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If the Rumors are True: 5 Reasons Why the Next Xbox Will Fail

The battle has begun. As developers begin to squeeze the dying pixels from a fading era of consoles, the inevitable cold war known as the next generation lingers on the horizon. Here, reputations are at stake, fan loyalties wax and wane, and precious consumer dollars dangle from the wallets of the undecided. Make no mistake: This is war.

As Nintendo's Wii-U sales continue to hobble, Sony has eased swiftly into its play for the throne with the masterfully hyped announcement of the PlayStation 4. Will the last giant left to enter the fray succumb under the tremendous pressure? Or will the esteemed designers and programmers of Microsoft answer the call with a deafening retort to silence the industry with a console destined to rule them all?

Not if the rumors are true.

Now let's not get ahead of ourselves here, I'm not writing this with insider information or as a time traveler from the near future. Yet, as rumors buzz like caffeinated bees from one website to the next, at least a few of these whispers are worthy of our attention (even just for entertainment's sake), until something more substantial is released. So why will the next Xbox fail? Let's break it down rumor by rumor.

The Rumor: The Next Xbox Won't Play Used Games: This is the big, fat, glaring, nasty rumor that has diehard Microsoft fanboys and GameStop employees alike praying to the gaming gods like sinners on judgment day. So what's the big deal? Well for one, people like the option of keeping or selling a game once they've played it, and since keeping up with the latest and greatest has never been a poor man's pastime, many gamers turn to trading in old games to subsidize their habit. In fact, the importance of this freedom was assessed when used game supergiant GameStop conducted an in house survey on the likelihood of customers buying a console based on its ability to ban used games. The results were tallied and found (surprise, surprise) that three out of every five GameStop customers would avoid purchasing such a console. Now, I don't put much faith in such a survey for obvious reasons (since GameStop conducting a survey regarding used games is the equivalent of surveying cows on the merits of eating beef), but if you were to look at this as a statistical representation of the market, Microsoft is essentially eliminating 60% of their consumers right out the gate. Would you be willing to sacrifice your freedoms as a consumer to guarantee the success of your favorite developers and publishers?

Why it Could Succeed: I can see this working two ways: First, if all the major console developers were on board (they're not), and second, if Microsoft can manage to persuade major developers into developing exclusively for the next Xbox. Think about it. The used game industry is a multibillion dollar industry that earns the vast majority of its funds from the pockets of both publishers and developers. Sure, they both get paid on the initial sale of a new game, but who makes the money when a game is resold (especially when it's bought for pennies and sold again for dollars)? Game developers aren't earning a red cent off used game purchases, and if GameStop is making billions, that's billions the rightful creators are missing out on. If Microsoft can convince developers that developing solely for a console that prevents this kind of third party loss is better, it could provide enough incentive for many brands to hop aboard. More developers making exclusive content essentially creates a greater appeal for the console, which evolves into an increase in sales, resulting in more appeal for developers to develop strictly for it. But are developers willing to turn to a console that has their best interests in mind at the cost of limiting the freedoms of their fans? Or will tradition prevail as developers seek the greatest audience while continually innovating new ways to regain their hard earned money back from the middleman vultures of the used game industry?

The Rumor: The Next Xbox will require a Constant Internet Connection to Play: The internet seas must be rampant with piracy if punishing honest gamers with a forced online connection seems like a viable solution to anyone. Sadly, I can just imagine some bigwig stopping a board meeting at Microsoft to say, You know what, gamers love it when they need an internet connection to play games because servers shutting down for reaching capacity is epic and having to queue for a single player experience is a blast!

If the rumors are true, then say goodbye to the simple days when all you needed was a console and somewhere to plug it in, and roll out the red carpet for an online experience handicapped by connectivity issues with a lifespan limited to a company's commitment to their servers. Forget the inconveniences of not having the internet or the embarrassment of having a connection only suitable for email--once the servers go down on an online-only game, all you have left is a useless disc and a broken heart full of memories.

Why it Could Succeed: It can't. Don't get me started. Constantly connected games are a trend that needed to die yesterday. If you support the notion of always online-DRM (Digital Rights Management), please stop reading, go outside, and walk into oncoming traffic. Actually don't, I don't want your mother suing me when she discovers you've left her basement to follow the advice of someone you met on the internet. Honestly though (and yes, that was sarcastic, I really love you and I'd never say anything that mean), if you can legitimately defend always online-DRM, I'd love to hear your thoughts because, after the Diablo 3 launch and the Sim City fiasco, the always online idea seems like the digital start of the Black Death. Maybe if companies sold heavily chained DRM titles at half price, or even offered incentives for playing online (while still offering the option of an offline single player experience), it could work, but you're still going to have to sell me on the idea before getting me aboard that Titanic. No sir, no ma'am, no thanks!


The Future of Gaming?

The Rumor: The Next Xbox will Require the Kinect 2.0 be Enabled to Play: Big brother is watching you references aside, the Kinect is little more than a decent idea that's been poorly executed. Could it succeed? Absolutelyif you can forget about the mandatory airline-hanger-for-a-living-room that's required to enjoy it, and the fact that not everyone wants a workout when they sit down to play. Sure, it's innovative, revolutionary, and cutting edge while voice commands are fun (until someone walks through the room while you're playing Madden 13 and calls for a spike on 3rd and 1), but the Kinect generally serves as little more than an entertaining party trick that just isn't necessary in most games. So why make it mandatory?

How it Could Succeed: The Kinect has always had the potential to be something special, though traditionally hindered by the limitations of its own capabilities and design. Microsoft has undoubtedly made significant improvements since its conception, and rumors of the new Kinect being capable of detecting movements from inches away are promising, but the Kinect 2.0 still has miles to go before venturing out from beneath the shadow of its less-than-perfect predecessor. Still, the possibilities are undoubtedly there, and the results could be spectacular if Microsoft managed to implement it properly. Imagine a fighting game that legitimately tracked a player's movements and speed against another combatant? Or a fantasy title that accurately tracked sword-wielding reflexes or spell casting prowess against single player foes or online adversaries? Regardless, if the rumors are true and Microsoft intends to force the Kinect down our throats, they'd better bring a perfected product to the table. No justifications. No work in progress nonsense. No exceptions. If you're going to force gamers to incorporate something new into their traditional habits, you'd better do it as smooth and as gently as possible. Sugarcoat that medicine Microsoft! Or don't feed us a problem we would have lived happily without.

The Rumor: The Next Xbox will Feature 70 dollar Games: Just when the good news of an increase in minimum wage rang through the halls of slums and campus dorms alike--the cold rumor of games increasing to 70 dollars a title has come whispering from the darkness like the icy breath of a shadow. Coincidence? Perhaps. Good move? Absolutely: If you're the one developing or publishing the games and not the sucker paying to play them.

Videogames are already pricey, and the average consumer has to be wise with their purchases, but a ten dollar increase could very well be the breaking point for many. Is now the time to stop our ranting on GameSpot and Facebook and finally let our wallets do the talking? Who do we support? Which is the lesser of two evils? Or does the new $70 become the old $60 as we line up like sheep for Call of Duty 25, Madden 82, and Assassin's Creed 14?  

Why it Could Succeed: If gamers are willing to throw cash towards day one DLC, micro-transactions, and digital advantages, why wouldn't they be willing to part with a little more money for the games they love?  That's partially the logic behind Microsoft's thinking if the rumors are true, and I'm willing to bet they're banking on the horrible spending habits of gamers and society's need to have the latest and greatest as well. If Apple can manage to sell overpriced phones and computers like snake oil, I'm willing to bet that raising the cost of a game by a measly 10 dollars won't impact a consumer's decisions any more than a speed bump in a parking lot stops them from frequenting their favorite store. If gamers keep inhaling their beloved games like spoiled children eating candy, I'd say a price increase isn't just a good business move, but an obvious evolution only a fool would hesitate in making. Welcome to the future ladies and gentlemen: We reap what we sow.

The Rumor: The Next Xbox will be Less Powerful than the Ps4: The reason I mention this, (and mention it last for that matter) is not as a deal breaker itself, but as another strike if any of the other rumors are true. Sure, the current Xbox and PlayStation are neck to neck graphically now, but Microsoft has managed to appeal to consumers through offers and other incentives that seemingly make it a viable option in relation to its competitors Blu-ray featured console. With the Kinect, a full lineup of multimedia distractions, and a large library of Live Arcade games and other multiplayer features, the current Xbox can afford its graphical similarities and slightly limited functionality while still remaining a successful force in the market. But what happens when you strip away these selling points, add limitations, and throw graphical disparity into the mix? You're left with an inferior system that won't sell unless it's at a dramatically reduced price or marketed to an incredibly susceptible audience. Either way, it's another potential strike in a fierce game that Microsoft won't want to lose.

Why it Could Succeed: Any credible gamer can tell you that graphics aren't everything. The current generation showcases a perfect example with the Wii, which is graphically inferior to both the Xbox 360 and the Ps3, but managed to outsell both systems worldwide.  By lowering the graphical output of its next generation contender, Microsoft is decreasing the cost of the system, increasing their profit margins, and essentially making their model friendlier to fans and holiday shopping parents alike. Besides, if the difference in visuals is minimal, while the difference in price is enough for a few more games, many gamers would spring for the option that netted the bigger short-term payout verse the better long term value.

So, what are your thoughts? If any of the rumors are true, are they enough to keep you away from the next Xbox? If not, why? What is your breaking point and when is enough, enough? And if you do support any of the possible changes, I'd love to hear your arguments why.

Thanks for reading.

-Saigo- Out

The Elements of Horror: Human Fears and why AAA Titles Forsake Them



When we as humans are brought into this world--kicking, screaming, and drowning in the blinding light of our first few breathes--we enter this existence knowing only two inherent fears: The fear of falling, and the fear of loud noises. We laugh, we cry, and we experience as our consciousness expands into the world around us. Our minds, enlightened by an illuminated world of opportunity and possibility, evolve by a need for survival honed evolutionary by the success of our ancestors. We grow, we learn, we adapt, and in the light of our everyday life, fears and phobias silently take root and blossom from the shadows of our traumas and insecurities.

The nature of fear is elusive though many phobias can be traced back to some triggering catalyst. A fear of heights, for example, could be the result of a traumatic fall while a fear of water might stem from a bath-time burn or frightening submersion. Even the act of witnessing fear in others could be enough to trigger a lifelong phobia. While the process is seldom clear, with effects defying the logic of the unafflicted, fear, at its root, can be summed up as a primitive emotion, biochemical reaction, and a learned behavior.

So what makes a book, movie, or videogame scary? We aren't personally experiencing the event and even witnessing it occurs through an altered sense of reality. Yet, we've all had moments in games and movies alike where we've jumped from fear, gripped the sides of our controller or seat in anticipation, or felt the cold rush of adrenaline as we put the lights out, walk terrified across a foreign room with new shadows in every corner, and crawl into a bed that no longer seems safe. Can fear be controlled, channeled, and crafted into the stories we write or the games we play? Can horror be cultivated and molded through a master's touch to rival the living experiences of eating, sleeping, and breathing life? Or does fright ascend beyond the realms of categorized limits and human boundaries, bound by neither, through a mastery of art and prose?

To understand horror in both storytelling and gameplay, we must understand fear at its root. We must acknowledge that beyond the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises inherited as birthright, fear is both a learned and conditioned behavior, and subsequently, can be altered to fit our needs as readers, storytellers, developers, or gamers. While many experience personal fears including, fearing the dark, heights, death, spiders, and aliens on a space station, they remain individualized phobias while fearing the unknown, abandonment, and the prospect of losing control are far more universal and psychologically damaging in nature. While we may fear a spider or snake because of the physically threat they represent, our fears of the unknown or of losing control cut far deeper into our mental and emotional states. Understanding this explains why AAA games like Resident Evil or the Dead Space series can offer the occasional jump of the joystick with their overplayed gore, heavy reliance on dim settings, and ungodly sound effects--while smaller titles like Fatal Frame (Project Zero in Europe and Zero in Japan) or Amnesia: The Dark Descent, offer up something more visceral and haunt us on a much deeper level.

Fatal Frame, which is by far the scariest game I've personally played, haunts and horrifies for multiple reasons. I loved it. I hated it. I never finished it. Perhaps playing alone in the middle of an unlit and unfinished basement was overkill, but the game was horrifying from start to panicked finish. If you haven't played it, the story revolves around Miku Hinasaki, a schoolgirl clad in stereotypical Japanese uniform, armed with an old camera and her physic touch, as she wanders through a demonic mansion in search of her missing brother. Sounds horrifying, right? Like a little Pokemon snap with ghosts? You'd be surprised. Here you face something beyond the realm of the physical, under a distortion of falsified perception, where neither gun, plasma cutter, or professional training matter. You are driven by the believable ambition of saving a sibling as you unravel a history rooted in historical claims and urban legend. You are alone, facing the unknown, and losing control with every step forward. Prepare yourself, and keep a pair of clean underwear nearby because Fatal Frame attacks at the core of life and death and the world that exists between.

So why does it work? Fatal Frame succeeds where others fail by understanding the nature of fear while supplying pseudo moments of calm in a rollercoaster ride of terror. Though you can fight back with your camera in an exposed, tunnel vision manner, the effects are often temporary and vanquished spirits can return through walls, ceilings, and even the floor beneath you. Unlike games where a monster's movements are limited by their environment (windows, doors, and the ventilation), the denizens of Fatal Frame perversely break our physiological boundaries by defying our definitions of reality. Forget the occasional jump or sweaty palms of suspense, Fatal Frame grips in a way that takes weeks, if not months, to pry loose.

Another great example of true horror, though I'm still in the process of completing it, would be Amnesia: The Dark Decent. Amnesia is an Indie game developed by Frictional Games that follows the protagonist Daniel, a gentleman mysteriously stuck in a foreboding castle, as he descends into darkness in search of both his memory and sanity. I know, you'd never guess with a title like that, right? Regardless, the game is terrifying in ways similar to Fatal Frame while creating a character utterly vulnerable to every psychologically whim of the imagination. In Amnesia, even shadows are dangerous as hallucinations break way from paranoia to pure insanity as darkness, or even the close quarters of the castle, begin to close in around you. Forget a gun, knife, or even a camera for that matter: Daniel is completely defenseless in a game that commands suspense through anticipation, uncertainty, and dread.

So why does it work? The horror of Amnesia: The Dark Decent is capitalized by a gradual increase of suspense as the unknown is slowly unraveled to reveal a truth far more frightening than the perceived realities of the game's opening scenes. Here the enemy is unknown, your purpose, mission, and background are equally unexplained, as the atmosphere of emptiness consumes until heightened suspense breaks way to the psychological horrors of the imagination. You are constantly expecting something, and as seconds give way to minutes, that suspense rises like bile in your throat until every sound echoing through the empty corridors becomes another doorway in the halls of your own deepest fears. Amnesia ruthlessly attacks the insecurities of the uncontrollable--the horror of losing our mental cognition and drifting slowly into madness--while driving us forward in torment at a Jigsaw pace. Here, our only hope lies in doing what we fear most: Moving forward, exploring the next room, and facing the horrors of an ever growing sense of insanity.          

While experiencing fear is part of human nature, and the elements of horror exist on many levels of the physical, spiritual, and emotional realms, understanding the phenomenon is neither brain surgery nor holy clergy. So why then is the aspect of capturing fright so elusive to mainstream developers and AAA titles while lesser or independent developers excel with tighter assets and limited resources? Both Fatal Frame and Amnesia: The Dark Decent are master strokes in the genre and yet big named companies continually fail with their offerings. If fear is so readily understood, why aren't game or movie studios pushing the envelope rather than overcompensating with gore and shock tactics? Do software giants fear creating games too scary for the million dollar masses when the medium has far more potential for fright by virtue of forcing the viewer to participate in the horror? Even when big name games like the original Dead Space manage to get it right to some degree, the following sequels abandon fear for accessibility or multiplayer options. Is corporate greed, parallelized by the inability to take a financial risk, killing the genre by making games more accessible to the weak willed and terror sensitive? Now, that's a frightening thought indeed.

Please, post your thoughts. And thank you for reading!

Also, what is the scariest game you've played and why? What worked and what didn't?

-Saigo- Out

Back in the Saddle

About six weeks ago I was at the local boxing gym when I pulled something in my back. I was working with a new girl, (short shorts, tank top, ponytail, green eyes and pink Everlast gloves if you wanted the mental image) and was demonstrating the sweet science of the bob and weave. I dodged low, countered with a smooth sidestep, and felt something pull where the small of my back cordially greets the curve of my butt. I excused myself politely, tried to stretch it out a bit, and finally bowed out in embarrassment as the pain throbbed its way up my shoulder and down the right side of my leg.

By the time I arrived home, I could hardly walk. The muscles in my back were locking up faster than the doors of a Cadillac in this part of town and the pain was sweeping over my senses like a storm tide. I opened the door and collapsed to the floor in a heap. After catching my breath I crawled to the kitchen, pounded four anti-inflammatories, grabbed a heating pad and a bag of ice, and drug my sorry trash to bed. I couldn't move. I couldn't sleep. Sweat was pouring from my body like tsunami rains and every shift of my body became a battle of sheer willpower and iron determination.

This lasted for two weeks.

Finally a concerned friend came over and helped nurse me back to health. She brought food, rubbed me down with Biofreeze, and offered encouraging words (mixed with laughter) as I crawled from one part of my house to another. She was a godsend. Naturally she suggested I sought out professional medical help but without being able to stand, I had no idea how I was going to make it anywhere.

Eventually the pain began to subside and I was able to stand up with support and hobble about my house. I could finally make my way to my desk, grab the mail, and even make it to the couch for a little movie and Xbox action if I propped myself into place and didn't move. My old vigor was returning and each day found me stronger than the day before. My friend took her leave with an unspeakable debt of thanks and life started to fall back into place with a little more purpose than before.

I'd been in bed for weeks with nothing but time to think. Pain can bring perspective, especially when prohibiting you from the everyday things we take for granted, and as I lay in bed with torrential ideas swarming through my mind like hellfire, I felt, for the first time ever, the impending finality of it all. Time is temporal. Health is fleeting. Life ends. I was forced to look inward, to gaze deeply into my wayward soul of denial, procrastination, and excuses--and stare unwillingly into a reality of time wasted, opportunities squandered, and talents forsaken. What was I doing with my life? What would I accomplish? Where were my decisions and actions taking me? Where would it all end? Was this what I wanted?

As I lay in bed reflecting, I realized that the landscape of my decisions was quickly painting the canvas of my dreams into a nightmarish wasteland. Something needed to change before the vibrant yellows, blues, and greens of hope and dreams were washed away forever by the heavy-handed strokes of brown, black, and grey. The present was being altered by both poor decisions and indecision alike and I was pursuing a path of complacency over critique, failure, rejectionand eventual success. Failure is frightening--but the prospect of eternally wondering, what if is far worse. What could I accomplish if I hit the ground running? How deep is the depth of my potential? Something needed to change, or I'd never find out. Time was moving forward and I was stagnating in a pool of self-doubt and justification.

So, dear friends of GameSpot, -Saigo- is back. If I'm going to succeed at this journalist / writing thing--the time is now. My last blog was written over four months ago and that simply isn't acceptable. I have a name, a voice, and I've been given a Soapbox emblem that's in desperate need of a good old polishing. The industry is fierce, the talent is remarkable, but I have a voice and I sure as hell have something to say. It's time to be serious about my future and fight the good fight--regardless of the outcome.

With that said I think it's time to bid you all adieu for the time being. I'll have something legitimate posted by midweek and I'm hoping to have a review up by the weekend. Thanks for reading my nonsense! Also, I'll be part of kicking off GameSpot's official reviewer of the month program (so if you have a good review, drop me a line) as well as kick starting GameSpot's official union for writers: The Writers Roundtable. If you have questions regarding either, let me know and I'll fill you in as soon as I have a chance.

Until next time,

-Saigo- Out

Defining the Editorial

Disclaimer: This is not the greatest editorial in the world. In fact, it's not even a tribute (or an editorial). This is, however, a guide to writing great editorials while increasing your chances of making the front page. In the words of William H. Bonney from Young Guns 2: I'll make you famous.

What an Editorial is Not:

An editorial, by definition, is an opinion piece that extends beyond the opinion of a game, a movie, an object, or the trivial and mundane. An editorial is not an update of your opinion of a certain title, or your opinion of a title after finishing it. An editorial does not ramble randomly. An editorial does not scratch the surface. An editorial is not coverage from a show or your opinion regarding an event. An editorial is never a status update!

Go it? Good. Now for something constructive.

What an Editorial Is:

An editorial is an opinion piece that covers current topics, subjects, arguments and industry trends. A rant about Resident Evil 6 earing a 4.5 review is not an editorial--but writing about modern reviewer's bias towards first parties games is. See the difference? I hope so.

Writing a Great Editorial:

An editorial should be more than just an opinion, even if it's directed towards a larger theme like nudity in games or the rise of mature titles: A great editorial backs its argument with facts, cited when necessary, and is knowledgeable about both sides of an issue. A great editorial includes as many of the 5 w's when necessary (who, what, when, where, and why) but expands beyond stereotypical writing and includes the why it's important to readers and the why they should care. Naturally, it's better to show in writing than it is to tell with words, and that's just as applicable with editorial writing.

The best editorials also cover issues currently trending. This means being aware of the world around you and the workings of the industry and its audience. It takes time, it takes being knowledgeable about a broad spectrum of topics, and it means taking a little heat from your readers from time to time. You can't write to please everyone! Besides, if all gamer's had educated opinions, Call of Duty as a franchise wouldn't have existed after the second installment of Modern Warfare 2. See what I did there? Now, if I was writing an editorial I'd back that opinion with fact. Oh, and did I mention a great editorial invites conversation? Well, there you go.

Finally, the greatest secret to becoming a good writer--be it with blogging, writing editorials, or just writing assignments for class--is simple: Read often, write often. It takes practice, and even professionals have off days. Push yourself, but be forgiving if you don't succeed right away. And don't think I'm joking about reading either! Learn from the masters! Better men and women have gone on before you and you'd be a fool to not learn from their example. Besides, if you don't enjoy reading you might as well give up the craft of writing right now. That's right, turn that TV on and drift back into insignificance. The two go hand in hand.

Well, I hope that helps. Anyone interested in having their work featured on the front page should check out writing for Chalk Talk first. Many of us got our start there and the topics are always interesting. Also, add me as a friend or drop me a line if you need a little help. I've been fortunate enough over the years to receive a lot of help from others so I'm more than willing to return the favor to anyone interested in improving their writing.

~Saigo Out~

A Gamer's Guide to Back to School

Whether school started weeks ago or haunts your future like a blind date, your charming and oddly irresistible friend -Saigo- has your best interests in heart. In fact, his "Back to School" guide (with the gamer in mind) is so ripe with riveting wisdom and essential insight that you'd be a fool to forsake it! If education, regardless of your grade level or aspiration, is still on your horizon, then sit back, relax, and enjoy this outpouring of knowledge! But if you've somehow managed to crawl through your own academia then move along...and move along quickly! You free people with your jobs and careers and money aren't welcomed here! And be quiet! People are studying!

Anyhow, I've written five steps to make the transition from summer slumber to fall frenzy as easy as possible and I hope it helps. I've just begun my senior year as a journalism major and after changing the direction of my career from law (as in lawyer), to forensics (CSI is a lie), to English (gag me), and finally to journalism (yay!)...I think I've figured this school thing out. So, without further ado, here are the 5 steps to making education a better experience, from a gamer, to a gamer, and I sincerely hope they help.

Step 1: Join a Club--Make new Friends

Almost every school you'll attend will have fun and active clubs of all shapes and sizes to join, add to your post-academic résumé, and have a little fun with throughout the year. Besides, clubs are a great way to relax, branch out a little, and even learn new skills as you meet others with similar interests and hobbies. Convenient, isn't it? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking clubs like the Chess club (unless Chess is your thing), I mean clubs like anime clubs, video game clubs, and even cuddle clubs (yes my school has one and no I've never found the need to go). Honestly, check out your local campus's Clubs and Organizations office and they'll have you on your way in no time...or just Google clubs and organizations at your school and you'll be surprised at the options you have.

Nothing too interesting? Create your own! A lot of schools offer scholarship funding to successful clubs and will even offer grant money if you can sell the organization's board on the idea. Now get to it!

Step 2: Meet with an Academic Counselor and Evaluate your Goals

The best advice I can give you is to talk with an academic advisor, regardless of your current grade level, as quickly as possible. Explain your dreams, your ambitions, and what you want college to be. They'll set out the classes you'll need, the requirements of your program, and even correct your major depending on your interests and priorities. Take video game writing for example. Maybe your university has a game development program that minors in game writing--or maybe it doesn't and a degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing is your best bet to break into the field. Either way, and even if you think you know what you're doing, meeting with an academic advisor could take months, if not years, off the time it takes for you to finish your degree and get on with whatever career your heart desires.

Step 3: Stay in Touch with Old Friends

Just because you've moved, found new friends, and are dating a significant other, it doesn't give you an excuse to forget your roots or forget your old friends. Besides, with social services like Facebook, Twitter, Xbox LIVE and the Ps3 network, chatting and gaming with your old mates is still as rewarding as it was when they lived down the street. After all, a new beginning doesn't have to be an old end. Expand your world! Don't just move to the next phase of it.

Step 4: Evaluate your Perspective

Deciding on a career isn't an easy choice: You'll spend years of your life earning a degree to get a job you're stuck with for years afterwards. Is money a factor? Absolutely. It has to be to some degree or we'd all be doing volunteer work! But it shouldn't be the only factor in deciding a career because doing something you hate, regardless of how much you make, is only going to lead to a miserable life full of deathbed regrets. Life is just too short to be miserable for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week!

Now some of you are lucky in the sense that you'll make good money at something you genuinely love doing, but for the rest of us it pays to take a step back and re-evaluate our perspective. Do you want to review games for a living? Great! Just don't expect to drive a Ferrari or to date a supermodel. You'll be playing games for a living but it's still work and I'm sure Carolyn Petit and Mr. VanOrd would both attest that reviewing games can be stressful, demanding, and often unrewarding when uneducated and biased prats are constantly complaining about scores because they differ from their opposing opinions. Remember the Zelda: Skyward Sword review? I don't want to shatter your dreams but taking a step back and re-evaluating your hopes is safer in school and a lot less painless than waiting for that backhand of cold hard facts we call real life. Just be honest with yourself--it'll save you a lot of heartache down the road.

Step 5: Have Fun!

Think about it this way: Every moment can either last the second it occurs in time--or it can last forever. Do you want your youthful memories to be full of digitalized the-princess-is-in-another-castle type adventures...or memories of real maidens (or princes if that's your fancy), epic conquests, and glorious tales of victory? Would you rather have the accomplishments of your life summed up by a pile of beaten game cases...or by something that actually matters?

Now don't get me wrong, gaming is important to all of us, that's why we're here, but there's a time and place for it just like there's a time and place for socializing, studying, and sleeping. Even though you have more freedom to do what you want--you still have to be responsible--and this is coming from someone who had to plea with the bigwigs after getting my packing papers at the end of my first WoW induced semester. Perfect time to discover the game, right? But I'm saying this because I care, and I'm pleading with you because I've been there and was lucky enough to be given another chance. Just be smart about it and save yourself the heart attack and stress! Prioritize your responsibilities, and when you have time, game like every second counts...because it does.

Well, that's my two cents...and since I started classes a week ago I've got homework to do and deadlines to make. Best wishes and good luck to all of you, or, in the words of Gandalf of Narnia, "May the force be ever in your favor."

-Saigo- Out

PS: Let me know if any of you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to help out.

To Forgive and Forget

I've never been the forgiving type: Cross me once and you won't get close enough to do it again. Maybe I have trust issues? Maybe I'm slightly more intelligent than I am kind? Or maybe I just don't care. Either way, I don't forgive--I dont forget--and I don't go passively into the night: If you've seen the color of my blood, I'll know the color of yours soon enough.

Now dont get me wrong, there are exceptions, and I'm not the type to bring the pain for every childhood travesty or adolescent nightmare I've endured. Take family for example, you're kind of stuck with them right? And how can you stay mad at people as beautiful as you anyways!? Even cousins and extended family get a longer leash...but take my kindness for a weakness? You'll get hit twice as hard. It's the principle of the thing and I've got a reputation to keep, you understand, right?

So what happens when a game developer breaks my trust? You guessed it: One and done. Peter Molyneux of "Fable" fame guaranteed a masterpiece with "Fable 2" and lost a customer for life. Activision / Treyarch promised a new "Call of Duty" game but lost my business when I opened another map pack. The masterminds behind "Metal Gear" had me salivating for Snake's story in "Sons of Liberty" but one frosty-haired emo later and I haven't played another Metal Gear game since.

After all, it's one thing to create a mediocre product and let your customers judge its content, but another to promise the world and charge full price for a chunk of soil and a cup of water. Sure, you might get your 60 dollars today--but you'll never see a cent from me tomorrow. Simply put: If you want my business, don't piss on me and tell me it's raining.

Of course there are exceptions with game developers too, there has to be, and I'm far more forgiving of a company who sincerely attempts to redeem itself with a stellar encore to compensate for a mundane opening act. Take "Mario 2" to "Mario 3" for example, or the transition of the second "Grand Theft Auto" to the third. Now I'm not saying that either prequel was bad, not many bad games get sequels after all, but the reinvention of both franchises solidified them as industry leaders and fans the world over were quick to forget about their less-than-ideal pasts.

Another example of a less-than-perfect game series that earns a "forgiveness freebee" is the "Elder Scrolls" franchise. Bethesda, bless their nerdly hearts, couldn't manage a bug free release if the sanctity of their sacred virginity depended on it. People expect it, just like they expect Bethesda to deliver a dynamic and engrossing experience on the grand scale, and year in and year out they deliver. Besides, Bethesda does a fairly good job of patching and updating their products in a timely manner as compensation. Could it be better? Sure. But most people let it slide because their games are often so superior, even in a fundamentally broken state, than the majority of the current titles and name-brand-milk-jobs on the market today.

In truth, Bethesda is like that idiot friend we all have (unless you are that idiot friend) who has the best intentions in the world but cant do anything right without a few mishaps along the way. Sure they screw up and screw up often (Brink anyone?) but we appreciate them, admire their devotion to the craft, and acknowledge the good they do because, well, when they finally pull it off--they shoot the lights out. Putting their legal department aside, Bethesda is a developer who has earned its spot as an exception in the world of forgive and forget. As long as they continue to raise the bar with depth and gameplay, continue to update and improve their releases, and continue to keep the art and craft their primary focus in development: Bethesda will remain a developer whose flaws I can overlook.

So what do you think? Any games / series that get the forgiveness go ahead that you wouldn't offer a similar title or franchise under the same circumstances? And do you think we have a tendency to treat the games we care about a little harsher than those of just another standard release?

I'd love to hear your opinions.

~Saigo Out~

Hello Stranger

Well...I'm back.

Funny how a planned two week break turns into an unexpected 6 month hiatus when the sites in shambles eh? What a mess! Of course Synthia, Carolyn Petit, Kevin V, Brendan Sinclair, and even BouBou are doing their best--hell, most of the staff are performing exceptionally--but the site seems determined to stagger deafly into oblivion as its faithful scream in protest. Will GameSpot's swan song be the cries of its faithful--or will the voice of reason be heard before the talent of the community departs for the greener pastures of the interwebz?

As for me, I think I'll make one last run at it for old times sake. I suppose Gamespot deserves at least that much right?

You see, many years ago a handsome chap, known to you as Saigo, staggered onto a site called Gamespot. Enthralled, he clicked links here, there, and everywhere and before he knew it, he had fallen in love with something special. He loved the staff, he loved the coverage, the carefree mixture of humor and fact, and above all, he loved the community. He loved everything Gamespot was and it broke his heart to see his gaming utopia torn asunder and gutted with dismiss as suits and sophists clanked their campaign glasses and discussed shareholder options and caviar.

Yet, after many hours of mediation, and of course the traditional trek up the mountainside to visit the local wise man, I've decided to do my part and hope for the best. Everyone knows Gamespot needs fixed, and we all know its taken far longer than anyone thought possible, but I suppose I'm willing to give it a little longer for loyalties sake. You see, amidst the fiery rubble of fallen features and the broken remains of abandoned profiles--Ive discovered a whisper of hope amongst the ashes: Chalk Talk. Oh, you've never heard it of it? Let me explain.

Simply put, Chalk Talk is the love child of crusty old Mr. Soapbox and the ever sultry Mrs. HotSpot (God that sounds awful). But seriously, check it out here, the concept is brilliant and it's a great way for many of us to get the exposure we've always wanted. Besides, rumor has it that it'll be a front page feature if it gets enough support and that's something we've been vying for since the untimely death of the decrepit soapbox of old. So lets get on it!

Anyhow, thats all I've got this go around but feel free to share your thoughts and opinions however you'd like. I'll be writing my own Chalk Talk entry sometime tomorrow and then its back to business mode with my blogging. Expect the best--and expect it often.

Also, if you're leaving the site (since a lot of people are), please drop me a line before you go or keep in touch with me via Twitter @SaigoStyle or Steam @ -saigo- (Same avatar).

~Saigo Out~

The Winds of Change

Want to see some changes to the user reviews here at GameSpot? Boom: Click Here (PS: It's a simple yes or no so you don't have an excuse!)

Right now it's nothing more than a numbers game to prove to the developers that changes are wanted and worth their time over other projects. I'd personally like to see some kind of organization applied that categorized contributions by a thumbs up / down ratio, the overall score of a review, reviews written by those with top 100 / 500 reviewer badges or even a sortable by author option. It seems like an easy fix and besides, I rather have the opinions of hundreds of biased fools than the opinion of one professional one! Zing!

Reviews not your thing? Want to see some changes / updates to Unions? Vote Yes or No here: Union Reform (And if you have a great union you'd love to share, drop me an invite!) Like I said above, right now it's all a numbers game but one that gives us a chance to put our opinions on paper. Besides, it takes less than 10 seconds. Do it. Now. Even if you're slightly impartial to the whole thing. A unified community voice while be the wind in the sail of change on the CBS GameSpot—or if they refuse—the cannon rounds that sink her.

Remember: You only have a voice when you chose to speak. Speak up!

~Saigo Out~


Happy New Year everyone! Wait, what? That was over a month ago? Seriously!?

I know, I know, I'm kidding. This blog is New Year's oriented and it's late on purpose: I like New Year resolutions but I don't like the majority of people who make them. Most so called New Year's "resolutionists" are just talk these days: Broken promises, fake smiles and feigned sincerities with their conscious soothing resolutions and popular catchphrases about "change," and "yes we can!" They tell themselves the same lies year in and year out and manage to convince themselves for 2 weeks that, "this is the year" before they revert back to the comforting habits of their insignificance. Kind of sounds like politics doesn't it?

Regardless, the world is a horrible place: People are cruel, cowardly, selfish, lazy, and spiteful of those who succeed. We've become "resolutionists" by nature, loving talk without action, and we crucify those who attempt to transcend beyond the established norms of our conditioning. We love the game of appearing better but refuse to make the sacrifices of actually being better!

Complacency is the new casual, mediocrity is celebrated, and technology is our elective amnesia of choice. Society wants us to live, breath, and die uninspired because change—true change—requires a reorganization of the current system and a call for revolut—oh wait, the games on! Would you mind grabbing the Cheetos while you're up? Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, regardless of your place on the totem pole, people don't like change, and if you're going to break out of the system, people aren't going to like you either.

But what if you genuinely want to change? What if your resolutions are real and you're determined to defy your circumstances and forge a new you amidst the ashes of our broken society?

So much of life revolves around standards and habits, make you or break you, you're eventually stuck with the seeds of dozens of small decisions that transform both you and the legacy you leave. We become what we set out to be, either consciously or subconsciously, we become the living, breathing, reality of our thoughts. Is that destiny set in stone? No. Are you limited by your inherited frailties, handicaps, or weaknesses? Only if you chose to be. Are you a failure if you falter in your ambitions, fail to seize the day, or flat out fall on your face before the finish line? Only if you stay down. Remember: You define you—no one else has that right, no one else knows your heart or the depths of your potential, and no one can measure the passion of your soul. You are unique, you are incomparable, and you have the power and ability to do what you alone can do so do it! Your potential is beyond limitation! Leave your legacy! You may not determine the beginning or the end—but the journey is entirely up to you.

Those who sincerely want something, those who desperately need something, aren't going to wait for a new year to roll around or another special condition or circumstance to start making a change. They don't need new clothes to start working out, they don't need a fancy goal calendar to start tracking their progress, and they don't need a ready-set-go to get them started. If you want something bad enough—you'll start making strides towards it the second it passes through the conscious stream of your thoughts, society be damned, you'll do what needs to be done. So if your resolutions have fallen to the wayside and your six pack dreams have materialized into frosty bottles in your fridge, take a step away from the computer, find a mirror, and brace yourself for a decision.

Ready? Let's do this! Take a good long look in that mirror, steady yourself, steel your nerve and ask: What do I want in life? No really, I'm being serious. Deep down inside, below the opinions and dreams of others, past your darkest fears and deepest self-doubts and beyond the lights of your truest convictions exists a solitary vision of who you were meant to be. Find it—seize it—never let go! The world will oppose you, society will stomp on your sparks in fear of flames, and even your closest friends will piss on the embers to stop you from reaching this divine potential—but I beg you—let your fire burn!

Ambition, practice, and dedication can overcome talent, genius, and naturally ability if you're committed to the cause, look within, and find your purpose. Are you ready? We all have something to offer regardless of age, skill, experience or insight, so let it shine! Break free from the "resolutionist" mindset and let your talents burst forth like an inferno sprung from the depths of your innermost passions! Start today, never look back, never give in—never give up.

So, what are you doing with your life? Time's ticking.


~Saigo Out~


As I sit and read your comments and blogs I can't help but imagine the faces behind the anonymous words, avatar images, and blog posts. "Who am I talking to?" I ask myself. "What are they really like? What if it's someone I know? Maybe it's someone famous!? Would I like them in real life or would their true identity ruin our friendship?" The more I think about it, the more I wonder—and the more I wonder, the more curious I become. It's just peculiar to me to think that the internet is a social network of strangers who converse regularly through chat rooms, forums, Fuse, or Twitter but could walk right past each other in real life without realizing it. Maybe that's even happened between you and I? Maybe—we know each other already. Maybe, we frequent the same restaurants or chat unknowingly at our favorite game store? Who knows!?

Yet, in many ways, from the blogs you write to the comments you make, I feel like I know a lot of you already. Honestly, I'd even consider a few of you my friends. So from my obnoxious avatar to my mysterious internet friends across the world: This blog's for you!

Let me explain: This is not the greatest blog in the world, no. This is just a tribute. This is just a tribute! You gotta believe it! A bit tenacious? Maybe. But seriously, this blog is a tribute to my friends here at GameSpot and my perceptions of both their personalities and their looks: I might not know how they look or how they act in real life—but I can imagine it! I enjoy reading their works and love their comments and contributions and I wanted to take a moment to honor them in a fun and creative way. To me, these are the people who make GameSpot what it is and so this blog is dedicated to them—the mysterious identities of the community—and the personalities I've grown to love.

Pokecharm – Anyone who reads either of our blogs knows that Pokecharm and I are birds of a feather, partners in crime, tag team champions of the world, and superhero sidekicks battling the forces of evil! But what does she look like behind the superhero spandex and the mask?

Pokecharm is random, excitable, and passionate about what she believes in and she's not afraid to speak her mind regardless of popular opinion, protocol, or perception. She says what she wants to—when she wants to—and she's tactful and popular enough to get away with it. Aside from her bad taste in hockey teams and football organizations, Pokecharm is suave, cool and stylish, and if you're not following her already you're missing out.

Dylan417 – Dylan417 is the mysterious type: Quiet, reserved, and antisocial—is it any wonder that he idolizes all things Batman? Though his choice of casual wear and fantasy football skills come up wanting, he writes a mean blog that remains interesting and enjoyable through every posting.

When I think of Dylan417 I always imagine him in character. Who knows why? It just fits. Besides, sometimes you fit a persona so well it becomes you. If you're not following his contributions then hop to it! He puts a lot of time and effort into everything he posts and the results speak for themselves.

Aerobie – Aerobie is a rarity with his uncommonly sincere attitude and genuinely good guy beliefs that transcend beyond his blog posts and comments here at the site. He's philosophically wise, practical, and a student of the eastern arts with wisdom flowing through his words like a river of truth through the valleys of ignorance. I enjoy his insight, perspective, value the opinions he shares and would love to sit down and discuss games and philosophy with him over a friendly cup of green tea any day.

Synthia – As Synthia, Fragg Kitten, or even Big Momma Gamer, Synthia is synonymous with the community and works harder than most realize to keep GameSpot fun, friendly, intuitive, and our internet home of choice. I love Synthia! From her love of games to her hate of bullies—Synthia is a gaming saint walking among peasants! Even though she won't follow me on Twitter, I have nothing but the utmost respect for everything she does here at the site and GameSpot simply wouldn't be the same without her. Please always be respectful to her and if you've got the time, drop her a PM and say thanks! Synthia truly is a voice of the people!

Setho10 – Setho is smart, suave, and sophisticated and it shows in the way he writes and posts. Uneducated ingrates beware: Setho's posts are generally not for the mediocre of mind or the cognitively casual. I actually don't know Setho as well as I probably should but his works are both enjoyable and fascinating while his pen is as sharp as his mind. Follow him if you think you can keep up.

Asagea_888 – Asage is one of the few people you'll meet in life whose sincerity is matched only by his genuineness. He's one of those guys you trust, you respect, and you admire for actually being a good guy when good guys are hard to find. He cares about his family, his friends, and he's the type of guy you feel comfortable loaning money or games to because you know he'll return them on time with a plate of cookies for your kindness! Seriously. Asage is that nice.

nate1222 – Nate is an interesting fellow and someone I'd love to sit down and chat with. He's philosophically sound, well read, educated, and has an invaluable perspective that many could learn from. Look for his comments scattered about the site and if you're not following him already then get on it!

Rocker6 – I really like Rocker6, from his insightful comments to his drive to improve himself as a writer, he just has his heart in the right place. For someone who speaks English as his second language, his ability to communicate and express himself is remarkable, and his humility and nonjudgmental mannerisms are inspiring. Rocker6 is a great guy who writes a great blog and keeps things interesting and enlightening!

auron11022 – Auron is grumpy, to the point, and almost always right. He's insightful, slightly sour, not always tactful, and although he scares children and small animals he manages to write brilliantly with the mannerisms of a genuine scholar. Auron has the natural ability to take even the most technical topics and transform them into easily read and understood dissertations that could educate even the densest of fans and followers. Auron, I salute you!

adam1808 – Adam is synonymous with rage—boiling, spewing, violent—nerd rage. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy and read practically everything he posts but he has his opinions and he's not afraid to share them. Actually, Adam doesn't share opinions, sharing denotes an act of kindness: Adam opinion rapes people and they thank him for it. For controversy and heresy walking the line between insanity and blasphemy—Adam's blog is one you can sorely afford to miss.

NColdhardt – NColdhardt is crazy cool—literally. I love the guy like he loves posting incriminating photographs of himself on reddit (apparently). Seriously though, NColdhardt's a good guy who's down for the cause and not afraid to state his opinions to the powers that be. Bold, noble, and assertive, NColdhardt has your back thick and thin until cadavers show up!