Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Rap and Hip Hop’s Dark History: Anything For Money   Leave a comment

I want to preface this post with these two videos:

 

…Let’s be honest: This was what fueled the sharp rise of Hip Hop in the U.S. in the 1980s, the deaths of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur in the mid-1990s, the industry’s implosion during the mid-2000s and the mostly watered down stuff we see in the mainstream today.

Now me, I’m old enough to both remember and appreciate The System (The Government) and the Music Industry’s carefully laid out plans to indoctrinate, manipulate and brainwash the unsuspecting masses with African Americans as the primary focus. Most Blacks stopped listening to and playing Rock and Roll after Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis made it famous among White Americans during the 1970s. The politics of the time and the start of Reagan’s “War on Drugs” during the 1980s left many African American youth without a healthy outlet to ease pent-up frustration.

That all changed when Hip Hop was “re-discovered” in The Bronx in the early 1980s. Its popularity in African American cities exploded almost overnight. It came in at just the right time: Many young African Americans were researching their ancestors. Hip Hop, which survived in Africa was virtually unknown in the U.S. The self-appointed keepers of Hip Hop Lore, the original grandmasters and DJs of the early 80s still living in the Bronx often talk about how far Rap and Hip Hop has gone from its early years.

Here’s Kool Moe Dee’s Wild Wild West:

…And N.W.A.’s Express Yourself:

One thing both songs have in common is they tell a clear, concise story or message. THIS was Rap and Hip Hop’s original purpose. It’s like I said before: Rap is poetry over beats. Like other genres of music, Hip Hop is used to tell a story or message, usually about the times or who you are as well as uplift and empower.

…How then did we go from the above to this:

 

…Given I talked about the first song two years ago, my opinion of this type of music has changed since then. I now consider both Silento’s Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae and Soulja Boy’s Crank That to be fake Hip Hop and actually do more harm than good to the history of the genre. Why? Because they’ve become the blueprint for how to make “Safe Hip Hop”. You know, stuff that won’t offend privileged White Americans who don’t want to be reminded of how good they have it compared to many African Americans.

The real problem with both of these “songs” and the copycats they spawned isn’t the dancing. The dancing is freaking awesome. The REAL problem is both “songs” are not real songs. I mean that literally and that’s why I threw in the quotes. Recite The Alphabet. Now Recite The Birthday Song (“Happy Birthday To You”). Notice how both songs don’t just have rhythm but have subtance and is purposeful. The above songs lack both substance and purpose. The focus of both songs is the dance and this is why they’re both so “simple”. All you hear is what would be the chorus in a normal song the whole time.

Let’s take a look at PSY’s Gangnam Style, which was recently dethroned on YouTube for Most Watched Ever:

Yes, it’s goofy and in Korean but this is still a full song. I’ve seen the lyrics translated into English so I can say that. Yes, the focus is obviously on the Horse Dance but it’s still a full freaking song.

All that said, let’s now look at the song the put the U.S. Government on edge:

…I decided to go with the full version so you have the full, political context of the song. Public Enemy put both the U.S. Government and the Music Industry on notice with this song: To empower young African Americans to become politically involved, politically engaged and demand change from both themselves and the system. Believe it or not, this scared The System even more than N.W.A.’s F*** tha Police. They shut down that song by simply saying anyone who listens to it hates police and the mainstream ate up that lie like candy.

As the 1990s began, Hip Hop Artists realized they were being forced to do one of two things: Avoid politics and increase their chances of making alot of money or dive into politics and risk not just being blackballed but even killed. Most picked the former. All you need to do is look at popular rap music from about…I wanna say 1992 to now. Most of it is about glorifying money, sex, drugs, violence, alcohol and guns. It wasn’t until about…I wanna say 2007 Artists started to avoid the subjects of drugs, alcohol and especially guns. They knew the history so…yeah.

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Back then, those who did weave politics into their music had some success early on but not for too long. The lucky ones survived the 90s. The unlucky ones…well, this brings me to Biggie and Pac. Let’s be honest, Tupac Shakur was killed because of his mother’s affiliation with The Black Panthers first and his early political messages second. The Notorious B.I.G.’s death was also politically motivated, as was the “so-called beef” between them. THAT was carefully orchestrated to ensure whichever was killed first, the other would automatically blamed so their death could be written off as “retaliation”.

…And both of them knew it. Listen to The Notorious B.I.G.’s last album Life After Death. At a glance, it can easily be written off as your standard rap beef mixed with sex talk. It wasn’t until AFTER he died people began to realize he’d actually foretold not just his death but the reason why he would be killed. Look up Notorious Thugs, My Downfall, What’s Beef?, You’re Nobody (‘Til Somebody Kills You) and Somebody’s Gotta Die on YouTube as I won’t post them all here to be nice to those who don’t have high-speed internet (LOL!). Overall, there is a reason it is considered his greatest masterpiece and one of the greatest Hip Hop Albums of the 1990s. Yes, it’s the same one Hypnotize is on as well (third song on the first disc).

All that said, sadly the overwhelming majority made their choice: They chose profits over principles. They chose to give in to the system they knew could care less about them or their fanbases. There is a certain irony with most of those rap videos of the 1990s and early 2000s: The jets, cars, mansions, clubs and and jewelry prominently featured in them? They were all rented. The scantly clad women and backup dancers were hired or volunteers to shoot the videos as well.

For what purpose?

Simple: The system wanted to present a false narrative and a false reality to African Americans. The reality of the 1990s: Bill Clinton’s Mass Incarceration Policy. It wasn’t until during his wife’s Presidential campaign last year he admitted it did more harm than good as African American men were unfairly profiled in large numbers. The rap videos and music glorifying guns, violence, drugs, alcohol, sex and money were all things many African American youth desired but felt would always be out of reach unless they pursued one of two paths: Music or Sports. Again, the irony being few actually made it in either. I see young artists trying to sell their music in Downtown Boston, Dudley Square and Grove Hall almost every day and have for 15 years.

The sad truth is there are no guarantees in either. While it IS true some of these artists used to sell drugs, the overwhelming majority of them never have despite rapping about it. It IS true some artists recorded while high on drugs or while drunk, though. Most out of their own admittance years after the fact.

It wasn’t until the late 2000s artists in general realized The Industry was taking a bigger and bigger cut of the profits from their music. Some artists didn’t write their own music and that made it easier for record labels to “own” an artist’s blood, sweat and tears. Turns out being indie or starting your own label is the smart thing to do. Few artists in general could pull it off and it was virtually unheard of in Hip Hop. Artists like LL Cool J and Ice Cube reinvented themselves as actors, leaving music entirely. The advent of social media changed the game. Now, artists could cut out the middle man and get their music to fans directly, keeping 100% of the profits.

This actually proved to be an interesting and unexpected perk for indie, underground and new artists as now they could record a song and sell it online by themselves. At the same time, established artists use Social Media to connect with fans and promote their music. Hip Hop and Rap have certainly come a long way. Given the recent politics of America, the time is right for a true revival of the genre with a new generation of promising talent driven not by greed but by passion.

In my next post on the subject, I will talk a bit more about how much Hip Hop has changed since 1979 and where it may be going. Here’s a video to check out you may find interesting until then:

…That cover picture. Really is something, isn’t it?

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Aurabolt’s Folly: The Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Games   Leave a comment

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1a/Pok%C3%A9mon_Trading_Card_Game_logo.svg/2000px-Pok%C3%A9mon_Trading_Card_Game_logo.svg.png

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…I considered posting this on both my Anime and Game Blogs but I decided to post it on this one instead as a cautionary tale. Given this year marks the 20th Anniversary of the release of the Pokemon Trading Card Game, it feels fitting.

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To start, Trading Cards have been around for some time though until about 30 years ago, they were strictly Sports Cards. Then Magic the Gathering came along. It wrote the book on how to make a successful trading card game. They are to the Trading Card Game industry what Everquest is to MMORPGs. Like World of Warcraft, only the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Games were able to emulate the success of the original. They were both introduced at the right time: When Anime and Video Games were becoming mainstream in North America.

Pokemon Red and Blue came to the U.S. in 1995. The Pokemon Trading Card Game (henceforth “Pokemon TCG” for short) was released the following year. What was originally intended to be just a means of marketing the Pokemon brand in the U.S. quickly become the biggest schoolyard sensation in America for almost a decade.

THIS is the original rare card kids spent hundreds on card packs to find:

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Those lucky enough get one were revered as heroes to their friends and had a virtually unstoppable deck. It wasn’t until I played the Game Boy Color Pokemon TCG game in 2001 I fully understood WHY the elusive Stage 2 Card was so sought after: Its Pokemon Power (see above). As long as you didn’t run out of Energy Cards, Charizard was unstoppable. No one other Pokemon Card except the equally rare Chansey (120 HP) could take one attack from it and live. This has long since become widely accepted but to keep the game balanced, Wizards of the Coast (The manufacturer for the card game from 1995 to about 2002) intentionally did not make a large amount of Charizard Cards to encourage people to keep buying card packs hoping to get one.

…I consider myself lucky I was late to get in on the TCG bandwagon. I was in high school at the time and was more a collector than someone who was competatively playing against others. The rare cards I was looking for were promo cards that came with video games and movies. At my peak, I had close to 800 Pokemon Cards. This goes without saying but the reason the first Pokemon movie still stands and the highest-grossing Pokemon movie ever is because of the promo Mew card given to moviegoers with every ticket purchase. It made the news a month after the movie’s release: Folks would buy a ticket just for the card but skip the movie. Said extra cards would then be resold. I saw alot on eBay.

There was little kids wouldn’t do to get their hands on rare cards. Myself included. This is the first time I’m sharing this publicly but I stole 30 cards from a friend at a summer camp when I was 16 and yes, I got away with it. Not saying I’m proud of myself as I realized after I’d done it that I was taking the TCG way too seriously.

As for how I did it without ever getting found out, I did it like a professional: While everyone was swimming, I went in the locker room and took the cards out the kids’ binders (we were around the same age but I was the oldest). To deflect suspicion since I knew everyone would’ve (rightly) assumed it was me, I took my rarest cards out of my own binder and hid them. Naturally, the kids I ripped off assumed mine were stolen, too. Of course, I never brought any of my cards back to camp after that!

I’ll give Nintendo credit where it’s due: The Pokemon TCG was a damned good hustle. I spent somewhere between $200 to $300 on Pokemon cards from when I started in 1998 to about 2003. I retired for good in 2004 and gave away all of my Pokemon Cards to a student at a school where I worked in 2007. Best decison ever. Looking back now, I knew I was in too deep when I decided to steal cards from others. Never again.

 

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…This brings me to the TCG giant of the last decade, Yu-Gi-Oh!

Holy crap. I’ll be real with you: I was hooked from day one. I’ll give Konami and Upper Deck credit where its due: They took the forumula the Pokemon TCG had been using and all but perfected it. The Anime starring Yugi Motou and his alter ego Pharaoh Atem (whose true name wasn’t actually revealed until the original  series’ finale) was used to sell the cards unlike Pokemon.

The cards featured in every episode of the Anime? You could actually get them yourself. Not only that, they worked exactly as shown in the Anime–minus the special effects, of course–and they were nowhere near as rare.

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Seto Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes White Dragon anf Yugi Motou’s Dark Magician. They are the most iconic cards even today yet Konami took the high road with both cards: They were rare in on TV show but in reality, they were obscenely common. One huge difference structure decks for the Pokemon and Yugioh TCGs have is while you only got one holofoil card in Pokemon, with Yugioh you got 3.

The iconic Yugi and Kaiba decks were upgraded a few years later to include powerful cards Yugi and Kaiba gained in the Anime. Even though the Anime series and the card game are not as big as they once were, no cards are more synonymous with Yugioh than these 5:

 

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…Exodia the Forbidden One. Like the Holo Chatizard card, Konami and Upper Deck intentionally made The Exodia set in limited quantities for the sake of game balance. Given you automatically win simply by having all 5 cards in your hand, it only makes sense. LOL.

Moving on, unlike the Pokemon TCG I got into the Yugioh TCG specifically for dueling. Unlike with Pokemon, I got early and spent alot early. I’ll be straight with you: I spent $1200 on Yugioh Cards from 2002 2009. It stands as the most money I’ve ever spent on one hobby. World of Warcraft came close at $950 including expansions, paid services and other premium content such as mounts and pets. The difference is with Yugioh it was in a small amount of time but with WoW, it’s been nearly a decade in comparison.

At one time, I owned close to 500 Yugioh cards. The difference is almost all of them were used to make 4o to 60-card decks for dueling. I had a different deck for different themes. The funny thing is after I graduated from high school, it actually became harder for me to simply find people to duel against. My younger brother played off and on at the time. Sometimes when I picked him up from school, we’d walk to the library and play against folks there. And I was good. I did alot of trash talking and had the skills to back it up. Never did tournaments since they never came to Boston but after about 3 years, duels against me were quick when they ended in my favor.

I think it was around mid-2007 when I decided to quit the Yugioh TCG cold turkey. By then, I’d spent close to $500 on Yugioh cards off eBay alone so…yeah. By the way yes, I did own all 3 of the Egyptian God Cards too. Any card I wanted, I bought off eBay. Most I ever spent? $105 to buy the Exodia cards.

Looking back at how much of my monthly budget I was spending on both TCGs that I probably should have spent on other things was why I decided to quit cold turkey. Well, that and the value we collectors had placed on the  Trading Cards. Like fools, the majority of us truly believed the longer we held on to the cards, the more they’d be worth later. In reality, it was the exact opposite. We should have sold the cards when they were still considered valuable. The longer we held on to them, the less valuable they became. A fitting irony!

During my last semester at a community college, one of my classmates appraised the 100 or so remaining Yugioh Cards I showed him at the time to be worth a bit under $1000. I sold them at Anime Boston in 2010 and only got $10 for all of them. I honestly didn’t care as it was fitting and what I deserved given I’d been motivated by greed. It was a hard lesson but an important one I learned: Trading Card Games are a massive time and money pit and if you’re not careful, you might not be able to get out on your own.

The only TCG worth dealing with is Magic The Gathering but as I said already, I’m done with Trading Card Games period. Before folks ask no, I don’t have any more Yugioh or Pokemon Cards. I gave them all away years ago. The interesting thing is it also effected my viewpoint on physical video games, too. I used to buy and sell video games alot during the last decade. After I quit TCGs, I now only buy video games for keeps. I figure if I’m going to spend money on a hobby, it should be on something I know I’ll enjoy for years to come.

 

AB2014 Day 1 Recap: Opportunities Wasted   Leave a comment

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I wasn’t originally planning to include this in my recap but for the sake of being transparent, I am.

Just before Opening Ceremonies, I met a 17-year old kid and his father who had come to Anime Boston from Minneapolis for the convention. My personal policy of not hanging out with teens with intellectual disabilities or disorders outside work aside, I ended up spending most of my day playing babysitter to the kid. In reference to the Intellectual Disabilities comment the kid and his Dad let me know right off the bat he has Asberger’s Syndrome, which is on the Autism spectrum. I myself have Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is also on the Autism spectrum.

If I were 10 years yonger it wouldn’t have been a problem for me to spend the day with him but when his Dad prettymuch tried to hand him off to me, immediately the warning bells went off in my head. While I would be the first to say people with Asberger’s teach more than they learn from others, this was a situation in which it was obvious I was being used to split father and son for the day. The kid was adamant about doing things he knew his parents wouldn’t approve of (which I won’t get into since I never gave him the opportunity to do anything stupid) once his Dad left, coulsn’t make it more obvious he couldn’t wait to get away from his son.

After Opening Ceremonies, I took them to Wagamama and split with them there. More than a few times the kid’s Dad tried to take off on us, which confirmed for me I needed to avoid them at all cost. My luck was not that good: I later ran into them just inside the Bolyston Street entrance of the Hynes 90 minutes before the Swap Meet was scheduled to start. The kid’s Dad prettymuch dumped him off on me again and quickly left for their hotel in Revere.

The sweet, sweet irony is tonight I’m doing a Panel about Persona 4 and the Psychology of Persona.

Let’s just say I reverted to my 15 year old self during the times I was alone with him. Perhaps more attributed to The Good Work I’ve been doing for 10 years now, I have the ability of being able to connect with anyone regardless of the circumstances. It’s what I do. Anyway, we hung out for a while at the UNOs on Bolyston Street before heading back to the convention center. While we were at UNOs the kid opened up to me about his and his Dad’s relationship issues along with other stuff that don’t need to be disclosed over the internet. I will say it reminded me of my own struggles, especially in recent months.

When we got back to the convention center we went to the Swap Meet which is where we parted ways. Before he left, I gave him my extra Charlie Card with $6 on it so that he could get back to his hotel safely. After he left, I felt very angry most of my day had been wasted. I wasn’t angry with the kid but I was angry with his Dad.

What the fuck kind of person would willingly hand their 17 year old son with Asberger’s to a complete stranger?

Excuse my choice of words but I was that pissed off. The kid was candid about wanting to do things he knew his parents would not approve of (which again, I will not discuss since I never allowed him the opportunity to do anything stupid) even if he didn’t have Asberger’s and I made it clear to both of them I would have no part in any shenanigans. When you think about it, anything could have happened in which case the parent would have been on the hook even if the son was 21. If I run into them this evening, I’m going to let his Dad have it. If he didn’t want to spend time with him, he shouldn’t have brought him to the convention or at the very least left him with friends he knew.

Moving on, now:

That aside, I knew from the convention schedule I probably wasn’t going to see any panels of interest to me today so I spent a huge chunk of time finishing my Persona 4 Power Point.

I am pleased to say it is DONE. It will be glorious, too =D

During some downtime I headed into the Dealer’s Room to take a look around. The owner of Comicopia (their store is in Kenmore Square) told me the reason he brings so much Manga to Anime Boston is because he has more space in his booth than his entire store. Anyone who’s been to the actual store knows this is true XD

I was THRILLED to see Game Underground was there. They were the only dealers aside from VideoGamesNewYork who were there who sold video games though. I did find Super Mario Advance 2 and Golden Sun for the Game Boy Advance, though (WOOT!) for $15 each.

At another vendor I bought Ouran High School Host Club on Blu-Ray for $40, making it the third Anime I bought on Blu Ray since I bought my PS3. The first was of course Persona 4 while Fullmetal Panic: The Second Raid was my second. Due to a low spending budget I was only able to buy one Anime this year.

Then the Swap Meet happened =O

My mantra going into the Swap Meet was “Leave with far less than I go in with”. In that regard I succeeded. I even made $75, which was twice what I knew I was going to make at the Swap Meet. Here is a picture of what I left the Swap Meet with:

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…As a reminder I also made $75 after the Swap Meet with some of my leftover inventory.

Of the stuff I got, I’m only keeping the Bleach Manga, Bettlejuice DVD and Kiddy Grade DVD set. The rest will be swapped tonight along with my leftovers from yesterday and some more stuff I’m bringing today. The glove is awesome but sadly it’s too small to fit my hand so…yeah.

As for new Manga buys, I’m holding off on that until Sunday. Not just because of Comicopia’s obscene blowout deals but I’m expecting $9650 to appear in my bank account between today and tomorrow. I’ll talk more about my perspective new buys on my Anime & Manga Blog.

Anime Boston 2014 Schedule, Dealers’ Room and Programming Guide now Live   Leave a comment

The Programming Guide is here.

The Dealers’ Room Listing is here.

To see my panels, scroll down to the bottom of the page. The second link will give you external links to sites of all of the vendors who will be at AB2014 this year.

Of the returning vendors I’m familiar with:

  • Comicopia is great for all your Manga needs. A protip I’ve made sure to exploit for the last two years now: Save your Manga shopping for Sunday when all their stock is marked down even more than advertised. 20% off for 4 volumes becomes 40%, 40% off for 8 volumes becomes 60% and so on. On top of that an additional 10% is taken off all three days if you buy volumes in bulk from the same series. Comicopia is located in Kenmore Square, which is a 10 minute walk from Back Bay =O
  • VideoGamesNewYork is a ripoff. If you want a better deal on video games, you’re better off going elsewhere. The specialize in selling Japanese imports but honestly, you can get the same stuff for less eslewhere.
  • Game Underground sells retro games. I bought some Nintendo DS games from these guys at AB2013. The prices are reasonable and they have bundled deals as well.
  • Crunchyroll is actually a streaming service like Netflix only they specialize in steeaming Japanese Anime (subbed) and Korean Dramas. F0r $6 a month you can stream it through Xbox 360/One, PS3/PS4, Vita, iOS and/or Android Devices.

I would reccommend bringing a bottle of Hand Sanitizer with you and using it after handling stuff so you don’t have germs on your hands for too long. Who knows how many folks picked up that display copy of Attack on Titan Volume 9, yes?

This year, the Swap Meet will be in a a larger room compared to the last few years. Since I’m not running a panel on Saturday night this year (WOOT!) I’m going to be able to go for the entire duration of the Swap Meet. The Swap Meet is a trading post in a nutshell. Folks go there with stuff to trade with other folks with stuff to trade and sell for good and/or cash. I prefer cash personally =O

It all starts this Thursday at 4:00PM. It’s gonna be awesome!

 

 

Consumers beware: DO NOT SELL GAMES TO GAMESTOP!   Leave a comment

Just don’t. You’ll get enough money to buy a tank a gas if you’re lucky.

I thought about posting this on my Game Blog but I thought it better to post this on my main blog since this is a little known yet well known fact. The pictures above are Internet Memes but they’re mostly true. For the gamers in the crowd you probably already know this. This post is for non-gamers and parents of kids/teens who may be interested in selling off their library of video games.

To start, let me share a few facts about Gamestop you probably never thought about. Now, what I’m about to share is public knowledge and Gamestop itself is open about them.

  • Gamestop, EB Games and Funcoland are all the same company. Different name brand but same company regardless. Kinda like Marshalls and TJ Maxx or Microsoft and Windows. In addition to that, Game Informer is owned by Gamestop. If you ever wondered why they give a free subscription with people who get a Power Up Rewards Card (more on this in a bit), this is why. Unlike during the 1990s Game Informer writes what they’re paid to: They’ve spent the last 10 or so years bashing anything Nintendo except Pokemon, Mario and Zelda for example.
  • Gamestop makes over 70% of its sales on PREOWNED (Used) games and consoles.
  • All video game consoles traded to Gamestop ARE tested before they’re shelved (and if it doesn’t work you can exchange it for another one). The Vita, PSP Go and DS Lite I own were bought Preowned from Gamestop and have been problem-free since I got them. In fact they all work fine. Regardless I would follow this basic rule of thumb: Request the clerk test the system for you before you buy it.
  • Gamestop is not a pawn shop. This is fact. They do not advertise themselves as one. See, with pawn shops you and the store negotiate until you’ve reached a price that works for both of you. Gamestop buys games/consoles/accessories from the public at a flat rate. Said asking price isn’t negotiable.
  • Typically, Gamestop buys new console games at half the retail price and handheld games at 66% of the retail price. If you were to bring your copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts or NBA 2k14 (any system) to a Gamestop RIGHT NOW (December 12, 2013) you’d leave with $30 cash or $35 Store Credit (both games sell for $60 new right now). In case you’re wondering no, you wouldn’t be reimbursed for the Season Pass if you bought it or any DLC you downloaded. Just the game itself. Bring your copy of Pokemon X or Y (Nintendo 3DS) or Dragon’s Crown (PS Vita) to a Gamestop and you’d get $25 cash or $30 Store Credit (both games sell for $40 New on their respective systems).
  • Recent game releases resold at Gamestop have a mere $5-$10 off the price of a new game. A preowned copy of The Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS) goes for $35. It sells for $40 new.
  • Gamestop Store Associates have no control over the amount offered for trade-ins. This is decided by the suits at the corporate level.
  • The trade in system is set up so that the public always sells games/consoles to them at a loss no matter what. This is fact. No matter how Gamestop spins their reasons for their obviously abhorrent trade-in system it is designed to ensure that in the end they get games/consoles from the public for next to nothing.
  • At the moment the original Wii sells for $70 Preowned at Gamestop ($150 new in case you’re wondering). You’d get $35 if you traded it in to Gamestop. No, any games you downloaded onto it will have no effect on the price/value of the console.
  • Until a few years ago Gamestop used to keep a log of all trade-ins including the seller’s name and contact info. They no longer do this in most stores except where required by law. Yes Store Associates test every game and console before putting it on the shelf but it’s a good idea to make sure the console works before you leave the store with it. With console games ask to see the underside of the Disc before it’s rung up.
  • For those who do not know yes, a government-issued ID (Military ID works too) is required for all trade-ins. Sometimes folks sell stolen games to Gamestop so…yeah.
  • Going with the above: Gamestop Store Associates can refuse trade-ins for any or no reason. It rarely happens these days but some folks do try to sell them stolen games and consoles.

Prettymuch if you want to make money off your mega collection of games, you’re better off trying your luck with eBay, a yard sale or a convention like Anime Boston. Or if you’re feeling daring try Craig’s List (LOL!).

Don’t get me wrong Gamestop is still a great place to buy games for less but I would NEVER advise you sell your games to them. I’ve done it in the past and each time, honestly I felt like shit. I knew the games I sold were worth WAY more than what I got for them. Now when I buy games they’re for life. I’ll post a picture of my game libary this weekemd so you can see. Some of you know I own every console of the current gen except the PS3 (my brother wanted it back when GTA V came out, LOL). When you see my collection of games…let’s just say you’ll be surprised =O

Getting back to what I called The Gamestop Controversy around this time last year, game makers don’t get a cent from those proeowned sales. Some will argue Paid DLC (Downloadable Content) is their answer to this. Little did we know that was just the tip of the iceberg. In recent years they’ve come up with Season Passes. Basically, for a flat rate you get access to all the DLC free and/or at a discount released during a game’s life cycle when you buy the season pass. It’s their way of offsetting lost revenue from those preowned sales made at Gamestop they don’t get. It’s also the compromise by the console makers to not block preowned games on their systems.

Without a doubt Gamestop is here to stay. Some say digital gaming is the future. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with that. Basically it’s the idea game developers will release games digitally like they currently do for most of their games now but it will be like, say Killer Instinct for the Xbox One: The game itself is free but you’ll have to pay with your wallet to unlock features and characters. I don’t particularly like this model specifically though in Fire Emblem: Awakening for the Nintendo 3DS (All the DLC combined is $56, which is $16 more than just the game itself!) it just works. It really depends on how it’s done. In the MMO Community you walk a fine line between paying to play the game and what critics call Pay to Win but that’s a separate topic for a separate blog.

I will be doing one more video game related blog this month and it’ll be for folks thinking about buying a game system for the holidays. To make it extra special there will be a video attached to it. Look forward to it!

We all have a…Persona   Leave a comment

I don’t mean in the sense of the Anime or Video Game that’s got me thinking about the word PERSONA lately.

First, here’s the definition courtesy of DIctionary.com:

per·so·na

[per-soh-nuh]

noun, plural per·so·nae [-nee], per·so·nas.

1. a person.
2. personae, the characters in a play, novel, etc.
3. the narrator of or a character in a literary work, sometimes identified with the author.
4. (in the psychology of C. G. Jung) the mask or façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment and not representing the inner personality of the individual; the public personality (contrasted with anima ).
5. a person’s perceived or evident personality, as that of a well-known official, actor, or celebrity; personal image; public role.
Note the ones I bolded. Those are the parts I’m focusing on. Yes, there is a psychology on Personas. And yes, everyone has one. Those two links go into detail on the subject but I’ll try explaining it in short here.

Like I said, everyone has a persona. Everyone has a persona for how they want the people they interact with to view them. It’s our nature. For the most part, we want others to see our potential and out strengths while minimizing or hiding our weaknesses and deficiencies.

Let’s take a look at Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, Both are most known for their music careers. For many, that is the only aspect of them that they really knew. As we knew well before their untimely deaths, they had their share of troubles. Michael Jackson’s in particular nearly destroyed his legacy.

One of the main themes of Persona 4 is facing yourself. The main characters face Shadow versions of themselves. These Shadows are revealed to actually be their suppressed feelings and emotions made manifest. The worlds they’re found in can be viewed as the world from their perspective. For those familiar with Persona 4, the reason Chie and Yukiko and Rise and Teddie share the same area is because each pair has a similar complex. With Chie and Yukiko they have a dependance on each other and feel their friendship is what gives the other purpose. With Rise and Teddie, Rise wants everyone to know the real Rise and not the Idol while with Teddie, he simply wants to know who he is and fears there is no real Teddie to begin with.

Another aspect of Persona 4 is the main characters accepting their other self as a part of them. At first they reject their “Shadow Selves” because let’s be honest, few would willingly share their dirty laundry with their loved ones, let alone complete strangers! As many of you have come to know I am one of the few. I’ve said some things about myself on this blog and on You Tube that shouldn’t be openly shared. This brings me back to accepting everything about yourself.

More times than I care to admit I’ve been forced to face some inconvenient truths about myself. I’ve accepted every aspect of me as a part of me. Weather other folks do or not is another matter entirely. As long as I’m happy with myself nothing else matters.

In closing, how we are with everyone we interact with evolves as we get to know each other. A bond forms even if we don’t realize it right away. The more we get to know each other, the more our Persona becomes more complex and yet simple at the same time.

It’s the beauty of making connections.

The thing about DRM You Should Know   Leave a comment

When we talk about Bootleg Media and Pirated Movies or Music this usually comes to mind:

Or this:

Times have certainly changed.

As you may be aware Movie, Music, Software and Video Game companies have been taking agressive steps over the last 14 years to combat the piracy of their products. At the close of the last century, when you talked about Pirating Music this website came to mind:

For those who don’t know their Internet History, Napster was the first and most popular Filesharing King. That was before the service and Napster Founder Sean Parker–then considered the Robin Hood of the Industry by Napster supporters–were taken down by the RIAA (Record Inudstry Association of America), which was originally formed specifically to shut down Napster and the copycat filesharing serrvices it spawned. Of course, in the years since then Napster came back as an online music store.

Even so, the internet has since been feeling the effects of the revolution Napster ignited before they want legit. Copycat filesharing services like Limewire, eMule, Etomi Pro and Kazza stepped in to fill the massive void created whe Napster was taken down. Given several million people worldwide engage in filesharing worldwide, it’s clear threats of multimillion dollar fines and 100-year prison sentences from the RIAA aren’t enough to discourage the people who do it.

That isn’t to say companies aren’t getting with the times and offering services similar to the filesharing programs to give people more control over how they can get their mits on their favorite media. Before I continue, first let me refer you to a couple of You Tube videos on the subject of DRM (Digital Rights Management).

Of course this one specifically targets people who upload copyrighted material to You Tube despite the fact 90% of time the uploaded media is covered by Fair Use or would otherwise be considered a Derrivative Work.

…And this one is pretty self-explanatory =D

Here is the text he pasted in the video:

“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.”

Again: 90% of what people upload to You Tube is covered by Fair Use. The link above goes into more detail.

Now here is DRM explained:

VERY recently DRM was front and center when Microsoft unveiled its Xbox One game system. The next-gen console, which is going to be released later this year was originally going to have strict anti-piracy systems in place–at the expense of the consumer. Read this blog I wrote before Microsoft backpedaled after the public uproar.

Speaking for myself, I support a company’s right to protect their product from theft. What I have a problem with is cases like SimCity 2013 in which you don’t actually own the game you paid for and instead you paid $60 for a client to stream the game on your computer. While I buy the reasons Maxis explained for this at the core, it’s because of DRM they released the game the way they did.

 

Sony Music is easily one of, if not the worst offender when it comes to DRM: In 2009 it was revealed Sony been embedding spyware and trackware on physical music CDs. Spyware and Trackware are both programs used to monitor the computers they’re install on, usually for malicious purposes. Sony’s explaination for the spying? To scan the hard drives of customers for pirated music. That’s their explaination but that could and usually does lead to other things. Luckily it was discovered when it did or other companies would think it cool to do that. It’s not about weather someone has something to hide. It’s the principle as well as a blatant invasion of privacy. Someone going through your hard drive is no different from someone going through your bedroom.

 

Contrary to a long standing popular belief, when you buy a physical or digial media (Movie, Song, game, etc.) you don’t actually own it. Your purchase is simply you buying the license to use the media for personal, commercial or private use depending on the license. For example you don’t actually own your copy of The Departed. You simply have legal permission to watch it however you want whenever you want but only if the audience is 50 people or less and you don’t charge people to watch the movie. Both would legally be considered theft. Even movie theaters have to pay a licensing fee (distribution). NO ONE is exempt.

Now that I’ve no doubt half-scared some of you or made another chunk of you a little paranoid, DRM does work both ways. You are entitled to certain rights as the licensee or to say that in plain English; The person who bought the movie or album.

  • Your purchase should work as advertised or you are entitled to a refund or similar compensation.
  • You are protected from prosecution as long as you do not try to profit from the media in some way.

Some companies have been going above and beyond what’s expected of them to support their consumers:

  • Apple’s iCloud is easily the best: Once you buy a movie or song you more or less “own” it forever. You can download it to as many authorized devices as you want without restriction at no additional cost. Got a new computer? You can download ALL of your iTunes purchases with a single click on your new one.
  • Xbox Live (XBL) and The Playstation Network (PSN) come in second with theirs. Once you buy a game, movie or TV Episode you can immediately download it to your console or PC (If you use Media Go or Zune) or just stream it if you prefer. Once it’s been downloaded you can use it as much as you want even if the title is no longer available for purchase later. The drawback to both XBL and the PSN is your license only grants you 5 downloads so if you use up all of those downloads you’ll need to make a new account to get it again. I was lucky when I got my desktop 3 years ago and was able to convince Microsoft to give me a full refund in Microsoft Points of purchases I couldn’t transfer to my new computer. A good $215 worth of media.
  • Amazon and Netflix both offer Streaming in addition to physical movies. Amazon has a streaming App for Apple, Android and Microsoft Products that you can use to enjoy your music and movies without even having to download them. The Netflix Client can be used on everything under the sun including the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita so…yeah.

And of course when you buy Blu-Ray Movies you usually get three copies: The Blu-Ray version, a Standard Definition Version (Regular DVD) and a digital copy. These days, many software companies require online registration to use their products. Some of you might remember this blog I wrote for Microsoft Office 2013. This is obviously Microsoft’s way of protecting its product from being pirated but as I said in that blog, I use Open Source alternatives to MS Office.

All in all, if you’re going to use DRM it shouldn’t infringe on the rights of the honest people who make up the majority of people who consume media. On the other hand there are times when piracy can and does actually help companies by telling them what consumers want. Just look at Napster and iTunes. iTunes exists because of Napster. The same can be said for Megaupload, Box.net and the Cloud services that have popped up in recent years. For the video game industry it’s because of Steam all of the console makers give gamers the option of downloading full games directly to their consoles, cutting out need to get a physical copy.

Think what you want about it but for all intents and purposes, if it wasn’t for Napster online stores as we know them probably wouldn’t exist.

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