corporate retail.

For the past three years I worked at a used media store. I didn't make a lot of money, but I always had access to cheap music, movies, and more importantly, games. It's hard to argue with getting recent releases for $20 instead of the usual $50 for a new copy at other stores. Other than that, the best part was talking with customers. There was never a shortage of regulars who called me by name, because they knew I would always give them my honest opinion of a title. My co-workers and I had no qualms about putting down a bad game. We knew that someone out there wouldn't listen, and after it was bought, we just wouldn't carry it anymore. Now I'm being told to lie, or at least keep important information to myself.

Cases in point:
- The Nintendo DS Lite is on the horizon. It's a smaller DS that retains the same screen-size, with the bright screen as seen on the Gameboy Advance SP. The Nintendo reps have forbidden me to tell customers about this though. In fact, they want me to push the current DS as fervently as possible so that they won't get stuck with a bunch of unwanted old versions. I wonder how cheated the people who buy a regular DS a week before the release will feel?

- My coworkers and I feel that Logitech, hands-down, makes the best wireless controllers, and we let everyone know. Apparently corporate is concerned about our high Logitech sales. As it turns out, the $20 Nyko double pack makes an extra $1 profit per sale. Now I'm supposed to push controllers that I know will probably fail in a few weeks, if not days. Screw that. What happened to their policy of "customer-centricity"?

- I've been criticized for my recommendations to customers. This is especially evident when it comes to DDR. I'll tell customers to buy the game from us, as DDR is extremely scarce around here, but point them to internet sites for some good pads. I'm sorry, but I play DDR, and if you want me to sell a pad with the game, then you should supply me with good pads instead of the gimmicky crap I have right now.

After these points you probably aren't expecting me to say this, but please, "Listen to my advice." Best Buy employees are not necessarily fans of their jobs. I know what it feels like to be broke and jerked around by corporations, because I deal with it every day. When I go up to you in the store, remember that I don't see a dime of what you spend. I'm trying to help you get what you need, not fill the pockets of some CEO I've never seen. Nobody seems to understand this though. Instead of the friendly greetings and conversations I got at the used store, I now get treated like a 4-in-the-morning telemarketer.
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Title: Is 10 years worth $10?
Posted: January 24, 2006 (01:13 PM)
Alright kiddies, listen up. I have a little warning for you.

So you've beaten God of War on every difficulty possible, you've collected every bolt and weapon in the Ratchet & Clank games, you beat Alien Hominid with your eyes closed, and you know every line of Dragonquest VIII by heart. Now you're thinking it's time to sell off those old games and buy something new. DON'T DO IT!

I've made some bad gaming choices over the years; spending $80 on Revolution X, shutting off Timesplitters 2 during the autosave, and lending Chrono Trigger to a friend who had a nasty habit of spilling mysterious liquids on his games. The biggest mistake, by far, was selling off my games. It all started with the release of the Super Nintendo. My brother and I, having spent our money on G.I. Joe's, and not having the benefit of hindsight, sold our NES and all the games to buy this latest-greatest system. Then the Super Nintendo and games got sold and I picked up a Playstation. Then came the PS2. I'm breaking the cycle here. I don't regret having bought the newest systems and games, but I do regret selling the old ones.

I know what you're thinking when picking out which games to sell. "I've beaten this so many times I won't ever play it again." Trust me, you're wrong. Ten years from now you're going to get nostalgic. You'll be flipping through the latest game magazine and think, "Wow, that reminds me of XXX. They don't make games like that anymore." If you sell your games, you end up like me, scouring Ebay, hitting up used stores, and looking through friends' basements in search of your childhood memories.

I'm not saying that you should hold on to those copies of Finding Nemo, Barbie Horse Tales, or Big Mutha Truckers that grandma thought would make nice presents. I'm talking about the good games that you really enjoyed. If you like them now, you will certainly have a soft spot for them in the future. Sure, you could always sell it now and then buy it again down the line, but why make the hassle for yourself? Life gets more expensive as you get older, so who knows if buying that old blast-from-the-past game will fit into your budget of food, rent, insurance, utility bills, etc? Then you get the uncommon and rare games. My favorite boxing title is Victorious Boxers. It's a niche title as it is, so just imagine how difficult it'll be to find in a decade.

Don't make the mistakes that so many of us have made. Keep your games. Maybe you're broke, but do you really need to buy that new Wild Arms or D.O.A. the week they come out? Get yourself a part-time job, deliver newspapers, or mow lawns. By the time you get up the cash, that game you want may very well have dropped in price. Now you have a new game, an old favorite, and a little bit of savings. Keep your games. 10 years from now you'll be glad you did.
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Posted: January 13, 2006 (01:35 AM)
Even though I have few blog posts, I realized they are all generally negative.
My page is purple. I will try to bring more cheer.
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Posted: January 11, 2006 (10:48 AM)
I think that I have finally hit addiction status on World of Warcraft. I love the game to death, but that might be exactly where the problem lies. I find myself scheduling the important things in life around Warcraft. A coworker offered me two extra hours at work the other night (about $15 worth), but I declined so that I could get home and play for two more hours. My job search has slowed to a crawl because of the game. I even eat protein bars more often than real food because it's quicker. All for the sake of fantasy world. Kind of pathetic when you think about it.

I guess you could call it an escape. People do it with movies and television all the time. I used to watch a movie every day. I suppose justifying it like that doesn't really work, since a movie is usually two hours or less, and I've been playing about 6 hours per day. It's just more exciting than my current life. It's too cold for biking, I don't know anyone in this city yet, and I'm too broke to go out.

I just wonder, where is the line drawn with MMORPG's? When does it all become too much?
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Title: Into the blue again / After the money's gone
Posted: January 05, 2006 (05:03 PM)
So now my hours at work have been cut from 40 to 16.
I guess it's about time for me to find one of those "real" jobs. At the very least, less money means less opportunity to go out, which then means more gaming time, resulting in more reviews. I went ahead and got some el'cheapo games from the store to pass the time and fill in some holes around here; HSX, Hunter: Wayward, and Eve of Extinction. I've always wanted to play HSX. Unfortunately, I got screwed on Restricted Area, which was the game I really wanted to try. I was in the mood for a bit of cyberpunk, but I got out to the car, only to find that someone had pried it open and stolen the disk.

I heard so many great things about working at Best Buy. Maybe if the best place I had worked at up until that point was McDonalds. I found out that there is a list of the people who Best Buy is going to be keeping and laying off post-holidays. Do they tell anyone? Of course not. Instead they work them until the end, don't give them any hours, and still don't tell them they're being layed off. I get to keep my job, but with only 16 hours, I'm taking off the first chance I get.
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Title: Lock up your daughters
Posted: November 23, 2005 (10:59 PM)
I am constantly amazed and frustrated with the sexism surrounding video games. I'm not talking about the mis/under-representation of women in games. That's one of those big issues I don't feel like analyzing just yet. My frustrations stem from the parents buying games for their kids.

As the former manager of a used media store, and a current employee at Best Buy, I'm no stranger to being on the retail side of games. I'm also no stranger to the skewed notions that most parents have of games; a problem that I hope I'm helping to correct. They seem to think that every game not featuring Frogger, Pac-Man, or a Disney logo is Grand Theft Auto. I can understand that parents want to keep their children safe from obscenities, but what really gets under my skin are the parents who feel the need to keep their daughters safe from "boy games".

Perhaps the rampant ignorance can best be summed up by an exchange between me and a parent:
Mother "Do you have any games for girls?"
Me "Games for girls?"
Mother "You know, princesses and things like that."
Me "Girls can play all sorts of games."
Mother *rolls her eyes*

The problem is that video games have become another medium for dictating the "proper" attitudes and actions of girls. It's bad enough that this is already being done by TV, magazines, and film. Now games are just another molding tool. What's worse is that it's the parents doing it.

Day after day I see parents buying sports games, racing games, and shooters for their youngs sons, but passing them over in favor of Dance Dance Revolution and Bratz for their daughters. You should see their faces when they find out that I play DDR (25 and male). Apparently dancing is for girls, though it's more like stepping on arrows. Of course there are those instances in which the daughters requested those games, but quite often I'll see a mother pleading with her daughter to choose something "more girly".

Females are becoming a bigger and bigger portion of the gaming community every day. I dread the idea of them being pigeon-holed with more Barbie and fashion games. Please, if you have the opportunity, make every attempt to keep "girly" games out of the hands of girls. Nobody needs them, and they only drive the wedge between male and female even deeper.
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Title: The other end of the 360 line
Posted: November 22, 2005 (09:28 PM)
November 22nd, 360 launch date, now has a special place in my heart as one of my most hated days. I didn't wait overnight to get denied a 360, get kicked out of line, or anything like that. Nope, I was one of those fine folks at Best Buy selling the systems. Hanging out with friends in the freezing Wisconsin weather for hours on end sounds fun in a masochistic way. Instead, I got to wake up at 4:30am, start unpacking boxes at 6:00am, and spend the next six hours giving the same shpeel about controllers and memory cards without a break, food, or even a trip to the bathroom.

Let me say first off, that our location did not do the bundles that many stores did. Instead, we took people one at a time through a series of merchandise tables and employees talking about games and accessories. Everything was controlled so that no one could enter or leave the 360 area until we let them. Here's a little math for you:
50 people + the Best Buy gauntlet = 4 hours
4 hours + food/sleep deprivation = 50 seriously pissed off folks.

I think the most annoying part is that everyone in line tried to ignore us like carnie hawkers. My coworkers and I were picked for one reason; we are lifelong gamers. We weren't there to sell people on things they didn't need. We were there to tell people why they should or should not get something. It amazed me at how little most people actually knew about the system, evidenced by the hordes who came back hours later to purchase more accessories. "See, I told you to get the extra battery pack." At least it's over now, sort of. I still get to tell someone every 15 minutes, for the next month, that there are no more 360's.

I must say though, I'm really not all that enthusiastic about this launch. For one things, almost all of the games are just flashier versions of games that are on other systems. The dripping sweat in NBA Live 06 looks incredibly cool, but how does that improve the gameplay? Did you know that even with the Hard Drive, you need a memory card to get exclusive in-store content? Check the Best Buy and Wal-Mart kiosks and you'll see what I mean. I could go on a long rant about now, but I won't. Suffice to say that today, I realized to what extent Microsoft views us as a profit margin, and not fellow gamers.
I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I'm going to bed.
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