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Humor - Don't cross the streams!

Visiting the men's room today I approached the urinal much as I would on any other day, only this time something was different. I had two streams instead of one.

Now the ladies may not realize it, but every so often our stream will fire off at an odd angle and we'll have to do some quick course corrections to keep everything aimed in the right direction. Two streams, however, is unprecedented in my experience.

It naturally righted itself and merged as I completed my business, but all the same I was worried at the instant before the two streams became one. Was all life as I knew it about to stop instantaneously and every molecule in my body going to explode at the speed of light? You know, a total protonic reversal?

But all remains right with the universe.

So far.


Index to Humor entries

Gamespot Cribs: GabuEx

If you're anything like me, you enjoy seeing how other gamers have set up their pad. Whether they're using a television and console, projector, desk and PC, how they have their home theater set up, if they're gaming on headphones (and if so, what kind?), the combination of consumer electronics is seemingly endless.

In the second Gamespot Cribs we are invited to visit the humble domain of one of our volunteer moderators, GabuEx.

Primary Workstation

GabuEx resides in a modest 700 square foot one-bedroom apartment. He unabashedly prefers function over form, with a minimalist all-IKEA setup and white walls. Then again, if it's good enough for professional architects, why not our Moderator of Distinction?

You can click most images to enlarge

The spartan interior only highlights the technology strewn throughout the apartment. The bulk of his time is spent at the desk in the corner. The desk would send an obsessive compulsive into cardiac arrest and confound Interpol in an investigation, but GabuEx is at home in the clutter. "I've given up attempting to clean it up, because every time I do it just gets instantly messy again." It's not all high technology, though. GabuEx is a cat-lover, and that passion is displayed throughout his apartment. He keeps pictures of one former feline tenant over his desk alongside a poster awarded by Gamespot for being named Moderator of the Month.

His sole computer, a Alienware M17x laptop, is a sexy powerhouse. GabuEx loves the combination of power and portability. "I don't actually own a desktop computer, mostly on account of the fact that I can afford a laptop that can do everything a desktop could do." The laptop is connected to a Linksys WRT150N Wireless-N router, which in turn is connected to a Motorola SB5101SURFboard cable modem. He enjoys the convenience of a Logitech G35 headset whenever he is doing something requiring voice command, particularly since it removes any concern about the position of the microphone. GabuEx also keeps both a Nintendo DS and a 3DS handy next to his laptop because hey, what else are you going to do while waiting for Gamespot Live streams to buffer? And yes, that's an original DS, "I never saw the point in upgrading to a DS Lite or DSi since the phat DS worked perfectly well - so I didn't.".

To be sure, GabuEx keeps his desk messy, but not dirty. GabuEx surrounds himself in games, both online and off, as evidenced by an unfinished Rubik's Cube variant ("No, I've never solved it. Not even close."), spare camera battery, SD card, and notepad and paper for taking notes while gaming. Read those notes carefully and you might find that Warp Whistle you wanted.

Tonight's lasagna, or the secret path through The Lost Woods?

Console Gaming Epicenter: XBox360, Wii, PS2

The gigantic 36" x 24" bald eagle picture that decorates the wall was taken by GabuEx at the Seattle Zoo. It overlooks a comprehensive gaming hardware portfolio. All of the consoles feed into a 32" Sony Bravia KDL-32M4000, whose piano gloss black finish matches the minimalist theme of the apartment. "A bit on the small side as far as HDTVs go, but I never really felt like I needed a bigger one." All of the controllers sit on top of the desk, making it easy to pick up any game across any console on-the-fly. You'll find here Wiimotes, a Wii CIassic controller, a Gamecube controller, a Controller Pro, an Xbox 360 controller, and two PS2 controllers. His most recently played games sit close at hand, though his larger gaming library is only a few feet away on shelving to the left of the entertainment center.

Of particular note is the USB TV Box. GabuEx uses the box to record segments for his Unsung Greats of Gaming series. The box allows him to record from the A/V output of his consoles to his computer. The only thing that might truly appear out of place among the impressive hardware is one cheap-looking DVD player. "I bought (it) literally to see one single DVD, which was Arashi no Yoru Ni, or Stormy Night. It was TOTALLY WORTH IT."

Peripheral Lover

Most every bit of clutter has a purpose. The exposed USB cables from his consoles are at the ready should GabuEx have the desire to hook up his drums and Mic for some Rock Band. No need to find the cables when they're at the ready, after all. He's also got a Cobalt Flux Dance Pad, last used with DDR Extreme 2. He loves high-quality rhythm game peripherals, "I have an Ion drum kit for regular/pro drums, a full-size Fender Strat for regular guitar, and a smaller Fender Mustang for pro guitar. I also intend to get the Squier Strat for pro guitar, but I haven't gotten around to it yet."

What we've learned about GabuEx

  • GabuEx loves cats
  • He is a multiplatform guru
  • He plays guitar
  • He loves rhythm games
  • He is a programmer
  • He is a total geek: And proud of it
  • He enjoys Anime
  • He is certainly not OCD!

My personal thanks to GabuEx for putting himself out there to make this article come together. I hope I'm not alone when I say that your pad is geektastic!



I hope you've enjoyed reading about GabuEx's gaming systems, how they are set up, and why. Following are some additional images, including gaming libraries, for additional context.

For detailed images of the titles on the above shelves, click the following links: Top Shelf, Second Shelf, Third Shelf, Bottom Shelf


-Disclosure-

Gamespot Cribs was created by Bozanimal, who is not a Gamespot employee, and is not affiliated with any gaming companies in any way. Both the Gamespot and MTV Cribs logo have been used without permission and will be removed upon request. Gamespot Cribs is inspired by MTV Cribs. You can learn more about MTV Cribs on the MTV site (Source).

Several links within this article may lead to external sites. Neither Bozanimal nor host Gamespot.com or affiliates are responsible for the content of those sites.

Community Game Night - Team Fortress 2

Gamespot Community Game Night (GCGN) is built around the desire to gather Gamespotters together for some fun outside the site. Over the years Gamespot community manager JodyR has been the driving force behind GCGNs for Command & Conquer, Halo, Warcraft, Quake, Grand Theft Auto, Mario Kart Wii, and dozens of others. It's a wonderful event, and it makes sense that a gaming site would regularly host events in various games to build community relations. In fact, I'm surprised that more staffers are not required to attend on a regular basis.

I have not participated in many, being occupied between the triplets, work, and chores. Game night times typically conflict with my schedule or are for a platform or title I am not interested in playing (the upcoming "Cars 2 Game Night," comes to mind). If a game comes up that's in my collection and on a night that I can participate, though, I do my best attend.

The end result is usually a series of humiliating - yet entertaining - losses on my part, and my two days of practice on Team Fortress 2 was no exception. Had you filmed my character exclusively, you could have made the most impressive backstabbing montage ever created. Unfortunately, I had trouble enjoying myself, and that's because of the way the evening began.

What happened?


I logged into Gamespot Chat (Warning: Requires Java) about an hour early, figuring that one or more of the game hosts would be making sure everything was set up and working properly, possibly getting in some practice, chatting, and otherwise interacting with whatever community members happened to be there. As it turns out, no Gamespot staffers were on-hand and Steam's server browser for Team Fortress 2 was down (more on that shortly). It was Dan_Lero, myself, and about a half-dozen other Gamespotters simply chatting up until around 7:30PM EST when more folks started to filter in.

JodyR showed up about a half-hour prior and announced she had just started downloading the game. Downloading a game the size of Team Fortress 2, installing it, setting it up, potentially troubleshooting any issues, and getting online takes more than a half-hour. As it was she did, in fact, have difficulty because that install put her at her hard drive capacity, causing her all kinds of computer issues. Her ability to correct said issues was impressive, but it was not until at least a half-hour after start time that she was able to start fragging players. Synthia failed to show up until about five minutes after start time, and the consensus between JodyR and her was that the plan was to server hop.

Now if you've ever played online FPSs (first-person shooters) you know that public server hopping is awkward, at the least, and prone to random disconnects and horrible lag at the worst. My skepticism was, unfortunately, vindicated by the inability of Steam to refresh available Team Fortress 2 servers in its browser (this is how players choose specific servers, for the most part).

Now none of this might seem like a big deal. Gamespot staffers were planning on just showing up, grabbing a server, and telling everyone to hop on. You have to remember, though, everything I said earlier. It takes a lot of effort for me to ensure I am able to participate:

  • Download the game on Sunday
  • Schedule time in first half of the week to run tutorials and get some practice. This is time away from chores, to some degree my kids (mostly in bed), and studying (professional licensing).
  • This involves getting my wife to take care of a couple extra chores, also, which means her schedule is impacted.
  • Logged in early to make sure everything was working in case I had issues.

You might understand, then, why I felt that Gamespot did not respect my time by preparing more in advance. I do not feel that I am asking much to have a little more than a date and game picked, but some preparedness for technical challenges, as well. And snacks; one Sandvich is just not enough!

How did Gamespot Community Game Night happen, then, if the server browser was down?


As it turned out, I had a fix: That's right, me! In the prior night of practice Team Fortress 2 asked if I wanted to add a server to my favorites, so I did. I did not know it at the time, but this allowed me to save certain server details, including IP address. As it happened, when I tried to get in directly I could connect, even if it did not show up in the server browser. I sent the details to the Gamespot Chat Room and in no time everyone was in and playing, (though games were limited to the type permitted by the server).

I might not be an MVP insofar as my capabilities in-game, meaning I made a wonderful piñata for Engineer Turrets and a marshmallow for Pyros most of the night, but I was happy to be able to help and get the Game Night going.

Whaddaya want, a medal, eh? Or an apology there, Mr. Whiny-face?


Oh, don't mistake me, this is just a rant. Everything turned out fine and everyone had a great time. I'm thankful Gamespot set a date for everyone to play. Still, a little more preparation and communication were warranted, and I personally would have had less anxiety that all the time I'd devoted in evenings prior was about to go to waste. I had the same anxiety about the Quake 15th anniversary Game Night, which I missed because specific plans - a game version, server, etc. - were not nailed down until the day of the event.

Good God, can you complain, Boz! Did you even have fun? or should I back up the Wah!mbulance?


I am still trying to figure out certain things in TF2, like communicating and kneeling, so I am lacking in screenshots from GCGN, but I believe the following summarizes the evening well (with me as the Engineer):

Maybe I'm exaggerating; I did get a chance to play as most of the cIasses available, and did very well as a Medic. However, my attempts to play a Demoman, Sniper, or (shudder) Scout went very poorly. Still, I did chop up a few players with the Medic's Bonesaw, went on a couple killing sprees with a fully-charged Medic and a partner (Whoo, can the Pyro do some damage!), and enjoyed watching players pour through my Teleporter or hug my Dispenser as an Engineer (my Turrets seemed to be Spy magnets). I also had a few good runs with both the Heavy and the Soldier.

Really, I had a blast, and stayed up way too late.

Steam: Welcome to the 21st Century

I did something unusual this weekend: I downloaded Steam. For the uninitiated, Steam - or Steam Powered, as it is formally known - is an online video game store that distributes its titles digitally. Players use the term "Steam" to describe the store and its software interchangably. The service also verifies software licenses for several retail titles, should you have bought a participating multiplayer game with Steam support in-store. Steam is owned by Valve Software.

I know that digital distribution is the future of video game sales, but I've never been keen on the necessity of an internet connection to play a game unless it is the nature of the game to be connected, like World of Warcraft. Otherwise I like to have a disk and be able to play whether I'm plugged in or stranded in the middle of Iowa.

That said, Team Fortress 2 became free to play last week via Steam, so I had to sign up for an account. I've always been a huge Unreal Tournament fan, I love cel-shading, and I'm obnoxiously cheap, so it was a natural combination.

Click the image to download Team Fortress 2 for free!

I'm still wary of Steam; the software just creeps me out as a bit invasive, but Valve has an excellent reputation and the service is well-reviewed. Still: What happens if Valve is acquired by Electronic Arts or (horror!) Activision? Will they safeguard my information or start spamming me endlessly and auction off my user data to the highest bidder?

Paranoia aside, there is a Team Fortress 2 game night coming up, and I want to be prepared. I have multiple cIasses to learn in order to not get completely squashed by my peers. Want to join in the madness?

  • Gamespot Community Game Night
  • When: June 29 starting at 5pm PT (8pm EST)
  • Where: Game Night Chatroom and in-game!
  • What: Team Fortress 2 - Free to Play version

If you have any tips, comments, or insight regarding Steam or the upcoming Game Night, or strategies on countering a Heavy effectively, please leave them in the comment section below.

Happy gaming!

This is How I Would Make Video Game History

This is an entry for the "How to Better Video Games" blog contest.


CONSOLE WARS - EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE PHONES

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Console


Consoles are going to die a horrible, horrible death due to pervasive, systematic problems with the structure of the industry. Just as Netflix toppled Blockbuster and the music industry has been crippled by the almighty MP3, consoles are soon to have their backbones broken as they fail to keep pace with changing technology standards.

Well, maybe.


Consoles Are Hot From A Business Standpoint
From a developer standpoint, consoles are a dream:

  • Consoles offer a standardized hardware platform
    I can make a game for the XBox360, PS3, or Wii and it is guaranteed to work on any of their respective consoles. The same cannot be said for personal computer software.
  • Consoles make piracy difficult
    You need to have a physical disc to play and, while there are hacks out there, piracy is difficult for the average gamer.
  • They support traditional distribution models
    For over four decades home video game consoles have used the same distribution model. The names have changed from Electronic's Boutique and Software Etc. to Gamestop, Wal*Mart, and Amazon, but the retail packaged game is pretty much the same. While online services like Steam and console stores are making headway, blockbuster titles like franchise sequels for Gears of War and Grand Theft Auto and are still primarily sold through retail copies, and consoles account for the vast majority of those sales.
  • Consoles are simple
    Not everyone is capable of owning and operating even a budget gaming PC. Running the latest titles on a PC typically requires some degree of savvy to keep drivers up to date and troubleshoot issues; consoles just work. You put in the disc, turn it on, and it works: No installation necessary.

Console manufacturers will hang on to the current model for as long as possible because it is very profitable, but times are changing. Mobile phones, laptops, tablet PCs, and even televisions in some cases are increasingly powerful, able to run flash games and more - sometimes with exclusive titles, even. Certainly they lack the power and capability of modern consoles, but then there was a time the music industry scoffed at the MP3, believing its lower quality no threat to the high-fidelity of the CD.

Total revenue from U.S. music sales (RIAA)

Digital distribution is less expensive than retail, eliminating packaging and shipping costs, and it is not being embraced as rapidly by consoles as it is by personal computer providers. While digital distribution opens up the same piracy issues that sometimes affects PC games, it is getting more and more effective.


Consoles at risk
Make no mistake, portable devices and PCs pose a long-term threat to consoles. It becomes increasingly difficult to convince the average consumer to buy additional devices when they already own hardware capable of playing games. Consider that Angry Birds has sold 140 million copies through the first quarter of 2011 (Source). By contrast, Halo 2 sold eight million copies.

Angry Birds is no Halo 2, but the industry cannot afford to be myopic. If a gamer is playing Angry Birds, they're not playing Halo, Crysis, or whatever. As alternative hardware platforms become more attractive, modern DRM (Digital Rights Management) more effective, and digital distribution more accessible for those mediums, the threat to consoles increases. You might have heard of OnLive, which allows consumers to stream any game in its library - currently over 100 including titles like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Homefront - over a small media device using a broadband connection. It's "Cloud Gaming," and it's a great idea, and all for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99. That said, it debuted in 2009 and has yet to gain widespread adoption for a number of reasons, including a limited game library, potential latency issues, and video artifacts from digital compression for streaming. Still, it's supposed to be pretty amazing.

OnLive Game Service


Make gaming history: Make consoles free(ish)
All this doom and gloom might have you thinking I don't like consoles, but it's just the opposite: Consoles are still the best platform for game designers. They represent tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in hardware, software, and peripheral sales. However, due to the aforementioned reasons, the format is aging.

So give them away.

Literally, give consoles away. Yes, for free. Alright, well, sort of free.

Ever buy a cell phone? You have two basic options: Buy an expensive phone outright and pay month-to-month from a service provider, or get a multi-year contract and select from one of the "free" phones. You basically pay for the phone over the life of your contract, which is typically two years. By that time the phone is often outdated, you drop it off with the provider for recycling (hopefully), and get a new phone and a new contract.

Pricing Model Examples:

  • The contract requires the purchase of a certain number of games at full retail price similar to a Columbia House or Disney Club contract, meaning you need to buy, say, one game each month for one year, or twelve games within a one year period, via a particular retailer.
  • The contract requires you subscribe to a monthly service like XBox Live that activates the console. You are contracted to a certain number of months of the online service.
  • The console requires users login before it will work, and you pay for the login ID. This way if your subscription lapses you can pass the console along to another player, or transfer your contract.
  • You buy the console outright and pay for titles in the traditional model.

It is almost surprising that this model hasn't already been adopted by the video game industry, because it fits so perfectly. Not only that, it works with current brick-and-mortar game distribution AND digital distribution.

The prior suggestions are really just additional options, but it makes consoles more affordable, particularly for lower-income gamers, and represents a major strategy shift in pricing for the video game industry. Consider: XBox Live is about $10 a month, would you pay $20 with a two-year contract if the console were free?

Think about it.


-Disclosure-

Opinions and speculation of and by Bozanimal are his own and not those of Gamespot.com or its affiliates. Bozanimal is not a Gamespot employee, and is not affiliated with any gaming companies in any way.

Several links within this article may lead to external sites. Neither Bozanimal nor host Gamespot.com or affiliates are responsible for the content of those sites.

Gamespot Cribs: Bozanimal

If you're anything like me, you enjoy seeing how other gamers have set up their pad. Whether they're using a television and console, projector, desk and PC, how they have their home theater set up, if they're gaming on headphones (and if so, what kind?), the combination of consumer electronics is seemingly endless.

In the first-ever Gamespot Cribs we take a look at the palatial estate of yours truly, Bozanimal.

Primary Platform: PC

We have a modest house by modern domestic U.S. standards at around 1,400 square feet. While we have three bedrooms, the former office was taken over by my daughter a few months ago. I had pillboxes set up at the entrances to ward her initial attempts to zerg my base, but when she called in the Mothership I was forced to relocate to the living room.

You can click most images to enlarge

After extensive hunting we bought the desk from a local retailer. It is a Wynwood Furniture desk (their "Camden" line, I believe). We wanted it to match the styIe of our home, hide the majority of the components when closed, be functional for both work and play, and well-built. Not only is this desk Lara Croft-sexy, it's built like a tank, all hardwood, and with dovetailed joints.

The chair I picked up at a local unfinished wood furniture store. I selected a stain to match the desk and stained and urethaned the chair myself. It only took a couple days and I got a beautiful chair out of it. If I'm sitting on it for any length of time, though, I grab a pillow for my butt.

It houses a PC that I built right here on Gamespot and is largely unchanged save for a couple extra sticks of RAM, a new motherboard, and a case light.

  • Ultra Wizard ATX Case
  • Acer AL2216W 22" Widescreen LCD Monitor
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Conroe 2.33GHz CPU
  • GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Motherboard
  • Crucial Ballistix 4 x 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM Model BL2KIT12864AA804
  • SAPPHIRE Radeon X1950PRO
  • Thermaltake Purepower 500W PSU Model W0100RU
  • LiteOn's DVD Burner Model LH-20A1S
  • Three Western Digital Hard Drives (don't ask)
  • SAPPHIRE Radeon Theatrix 650 PRO TV Tuner (PCI)

With the kids sleeping and my wife watching television in the other room, the Creative 2.1 speakers do not see much use. Most of my time is spent under the hood of the Sennheiser HD 202 MK II headphones, which plug conveniently into a headphone jack mounted in the keyboard tray. The other visible components include an Acer 22" monitor I purchased off Woot at what, at the time, was an amazing $200..refurbished. There is also a relatively small HP 1020 laser printer and a microphone under the monitor.


Secondary Platforms: Wii

Unfortunately the only room available for home theater is the least ideal: A sun porch. The home entertainment center has been a work in progress since I first acquired the 5-piece Polk bookshelf speaker set in 1995. The gate you see above was in place until just this past week when we removed it to see how well our three-year olds behaved (so far so good). Like the desk, we like that when the home theater center is closed it largely hides the components, and with the gate removed we can keep it closed and run the speakers in stereo if the kids are watching Diego. The components include:

Regarding the home theater computer, the PC is housed in a RAIDMAX APEX ATX-802B Black SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case running an AMD Athlon X2 4850e, 4GB dual channel RAM, two ultra-quiet Enermax fans, and a GIGABYTE Radeon HD4550 (passive cooling) on a GIGABYTE GA-MA770-UD3 motherboard. The computer sends video to the television through the HD4550's HDMI port and audio to the receiver through the optical output of the motherboard's on-board audio.

That said, we do not use the computer frequently, since we do not like the boot time and the wireless keyboard & mouse are spotty, at best. The television is the absolute best for watching movies, but it is severely lacking in resolution for using a computer, meaning text appears fuzzy and indistinct. The computer gets booted when the primary PC is out of commission, the wireless network is not working for the Wii to stream Netflix (both PCs are hard-wired via Ethernet), or the DVD disc is too dirty for my aging Sony DVD player.

The light you see behind the television is a full-spectrum flourescent light that turns on with the receiver. A full-spectrum light is the cheapest, most effective visual upgrade you can make to your television. The light reduces eye strain and makes the television appear larger than it actually is, and just makes it look that much more professional.

Bright light and television do not make for an ideal viewing environment, but the super-bright CRT is probably the best thing you could have in such conditions. The television is Sony's last, top-of-the-line Widescreen CRT monitor, and it weighs over 200 lbs. The image is bright, crisp, and amazing for watching movies in both bright and dim lighting. Its only drawback is lack of 1080p support and some minor geometry issues, but at my typical viewing distance these are both negligible.

Possible future upgrades
Primary PC: I'm pretty happy with our setup and have no immediate changes planned (meaning in the next 12 months), but the video card is starting to lag current content; even World of Warcraft. I will likely dabble in overclocking the CPU at some point, as the 2.2Ghz clock is starting to become a bottleneck, and it should be capable of hitting over 3.0Ghz if I do it right.

Home theater: As much as I love my CRT, a 1080p LCD display would make the PC more viable as a DVD player replacement and more usable in general. Plasma would be superior in a sunny room, but if it's being used as a PC monitor - even with its built-in protections - image retention becomes a concern. The bookshelf speakers were an entry-level purchase I made in high-school and, while they're still perfectly usable, I'd love to make an upgrade at some point. I have been wanting to build my own speakers for a long, long time. Finally, at some point I'll grab a dedicated audio card for the PC due to limitations with the on-board audio chip in producing Dolby Digital for non-native Dolby Digital content.


I hope you've enjoyed reading about my gaming systems, how they are set up, and why. Following are some additional images of my house for context. Of note are the two sofas you see (one orange and one green). These are from King Hickory; we bought the green one almost ten years ago and have loved it so much we bought the orange one, which is the same model. Let me tell you: King Hickory makes really nice furniture at reasonable prices, and is worth going out of your way to find.


-Disclosure-

Gamespot Cribs was created by Bozanimal, who is not a Gamespot employee, and is not affiliated with any gaming companies in any way. Both the Gamespot and MTV Cribs logo have been used without permission and will be removed upon request. Gamespot Cribs is inspired by MTV Cribs. You can learn more about MTV Cribs on the MTV site (Source).

Several links within this article may lead to external sites. Neither Bozanimal nor host Gamespot.com or affiliates are responsible for the content of those sites.

Gamespot Users I Miss

To preface, if you know what happened to these users or how to contact them, please leave a note below and let me know how to get in touch to tell them that they are missed!

I've been a regular user of Gamespot for almost a decade. In that time I've been spotlighted in the community, (briefly) served as a moderator, participated in tournaments, contributed artwork, helped folks build computers, been kidnapped by a fellow user (Part 2), shared some of my most beautiful and painful moments, helped a few of you look better (including me), and overall felt very proud of contributing to what is, in my opinion, the best gaming community online.

But in the past ten years Gamespot has also lost a number of great users for any number of reasons; whether is was Gerstmanngate, the allure of another gaming site, military responsibilities, or just plain boredom. Many of these users I considered friends; or at least as close as you can get to a friend through an online relationship via a game site. Some were simply remarkable people. Others were both. In every case I miss them, and Gamespot is diminished by their absence.


Gone but not forgotten

digi_matrix: To be honest, my opinions never really aligned with Digi Matrix (or Moeez at Giantbomb), his formatting was mediocre, and his writing was not stellar. One thing we did have was many common interests, he posted frequently, and I generally enjoyed the content. He usually took in major movies ahead of me, and his opinion - even if they were not the same as mine - helped me form my own. Granted we all like video games here on Gamespot, but his interests seemed to parallel my own almost exactly when it came to what movies I wanted to see or games I was interested in playing. I miss having him around more.

Donkeljohn: I used to talk with Don a lot via PM; he knew a lot about video game business and was enthusiastic, but was a pretty normal guy with real-life priorities. He worked at Gamespot for a time, and then in mid-2009 promptly disappeared. I'm not sure if World of Warcraft sucked him into a vortex from which he has yet to return, but his entries were always worthwhile, and he was just a decent guy. I hope he's doing alright, whatever he's doing.

Draqq_Zyxorian: Draqq wrote the best reviews on Gamespot, was an excellent editor, and a great writer. He used to be highly involved in the Community Contributions Union (CCU), and along with m0zart and MrCHUP0N, highlighted the best user reviews from the Gamespot community. The CCU was the best example of a functioning, community supportive Union on the site, and Draqq submitted some of its best content. I hope he is doing well whatever happened to him.

Dr_Boz: Dr. Boz is my better half, and she used to actually read my blog and post comments. Apparently she's too busy raising my kids to be bothered to log in.



EarthThatWas: I was first introduced to EarthThatWas when he earned the Soapbox emblem, and I would describe him in much the same way as I would Donkeljohn: A good guy, good writer, normal, above-average social skills. This might sound boring, on the surface, but every site needs more users like him. He uses basic courtesies, takes multiple points of view into consideration, doesn't jump to conclusions, and has reasonable, well-argued points of view. In the internet ocean of polarized opinions and outlandish personalities, EarthThatWas is a welcome voice of rationality and normalcy. Also: His Icon is Fizzgig from The Dark Crystal, which is just awesome.

Jaysonguy: Actually, Jaysonguy is still very active on the forums, you just don't see him blogging. The moderators are probably scratching their heads wondering why in the heck I'd have him on here, because he always - or at least used to - skate the edge when it came to appropriate conduct on Gamespot. But that's what I love about this user: He's challenging. He'll put out a very strong, outlandish, or contrarian argument, and he'll bring the goods to back up his argument. He's a character in a lot of good ways and, while he might be a little naughty, I like having him around and hope he returns to blogging some day.

MrCHUP0N: Like Draqq_Zyxorian, MrCHUP0N supported the CCU and ran TriGames.net, a game site most notable today for its podcast, and historically for its user-featured reviews. The CCU would hold monthly contests for user reviews, which were then featured on the front page of TriGames. As a result, MrCHUP0N ran a complementary site to Gamespot and raised the general visibility of rising-stars in the community.

NekoTheSpook: Neko is an interesting user because both she and her husband, formerly under the avatar "Spooksspouse," were very active and visible in the Gamespot community. Both were quite social, into gaming, and regular contributors in multiple areas of the site. She was, I believe, the more active of the pair, but their relationship fell on hard times and the drama of a divorce resulted in both members leaving the site. Maybe they're both still here under alternative monikers and I just don't know it - I love that idea - but the site lost two great users due to the breakup.

Reetesh: Reetesh is from India; Hyderabad if I am not mistaken, and we do not get a lot of Indian users here on Gamespot. The best part about having him around wasn't just his helplessly upbeat personality or quirky writing styIe, it was his unique take on the video game market. Reetesh loves video games, and it comes across in everything he has ever written. Reading his blog is not just an insight into what it's like to be a gamer in India, but also of titles I had never heard of like Tomba!. He even made a new avatar for my wife, Dr. Boz, when she gave birth to our triplets, giving Washu an extra mini-Washu. He's hanging around on Twitter and, I believe, still uses Giantbomb, but I wish he was back here.

Shifty_Pete: Shifty Pete got fed up post Jeff Gerstmann once Josh Larson was dismissed from Gamespot but he was and remains my favorite writer among Gamespot users. Out of nowhere he wrote a review of a Honeycrisp Apple that was so outlandish and well-written as to be oddly unforgettable. If you've never read his stuff, he has a lot of gems in there. I wish he'd kept the faith and hung-on to Gamespot a bit longer.

SlikNik27: it's not surprising that Nick drifted away from Gamespot considering his career in medicine, but I liked having him around. He was another level-headed user; just a normal guy with a good head on his shoulders that loved gaming. I could go out and have a beer with him and have a great time shooting the breeze, but alas, real life. I hope to see him return after his last blog entry announcing his triumphant return to video blogging fizzled, making me a Sad Panda.

SophinaK: Sophi is in the same ranks as Donkeljohn, EarthThatWas, and Sliknik27: An all-around good person with interesting opinions that I liked having around the community. She was a mod back in the day. Most of her posts weren't even about gaming; it was about life. These are always some of my favorite posts because, though this is a gaming site, I find that many of the users here tend to be of like mind, so our concerns and trials tend to align. I doubt very much we will ever see her come back: She went off to law school back in 2009.

ThaSod: ThaSod always had strong opinions, but they were typically well-reasoned and written intelligently. I have no idea what happened to him, but our mutual appreciation of Ayn Rand and gaming genres found us intersecting in many of Gamespot's communication channels. I'm not sure what happened to him, but I want him back.

U1: U1 is a UK gamer that made the switch to Giantbomb as Coffeesash sometime after Gerstmanngate 2007, but has since become largely inactive there, as well. Like many of the users you'll see here, she was a Soapbox emblem holder, and for good reason. She wrote a lot of entries about sexism in games, and played some pretty quirky titles aimed at girl gamers. She was also hugely focused on video game music, something a lot of the better writers do not discuss for lack of interest or knowledge. She had been cooking up a music quiz for some time that was never published, and I wish I'd had the opportunity to read it. She was also one of the nicest users on the site.

Veni-Vidi-Vici: Veni-Vidi-Vici was an Australian gamer with two potential careers ahead of her in vastly different fields. If you knew what they were, you knew she wouldn't be spending a lot of time on Gamespot, but she was very bright and quite funny. I'm sure she's doing great whatever direction she went, but her sudden disappearance from the site, including the removal of all of her old blogs - even her user avatar - left me scratching my head. A cryptic PM didn't help matters, and I haven't heard from her since.

Vikingwwu: Vikingwwu was a female gamer Washington state (at the time) that stormed onto Gamespot in 2007, posted furiously, gained a Soapbox emblem, started her own Union, then promptly disappeared, never to be heard from again. Even her avatar disappeared. To be honest, I found her combative and abrasive, but she had strong opinions and an intelligent writing styIe that I appreciate, and I'd like to see her return.


More users... that I miss, but about whom I do not have a lot to say include:

The Hotspot: A Winner Is Me

Last week Gamespot's The HotSpot gave listeners a homework assignment: To assemble a team of three developers to create a dream game and/or a nightmare game scenario. I won an emblem for my entry, specifically my "nightmare" team, but I submitted both with an additional restriction for myself: Both teams had to be composed of the same firms. You can listed to Brendan Sinclair read my entry in the 03/23/11 Hotspot (this week's), but I wanted to provide you with the full entry to read, as well:
A Winner is Me!

Shine Get! Bearers of this emblem get a gold star for turning in an award-worthy homework assignment to GameSpot's The HotSpot podcast.


Homework Assignment: Best/Worst developer teams

Game Type: 2D Platformer
*Additional Restriction: Must use the same developers*

Dream Team
Design - Microsoft Game Studios (Peter Molyneux)
Implementation - iD Software (John Romero)
Marketing - Blizzard

Predicted Outcome
Peter Molyneux has a unique vision for a next-generation platformer that us mortals would never have thought of in a million years. John Romero takes that vision and brings it to reality, calling in all sorts of favors from top-programming talent throughout the industry. Commander Keen and The Dopefish make cameos. Jon St. John (Duke Nukem) and Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) are brought in to do voiceovers. Blizzard announces it during Blizzcon, subtley dropping hints of its epic new platformer to its legions of fanboys, running contests, and forming merchandise tie-ins with prominent, demographic appropriate categories like Mountain Dew. Peter Jackson drops his current project to bring it to film.


Nightmare Team (emblem winner)
Design - Blizzard
Implementation - Microsoft Game Studios (Peter Molyneux)
Marketing - iD Software (John Romero)

Predicted Outcome
Blizzard begins its ten-year project design plan by drawing its creative forces together. The first five years are spent analyzing existing platform titles to see what makes them work before actually starting on anything for the game itself, and the next five are spent debating mechanics, storyboard, and how many cliche sci-fi and fantasy character cIasses will fit into the title. It eventually includes a Warrior Dwarf, Elf Archer, and Human Mage. Molyneux then attempts to bring that vision to reality, promising the Marketing team the most amazing, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping game ever created, "Wow, there's some very, very big things happening with this game. Bigger than you think and it's going to really upset people." He then can't figure out how to code for it, then - due to a workaround mistake - discovers a new mechanic that results in him taking the warrior, archer, and mage and putting them in outer space. John Romero then proceeds to make us his b****. Uwe Boll makes it into a movie.


Happy gaming,

Bozanimal

Humor - Bathroom Etiquette V

Bathrooms in general drive me nuts. Just the fact that I have to go at all is a nuisance; I mean seriously, who designed this body? You'd think an Omniscient, Omnipotent Being would be able to create a more efficient digestive system for Its supposedly greatest creation. Even the DeLorean had Mr. Fusion, all I've got is Mr. Intestine.

Mr. Fusion: More efficient than you AND powers a Flux Capacitor

I need to stop whatever I'm doing a dozen times a day between eating, urinating, and pooping. Don't get me wrong, eating has its benefits, but those benefits end pretty much as soon as the food leaves my mouth; hopefully on its way to my stomach. Then you add other people to the mix - whether it's a public bathroom or your own toilet that guests are using - and it's just a recipe for disaster.

For one thing, I've never understood why men almost always wash their hands after they take a leak. Think about it: In the morning you wake up and take a shower, dry off, maybe put on a little baby powder or something, pull on your underwear or panties (don't judge me) and pants, and head off. Basically, your man parts are protected from any external interference until you need to hit the head. Once you do, you go into the bathroom and aim your man parts (or woman parts; you ladies are tricky, I've come to find out). Aiming usually requires at least one hand, possibly two; in which case, wow, I'm impressed. Anyway, if you don't wash your hands first you've just contaminated the Captain. Whatever doorknobs you've touched, hands you've shaken, documents you've exchanged, or phones you've picked up: Your Wee Man is now tainted. If you wash your hands when you first go into the bathroom, though, then He stays pristine for what could - in theory - be forever.

Speaking of phones: They're gross. Did you know cell phones have more germs than the average toilet seat? All that contact with your sweaty, germy hands and face, and then we store it in a nice, warm place; like our pocket. It's much harder to put a toilet seat in your pocket. It's even worse, though, when you combine bathrooms with phones. I don't know if I've sat down to take a dump in a public bathroom this year without someone in another stall tapping away, texting on their phone.

If only there was some way to close it using the power of my mind

Sure, you don't wipe your butt with the phone, at least I hope not, but think about it:

  1. You push open the door or turn the knob to get into the bathroom
  2. you push open the stall door
  3. then turn around and latch it behind you.

The second you touch that latch, you have also touched the fecal-ridden hands of every human being that has ever unlatched that stall before you. After you close that latch, you sit down and defecate (defecate is such a fun word), take out your cell phone, and merrily text away to your BFF that "LOL UNIFOC TDTM!" Finishing your business, you close you phone, wipe up, help further contaminate the latch by opening the stall, wash up in the sink, and head out. You're clean! Ah, but then you take out your filthy phone - that you used on the toilet - and contaminate yourself all over again!

I don't want you to misunderstand, though, that only the filthy people infuriate me. There's a whole rainbow of disgustingly clean people out there, too. I must have waited five minutes for one guy to wash his hands. I'm not sure what he was doing in there before me, but rest assured I was so confident that his hands were clean I would have eaten my next meal out of his them if he'd asked.

Then you've got the people that stand in front of the mirror decide to groom themselves like a cat. That makes sense at home, but in a busy public restroom? Do you really need to comb your hair at the rest stop on a highway? And why are you carrying a comb, exactly; is this the '80's? At any moment you're going to pull a handkerchief out of your pocket to blow your nose, I know it! Seriously, though, you look good enough to drive the remaining two hours to Mom's house, you don't need to show me how pretty you are before you buy your value meal and head back to your car.

But hey, maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the weirdo because I don't wipe my boogers on the bathroom stall. It could be that only freaks zip up their pants before turning to face away from the urinal. Am I not supposed to knock before trying to enter the bathroom? Because I seem to be the only one.

This image has nothing to do with this entry, but isn't it cute?


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