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AaronElWhite Blog

Play What's Fun

Have you ever come home from work or school, fired up the game console or PC, and just stared at it blankly now knowing what to do? Well, this happens to my friends and I a lot. As avid gamers, who typically spent at least a couple of hours per day gaming, we usually know exactly what we want to play (and often have been anticipating it most of the day). But there are those moments when the freeze sets in and we simply cannot make a choice.

I feel this is largely due to an abundance of options. "Back in the day" we didn't have hundreds of games to choose from or nearly the amount of game platforms/handhelds that exist today. Our choices were more simple and it wasn't uncommon to play the same one or two games for several months before something new and interesting was released. In today's gaming world, though, new and exciting titles are released weekly and keeping up would require a full-time job (or more) worth of time. So that's what I think is a major contributor to the eventual moment when our brain shuts down and despite the overwhelming urge to play something, we just can't decide on what that something should be.

And then, out of this same conversation with friends was born the most impactful of phrases, and it would change our gaming lives forever.

To put it simply, "Play what's fun."

With so many hefty games consisting of 100+ hours of play, we can get wrapped up in finishing things quickly. We can also experience burnout and have a desire to mix it up a little bit, genre hop, refresh our gaming palette. So the next time you get stuck and you can't decide what you want to play, put aside all of the criteria going through your head. Don't worry about that weekly task you still need to accomplish, or the next level you need to attain, or even what your friends may be begging you to play at that moment. Simply let yourself decide what sounds like the most FUN at that given moment in time... and play it!

Following this simple mindset has been great for my group of friends. We find ourselves less frustrated and less stressed about progressing in the games we play. After all, gaming should be fun, not a chore. I guarantee this method can work for you, too. Just follow the doctor's orders and "Play what's fun."


Wow... I don't even use this anymore. I have two blogs that I don't use, too. I'm either on message boards or playing games. That is, if I'm not taking care of my children or at work.

I want to start working toward a degree. I prefer something in game design, not game programming. You know, concept stuff. I want to write storylines, develop characters, scenery and write, not do the math. Anyone know where I could go about finding something like that online or through distance learning?

Gosh, I'm wasting money on my blogs. Maybe I should stop paying every month for them....

(By the way, who ARE all you people that added me? :) )

Naming Characters

Think I've got Harry Potter on the brain? These are the names of the three mages I've created thus far in my Disgaea: HoD army:

Potter (Red Mage/Fire)
Weasley (Blue Mage/Ice)
Hermione (Green Mage/Wind)

Yes, yes... I know that I'm a dork. But this did lead to a new poll question (go here to vote) that I am dying to see the results of.

Now get to voting people!!!

Why I Like Strategy RPGs

Now that I've logged over eight hours playing Disgaea: Hour of Darkness I feel that I can fairly have an opinion on the strategy roleplaying game (SRPG) genre. This being my first SRPG, I was only assuming that I would enjoy it. I've long wanted a tactical/strategic type of game that wouldn't be so difficult as to lose my interest quickly. In the meantime, I played and loved numerous RPGs like the Final Fantasy series. Games with a good story were the ones I would pick up and play. Well, I've found a strategic game with a great story now... and I can hardly put down the controller.

The great thing about Disgaea: HoD is that the game is so incredibly deep. I fiddled around for almost two hours just equipping my characters, renaming them and adjusting statistics. Then I tried one of the games "sidequests." I took my team into an item and went through ten nasty levels trying to increase the power of my item. I made it out alive with only my main character still alive, and only 4 hit points left.

The challenge is fun. The story is fantastic. It's cute, dark and adorably funny. Another great thing about the strategy in the gameplay is that there are so many different ways to clear/beat a level/map. There are no point A to point B answers here. You create the team you want and you try to clear each map how you want. The direction you choose is yours alone, not the one that the game's designers force you to follow.

I will play this game for a long time. I can already tell that. And with this introduction to a new and very much forgotten genre, I'm proud to be a fan of it. It may not be for everyone (as they say), but it's definitely for me.

Gaming: Plan of Action

I should be leaving tomorrow. I should be boarding a plane, waving goodbye with a tear in my eye and shipping off to meet the ship overseas and spend the next four to five months floating around the Western Pacific Ocean.

But I'm not leaving tomorrow. I'm leaving July 1 and heading toward Thailand. And with the unexpected extra two weeks of time on U.S. soil, I can plan out much better what I want to take with me in my seabags. Of course, a large portion of my entertainment onboard the ship will be video games. (Shocker!) I debated heavily what games I would want to play and how I could diversify my now small collection (I've traded in so many games that I didn't play anymore) that I take with me.

Here's how the final plan shakes out:

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 - Is anyone surprised? I'm a golfer. I love golf. This is the single best golf game made for consoles. I'm going to miss three out of four major championships this year and that really stinks. So, instead I could just play out Mr. Slice's career as far as I want.

MVP Baseball 2005 - This is a no-brainer given my current obsession with the Seattle Mariners. I've got three different dynasties going right now and I'm taking two copies of this game (one for the PS2 and one for the PC). Sitting down and using the less than stellar Mariners to sweep a three-game series with the Oakland Pathetics is a very relaxing way to spend an evening at sea. I'll be playing this one a lot to coincide a couple of my seasons with the MLB regular season going on now.

LEGO Star Wars - I'm a LEGO freak and Star Wars fanatic. What better mix of a game could there be? This game is so much fun that I have hardly made any progress. I waste hours randomly detroying droid after droid after droid in the diner. Gotta have my Star Wars fix while I'm out at sea, and it's a good way to quench my thirst for LEGO as well.

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness - I've wanted to play this game for a long time. When looking over the games that I was taking, I saw that I had the sports and action/adventure genre covered. I'm not taking any survival horror games since Tami wants to play those while I'm away. But what I was missing was a good quality RPG of some sort. I've never been able to find this game when I wanted to rent or buy it, but luckily for me there was one copy in the entire Seattle metro area. I quickly decided to trade in some crap games so that I could take the best strategy RPG ever made with me when I deploy. It was an easy choice to make.

I'm also taking my Nintendo DS with me. I have Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Polarium for some quick pick-up and play action. Hopefully the handheld gaming system will be a good replacement for all those cigarette breaks that I used to take while out at sea.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with what I've chosen to take with me. I have more than enough games, books and movies for entertainment in my downtime. None of these games have cost me anything recently either. I've used trade-in credit to change my collection a bit since our finances are so tight right now. My hope is that this deployment is over before I know it and I'm back home with my family by Tami's birthday in late November. Just in time for the holiday game release craze!

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

This game won the 2003 "Game of the Year" award for a reason. I’ve played for four hours now and I’ve accumulated so many quests and missions that I’m almost lost as to what order I should accomplish things in. But that’s the beauty of this amazing Star Wars universe RPG. I can do whatever I want. I can be good or evil. I can save the innocent, or kill them. (I’m on the path to the latter.) The game is so wide open that I am still only on the first planet. I don’t even have a lightsaber yet! Amazing… the game is amazing. I should’ve picked this up sooner, and I should’ve bought an X-Box. Oh well, lessons learned.

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DS vs. PSP Coverage at Gamespot

From this week's Burning Questions segment. Gamespot took my concerns and answered them. I respect them, and especially Greg, for doing so, regardless of whether I agree with them or not.

Here Is How to Voice a Concern About DS Coverage Without Sounding Like a Raving Lunatic

With all due respect, you have a number of users that are at a breaking point regarding your lack of coverage of the DS. We've been brushed off by your moderators repeatedly and simply told that Gamespot chooses how to review and what to review by traffic (i.e. number of users interested in that game). We simply do not agree with this. If this is the case, so be it. But we want to hear it from you. We want you to tell us that even the crappiest PSP games deserve video reviews because the interest in them was high, while the highly anticipated DS games like Yoshi's Touch and Go do not receive the same treatment.

You truly do influence the gaming world on an enormous level. By not updating the DS page and giving a lot more coverage to the PSP, you are essentially becoming a marketing tool for Sony. You are hurting Nintendo and their new handheld console. If your goal is to be 100% objective and report ALL games and systems equally then that is what we want to see. If your goal is to cater to the fan base of systems that receive the most site hits, please tell us that from the horse's mouth.

I have contributed financially to this site for a couple of years now. I'm sure none of you would notice or care if I took my money elsewhere, but that is what I feel it is coming to. You are the BEST gaming site out there, but this issue is a huge one. It's a matter of principal and fairness. I'm not a fanboy. Please take my concerns seriously. I and the rest of the DS supporters who feel this way would appreciate your words on this matter. Thank you.

- Aaron White (<---- Me)

Our own Greg Kasavin handles this business to close out this week's episode. Take it away, Greg.

"Thank you for expressing your concerns civilly. From the moment the DS and the PSP were announced, there has been a lot of talk about how the systems would compare. GameSpot launched both its Nintendo DS and its Sony PSP platform pages on the same day and at the same time, almost a year ago at the 2004 Electronic Entertainment Expo. We remain committed to providing our audience with comprehensive coverage of both platforms.

With that said, yes, we've been covering the PSP a lot more lately. This is no accident. At the same time, to suggest that we're only doing this because our PSP coverage generates more traffic on average--which, incidentally, it does--is an oversimplification.

We're editors; our responsibility, in fact, is not to cover all games and systems equally. On the contrary, it's to be strategically selective with our coverage. Our audience expects us to cover games to the extent that the coverage is warranted. That is, we are expected to make a bigger deal out of those games that we consider to be a bigger deal. Don't mistake the editorial process as a departure from fairness. We aim to be consistently fair in our coverage, and because our staff consists entirely of multiplatform gamers with no vested interest in the success of any gaming platform, I believe that we are.

While we were excited about the launch of the Nintendo DS and covered it extensively, we saw more potential in the launch of the PSP. First and foremost, there were many more games to cover (to say nothing of their quality). Furthermore, we discovered that we can make our video content playable on the PSP, which we can't do with the DS--our desire to produce video reviews of every PSP launch title was partly motivated by that fact, because we want our video content to be as accessible and as versatile as possible, and we want to make the most of an important event in gaming.

With that said, I'm sorry we didn't have a video review for Yoshi's Touch & Go ready in a timely fashion. It's ready now, and I won't make excuses for its lateness--nor will I apologize for any other aspect of our coverage of either the Nintendo DS or the Sony PSP. Thanks for writing. -- G.K."

Game Console/Handheld Skinning

The term "skinning" refers to the placement of an adhesive design sticker over something to change the way it looks. A lot of people are into skinning their electronic devices in order to give them a touch of personality. We decided to do this today and found three great skins for a pretty good price (free shipping!) at Decal Girl.

Nintendo Gamecube:

Nintendo DS:

The latter Nintendo DS skin is a sort of tribute to my time in the Middle East during this conflict with Iraq and leading up to the War on Terror. I plan on using that one when I'm playing my DS on the ship during the deployment this Summer. Cool, huh?

Nintendo DS vs. Sony PSP

I did something very impulsive today. I began questioning my choice to pre-order and purchase a Sony PSP. I started to compare the much anticipated handheld system against Nintendo's latest handheld release, the Nintendo DS. And what I ultimately decided to do was shocking.

Just a couple of hours ago, I walked into my local Gamestop and told them I wanted to cancel my pre-order of the Sony PSP. Many odd looks followed. The amazing thing is the amount of stuff I got for the same money I had already pre-paid toward the PSP and two games. Here's a breakdown of what I could purchase with the same $376.18.

Sony PSP

Sony PSP
Tiger Woods PGA Tour (PSP)
Wipeout Pure (PSP)

Nintendo DS

Nintendo DS
Super Mario 64 DS (DS)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour (DS)
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA)
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GC)
8-pack of GBA game cases
Nintendo DS Hard Case
Car Adapter/Ear Buds/Screen Protector Combo
1-year Warranty on Nintendo DS

Now, do the math. The Sony PSP may have better graphics and may be a little sleeker, but the pricing of both it and its games is ridiculous. I didn't realize that until I broke down just what I got for the same amount of money as I would have spent on the PSP. I got four games that can be played on the Nintendo DS (because it can also play Gameboy Advance (GBA) games still) and one game for the Nintendo Gamecube, plus all of the accessories and the warranty. I'm just amazed. I also realized that I wouldn't use the MP3 or UMD movie functionality of the PSP and that is what I was paying extra for. Now I can play nearly every game in the entire Legend of Zelda series and will have plenty of gaming goodness to keep me occupied while out at sea over this Summer. Thank heavens, I am so smart.
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