Malik  (11/12/04)

There is some real news this week, so without further ado, let's get this rolling.  I'm Malik and I'll be you host this evening.

Finally, It's That Time Again 

At the beginning of the week, ran a column about the evils of GTA:SA and how it glamorizes gang life...and all I can say is that I'm happy to see this type of bullshit. After struggling to find content for my columns for the last 2 months, this is the type of completely ignorant and pointless bullshit that makes me feel glad to be alive. 

Basically, MSNBC's column goes into detail on how, with rising numbers of gang members (real life stuff here), increased gang violence, and how the world is basically going to shit, that GTA:SA serves as a perfect form of encouragement, since this game glamorizes the world of gang life. That only leaves me with two thoughts; The first being how glad I am to have this type of bullshit to bitch about, and the second thought is more along the lines of...what game are they talking about? 

For those who haven't played it, or have not played far into it (spoiler free, for the most part), GTA:SA is the story of a former gang member, CJ, who returns home from the east coast (to the west coast) to find all of his friends have been dying, his former gang is in decline, and his mom has been murdered. So, CJ starts rolling with his former gang, again. The first dozen missions show how CJ is treated like shit for his former abandonment of his gang. The next few missions show his life picking up again and things starting to get better (but not yet good). Then, he gets manipulated by the police, his friends all betray him, his brother is (slight spoiler, very slight) thrown into prison, he becomes a tool of the government (on top of the cops using him), he gets bruised, beaten, abused, manipulated some more, forced to do some really tedious and boring shit (like taking pilot lessons) under threat of his brother being all just gets worse and worse with each new mission. Plus, the only real satisfaction he can get in his station in life is not from his gang life (as he starts to hunt his friends and get betrayed over and over again), but rather from his financial see, at one point, CJ's sister decides to set him and another gang member on the straight and narrow to rise up out of the ghetto. 

In fact (true, I'm still mid game, and don't know the ultimate ending of CJ's journey), in the end, it looks like the road of living a more responsible life is the ultimate reward. I mean, whenever CJ tried to live the thug lifestyle, he only got pushed further and further from his goal of living free and easy. It is only when he starts to take some responsible roles (well, more responsible than the gang life) that he starts to earn real money, and then to earn real opportunities. Plus, the most influential person in his life, being his sister, is constantly reminding him to forget his past in crime and to just work for the real betterment of himself. 

So, what damned game is talking about? There is no game I know of that shows how glamorous the gang lifestyle is. In fact, SA only shows how hard, how unrewarding, and how dangerous it is. Plus, it shows how when in the gang life, betrayal is a dude who walks up and kicks CJ in the nuts every other mission. Now, if this crap wasn't bad enough for (and some "experts") to be crying about, there's more; 

What the hell is this talk of how GTA:SA is the same technology that is used to train American armed forces? I've been playing GTA:SA non-stop since the 25th of October, and the only lesson I've learned in how to fire or reload a weapon is this; to fire a weapon, I first should auto-aim with the R1 button (I still don't know where the R1 is on a real AK...but once I learn...), and then I pull the L1 button (I think it's the trigger shaped button), and then I use R2 and L2 to lock onto another person (need to find those too), and once my current clip is empty, I'll automatically reload the weapon on instinct. Yup, I'm a natural born killer. However, I need to point out something; I've been playing violent games for the last 20 years (and non-violent ones for two or three years before that), so I've had a lot of practice. Also, something else I must admit; I'm being so damned sarcastic (I feel like I had to mention that since people, as seen in this news article in question, are too ignorant of life to catch the finer points of reality). 

Also, another funny point that MSNBC tries to make is how an act of virtual violence can lead to desensitization to real violence. I don't know what f%^$ing psychotic maniacs they tried this theory on, but from what I've seen, I can say two things; 

There are usually two types of people in the world; those who can and those who can't kill. This isn't just for killing people, but for killing anything warm-blooded. Those who can, usually will have no problem with virtual violence, while those who can't usually will have no problem with virtual violence. I mean, no matter how nicely detailed Rockstar tries to make a new GTA game, it still looks fake (not an insult to R* by any means). Plus, the player should be able to understand that there is no pain and suffering as seen in a real act of violence. 

The second thing I can say is this; I have killed more people in GTA games than I know of anyone else killing in a GTA game (I am obsessed with these games). Also, I am a giant pacifist (I hate the harming of's not a religious type of thing, but I simple made a moral decision in life to not harm anything...I mean, to summarize my philosophy in this; life is not something that can be returned, so treat it with respect). So, how, if violent games (and GTA is one of the most violent series) cause people to be desensitized to violence, can I (a huge GTA fan) be living a moral path that says to not kill is MSNBC's article is correct? I'm not the only person, I personally know, who has these same views on GTA (being teh roxor) and violence (being teh gay). 


In the end, there are a few obvious facts. The first and most important one is that any person who lives a violent life should stop. However, it is also needed to be seen that if a person lives a violent life, it will not be due to a game. While said person could try to use GTA:SA as justification for their lifestyle, it is only an excuse (not a reason). I mean they were doing it before GTA:SA came out, and they'll keep doing it after the next GTA comes out and gang life in GTA is no longer new and cool. I mean, the easiest excuses one can make are stemmed from something current, popular, and easy for a large audience to understand. Plus, an excuse is simply something people will use when they don't want authority figures and peers to think something along the lines of "Billy had no excuse, so he did because he's a f$%#ed up psycho". 

Secondly, video games, with their unique control pads, are not able to teach (well, not clearly with any games that have actually been released) how to use a firearm. There is no real trigger on a PS2 control, there is no place to pull out an old clip and put in a fresh one. It's just a simple fact. 

Thirdly, people who commit acts of violence do not do them for any reason beyond having some problems with understanding how other people perceive pain, what us moral and amoral, etc. In other words, these people need treatment for psychological disorders. They don't need to sue a game designer for millions because the game warped their fragile little mind...their minds were warped long before GTA:SA, GTA:VC, GTA3, Mortal Kombat, or whatever other violent game, ever came into their lives. 

Fourth, this type of bull shit news reporting is exactly the type of shit that puts a social stigma on us geeks. This type of "news" on how games turn people into psychotic gang members from hell who know the workings of every weapon ever made is nothing short of slander on the name of gaming. It not only slanders gaming, but it slanders us geeks who choose to get our enjoyment from gaming. I've been playing the most violent of games for about 80-85% of my life (literally), and I have never acted out in a violent manner due to the games I play. I am not alone in this. Slandering gamers is not the's just another problem.

The Ignorance Astounds Me

So, in another article, that is way behind the times, at, they tackle the several month old issue of how there are too many major releases hitting the shelves at once. The one problem is that not only is this coverage really hella late, but they seem to remain ignorant of every possible aspect of this definite problem. 

First off, they chose to ignore some major releases on their calendar of the most anticipated games for November. Yes, Halo 2, Half Life 2, blah, blah, are all highly anticipated, but isn't there also the DS? I mean if you're writing a news story on how there are too many things coming out at once, why not make your point as evident as possible by including the (enter: sarcasm) easy to forget items that are so forgettable that you can't even pre-order them anymore (exit: sarcasm). Actually, the DS is so over-sold right now that you cannot pre-order one due to the lack of supply to meet the excessive demand. I mean, I don't think Vampire can exactly have that same thing be said about it...nor, The Urbz. 

With how ignorant MSNBC's story is, they cannot even see that there is a problem to speak of. Which there definitely is. Not only will it be a burden on the entertainment of us geeks, since we will not be able to play everything, and a lot of the less publicized titles will go so far under the radar and will, thus, sell so poorly that the future of sequels being released in the US may just be a fact less fantasy. For example, Katamari Damacy snuck under the radar, and will probably never have a sequel released in the US. Or there is Phantom Brave, which is probably selling far less than it should due to the abundance of big name games that have come out around the same time...which could effect the number of copies released for future NIS (the developer of PB) games in the US. 

In fact, this whole season is going to cause business problems for countless game industry related companies. The major developers and publishers should do quite well (despite lower sales than they could have achieved at another time of year), but the smaller companies who had the foresight to schedule a release for near the holiday season (and then got screwed by Square, ID, etc, releasing delayed games at this time of year) are only going to stand to lose. No matter how well PB, for example, does, it will not be nearly as well as it would have done if released in the middle of a game-drought. 

When a game sells well, it can change the entire outlook for a smaller publisher or developer. For example, when NIS had Disgaea published in the US, it was a quite limited release. However, when La Pucelle (another NIS title) was released in the US, it sold so well that Disgaea was re-released with a much larger printing of new DVDs compared to the original release. The also works the other way; if a game does really poorly, then the company will try to keep it's possible losses smaller on the next round of games, and thus future games will receive a smaller release. 

Not only is MSNBC showing, in this article, how the only "problem" is how we have too many outlets for fun, but they also show gaming culture is an ignorant and retarded light. I personally hate these news stories that show geeks as stereotyped geeks...yeah, all we discuss is; 

"Half-Life 2" is going to suck. No, it's awesome. And when is it coming out, again? 

True, some of us who are 6 (the ones who are likely to have their caps lock stuck on when they type) may talk like this. However, a good deal of geeks are actually quite pissed about this situation...not excited with the prospect of so many fun games at once. 


Ok, first off, different serious sources of news (like CNN, MSNBC, etc) need to lay off trying to translate how geek culture is to the yuppie crowds. I mean, I could liken myself as a geek news source and I could try to write a news story about yuppies, but I'm not so full of myself to pretend to know anything about how the business minded think. I don't know what a 401-K is beyond it being something I should put money in but I'm too damned poor to afford to. I don't know the merits of a Lexis versus a BMW versus a Jaguar (unless we're talking about a Jaguar that has 64 pseudo-bits of processing power and a CD drive that makes it look like a toilet). I sure as hell don't know why I would want On-Star (which is expensive) in my car to tell me where to drive to when I could just go to Yahoo Maps and find out for free. So, in short, I'm not going to try to bullshit my way through writing about someone I know nothing about, so these damned close-minded yuppies should back off and leave the geek perspective to us geeks. 

Secondly, as I keep saying, this season needs to NEVER happen again. This is bad for business (which MSNBC's story never even touched...way to skip the real news part of this story!), bad for those of us who want more than just the major releases, and bad for those of us who don't like the thought of going in debt just to play the games we want to play. There is no silver lining. None. As for those of us who try to play all of the good games at once by pre-ordering them ahead of time to afford them all...well, these people are going to have some rather warped opinions of the games from this season when they manage to play only about 3-5 hours of each title. 

Thirdly, news is supposed to be just that; news. It is not news when it's been discussed for the last 3 months. It is not news when the views are all so warped and distorted that they no longer match reality. It is definitely not news when the important information is ignored and only the pandering to the masses is left intact. 

I think that G4 and MSNBC should team up, so a final low can be achieved in geek news...then, they should both go to hell and leave us all alone.

Security That's Too Secure or How To Be An Ass 

I know it is a rare situation in today's world to have a highly advanced PC that could run all the latest games (like Doom 3 and Half-Life 2) and still be without Internet...incredibly rare...yet, I do know a several instances, first-hand. The reason I'm bringing this up, is because, with Half-Life going out in a few hours (probably before this is even posted), this is actually a pretty big issue for gamers who don't have Internet (and don't view that as a problem). 

You see, as mentioned many times before (including this link at, in order to prevent piracy and to control illegal access to HL2, Valve decided to require an authenification process during the installation. This process requires the computer to connect to Steam (Valve's one-stop-does-it-all online utility/store) to make sure this is the only copy of HL2 from said CD/DVD. It's a lot like with how Microsoft requires a PC to go online to authorize use of Windows XP within 15 days of XP's install (except, there is a tighter time limit for's when you install, or you're not going to play). 

This is yet another example with PC games of requiring further and further system requirements than what should be expected from an average PC owner...and definitely a greater requirement than should be needed from a gamer who may only want to play the single player game. 

I bet some of you are probably thinking something along the lines of; if you have that high end of a PC to actually handle HL2, then you have Internet, obviously. Well, this is quite true in a lot of areas, as long as you have the money. However, in some areas, phone lines are too old and run down to handle dial-up Internet connections (these areas usually have trouble handling a simple phone call...and, yes, they do exist). Usually, the only option available, in these poor phone areas, would be to go with cable for Internet. However, many people who live in areas this rustic don't do so because they are loaded. Usually these are economical areas to live, and if you're living in such an area, then you probably can't afford otherwise. In which case, the cost of cable Internet, which depending on your home area, could be quite costly...more costly than you can afford (my cable Internet is about $50 and going up each freakin' year thanks to Comcast and their insatiable greed). 

Another example; some people only have cell phones (I'll soon join said ranks since I can't stand how my land-line number has been handed out to every damned charity, company, business, political organization, load-consolidator, blah, blah...and no, the "Do Not Call List" can't do shit if these people have had anything resembling business with you in the past or if these asses are political- or charity-based). These people can live about anywhere. Now, there are many rural areas that can now handle cell phones but still cannot properly handle cable (cable companies are a lot slower to expand than cell networks). Once again, Internet is going to be quite costly and annoying to just install one freakin' game...and then to do it again when your computer crashes or you decide to uninstall it and then change your mind. 

That's the other problem; it's not a one time thing. It is about the opposite. I have never seen a single PC run smoothly enough to not have to reinstall a very high end program (like HL2) during it's entire lifespan. Also, most geeks are rather bad with priorities and attention spans. For example, a geek will install HL2, get tired of it a month later, and then want to reinstall it again because a new mod came along or a new person started to play again, blah, blah. 


My problem is simply that requirements for PC games are climbing not only quicker than the technology becomes's that some programs now require parts, procedures, etc, that are not even needed. If I buy a game like HL2 and didn't have Internet, I would feel ripped off. Internet is not a cheap thing, and to get access just for a one time install is bullshit. Most ISPs cannot be canceled immediately after you join them or you will have contract termination fees. This is nothing more than Valve becoming paranoid and not thinking of how they phobias will affect their customers. 

Just because their game got pirated at one point, and the source-code was stolen last year, they have taken it out on everyone. First off, a source-code theft is no excuse for delaying a game so much (of which, it was probably just a timely excuse to cover up that they were behind schedule and would need to delay the game anyway), and it's no excuse for anger towards the world. One can run their life or company or whatever in one of two can either live in fear and expect the worst of everyone, which will make you look like some idiot with his head up his arse, or you could just have a little faith and trust in people (still remain cautious, but don't abuse the innocent). 


I started off, as usual, thinking there would be no news this week worth bitching about (again). I'm just glad that I had forgotten the stupidity and ignorance of the people who try to shape out world. I mean there is nothing to pick up my Bitchings like people telling me how I'm an evil ass who only cares about torturing and maiming small children and furry animals because of my fondness of GTA:SA. Plus, it helps to see that people try to justify their existence with a video game..."I'm a gang-banger because of GTA:SA"...imagine that with any other games ("I roll this ball around trying to pick shit up for a living because of Katamari Damacy" or "I'm trying to build a giant robot because of the way, I'm the slayer of god!"). It's so damned absurd. Plus, when you throw in yuppies trying to understand geek culture, and game companies once again forgetting that their audience does not work for a living to simply pay for their addiction to your games, I feel like a gang-banger playing GTA:SA (that's sarcasm) my work is being validated. Blah. So feel free to write me or put it on the forums, if you think you've got something to add.