The excessive use of ‘favouritism’ – mere fun or outdated?

If you’re like me, you use the adjective ‘favourite’ a hell of a lot and I’ve come to thinking recently that it feels overused and I find myself wondering why we feel the need for such a context (especially from a media perspective which is what i’m basing this off of) to exist? I like games, music, movies and TV shows along with their electronic counterparts but, merely enjoying these mediums doesn’t seem to feel enough in the modern day.

Simply click onto YouTube and you will most likely stumble upon a ‘top ten’ or whatever subsequent number list of whatever topic the person in the video is talking about. This was a big seller for video game-based YouTubers a few years ago and some still do them today but, definitely less regularly as most did not want that to be their only output or attachment. The most famous YouTube page for top ten videos has to be WatchMojo. The American firm has managed to get millions of views on videos looking at all kinds of media platforms that advertise to all walks of life. They look at genres of film and anime, death scenes, decade eras, consoles, spoilers, end scenes and a lot of other themes that revolve around games and film.

Creating said top ten video may prove to be influential or open discussions between people about what they thought of the list and bring forth their opinions as well. The only issue with this is that most of the time the viewership will not agree with the video and each other in the comments. This is good as we are all entitled to our opinions but in that thinking that is what damages the idea of favourites, best ofs and top tens… HOW CAN THERE BE ONE SUCH GREAT THING? Sticking ‘personal’ in front or use of personal pronouns expectedly improves the situation but even than it is not without conflict.

At this point in the webisphere, top ten videos feel outdated and even more so their influence was metaphorically shoved down our throats by the internet ‘news source’ Buzzfeed. The company’s consistent selling point was these lists and their output led to other news outlets doing the same, most notably the free newspaper Metro on their website. This posting was a major influence in the term ‘clickbait’ where companies would create ‘relatable’ content to readers so they would click onto their website and increase their web traffic and the climb up through the Google search engine. Doing these lists has enabled them to shovel out the same stuff with perhaps one update each year and people have forotten about them thus ending back on them. It is all very tiring and I of course are guilty for trawling through these posts to find out how relatable they are…perhaps they were good in the sense of answering our questions of how relatable we were with other people.

The main premise of this article is…can’t we just enjoy things?  Comparing and rating is definitely one of the forefronts of our conversations and I’m very guilty of that. To say you like a certain album or game than another by the artist or in its series somehow defines you as a person. You’re one of ‘them’ kinds of people. If I can draw a comparison from my own interests, a band I really like, Weezer are most notably recognised for their first two albums ‘Weezer (The Blue Album)’ and ‘Pinkerton’ being their best work and so fans argue which is better. I like the latter better and due to its darker undertones that changes who I am as a person to some people, but we like things for our own reasoning and that’s how it should be. Perhaps I’m getting too invested in this matter but like a major factor in my life is console wars which definitely ruin how we enjoy video games.

I’m a console collector and have played and most home consoles since the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and I enjoy games from all of them. In this day and age where first party titles are better and different on the current consoles of the three big companies: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, you start thinking: “well this must be popular because A and B however this console also has good components from B yet the final console has great features which neither match what A and B are saying…comprende?”

When referencing console wars, going back to the early 90’s where the feud between the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the Sega MegaDrive/Genisis divided many people as both were great consoles with great games that featured personally or on both machines. Those which featured on both machines like Disney Capcom title Aladdin would strike even bigger debates about different concepts of video games such as gameplay, fame rate, look and audio. There just had to be one better than the other which I guess is fair because that’s how games work, but the superior in gaming terminology may not be someone’s favourite due to personal experience and someone could argue to them asking why the superior isn’t their favourite for A and B reasoning again.

Perhaps I am being cynical and too radical to this idea and that it is good for us to enjoy things and rating said categories merely expands our minds. Being able to develop an assumption for ourselves that we think a certain item deserves a higher ranking personalises who were are and brings forth these important discussions. Having discussions is what furthers our development. It may sound a little philosophical, yet if we discuss in a civilised manner and not shit all over each others ideas and favourites then we might enjoy favouriting things more. I believe it is even more enjoyable if we keep an open mind and hear someone’s reasoning for their placing of whatever it is that they are talking about. At the same time calling something ‘favourite’ one day does not define it as such seeing as opinions can change constantly so we shouldn’t hang too heavy over what someone describes as their favourite too much.

What are your opinions?

Do we try and favourite things too much or is it good to favourite the things we enjoy and love?


 

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The Ataribox: what is it?

So a couple months ago Atari teased that they would be releasing their first console in 24 years since the Jaguar in 1993. This tease has actually turned out to be true and the company is currently working on their new console, the interestingly dubbed ‘Ataribox’ and images of the console were released to give us a look at what the company are hoping to make.

The console has a dark wood/black and red/black finish and gives the impression of an 80’s styled hardware with a modern crisp touch to it, reminiscent of their older models like the 2600. So far no release dates, game confirmations, specs or pricing has been confirmed or mentioned but it is stated that the console will have the best of retro and ‘modern’ content from the brand. Whilst Atari own the brand it is expected that a lot of their classic titles will end up on this console. It does not appear to be a simple ‘plug and play’ machine which has been created by third parties (most notably the Flashback console).

Recently on Steam, Xbox One and PS4 two Atari game packages were released called the ‘Flashback Classics vol. 1/2‘ and this is just some of many in terms of Atari re-releases over the years which have previously been on Steam and older Playstation consoles. There are so many ways of obtaining their back catalogue which features titles such as Pac-Man, Asteroids, Joust, Yars Revenge, Adventure, Centipede, Breakout and Space Invaders that is it really necessary for this console to even exist? Such a thought has drifted around for years as it seemed like another Atari console would never happen and the same could be said for a lot of other companies (one with a blue hedgehog).

The Atari Jaguar released in 1993 was a major flop and saw Atari exit the console market…in the time of their last console to the Ataribox…I was born.

This console will favour nicely to retro fans and it will be interesting to see if the console is a disc drive system seeing as the NES & SNES Classic Mini have proven to be popular and are such simple systems with no add-on features. Another interesting fact will be their idea of ‘modern’ games being thrown into the mix…surely this won’t have the most amazing specs and will sit in between console specs over the last few years. Will it merely just license recent Atari titles to its console like Roller Coaster Tycoon? Well it is nice to have everything in one place and the console itself does look aesthetically pleasing to say the least. On the other hand the name will strike a fuse with gamers seeing as the addition on ‘box’ contrasts with ‘Xbox’ but, I feel its to exemplify how a lot of Atari content will be in this machine…maybe it’s a prototype name like ‘NX’.

The console will have HDMI, SD Card and USB  inputs which gives me the impression that it will support modern gaming and have updated (to a degree) specifications. The console will also be crowdfunded and I imagine to shovel enough out the company will set themselves a high target. Atari are not just jumping right back into the console game as they are listening to fans and taking a step by step approach to make sure everyone’s feelings on the project are heard.

Stay tuned for further updates on this interesting new retro project!

‘Gamer’ – Hanging the term loosely in our busy lives

To describe ones self as a ‘gamer’ is perfectly fine in my books and I assume the phrase will be used in many different manners as a lot of labels are these days. There are many different types of ‘gamers’ or shall we say, people who play video games. I have certainly in the past called myself such a thing but, upon having a busy work schedule, the amount of gameplay I manage to rake in has varied if not decreased.

With that decrease so has the type of games I play. I used to play everything basically at one point or another and have gone through different phases where I would play indie games, retro games, Nintendo games and now I find myself to be playing more multi-player or online-orientated titles. The reason for this it would seem is that I appear to be afraid of story-based games as they do not take the same approach as an online shooter.

Take a game like Overwatch for example which has become a favourite of mine over the last year. The Blizzard shooter has many different types of shooter mini-games such as capturing the flag, revolving character play, point claiming and objective delivering. Most of these games can range between 2-10 minutes depending on the game and the ability of the team to hold off against the other. These games can be over quickly and with that you are also rewarded for your progress and play with ‘loot boxes’ which are treasure chest unlockable items such as new character skins. Now you don’t get them after every game, but you will probably play at least a level’s worth of gameplay in a sitting to claim something from it.

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Overwatch has become one of the most popular online shooters with a core following of fans

Like other shooters such as Splatoon, it has monthly events which draw in more play-time because there’s that unlockable factor and once that campaign ends, those skins and other unlockables are unobtainable. So in one theory I may not feel as much of a gamer now because I concentrate on one game more than others in my vast (ever-growing) collection. Is it bad to only play one game? In no way is it my favourite but it certainly strikes out more to me than other titles in its genre.

Another way I look at this is almost ‘drug like’ as I want my quick fix of achievement. I did used to play for achievements and try and get as many as I could. There’s many different senses of accomplishment in games and completing a game seems to be one I struggle with these days. The main games you will find for completing at least for the most part are ‘story based games’. You know like something that might lead to end credits after a campaign in Halo or Horizon Zero Dawn and with these and the idea of ending a game quickly is another problem I face.

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Horizon Zero Dawn… I will finish you one day

It might even sound like a chore. I can assure it’s nothing like that but, sometimes playing certain story-based games I feel I could be looking for the nearest save point because I feel I need to take a break from the experience or don’t feel like I can invest too much time into the game. It could even be that I feel the end of the game is so far in the distance I cannot feel like I’ll reach it.

Having so many games provides an issue of what do I want to play or feel like playing. Leaving myself in a difficult position of what to play might just take me to something familiar that I can adjust to quickly like a bit of Battlefront on my PS4 with a game of Blast (first to 100 kills in a team game). Referring back to playing for purpose and achievement, if I am a very busy person which I tend to be balancing work, music, home and other media forms I need to find time to enjoy a story-based game to its fullest and with a game like Gears of War, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Bloodborne or Fallout 4 I want to devote a whole days playing to really get something out of it.

Growing up I played a lot of 3D platformers such as Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and games like this and those inspired by Super Mario 64 let you play at your own pace at times and explore areas. There weren’t time limits like in my other genre love that is side-scrollers (although I played a lot of Sonic The Hedgehog with no time or end wall restrictions). I feel that relaxed environment aided me into playing video games gently…not having a memory card for my PS1 for a long time has probably ruined my engagement for stories as well.

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The average Mario Kart race will last around 4 minutes so a cup race is over quickly

One game I am playing a lot of at the moment is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch and the future games Nintendo have planned fit the same feeling I get with this title. So far on the Switch we have received a small number of big titles which have been the aforementioned Zelda title Breath of the Wild along with Super Bomberman R and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the latter two have major multi-player aspects to them on top of their single player options. Coming this month is boxing title Arms along with July’s Splatoon 2 which are all heavy multi-player games. Since its release I have been a big fan of the Switch and its capabilities and with a lot of my time on it being played with friends and colleagues the thrills of the games are quick and enjoyable.

I guess the benefit of the Switch is that I can incorporate it into work time on lunch breaks so I get the best of both worlds, giving me much needed gaming time. At the same time, I have yet to complete the main story of Breath of the Wild which I hope to achieve by the end of year and I can play this game wherever I go, but at the same time it still feels like a sit down kind of game where I want to be in my own comfort zone. A gamer for me feels like someone who is playing lots of games all of the time and playing them to completion and this was once me but is such a title that important? Maybe we should start a campaign for me to play more games to completion new and old…because man I love my retro games.

Retro games give me another enhancement of how much I have to play as for not being old enough for when the majority were produced. The only benefit to some of them is that they are a lot shorter than other games and probably can be beaten in one sitting. A lot have loopholes (not forgetting modern games like Sonic Boom) which leads to quicker completion. It all may just be a matter of well developed time management and ignore procrastination.

I ask you the audience as I conclude this post, is it important to rush games to the finish or can we go back and play them whenever? Should we concentrate on one game at a time or fill ourselves with a nice mixture?

Thank you for reading
Travis Ward – Wardculture

Pokémon Evolutions: The kid in you is calling

If you’re like me, a kid who grew up in the late 90’s and early 2000’s then at some point in that time you probably owned Pokémon cards and heck…some of you might have actually played the game! Well remember getting those Base Set cards and aspiring for Charizard, Mewtwo, Blastoise and Venasaur? Well guess what…you have a second chance.

Pokémon X & Y: Evolutions is the final trading card game (TCG) set from the X & Y series of cards and is practically the series as a whole coming together full circle in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Pokémon. It released yesterday (November 2nd) and should hopefully be hitting the shelves in the UK soon.

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Another 20th anniversary set was released a couple months back called the ‘Generations’ set. This include a ton of EX and full body art cards. Most Pokémon cards range from £3-3.80 whereas Generations was £5 retail value. This meant getting the Elite Trainer Box was a way better bargain and you usually got great looking pulls. The box featured two throwback cards which were Tauros from the Jungle series and Slowpoke from the Fossil series.

What makes Evolutions different is that the large majority of cards are remakes of the original base set with certain elements of the cards given a little boost. Certain placements of the Pokémon on the cards may have altered as well as with the Staryu card it appears Staryu isn’t directly in the middle. Not all the cards have been re-published however, as some that you would expect or hope for are still mega ex cards like Blastoise. Pidgeot also gets a fair few EX cards along with Charizard and Mewtwo. There will be a Mega Slowbro card and Break cards are continuing featuring Pokémon such as Machamp and Ninetails.

All other cards are back to their classic style such as the energy cards and the holos are reminiscent to that of the Wizards of the Coast packs. The only real difference is that there are better attacks and damage points to compete with modern matches and the card layout is a bit more polished. All levels remain the same as before however.

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Who had a shoebox full of swaps?

That fatty Pikachu (probably one of my first cards) is back in the set and there will be two special booster boxes with confirmed cards and these will be a Pikachu and Mewtwo set. This is a lot like the Pokémon Base 2 theme sets. There will also be elite trainer boxes featuring the starter Pokémon evolutions on the cover.

Brock and Misty have full trainer card artwork and so it is trying to mingle in the three factors of Pokémon we all know and love: the games, anime and cards. This new set will also feature old promo cards such as flying Pikachu, Surfing Pikachu and the strange Imakuni?’s Doduo (finally in English).

If you have been wanting to get back into Pokémon cards or Pokémon in general and the nostalgia is exceedingly great then I do recommend purchasing these cards for old times sake. Certain card distribution websites do sell 36 card booster sets for just under £100.00 and economically that does work out better.

Oh and one more thing…you can get the original holo Charizard card with updated card features such as HP.

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Notice anything different?

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Pokémon Company decided to re-release other series’ such as Rocket or Gym Leaders. Stay tuned for more! Each pack contains ten cards and will feature either Mega Blastoise, Mega Charizard Y, Mega Venasaur or Raichu on the cover. If you did want to compete I would suggest picking up earlier packs…especially some crafty trainer cards.