I probably don’t have a lot to say about Skyrim that others haven’t said. I will say this — it’s a testament to how good of a game it is that I put around 500 hours into it despite it being shockingly buggy. And seriously, it is a very buggy game. It is easy to do normal things that result in the game crashing (which isn’t so bad) or losing items (very bad).

Still, it is a great, great game. It’s not for everyone, of course, but it taps right into a super-addictive part of my brain that could probably be exploited by heroin or pogs or something. I took my PS3 with me on vacation to the in-laws so I could play it. When we arrived and I realized that I had forgot to actually bring Skyrim, I went out and bought a used copy (from Trade-N-Games) so I could continue playing it.

So maybe I have a problem.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I finally got around to completing the main quest a few weeks ago. The main quest was great and could probably stand alone as a game itself, but of course it’s everything else in the game world that makes the game so good. I’m not really sure that I’m done with it, even though I’ve started playing Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Super Mario Galaxy 2.


Yikes! I haven’t updated in a while.

I have been busy though. I put a lot of time into Skyrim. I’ll probably write something about it.

Photo of Nintendo controller with LED modification

I’ve spent some time working on some hardware stuff, including this fun NES controller modification.

I’m also ramping up to selling some modded original Xboxes.

As for games, I’m considering a few to play next. Maybe a JRPG.

Game Boy Repair

A few months ago I stumbled across a red Play It Loud Game Boy in a Goodwill. It was in very good condition. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t run off batteries.

I was able to fix it. I recorded a video of the process.

I suspected that the problem had to do with the battery contacts. It appeared that some batteries had leaked on them at some point. It turned out that was the problem, and now it works great!


Anyone who has been paying attention to the gaming world has heard of #gamergate at this point. I’ve been a mostly silent observer until fairly recently. I did a lot of retweeting, but otherwise didn’t participate.

I made a single tweet in the gamergate hashtag last night expressing my anger with the reactions from #gamergate folks to the sociopathic harassment of a female game developer.

I was almost immediately responded to by #gamergate folks trying to brush the event aside:

I’m not going to go into all the substance of the conversations here. I’ve linked to the chain of tweets if anyone wants to read them themselves.

The rapidity with which several people jumped in demanding evidence or downplaying it was concerning. I have not been particularly vocal on this issue up to this point, despite following it closely. I am not in any way a prominent or controversial figure in the debate. So I can only imagine how maddening it is for people (predominately women) targeted by #gamergate.1

What I find most frustrating is the stubborn refusal to acknowledge #gamergate’s harassment problem. There are people in #gamergate on one hand talking about how they’re a grassroots movement2 that has concerns with X, Y and Z. But when people associated with them act poorly, they fall back on claims that no one person speaks for them and that there are jerks in every contingent. The problem here, which you see in regular politics as well, is their priorities. When a game dev, critic or journalist receives death threats and/or doxxing, their first response is to defend their movement or to claim that people on their “side” are being harassed. That does not do much to help the “other side”3 view them as people acting in good faith.

Here are my main gripes with #gamergate, in no particular order:

  • It was kicked off by attempts to shame a female indie dev for her sex life.
  • It concerned itself early on with attacks on Anita Sarkeesian4.
  • Women (particularly outspoken women) are disproportionally targeted.
  • People (especially those prominent in the industry) who voice support for targeted women are themselves targeted.

By targeted, I mean harassed, abused and doxxed.

The responses I’ve heard from folks are disappointing. It’s a common political tactic to try to brush aside history (recent or otherwise) and pretend that a movement, as it currently exists,5 is all that matters.

But history does matter. This movement was kicked off with misogynist attacks. It has its origins in slut-shaming. It only pivoted when prominent gaming websites broadly condemned the slut-shaming of Zoe Quinn and the attacks on Sarkeesian. Under fire from game journalism outlets, they changed their message from misogyny to “ethics in gaming journalism”.

This is when a broader audience joined #gamergate. The rash of “Gamers are Dead” articles rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way.

The problem is, history matters. Out of context, the “Gamers are Dead” articles might look mean-spirited and nasty. But these are articles written by gamers. They are writing about what they see as a watershed moment, where they acknowledge the widespread appeal of games and sever relations with a particularly childish, abusive contingent of gamers. They are talking about the death of non-inclusive, misogynist gamers who want ultimate authority on what is a game and who is or isn’t a “gamer”. They are talking about people who accuse people of being “Fake Gamer Girls”; people who want and enjoy an abusive, confrontational environment.

They were saying, “this is not just for you anymore”. And it’s not. Gaming has long sought legitimacy as an art form. Criticism of it from the likes of Sarkeesian is a sign that it is being taken seriously. Games are unquestionably art and are unquestionably political. That is a good thing.

I am open to discussion with #gamergate folks who argue in good faith. I’m also under no illusion that I will convince them that they’re in the wrong. But my patience runs thin for those who want to brush aside the origins of their movement and the very damaging, abusive people in their midst. It runs thin for those who respond to the abuse of others by downplaying it, moving goalposts or simply changing the subject.

  1. And to be perfectly clear here — I am not whining. I wasn’t overwhelmed with responses and I am not in any way characterizing this as harassment. I am merely commenting on the immediacy of the replies. The volume of responses balloons for people more involved. 
  2. The claim that #gamergate is a spontaneous, grassroots movement is demonstrably false. 
  3. I profoundly hate language like, “other side”, “two sides”, etc. and I’m using it somewhat ironically here. This sort of language is by definition polarizing and obscures real issues. It’s bullshit like this that encourages people to downplay the bad behavior of others associated with them. I realize that people on both, ahem, “sides” might disagree with me on this. 
  4. I say early on, because #gamergate has tried to distance itself officially from the harassment of Sarkeesian. The harassment and abuse continues unabated, though. 
  5. That’s being generous. #gamergate is still associated with abuse and doxxing, whether supporters like it or not. 

Misc Updates

So here’s a rambling summary of the last couple of months.

The last two months have been bonkers. At my job there’s a huge push to get large projects out the door around this time of year.

So my game-playing has been sporadic. I’ve fallen back on some quick-fix games. Specifically, Mario Kart 8 and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. It doesn’t hurt that my kid loves watching me play them.

I don’t have much to say about Mario Kart 8 — it’s awesome and everyone knows that. I haven’t played any online matches yet, unfortunately.

Sonic Racing (on the Wii U) is actually a pretty great game. I played it a little bit on the Vita a while back, but it’s better on a large TV. It’s also a nice contrast with Mario Kart — they’re superficially similar, but they’re actually very different games. You accrue XP in this game and progress through branching paths to different races and challenges.

I’ve also dabbled with a few RPGs. I’ve played a few hours of Earthbound. So far I really like it, and it’s possible I’ll play through the game. I’ve also played a little bit of Planescape: Torment, a game I’ve heard a lot of good things about. So far I like it, but I’m not used to that style of RPG, and it’s taking a little getting used to.

I played some Lunar: Silver Star on PSP a month or so back, but unfortunately I got distracted. I’ll have to pick it back up.

So I’m doing my usual waffling around between games, but I don’t feel so bad about it right now.

I’ve been thinking about doing some repair videos, specifically for an Xbox 360 and an original Game Boy.

Heavy Rain

I finished Heavy Rain last week (I had started it a few months ago, but wasn’t able to come back to it until a couple of weeks ago). Overall, I really liked it. What follows is fairly spoiler-free.

I only had a few complaints. First, I got the Really Happy Ending for Ethan, Madison and Shaun. That was fine, but Madison’s dialogue felt very contrived and unnatural. It almost ruined an otherwise great voice experience throughout the game.

Second, the quicktime events weren’t actually so bad, but a couple of times I meant to do one thing, and it turned out that I did another. For example, I intended to help untie another character, but the action I chose was to deliberately not help her. I reloaded the game because that didn’t feel right. It’s one thing to try to do something and fail, but it’s something else to accidentally do the entirely opposite thing that you intend. None of this is that big of a deal, but it does really pull you out of the story.

I enjoyed it overall. The main plot is very disturbing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s disturbing in kind of the way that Seven, for example, is. Anyone would find it troubling, but being a dad really did make it tough to stomach at times. Apparently the goal of the developers was to evoke emotional reactions. They succeeded, though I’d stipulate that showing children in mortal danger is kind of an easy (perhaps even cheap) way to do it.

The reveal of the killer’s identity took me completely by surprise—they did an excellent job of misdirecting the player (or me, at least) while still putting significant clues directly in front of them.

Weird Xbox A/V Switch Box (ICCX)

I found this sucker at a local Savers the other day.


It’s pretty odd. First, it’s clearly designed for an original Xbox. It’s got a similar aesthetic. More to the point, though, it’s got grooves that perfectly fit the pads on the bottom of an Xbox. Here it is with an Xbox on top:


Second, it is an A/V switch. It’s got 4 inputs and one output. Component, S-Video and L/R audio. That’s kind of cool. What’s very cool is that this switch will switch to the input that’s being used. I’m sure there’s a priority for the ports if multiple inputs are sending info, but I haven’t messed with that yet.


That right there made it worth the $3.99 or so I paid for it. I hate having to change TV inputs, A/V switch inputs or worse, both. It does require a center-positive 9V power supply. I have a collection of wall warts in my garage and found one that worked.

Third, you’ll notice that it has a cable coming out the side. This plugs into the 4th controller port on the Xbox, allowing it to be used as DVD player. In fact, this thing includes a remote.


That’s not terribly useful (I don’t really use DVDs for anything anymore, and I wouldn’t put the wear and tear on an Xbox DVD drive anyway), but the remote might come in handy with a soft-modded Xbox.

Fourth is something weird and almost entirely useless. It’s got a front tray that opens up and allows you to store discs. That’s all it does.



Anyway, I just wanted to write about this because it was weird. I haven’t found much info on it on the internet. I’d like to figure out how to program the remote, but no luck so far. I’m probably going to set it up in our guest room.

Beat Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime!

I bought Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime several years ago. Probably 2007. I had played a bit of it early on but never got very far.

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime for Nintendo DS.

I started playing last month while sick and got pretty far. I started playing again while on vacation and finally finished it.

For the record, this is the first Dragon Quest game I’ve beaten. I also own Dragon Warrior and Dragon Quest VIII. Those are on the list, but they are very different games. This game is vaguely similar to the first Zelda game, though the only weapon you use is your own body — you’re a slime, and you propel yourself at enemies to damage them. That said, you also can command a tank for certain portions of the game. And by tank, I mean a gigantic mobile fortress with two cannons.

This is a fun game that is easy to pick up and play in short bursts. There’s really no leveling to be done, other than to collect better weapons for your tank (or better items to create better weapons). My only real gripe with the game is that it’s a little on the easy side — I don’t think I lost a single tank battle, though I did come close a few times.

Overall, Dragon Quest: Rocket Slime was a fun, cute game with a nice mix of gameplay.

DuckTales Remastered

So, I had plans for the holiday break. All I really did was beat DuckTales Remastered. Mostly because my kid was really into it.

Seriously, he lost his mind every time I made Scrooge McDuck dive into his money.

I never played the original, though I have ordered it. My understanding is that it’s more difficult than this remake. The remake was fun. I think I played it on easy, and it was extremely easy. I was only really challenged by the last level. Again, I was just having fun with my kid. He’s two years old — I give him an Xbox 360 controller with no batteries and we play games.

I also started playing Paper Mario Sticker Star. Fun game.

I’ve picked up a lot of games in the last few months. Several PS3 (The Last of Us, Heavy Rain), Dreamcast (EGG, Skies of Arcadia), Wii (Last Story, Lost in Shadow, Super Mario Galaxy 2), Wii U (Mario 3D World, DuckTales) and Genesis games (Castle of Illusion).

Let’s see if I ever have time to play any of those.

I have played some L.A. Noire. I like it so far.

Also, a couple of months ago I picked up a Commodore 64. I’ll need to write about it soon. I grew up with a Commodore 128. Many C64 games were really, really good. In some cases they were better than NES games.

Chrono Trigger: Won!

My 15+ year journey is at an end. I finally beat Chrono Trigger on Monday. I know! It’s emotional for me too.

Then on Tuesday I beat it again. Those of you familiar with the game might now that it has about a dozen possible endings. After getting the normal ending, I played the game on New Game+ up to the Ocean Palace. Then instead of letting Lavos beat me and kill Crono, I whooped his spikey-turtle-backed-anus-mouth ass. This got me the “Dream Team” ending, which is the most difficult ending to get (at least until the PSX and DS versions).

The “Dream Team” ending is unbelievably silly. I won’t discuss it at this time.

The normal ending is pretty silly too. In fact, it occurred to me upon beating it that the whole game is pretty silly. I mean, it has some dark moments and some serious moments. But overall, it’s a goofy game.

In fact, that’s one of my few criticisms of the game. It could have taken itself a little more seriously and still had a sense of humor, I think.

And WTF was Lavos? Homey had flippers. He waddled. Seriously. Was that supposed to be horrific? Or goofy?

My other criticisms: the combat is not particularly deep. Strategy takes a front-seat to brute force, but it’s still not too tricky. Neither is character development (ability-wise). Compare Techs to Materia development in Final Fantasy VII. Or even the Espers in Final Fantasy VI. Don’t get me wrong — the game had a number of great features that really set it apart when it came out. And I agree that it’s among the best console RPGs (that I’ve played, anyway).

I’m currently on my second New Game+. So this is my third time through the game. On New Game+ it’s easy to blow through the game, since you keep all of your items, stats, levels, etc., minus a few key items and money. So most enemies (and some bosses) are going down with one hit.

Since I’m still having a blast with it (seriously, this is a great game), I’m not sure I’m going to move on to a new game just yet. But I think I might try something different next. We’ll see.