Category Archives: Things Disliked

Upsetting, dismaying, or otherwise unenjoyable.

Thanks, Ryan

Yesterday, I was heartbroken (as were a hell of a lot of folks) to learn that Ryan Davis, co-founder of Giant Bomb, lover of SUMMER JAMZ and New Balance sneakers, passed away suddenly last week. He was 34 and had gotten married four days prior.

It’s hard to explain what a good, passionate guy Ryan was. I became a huge fan of his largely because of his tireless video project, This Ain’t No Game, where he forced himself to endure every video game-based movie. (If you’ve never watched TANG, now is an excellent time to do so.) His voice and sense of humor pervaded Giant Bomb’s podcast and video work, which became staples of my gaming world over the last five years.

So many people have written about the spot Ryan held in their lives, and it speaks volumes to how beloved he was in a community that largely thrives off snark and bitterness. And while I didn’t know him personally (my only interaction being mumbling something at him at PAX East a few years back about being a big fan), I do have one small fairly dumb story. It’s not dissimilar from my one Steve Jobs anecdote, although it’s not nearly as good.

April 1st is, of course, April Fools Day and/or Internet Asshole Day, full of terrible “pranks” around the internet. (I don’t do April Fools jokes after the prank to end all pranks in 2004.) The gaming community ends up particularly burdened with site owners trying really hard to do something witty and wacky, and it drives most of us up the wall. Including Ryan.

Having just finished Bioshock Infinite, I decided to try my luck at cracking a timely joke, which will (of course) only make sense if you’ve finished Infinite.

It may have been exhaustion from other bad jokes or the fact that Bioshock Infinite jokes hadn’t yet gotten obnoxious (we’d hit that milestone maybe an hour or two later), but it apparently amused Ryan enough to get a retweet out of him. And the subsequent back and forth of further Infinite/April-Fools-Is-Terrible jokes with my compatriot Benjamin Birdie also got retweets from him.

That initial retweet has been stuck at the top of my ThinkUp dashboard since April – something with the recent betas broke the insights from updating, and I’ve been too busy to really sort out fixing it. But perhaps it’s not broken; maybe the accomplishment of making Ryan chuckle on the worst day on the Internet for jokes is an achievement worth holding on to.

Anyway.

Dumb personal Twitter-based anecdotes aside – I’m not sure what the gaming industry will be like without Ryan in it, but I hope he inspires more people in it to be more honest, funny, and actually have a good time. More folks like Ryan, and less Dorito Popes, please.

Tant Pis Pour Nous

In a year that’s been filled with disheartening gaming news, this one has made me the saddest: Producer/composer Akira Yamaoka has apparently left Konami after 16 years:

It would appear that he has left the company entirely rather than moving to another international division. As you would expect, there has been no formal confirmation from Konami, so right now this is an unconfirmed rumour – albeit one generated from a pretty reliable source. To date there’s no news yet as to what Yamaoka plans to do next. Since leaving Konami he has been in the States and is now currently in Europe, seemingly on vacation.

Silent Hill fans, who have been lamenting the decline of the series in recent years, should probably consider the series dead at this point. Akira’s scores were one of the most haunting parts of the series, and it’s hard to envision anyone else doing the series justice. From the Bemani perspective, this is another in a growing line of artists who have left the company in the past few years. Akira Yamaoka joins Taku Sakakibara, Takehiko Fujii, and Reo Nagumo, among others. In memory of his work within IIDX, a selection of some of my favorite songs: Here’s to hoping this is not the last we’ve heard out of Akira Yamaoka.

Regret, Sadness, Heartbreak, and Disbelief

It is fall of 2005, and Bemanistyle is down for an indeterminable length of time. An upstart gaming center in Rhode Island called Tokyo Game Action immediately felt the effects of this outage – their website was hosted by Bemanistyle. Without a proper website, their community was being extinguished – and for an arcade that largely relied on the patronage of hardcore gamers, community is everything. But as luck would have it, my forums were readily available – and in a decision I don’t honestly recall making, I quickly made a temporary forum so they could keep operations going. (A similar forum popped up on Shoryuken to maintain the fighting game side of the house.) That was when I first had a chance to talk to Andy McGuire, the owner of TGA, who sent me a heartfelt note. I was immediately struck by his courtesy and motivations for opening TGA:

I don’t know how much you know about TGA, but TGA is unique in the fact that we are 100% dedicated to bringing the best Bemani experience possible to the United States. I won’t bore you with the sacrifices I have made and continue to make to make TGA a reality, but in short I do it for the love of the Bemani community and a service to humanity.

Every penny that TGA receives, goes right back into the store. I have accepted that TGA is my God given mission (literally, I am a Christian) to bring happiness to people in a way that’s not violent or vulgar. I live a simple life and dedicate all my time and finances to make this work.

Besides finances the most important part of keeping TGA alive is communications. And our website being down has killed us. But because of your assistance TGA is surviving and helping keep it’s head above water.

He offered to send me a full set of IIDX Happy Sky E-Amuse cards as a token of his gratitude – but as enticing as they may have been, I declined. I wrote to him then:

While I greatly appreciate the offer, I’m going to have to politely decline for a simple reason: After being in the community for 4 years (as of next week, anyhow), I have seen far too many places come and go – people who pour their heart and souls into businesses like this and unfortunately after a certain number of months, flame out for whatever reason. I would much rather see you keep the cards and sell them to your regular customers and keep the business going properly.

Andy’s dream had, thanks to his selflessness and sacrifice, managed to survive since that time. TGA played host to two Bemani community festivals, both fantastically received. And through the last three years, Andy always managed to keep all of his Bemani machines up to date with the latest releases – which is not an easy task when they are intended for release in Japan only. But while he was in Japan in December – researching the newest Bemani releases, working on getting BlazBluedisaster struck Massachusetts, and TGA was heavily damaged by flooding. TGA stayed closed after the flood, but Andy did everything he could to work towards re-opening. Today, Andy’s dream has come to a heartbreaking end:

Tokyo Game Action is officially closed forever. With no income and other problems due to the flood, we are drowning in bills it is impossible to recover and reopen.

To pay our creditors and to prevent my family from being thrown out on the street (literally), I am left with no choice but to auction all of TGA’s assets.

TGA will be auctioning everything we have in May to pay our bills. Every game, pcb, poster, keychain, chair, plate, fork, Arch stand, figures, software, bowling ball, everything in TGA has to be sold.

My heart goes out to Andy and his family, to all the staff of TGA, and to everyone who had the opportunity to call it their arcade home. I hope to finally make the trek to TGA in May for the final liquidation – not in the hopes of purchasing anything, but to give my respects to a man who wanted nothing more than to bring happiness to a community of gamers.

DyingJournal

Valleywag is reporting that LiveJournal has laid off 20 of their 28 employees:

The bubble in social networking has burst, decisively. LiveJournal, the San Francisco-based arm of Sup, a Russian Internet startup, has cut about 20 of 28 employees — and offered them no severance, we’re told.

The company’s product managers and engineers were laid off, leaving only a handful of finance and operations workers — which speaks to a website to be left on life support. Matt Berardo, a Yahoo executive hired on last summer, is also believed to be gone.

(While I do not blog on LiveJournal, this blog is available in syndicated form, and a number of my friends post there.)

While I haven’t been pleased with the level of service out of LiveJournal since Sup took it over, this sort of news doesn’t bode well for anyone who actively uses the service.

For those of you using LJ as your primary blogs, you may want to make a backup just in case.

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p>ADDENDUM: azurelunatic has posted a minor rebuke to the Valleywag post – that only 13 have been laid off and that 17 remain.

Silently Protest This

On Tuesday, Dec. 16, Apple Inc. announced that Steve Jobs would not do the keynote at the 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo. That’s okay.

They also announced that they would no longer attend the conference in the future. That’s actually also okay. Apple doesn’t run the Macworld Expo, has never run the Macworld Expo, and for years has been appearing at the event because it was the easiest way for them to get press coverage, albeit at a great cost. But Apple no longer has an issue getting press coverage, and so they have outgrown the utility of going to Macworld San Francisco, much like they did in 2002 with Macworld New York.

Some people don’t feel that’s okay. Some people are so upset, they feel that such a decision is worth staging a protest against.

For 25 years, a very feral and cultish Mac community – some call them MacMacs – have swarmed the halls of Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA to see, obnoxiously line up for, and collectively drool over the products they love. By announcing their departure from this otherwise pointless trade show (really, there is little point for most people to attending MWSF if Apple isn’t there) Apple is signaling to the entire community that people now have a chance to froth at the mouth and act personally insulted that you will no longer be able to pay to hear someone announce products.

If you’re attending the Macworld Expo keynote on Tuesday, Jan. 6, you aren’t sending a message to Apple by remaining silent during the 2009 keynote. While Phil Schiller is on the stage, if you’re sitting in the audience, even if you sit on your hands, duct tape your mouth shut, and hold your breath, you’re not sending a message to Apple.

You know how you send a message to Apple? The same way you send a message to other companies: you stop buying their products. You stop worshipping the company and/or the products and/or Steve Jobs.

My name is Dan Dickinson, and I’m tired of fanboys.

A Moment Of Disturbing Honesty From Activision

Stephen Totilo of MTV reporting on a moment of honesty from today’s Activision/Blizzard earnings call, emphasis mine:

During today’s Activision Blizzard earnings call, a financial analyst asked the company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, why the company didn’t keep all of Vivendi’s games when the two gaming companies merged.

The analyst didn’t name any games, but technically, he had to be referring to the likes of “Ghostbusters,” “50 Cent: Blood On The Sand” and the new “Riddick,” which all appear to have found new publishing homes…

Kotick responded not by addressing any of the games by name, but by talking about Activision’s publishing philosophy. The games Activision Blizzard didn’t pick up, he said, “don’t have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million dollar franchises. … I think, generally, our strategy has been to focus… on the products that have those attributes and characteristics, the products that we know [that] if we release them today, we’ll be working on them 10 years from now…You still need to have production of new original property but you have to do it very selectively… the focus at retail and for the consumer is to continue to be on the big narrow and deep high profile release strategy… We’ve had enough experience that I think the strategy we employ is the most successful.”

I suppose I can appreciate the honesty, but as a gamer, I couldn’t be more nauseated.

That’s not to say I’m particularly surprised – what was the last significant franchise they created?

Tony Hawk? 1999.

Call Of Duty? 2003.

Guitar Hero? 2005.

I often love the games that are too quirky, too weird, too inaccessible, or too obscure for the mass market. And it’s sad that a company that was there when I started gaming 25 years ago has become so unwilling to take risks with their titles.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

They’re going to throw a lever and detach the tower-cable’s clip, and the man in sockless Banfis will free-fall for what’ll seem forever, until the crane’s cable’s slack is taken up and the line takes his weight and goes tight behind him and swings him way out over the grounds to the south, his arc’s upward half almost as high as the tower was, and then he’ll fall all over again, back, and get caught and swung the other way, back and forth, the man prone at the arc’s trough and seeming to stand at either apex, swinging back and forth and erect and prone against a rare-meat sunset. And just as the crane’s cab’s blond reaches for his lever and the crowd mightily inhales, just then, I lose my nerve, in my very last moment at the Fair – I recall my childhood’s serial nightmare of being swung or whipped in an arc that threatens to come full circle – and I decline to be part of this, even as witness – and I find, again, in extremis, access to childhood’s other worst nightmare, the only sure way to obliterate all; and the sun and sky and plummeting Yuppie go out like a light.

David Foster Wallace was found dead in his home Friday evening. He had apparently hung himself; I suppose given the above, one could consider it ironic. One familiar with his work could also be glad he didn’t stick his head in a microwave.

DFW has always remained high on my list of favorite authors, largely thanks to the book for which I’ve named this post. Now seems like an appropriate time to read it, and his sprawling opus, one more time.

Vimeo vs. Gamers

Today, in tech news:

  • Twitter has announced that they are banning all messages (or “tweets”) relating to Apple, due to capacity concerns, given the massive usage spikes during Apple keynotes and product releases.
  • Flickr announced that screenshots and drawn artwork will no longer be allowed for upload, as they do not truly constitute ‘creative expression’ and do not jive with the mission of the site.
  • LiveJournal specified new policy, banning posts about user’s parents. “We simply do not want to spend the money and resources to host these entries,” said management.

To users of these services, all of this probably sounds ridiculous. Sites based around user submitted content would be foolish to restrict content based on topic, media type, or content.

The above headlines are fake, but this one is not: Vimeo is banning videos related to video games.

“The Vimeo staff has decided that we are no longer going to allow gaming videos on Vimeo. Specifically, we are no longer going to allow game walk-throughs, game strategy videos, depictions of player vs player battles, raids, fraps, or any other video gaming videos that simply depict individuals playing a video game. Videos falling into this category will be subject to deletion as of September 1st; new videos of this type will be removed.” – Blake Whitman, Vimeo Staff

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