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RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)
Posted on Thursday, August 14 2014 @ 07:58:46 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Robin Williams was an absolutely exceptional comedian, talented actor, and holder of a special place in video game history: He was the first really famous gamer I know of. I’m sure there were others, but they kept a comparatively low profile, unlike one of the greatest improv comics of all time who named his daughter after a video game character.

I do love that story. With his wife pregnant during the NES era, he was obsessed with the original Legend of Zelda. Played for hours and hours. And at one point, when his son proposed the name "Zelda" for his soon-to-be-born little sister, they all said it out loud… and named her just that. Shortly after that, Zelda Williams came into the world, and even starred with her father in a 3DS commercial for the portable release of Ocarina of Time.

Not much of an obit, but he will be properly written about in articles and stories for years to come. His talents as a stand-up and improv master are only rivaled by the skills of the late Jonathan Winters, who was both a mentor and friend of Williams, as well as another star on the classic series Mork & Mindy. The energy Williams brought to everything he did made him an inspiration to an entire generation of comedians, just as Winters had done before him. But to wrap this up in short order:

Robin Williams was an improv king, and the father of a legendary princess. And for everything he brought to the stage, the screen, and a level of legitimacy early on in the gaming industry, he will be missed.

Goodbye, you amazing funny, fuzzy, bafflingly brilliant bastard you.

This article by a GR staff member, posted earlier in August 11, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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GaymerX
Posted on Saturday, August 3 2013 @ 05:22:42 Eastern

The eve of GaymerX is upon us, and I'm getting a little excited.  I do like going to conventions, and this one should be an amusing doozy I haven't experienced before.  It's been some time since I went to a smaller-scale convention (the last I remember being Classic Gaming Expo in 2010) and I've gotten used to the neon-drenched phenomenon that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo which, in my experience, spoils some of the fun of smaller conventions.  Even so, I prefer a more intimate setting for the video game fandom; the feeling that you can strike up a conversation with another human being because you have something directly in common.   That's the perk of GaymerX to me.  There's a freedom in such a setting, especially one in an LGBTQ-themed venue… I don't have to subconsciously avert my gaze should I find myself looking over another human being of my gender and they sudden turn my direction.  Sure, it's creepy to still stare after that, but at least I know the possibility that I'll be beat up is much, MUCH smaller.  One of the biggest perks, I might say.

But for everyone that thinks it's a super-swell idea to have a queer-themed convention, there's a chorus of other voices calling out.  "Why not just meet up at another con if you want to be gay together?"  "Why do you NEED a convention just for gay people?  Isn't that exclusionary?"  "Why are you looking at my butt, do you think I'm a gay homo?"

*sigh*

Conventions like GaymerX, or FurCon, or any other niche fandom isn't exactly "exclusionary" (I'm including FurCon because, even though I've never gone, I don't think they'd purposefully keep out the curious or non-furries on principle).  It's good to throw some of these because, unlike major gatherings like ComicCon or PAX, there aren't vast differences in the groups that might arrive.  At their core, a section of ComicCon is very much like the entire gathering of GaymerX: a table/few tables of specific stuff or purpose catering to a smaller demographic that's interested.  ComicCon deals with what seems to be nearly every cultural medium, from comics and graphic novels to television and film, in order to get together the largest crowd possible.  Smaller conventions that focus on "Star Trek" or Dungeons & Dragons fans are the same, just with a finer focus.  Would you say "why do you want your own convention" to a nerd in a Storm Trooper outfit?  Would you ask why a LARP-ing enthusiast would want to be around other LARP-ing enthusiasts with the same gusto?

Last night, at the "before the con" party, there were straight people in the audience.  I know, I saw them dotted around like Kangaskhan in the Safari Zone.  They were treated just like every other paying customer, out to support their hobby and - I can only guess at this, but I think I'm right in this case - supporting the simple existence of a gaming class of gaymers.  Girls weren't excluded because they brought their boyfriends just like gay people aren't excluded at DunDraCon.  We were all there to have a good time and - possibly - learn something, or at least bring up some ideas that might make things better for everyone involved.  After having gone to Classic Gaming Expo seven times and basking in the beautiful glow of old arcade games and chats about interactive origins, the 3DS Streetpasses and where LGBTQ characters might go in the future strikes me as exactly the same thing.  Just because I date boys doesn't mean I'm not also interested in how much ass Jet Set Radio kicks (mostly mine, picked it back up again through PSN and it harms my SOUL), and just because I support LGBTQ causes doesn't mean LGBTQ characters can't bring something to the stories and experiences told through an interactive medium.
  Do I want more people to feel comfortable being who they are?  You're damn right I do.  The acceptance of such a convention might help someone know that they're not alone, and that other people can have a fun time with each other without ridicule or fear of reprisal.

The Westboro Baptist Church has said repeatedly that they're going to protest at some point during the convention.  To them I say, feel free.  You're going to chant and sing and scream about how we're all going to hell, or that we're all worshipping false idols, or whatever bullshit you think revomiting might get picked up by the local news.  And while you're doing that, we're going to be in one of my favorite, coolest, most beautiful cities in the world… and indoors talking about video games and why we like them.

I think we're all feeling better already.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time.


(Originally posted on The Ramble, Kevin Schaller's personal blog.  All words are his, and not necessarily those of any organization or other writer here on GR.  Besides, I hear he's kind of a drunk.  And he smells, too.  -Kevin)

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UPDATE: Arcades Are Still Dead
Posted on Monday, May 13 2013 @ 14:18:00 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
[Editor's Note: As Kevin Schaller is a staff writer for us, this of course won't be counted in the monthly Vox Pop prize. But this post is awesome, nonetheless. Maybe TOO awesome.]

I've been a bit perturbed lately, so I decided to do something that always makes me happy: I drove to one of my two childhood arcades the other day, and was seriously disappointed. Most arcades are outright dead nowadays, but even so, walking through this dirty, smelly, disintegrating place makes me think of what an ancient of the faithful might think of their crumbled, barely-standing place of worship today.

Maybe that's a bit overdramatic, but the sentiment is there.   My classic arcade, the one that always made me happy as a child, was the Scandia Mini-Golf and Arcade of Fairfield, CA.
 
(Picture from BudgetInnOfFairfield.com)
It has the aforementioned mini-golf course and arcade, batting cages, bumper boats, a rock-climbing wall, and even a small go-kart track. Clearly, everything that children would love in a location. I remember back a ways when the go-karts first opened up. I was there a week or two after and took them for a spin. Much fun was had that day.

Even after growing up a bit, I still enjoyed the place. I attended the nearby community college, only a few minute's drive from Scandia and the little rest-stop of small chain restaurants and gas stations. It was where I went if I had enough time between classes, or just didn't feel like driving the half-hour home after a long day. I rarely played mini-golf, and only one time do I remember playing around on the bumper boats (they were terrible to control), but I would always-always-ALWAYS fiddle in the arcade, especially when they got their DDR cabinets.

In the early days, that arcade was reminiscent of the arcade from The Karate Kid (the original 1984 kickass classic, not the recent one)… which might explain why I loved it so much; it's one of my favorite movies. But when I went recently, it was no longer the arcade I remembered.

It might sound petty, but one of the biggest reasons was because of this:


There are no more tokens. I can understand and even appreciate the rationale of not creating any more unique tokens for an establishment, but it was one of the touches that made any arcade awesome: a jingly-jangly pocket filled with play money. Seriously, on birthdays when my mom could give me ten dollars in tokens I felt like a friggin' millionaire. I'd stick my hands into my pockets and just fiddle with them like Scrooge McDuck swaming through his riches.

But when I got to the front after figuring out that I'd need a card, I gave the girl five bucks and was given this:  
I didn't take a picture of it since she was right there, but I also saw their conversion chart. See, with no more tokens, they've developed their "credits" system: each credit is worth ten cents. And because they're credits instead of tokens or quarters, they can charge more… classics are now 30 cents, not 25. A round of DDR, my whole reason for going there in the first place? No longer four quarters, now $1.20.  They need the extra nickel per quarter they couldn't get before after cutting out the expensive, specialized tokens?

To top it off, the games I wanted to play were all broken in some way. The DDR cabs wouldn't even accept the card, the Robotron 2084/Joust cabinet had a broken second stick, Player One on the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 machine didn't work at all, Metal Slug 6 was plugged into a generic cab so the button placement was awkward and unmanageable. The only game I got some enjoyment out of was from what looked like a MAME cabinet filled with classics... I got a few games of Ladybug in, but even then the generic stick was too stiff and the play onscreen was sticky in maneuvering around corners.

The games dotted around the place didn't even look good, with their control panels either flaking or completely ripped of any decor and the carpets sticking to my shoes when I stood in one place playing for more than a minute. One might think it's time to change the flooring situation when the "carpet" from 1983 hasn't seen so much as a vacuum for a decade. To say it's not a shadow of what it used to be is an understatement, almost an insult to the great times that used to be had there. It's just gross now. There's no other way to say it: it's simply a disgusting location with broken games and jacked-up price points.

One of the first features I ever had published was about the death of arcades, and it's a dream to try and discover the locations that might still exist that don't recreate the "good ol' days" of dark rooms lightened by glowing neon and electronic pops of the jukebox in the background. But as of today my own classic experience is, officially, dead to me. Nothing lasts forever, we all know that, but it's still sad to see the end.

Game over, man. Game over… unless you, dear reader, know of a place. I would LOVE to hear about arcades around the country (or the world even) that still kick in the best of ways. Please, I BEG you, if you know of one please let me know. I might have to plan a road trip.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you at the next continue. Insert Coin?

(Originally published on my site, http://kevinss.net. All images provided by me personally unless otherwise noted.)

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar. It has been submitted for our monthly Vox Pop competition. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick

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Gaming's Not A Fad - A Brief History (In Song)
Posted on Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 16:03:42 Eastern

[Since KevinS is a writer for us, this won't be considered to win Vox Pop. But I still think it's fantastic! ~Ed. Nick]

I was bored one evening, and before I knew it I had this all written out.  If you e...   read more...

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Under 100K Club: Gitaroo Man/Gitaroo Man Lives! (PS2/PSP)
Posted on Sunday, April 24 2011 @ 19:46:36 Eastern

One of my favorite rhythm games was brought back to my attention recently... actually, about when I came up with the idea of this "Under 100K Club" blog series.  Many gamers seem to already know about the crybaby hero of the planet Git...   read more...

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Under 100K Club: Retro Game Challenge
Posted on Friday, April 15 2011 @ 22:14:33 Eastern

I always find myself cursing the market for allowing some of my favorite games to go by unnoticed and un-purchased, so with my space here I think I'll start harping on at least...   read more...

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Super Genny Brothers
Posted on Thursday, August 26 2010 @ 21:04:35 Eastern

Surfing eBay is a blast.  Where else is the bulk of crazy, off-beat knock-offs and hacks at just a quick type and tap of an enter key?

Super Mario Brothers... on the Genesis!

When I worked retail a few years back I ...   read more...

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Happy Birthday!
Posted on Thursday, August 26 2010 @ 16:25:40 Eastern

It's not entirely sure as to what day it was released, but the Magnavox Odyssey was launched back in August of 1972.  In doing so, it launched the market for electronic games played on a television.  So happy birthday Odyssey, getting e...   read more...

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DN:F Release Date TBA?
Posted on Thursday, August 19 2010 @ 00:36:37 Eastern

God I hope this rumor is true.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/08/rumour-borderlands-studio-reviving-duke-nukem-forever/

According to Kotaku, Gearbox might have taken up the mantle that 3D Realms and George Broussard left ...   read more...

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CGE: Gorf on GBA
Posted on Sunday, August 8 2010 @ 00:03:38 Eastern

I was able to attend the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this year, and while I wasn't there in any "official" capacity I was able to play some new stuff, mingle with some interesting people and buy some brand new stuff.  And noth...   read more...

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