Ah, the holiday season–Thanksgiving dinner plans are being made, retailers are staying open for an hour longer starting on Black Friday if not sooner, final exams are coming up (I have three essays to write for my online Ethics class before the final, unfortunately), and people are beginning to think about what to spend their money on for Christmas.
I know Christmas should be focused on the birth of Jesus over material things, but after giving it some careful thought, I decided it’s high time that I upgraded to…the Wii U.
Apparently, my original Wii has been acting up since late July, if not earlier. “Cristina, how is your Wii acting up, and why didn’t you address this problem?” you may ask.
It all started when I was playing Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing just to help myself get a hang of my driving experience in the real world. I played on the Seaside Hill racetrack, and right in the middle of the race my Wii takes me back to the title screen not once, but five times.
When I played The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword later, the same thing happened thrice, and I had trouble controlling Link thrice.
I played Sonic Colors, and I had a hard time controlling my favorite blue hedgehog as I was jumping on the construction platforms on Planet Wisp.
Playing Super Mario Bros. Wii the night before the semester began, I had a lot of trouble getting through a level in World 2, and how many times did the Wii take me back to the title screen? EIGHT. FRICKIN’. TIMES!
I haven’t touched my Wii ever since.
I addressed this problem not to my family, but to some of my gamer aquaintances at school. They told me the main reason why my Wii is having these technical difficulties is because of the constant updates the console undergoes each time a new game disc is inserted and the data from the new game is added to the SD card–of course, the last new game I got for the Wii was Just Dance 2015–thus rendering the console itself less efficient than it was in the past.
“Nintendo is basically making the Wii entirely useless to make you upgrade to the Wii U,” said one acquaintance who shall not be named for privacy’s sake.
I thought my Wii was having problems because my mom knocked it off the TV shelf by accident while she was installing her new Comcast Xfinity DVR.
The best thing about the Wii U is I can either play games with the traditional Wii Remote and the Wii Controller, the Game Pad or even both. Plus, I can use Amiibo figurines for Super Smash. Bros or other games on which they’re compatible, depending on the model line they belong to.
And the best part about the Wii U? It possesses backwards compatibility for all the Wii games, so I might be able to transfer all the game data from the Wii to the new console.
I think switching to the Wii U will be the best decision I’ll ever make as a gamer. I was contemplating on upgrading to the PlayStation 4 as well, but that’s another story.
Recently on Twitter, two hashtags were trending: #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter and #TenThingsNotToSayToAGamer. The latter hashtag was not as popular as the former because #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter was created by professional writers who have been beleaguered by some of the statements their readers gave them, such as, “You’re still doing that writing thing or are you working now?” “When will your next novel come out?” “Writer’s block doesn’t exist. Get on with it,” and “How’s that novel you’ve been working on?” The last quote came from Stewie in Family Guy, but you get the picture. I will write more about this in the foreseeable future.
Today, I want to emphasize on Twitter’s least popular hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAGamer. As a gamer and anime fan myself, I have heard derogatory statements about gaming and anime life from some people, including my family. Here is a list of ten things you should NEVER say to a gamer…EVER.
1. “Instead of wasting time playing video games, you should be applying for scholarships.”
~ My mom told me this last year, and I got pissed off to the point where I wanted to create a meme featuring some of my gamer friends that reads, “We don’t just play video games, but we also…” and place a word that best describes their other hobbies on their pictures. That meme has yet to come to fruition, and I hope I get to create it sometime.
2. “You look like you’re in elementary school instead of college wearing that (Sonic the Hedgehog, Kingdom Hearts, Black Butler, or My Little Pony) shirt.”
~ This one came from my stepdad towards the end of the Spring Semester, and I have to say straight up that that is complete bupkis. I understand that I have to wear only a suit and tie–actually, a blazer and a skirt–when I enter the corporate world after graduation, but to have a parent penalize me for practicing freedom of expression by wearing a T-shirt displaying the characters from Black Butler to a college campus is a great injustice. I have seen other college students don shirts with Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, etc., designs printed on them, so why should my fashion choices accommodate to what my family wants? Just because I’m wearing a shirt that displays one of my favorite video game/cartoon/anime characters doesn’t stipulate that I’m an immature adult who doesn’t take any real world situation very seriously. I mean, Jesus Christ, I got a blue Classic Sonic top from the junior’s department at Macy’s; a pink Classic Sonic T-shirt from my aunt’s friend in Germany; and a checkered Classic Sonic shirt and Black Butler tank top from freakin’ Hot Topic! Did any of my teachers downgrade me for wearing such attire despite the fact that I pay attention to everything they say in class? No, because that’s discrimination. There may be Video Game Design majors who might also be offended by this. (See: Never Judge a Person By Their Shirt)
3. “Keep playing video games and you won’t be moving out of your parents’ house anytime soon.”
~ Oh, really? It just so happens that video games help gamers succeed in life by endowing them the following life skills: patience and perseverance; forward thinking and strategic planning; leadership and socialization; mental and creative prowess; and sympathy and empathy.
My mom sometimes tells me that I have no patience and that I give up very easily when she gives me certain tasks. Ironically, in Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, because Master Balls are so rare, I’ve had to throw at least twenty- to thirty-something Ultra Balls at every Legendary Pokémon I’ve encountered and attempted to weaken until they’re captured completely. I’ve been working on my first novel for over a year now, and I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be able to finish it. But I know that by being patient I’ll be able to persevere through the creative process as quickly as humanly possible. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a novel certainly wasn’t written in a day either. Great things come with time.
Most gamers, like myself, enjoy video games that stimulate critical thinking and problem solving. When I played Angry Birds in high school, I always told myself and a select few people, “It’s more of a game of strategy,” because you can’t sling shoot every bird at your disposal at the same spot every time. You have to think about the most effective way to knock down the buildings that house the bad little piggies, where to hit them, and what power-ups to use in order to stamp out the pigs (if you’re willing to pay for power-ups at all). Games like Angry Birds stimulate the ability to conjure up plans in real-life situations, such as a two-week vacation itinerary, a career path, or a basketball game plan.
Broader society has always viewed gamers as antisocial man-children who are unable to hold down a job, get married and have kids of their own, and may have to be supported by their parents for the remainder of their lives. This is the most vicious stereotype in the history of the gaming industry because it’s a total lie. Before game developers even thought of massive-multiplayer online (MMO) games, gaming involved a large physical gathering of friends in front of a console and a TV as big and heavy as a walrus. Today, gamers communicate over voice and video chat. Hell, they even do Let’s Play livestreams of video games of their choosing for YouTube or Twitch, inadvertently giving their viewers tips on how to get through certain levels they’re struggling with in the same games they’re playing at the moment. Whether they’re playing MMOs or livestreaming console and handheld games, gamers are actually socializing with their peers. As far as leadership goes, that skill is picked up from clans and guilds in Dungeon Fighter Online and World of Warcraft to resolve interpersonal conflicts and inspire motivation towards goals in their jobs.
Games such as Brain Age and Tetris help you work on mental math, reading speed, and concentration, as well as developing pattern recognition skills. Other games also improve memory, hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, visual acuity, and out-of-the-box thinking. I’ve played similar games on Lumosity, and I should probably get back to that.
Most games I’ve played are narrative–the Kingdom Hearts series and the Sonic the Hedgehog series, to name a few–and they do encourage sympathy and empathy. Anyone remember Sora’s reunion with Riku and Kairi in Kingdom Hearts II? That scene certainly played at my heartstrings, including my cousin’s.
Shame on you for saying that gamers never leave their parents’ houses to go after every opportunity life gives them.
4. “Violent video games can turn you into a vicious killer.”
~ Every time a mass shooting occurs–Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, the 2011 Norway killings, for example–the news media tends to blame violent video games, specifically first-person shooter (FPS) games, for those killings right off the bat. Even though studies have shown a correlation between violent games and violent deeds, correlation is not causation. Those findings are phrased the other way around: violent people have been attracted to violent games to begin with. Maybe people who feel the need to wring someone’s neck or literally knock their brains out turn to Call of Duty as an outlet instead. The only predictor’s to one’s violent tendencies are a hostile home environment and actually being bullied by one of their family members.
5. “Flunked your Algebra exam? You shouldn’t have stayed up playing Halo or whatever the hell you were playing the other night.”
~ If you’re a parent or psychologist, you should never assume that video games are the sole reason why your child or patient got a bad exam grade in one or more of their classes. Gamers are more than capable of balancing schoolwork and play, among other responsibilities. Consider this meme you’ve probably seen:
A high school or college student sits down at their desk to pour over their notes for an upcoming Biology exam. Believing that their teacher/professor is expecting too much from them for the exam, they pick up their loose-leaf notes and toss them in the air as they loudly declare in sing-song, “Fuck this shit!” Five seconds later, they bend down to pick up their notes, saying, “Just kidding, I need to pass [this test].” This proves that gamers are not the most irresponsible students most people deem them to be.
6. “Games are a waste of money. You should spend your time and money on important things.”
~ We understand that we should save our money other things like food, clothes, utilities, music, and trips to places we would love to visit, like Hawaii, England, or even Japan (since 90% of the games we play originate from there). But it’s blatantly unfair to say that video games and gaming consoles themselves are a bad investment. To discontinue our financial support for the gaming industry is to further damage the global economy.
7. “Aren’t you a little too old to be playing video games?”
~ The average gamer is 31 years old, but that doesn’t mean the expiry date for gaming life by law should be 31 years of age. Whether or not the person wants to continue playing video games is entirely up to them, NOBODY ELSE.
8. “Put your controller and hit the gym, you pig!”
~ Not every gamer is suffering from obesity, you know. And we do know that physical fitness is essential to our health, so we eat just as healthy and exercise just as much as the average person.
9. “Do you even have a job yet?”
~ Please refer to the third item on this list.
10. “Female characters in video games are often treated as sex objects.”
~ While that may have been true in the industry’s infancy, the current generation of male gamers don’t necessarily see the female characters, playable or otherwise, as sexual objectifications.
Some say that it sucks when people give a person more respect in death than they do in life. I, unfortunately, am one of those people, especially after hearing the sad news of the sudden passing of one of gaming’s greats: Satoru Iwata. He died on July 11th at the age of 55 of a bile duct tumor that was supposedly eviscerated last year.
Iwata was CEO and President of Nintendo Co. Ltd. since 2002, succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi, the company’s president since 1949. He was the first Nintendo president not related to Nintendo’s founding Yamauchi family by blood or marriage. He became a consultant to HAL Laboratory, the game developer he worked as a programmer after graduating from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and that worked closely with Nintendo on Kirby, EarthBound, and the Super Smash Bros. series. At the time Iwata was promoted as president and CEO, Nintendo wasn’t performing as financially well as other console producers, with their GameCube selling poorly in comparison with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox. In 2005, Iwata helped Nintendo revitalize their handheld system, transitioning from the Game Boy to the Nintendo DS, which introduced the touchscreen (before Apple did with their iPod Touch!) and allowed for more novel games to be played on it. A year later, he introduced motion control-based gaming via the Wii, the console that nearly doubled Nintendo’s stock price. When Nintendo’s finances plummeted in 2009–we were still going through the Great Recession at this point–Iwata curtailed his salary in half to help the company’s poor finances and to better compete with Microsoft and Sony. In 2011, in order to help Nintendo improve public relations with its fans, Iwata instituted Nintendo Direct, a series of press conferences open to everybody that revealed upcoming Nintendo games and products outside of typical industry channels, which are often done in a quirky, humorous manner, like the mock fight between him and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé. I never watched any Nintendo Direct conferences on YouTube, but I am pretty aware of them. Earlier this year, as the sales of traditional home consoles were falling, Iwata placed part of Nintendo’s focus on the fast-growing mobile game market, creating a partnership with mobile provider DeNA to publish titles.
As news of Iwata’s passing quickly spread throughout the gaming community, art tributes were posted on Twitter, Tumblr, etc. with the hashtag #ThankYouIwata as symbols of their appreciation for his creativity and his passion for gaming, and his accomplishments because of it. Here are my two favorite pieces:
Forget about what I said in the beginning of this entry. It turns out I have been appreciating Iwata’s work the entire time by playing on the consoles he helped to create–the Nintendo GameCube, the Game Boy Advanced SP, the Wii, and the Nintendo 3DS. I even appreciated his suggestion of bringing Mario and Sonic together in Nintendo’s Olympic games series. Here’s the link to the EU Nintendo Direct footage of Satoru Iwata explaining Mario & Sonic at the Sochi Winter Games: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI73qViGuTU
I hope that either Shigeru Miyamoto or Genyo Takeda (mostly Miyamoto) will do a great job filling Iwata’s position as President and CEO of Nintendo. Still, there will never be another man with the same brilliant mind and spark of creativity and passion as Satoru Iwata. May he rest in peace.