I Robot? No. Ahhh! Robot!

Cold, non-blooded, killer.

Ahhh! Robot. Cold and heartless, metal beasts, carrying with them no emotion. I think back to the X-Men cartoons of the 90s and the only scary things from that series, the Sentinels. Sentinels were emotionless metal hunters bent on the apprehension and then termination of all mutants. Compared to the never dying and emotionally fragile mutants who made up the series, Sentinels were the only characters who showed no humor, no care – that’s what made them scary. Sentinels were towering walking buildings with monotone voices. They did not have human bodies with robot parts, enabling the audience to better relate to them. No, Sentinels could not be related to. They were were giant metal aliens to the human world, they were frightening.

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He could fetch and befriend but I was hoping for a Dog antithesis Cat.

Robots of today’s graphical adventures, generated by processors and not pencils, are too relatable. They are at times like the other ‘buddy’ of a buddy cop movie. They are, often, an ally and not a feared steel encased executioner. They are not Arnold…at least in the first Terminator.  Sometimes they are so docile they are even called a dog.

Half-Life 2’s robotic, fetching, four legged friend Dog was a pet. He was a helping hand/paw. His presence was fun but again, his presence was comforting to the player. He made the trying journey of Half Life 2 less daunting. He coddled the player through to the end. Dog wasn’t an oily geared gadget of grotesque.

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Robots have constantly been used as companions. Many of times they have been used as short-in-stature comedians (see R2D2). Borderlands’ claptraps encompass the midget stand up comic role in its entirety. It is not a poor representation of robots in games but it does further distance the fear factor we no longer see with robots in video games. I do give credit to developer Gearbox Software and publisher 2K Games for seeing the claptrap as a potential enemy.  The entertaining Borderlands’ DLC, Claptrap’s Robot Revolution, was fun but I never did fear the joke cracking miniature robots with rockets…but that was never their intention in design, but I kind of wish it was.

The glitch bitch himself, ED-E.

There is some hope for the future, a future that involves meat bags being battered to blood pools, in the video game world. With Fallout: New Vegas we saw a glimpse of a robot that was cool, calculated and at times a touch scary. The floating companion ED-E was a robotic companion that, through its miss-wired programing, laser beamed foes to ashes with what could be seen, at surface level, joy.

ED-E is a glimpse into what could be a resurgence of  of the Terminator-esque robots of old. Robots that were feared and had no moral blocker keeping them from their programed need to kill. Robots, lacking human emotion, seemed alien. Robots had character without having to have dialogue. Bring on the video card empowered Sentinels!

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The Unemployed Gamer Virus: Cure Found

Gaming has always been a hobby, an escape and a social meeting arena for me and my friends. Gaming has provided me a place where I can go and not bring any other thoughts with me,  my own personal sanctuary…unemployment briefly changed that. Unemployment has a tendency to twist the things you enjoy and turn them into moments of self conscious periods of doubt. Unemployment is a computer virus on my hobby.

Gaming in the evenings, after a day of stressful and frustrating work, was end-of-the-day therapy for me. Coupled with a hard workout, gaming was cure number two for the weekly grind. As long as I could get in 1 1/2 hours of gaming every two days, coupled with an hour of working out a day, I could usually go to bed and rest. I could usually make it to the weekend and be able to let everything go and enjoy those two precious days that start with a “S”. You would think with more time to enjoy my hobby then all the better?

For the first time, the first weekend not being gainfully employed, gaming did not bring the same meditation it once did. About 5 minutes in to my pastime that Friday afternoon a storm stealthy blew in and within its lightning strikes rode the unemployment virus striking out at my lightning rod brain. I  immediately began to doubt the efforts I put into job hunting over the last two days. I questioned if  I saw and applied for all the new jobs posted that week that even remotely related to my education and work experience. I immediately worried that I had missed touching base with someone in my network. I would worry that I wouldn’t hear back from someone in my network. I would worry, I would worry, I would worry, I would… die, in my game. Distracted and infected with the unemployment virus I let the walls to my sanctuary crumble and fall, making a ruin of my once great gaming monument.

I had to take a step back. I had to refocus my thought process. I had to be able to enjoy one of my favorite hobbies again. I had to reassure myself and cure this unemployment virus.  The first step was to look at my job hunting process I set up. I looked over the spreadsheet I created (complete with columns for links to job descriptions, company names, date applied,  follow up dates and contact names and their numbers/emails) and the jobs I had already applied to.  I reviewed my resume again, updated my LinkedIn profile and looked back over the two new cover letters (a generic and a targeted one) that I created a day before. I made sure I provided updates to all my social media accounts that had a place for a status – “Freshly unemployed and on the hunt. Any leads would be appreciated. Experience in journalism, marketing, corporate communication and much more. For details to my education and work history please touch base.” was noted openly and hopefully. I realized I was organized and running hard as if I was being whipped by Ron Turcotte himself. I also realized that keeping organized and on a routine similar to a regular work week would help bring back my peace of mind.

That Monday I got up at 7AM as I would usually do as if working. I worked out, showered, made coffee and then set down at my desk for my new job… job hunting. I applied to new job posts I felt qualified for. I updated my spreadsheet and checked on follow up dates and made a couple of calls. I checked the social networks for any mentions of possible employment and to double check if there was someone I hadn’t reached out to that I should. I ate lunch then checked if there were new posts for possible employment or emails in response to earlier applications.

I did my new temporary job into the afternoon and then stopped. I saved my spreadsheets and other documents, logged out of  my social media sites and closed down my email. I then started up Steam and joined a friend already in a Team Fortress 2 game. I shot ‘noobs’ in the face and burned their backs with a flamethrower. I destroyed sentry guns and teleporters. I checked for spies in our base and air pushed back temporary invulnerable opponents. I sneaked out a doorway and off a ledge, burned half the opposing team to death from behind and pushed the game ending bomb-on-a-cart to victory as the hated pyro.

How I dress for gaming success - Team Fortress 2's 'Pyro'.

I did all this and thought about nothing else. I cured the unemployment gamer virus with organization, practical effort and the reassurance that I am doing (and will continue to do) all I can to once again be a gainfully employed gamer. I enjoyed gaming.


What’s Your Gaming Juice?

You want that gaming edge but can’t afford or have a moral issue against cocaine? You know steroids don’t provide the focus required for an epic gaming run by evidence of the 5 or 6  keyboards you have smashed your sweaty, meaty fingers through. What is your gaming juice? Well here are a sampling of some with additional details on what time of day they are best for and for what type of game.

Coffee flavored anything is the proper medicine for morning gaming.

Coffee:  If you just got up and you have the urge to play but not the mind motivation, then coffee is your cure. Coffee has always been the ‘wrong side of the bed’ alleviator and it is the morning gamers cup (or 5) of gaming juice. There is something about the flavor of coffee and early morning sunrises that go hand-and-hand and coupled with a brain draining RPG, it is the perfect recipe for gaming success. If you have the extra funds splurge for a homemade coffee concoction, with the extra shots of espresso, to get you to a 10th level character plateau. When you start to feel the initial effects of the gourmet brew fade, grind your own pot of coffee so you can grind to level 15.

 

From experience, Tazo's green ginger tea is the best choice for providing hours of aid.

Ginger Tea:  3 hours deep into a Civilizations 5 [Civ 5] marathon and your eyes are already tired and blurry. You can’t focus on what Wonder to build in what city because you are dizzy. You don’t know which city to defend from Gandhi’s surprising wrath because your stomach is in knots and feeling woozy. There is a cure for all of those symptoms that will allow you to turn back Gandhi, build your Wonder, and refocus your peepers on the changing tides of Civ 5 diplomacy. A caffeinated ginger tea (no, not a drink brewed from hairs of a redheaded person) is the ancient days cure all and a current day aid to extended gaming sessions. Gingers healing powers’ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger] are numerous and perfect for those who get a little nauseous from rapid eye movement induced by rapid monitor movements so, it’s also useful for First Person Shooter [FPS] marathons. Make sure to use a version of ginger tea that does include caffeine so you can focus on your game without the negative effects of motion sickness and have the caffeinated energy to make it through a eight hour plus Civ 5 map. Tea used in this way should be sipped like wine at a pace of 1 cup per hour or hour 1/2 of game play.

The only energy drink better than Chuck Norris's...an energy drink from Chuck Norris's beard.

Energy Drinks:  So here are the heavy hitters. The super sugary sweetened caffeine bombs. They pick you up quick and hard but let you down dirty and messy. They are the hookers of caffeinated drinks, cheap, plentiful and a few… are actually tasty. If you are a FPS fan-boy then you are very familiar with these mistresses of the night, these caned caffeinated vigor venereals. From the ugly stepchild Monster, the world wide branded Redbull, to the champagne of energy drinks, Bawls – all are good at what they are supposed to do, wake you the f*ck up! From the time you yell “CLEAR”, like you are getting ready to jolt your heart with a defibrillator, to your crash, similar to a heroine junky coming down, you are a gaming animal. From a twitch based shooter like Counter Strike to a more multi-class based shooter like Team Fortress 2, energy drinks are your temporary solution. Just be prepared to crash like Windows Vista.

Bawls, put it in your mouth.

Vodka/Bawls:  Is it the weekend? Are you and your friends meeting up online for an epic FPS shootout? Want to keep the conversation social and entertaining and give yourself an edge over the online competition? My favorite and most effective gaming juice blend takes the aforementioned Bawls energy drink plus a top shelf vodka and gives you pure gaming euphoria. First and foremost, moderation, this gaming juice is only effective if paced out and mixed properly. For each 10 oz. nubby bottle of Bawls mix ONE SHOT of vodka over ice. Yes, just one shot. For this gaming juice to work properly you need to ease into it with about one mixed drink per hour until you hit that gaming peak performance that provides equal parts focus, quick twitch ability and booze infused ‘Bawls’. Once you hit this prime time intoxication (you will realize it because you will be at the top of the player score screen) you should ease off the vodka to half a shot per 10 ounces of Bawls. This will help you hold you in the gaming juice zone and extend the positive effects of it. Be warned, if you do not moderate your alcohol intake as mentioned your peak performance will quickly crumble into a mountain slide and there will be no coming back.   Be warned, you will hit this wall no matter what, but the more you regulate your intake the longer it will last. How will you know you’ve past your gaming juice prime? You will be at the bottom of the list of player point totals, your kill to death ratio will be horrendous, and that noob, who just spray and prayed you when you came around the corner, he/she will be setting just above you on the player score screen. The solution, go to bed.