Yesterday’s Stream of Halo now available on YouTube

Alright everyone for those that weren’t able to tune in live or you just prefer to go at your own pace, the video of my stream for Halo: The Master Chief Collection is now on YouTube at the below link. You’ll see me go through the “Pillar of Autumn” on Legendary difficulty, and then get my butt handed to me online. Fun times.

Go here to watch the video!

Playing Halo: Combat Evolved over Twitch!

Hey Everyone, just throwing up here that I am about to go live while playing Halo: Combat Evolved! Hit the follow button on Twitch, give it a watch and look me up on Twitter to be in the know of when I’ll stream!

Just click here to watch!

TV and Self-Identity

queer and grace

In High School, I first faced an identity crisis in regard to my sexuality. As most do during the time, I started to wonder about it and my place in what felt like a very large world. And around that time in the early 2000s there were only two examples for me to draw on to figure out what it was to be gay. The NBC sitcom Will & Grace and the Bravo reality show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I was about as lost as you might think.

See, both shows prominently feature homosexual characters and people. Will & Grace featured two regular characters, Will Truman and Jack McFarland, both of whom are gay but are drastically different. Will is a character that features some stereotypical gay features, but is otherwise reserved and a homebody. Jack however, is the embodiment of every gay stereotype. A self-proclaimed diva, fashionista, and despite being unable to hold a job for very long, still has a holier-than-thou attitude. Combine the two characters with some of the antics and information displayed on Queer Eye and I was a very confused teenager.

Was there a requirement for me to be absolutely preened head to toe? Was my back hair unseemly and in need of removal? Was I supposed to worship Cher as a musical icon because she, too, is fabulous? Looking back, I certainly succumbed to some of these ideas (show me someone that can shave their own backside, and I’ll show you a gold medalist in gymnastics), largely because I still didn’t grasp my sexuality and what it meant. So, not really listening to the little voices in my head saying it was ridiculous I hammed myself up in school, doing my best to fit a new idea in my head that I was supposed to act in a manner some would call “femmy”.

But then something would happen sometime after High School and I had a realization. In the same manner that Will and Jack were different varieties of gay, but still with some similarities, I could be my own version of a gay male. In other words I could just be… me. I was able to figure it out but what if I had watched the shows at a younger age? Would I have been able to debunk my learned behaviors as easily? I certainly don’t know the answer, but I do know is that for most teens coming to terms with bisexuality, homosexuality, or a different gender identity, there aren’t very many places to look in the world of TV.

But, what I’ve figured out is that in the end it’s just meant to be entertainment. Sure, it can be argued that such shows will be under scrutiny simply for being a show that has something few others do. But in the case of Will & Grace, it’s a show about friends and relationships with what I see as a theme of being gay in reality. Or as close to reality as a sitcom with a laugh track is anyway. Queer Eye attempted something a little different and had gurus trying to help people be better versions of themselves. Not enough shows that aspire to that right?

So, in the end, let’s try to take entertainment for entertainment’s sake and not take everything that is tossed at us as some kind of a truth. Hm?

Choices and Games as Art

So, the other day I had what could be described as an emotional experience brought on by a game. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I have to stand up and take notice. Now, fair warning to everyone, I will be describing events in the game by TellTale Games, The Walking Dead: Season One. There will be spoilers as I try to describe the events.

Anyone still here? Good! Let’s move on.

Early on in the game, you meet up with a family from Florida that gets caught in Georgia due to the dead rising up. This family consists of Kenny, a fisherman from Ft. Lauderdale; Katjaa, his wife and a veterinarian and pacifist; and their son, Kenny Jr., who is nicknamed Duck since nothing seems to bother him.

kenny

Now, you spend a few months with these folks (split up as episodes to the player) as you try to keep them alive, and you’ll choose whether to side with Kenny on issues or with other members of your band. The problem with siding with Kenny though, is that he always puts his family ahead of other survivors. It’s what makes the events of episode 3, Long Road Ahead, that much harder to bear.

Early into the episode, the player needs to fend off a bandit attack on the group’s base at an old motel. During the fight the player will successfully repel the bandits, but the noise and commotion attracts a few walkers (what the walking dead universe calls it’s zombies). At the very end of all the commotion, Katjaa and Duck become trapped under a walker. Either the player must take the shot and kill the walker, or Kenny will come in and save the day. Then everyone jumps in an RV and leaves the motel.

After a stop that has some grand consequences for the group, Katjaa will reveal to the player that Duck was bit by that walker. In classic zombie lore, a bite will mean that that person will soon die and then turn. All they can do now is try to make him comfortable. But right away Katjaa asks that you tell Clementine. Clementine is a girl no older than Duck is. I started freaking out at that point because personally, I’m no good with kids, but how in the world do you tell a kid “Hey, that kid you were playing with earlier today? Yea, he won’t make it through the night.” But remarkably, the game does give some great options for talking to her and after all she has already seen, it doesn’t faze her like it might other kids.

It gets worse for the family though. Since the discovery of Duck’s bite, Kenny immediately goes into a state of denial. Insisting that he will get better and pull through. The player has to convince Kenny by show of kindness or force that this is his last chance to say goodbye to his son. But what follows during the goodbye is unexpected.

Kenny and Katjaa pick up their son, wheezing and skin turning gray, and walk into the forest to do the unfortunate act of putting their own son out of his misery and making sure he can’t come back and harm anyone after they leave. The player has a choice here too, and can allow Kenny and Katjaa to carry that burden or the player can volunteer and do the sad deed instead. Talk about heavy stuff.

Now, as they go alone to say their goodbyes, a shot rings out and Kenny screams NOOOOOOOOO through the forest. What was expected to be one death becomes two. Katjaa, having seen plenty of death and, (I assume), unable to bear the weight of saying goodbye to her son, commits suicide in front of her dying son and husband. The sadness coming from Kenny, however crafted it might be rang true. The man tries everything to put his family first in the most dire of circumstances and ends up losing it all anyway. Then the moment of truth comes.

The player now has to either watch the grief-stricken Kenny shoot a bullet through his son’s head, or the player has to aim and shoot. I lost it about then. I had been expecting to do the family a service of killing Duck so that they wouldn’t have to, and instead two people go down and one becomes terminally depressed. For the remainder of the episode, you can try to have a conversation with Kenny but he won’t be very responsive. Even when trying to solve a problem, he looks and sounds like a shell of his former self.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 11.15.41 AM

The choices I mention in this recap is just a fraction of the choices you make in a single episode. But these decisions can drastically alter events and make the game more of a tailored experience. This game along with others are the biggest reason I believe games to be a new art form.

Take that last scene for example, in a TV show or movie, most people will have an emotional response to the event, and they should. But I believe my reaction was stronger and more pronounced because of the interactive qualities of the medium. I’m not just an audience member inactively watching events unfold and being unable to say “LOOK OUT!” to someone about to die in a film. No, here I can shape the events, choose who lives and who dies, and how Clementine sees the world. Oh yes, think about it, if I were to choose to kill a man out of revenge in front of her, she remembers in and could possibly grow up in this zombie apocalypse believing that is how people should be treated. And therein lies one of the best reasons I can think of to play these choice-based games.

They force you to think in ways you normally wouldn’t. The Walking Dead in particular challenges your morals and forces you to make decisions with limited time to think on it. We’ve come a long way from the first time my mind was blown as a kid, and Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II asked if I wanted light side or dark side abilities in 1997. Choices are very much the future of games and I cannot wait to see what developers have me choose between next.

If I have peaked your interest and you want to buy The Walking Dead’s first season, here are some links! Just pick your favorite platform and enjoy! Or, head to your nearest retailer.

Welcomes and Thoughts on the Beginning

Hello all and welcome to my new blog, Life and Gaymes. As wrote on here I hope to meet some people who have a like mind, but also have some who share different viewpoints about things in everyday life as well as in games. 

And that’s really my goal, to talk about what goes on in my life, current events and of my primary hobby, gaming. Every once in a while I also stream on Twitch and I invite everyone to view them when you have a chance. 

I live in the Omaha metro area with my boyfriend/partner Gary where we both work with the same employer. 

Together we try to get through this thing called life where I wish someone would stop spinning a “10” all the time. But we manage to get through it just fine and get to stop and take a picture once in a while. 

We even manage to find the time to go see a show when they roll in. We’ve managed to see The Book Of Mormon, War Horse and Wicked on stage. All good shows by the way. 

That’s it for now, I’ll have something of more substance up soon, please look for me on Twitter @firebird06, where I’ll be sharing when new posts go live. Until next time!