Summer catch-up

I suppose it is A Format Of Sorts to bind up all the little scraps I’ve written into a big post.

In which yt. makes questionable decisions wrt. his finances

I bought a PlayStation 4 so I could play Destiny. You can probably see where this is headed.

It’s actually really strange owning a gaming console and playing AAA games again, mostly because it doesn’t feel like much has changed in the two or three years since I last touched a console. It seems telling that all three games that I now own for this parallelogram exist and could be played on other pre-existing platforms.

As for Destiny itself, well, it’s just a bucket of nonsense, isn’t it? It’s a lot of plot without a story, I think. It’s never clear why you’re going someplace and shooting any particular alien, though it certainly tries hard to tell you that something is at stake and that you must be motivated. The “Speaker,” ostensibly the leader of the free world, spends maybe thirty seconds telling you to stop the end of the world, then turns into a shopkeeper forevermore.[1] There’s a mysterious ~stranger~ whose only purpose is to tell you, in the guise of foreshadowing, that there will be a Destiny 2. I can’t remember, really, why it was so important to locate the “Black Garden,”[2] or why I needed to visit Venus at all. And I definitely don’t understand what was going on with this computer called “Rasputin” who kind of mumbled in Russian (I think), but the bored voice of Peter Dinklage (BVPD) made it clear that it (Rasputin) was obviously important because It Says So Right Here In The Video Game Lore. The BVPD (he plays a robot called Ghost) is just about the only human connection that the game offers—probably because his character is the only one that appears more than three times—and he sounds terribly uninterested in the whole affair.[3]

Cameron Kunzelman argues that Destiny’s storytelling tries to accomplish both an “evocation effect” and detailed exposition but handles neither side well. I suspect that this is at least partially a function of the mechanics of the game, viz. that balance it tries to strike between moment-to-moment-action-alien-shoot (which lends itself to a BVPD-type character) and MMO-style exploration (e.g. falling into a giant green pit on the Moon referred to only as the Hellmouth, a landmark which suggests a lot and confirms very little)—that mechanical balance, too, remains unresolved.

In which yt. reports on owning a Jawbone Up24

I’ve been wearing this thing around for the last three or four weeks, and I guess I like it. I guess. It’s comfortable. I don’t need to charge it constantly. It’s a bit big, but it looks kind of like a thing a person would wear. Plus, I mean, I like numbers. Numbers! Quantify everything! Set goals! Mindfulness whether you want it or not!

I didn’t buy it for the sleep tracking feature, but that’s what’s been most illuminating, actually. Apparently, I don’t sleep well. I stay up late, then I get into bed and stay awake even longer, then I get up in the middle of the night and stay awake a bit, just for kicks.

Granted, this should have been patently obvious. Yet it did not, somehow, occur to me that the thirty to sixty minutes that I spend tossing and turning before I actually get to sleep do not count as sleep. And here I thought I was getting a healthy seven to eight hours. (It’s more like five.)

But the thing is that I’m not totally sure what to do with this information. Walking around more is easy; if, at the end of the day, you need to feel a bit more active, you can get up and walk around awhile. You can’t quite do anything analogous for sleep, and I feel terrible about it. Not for want of trying. I’ve been getting into bed earlier, bit by bit; but then I toss and turn for an extra half hour instead. I skip evening coffee (which breaks my heart, but needs must), but I’m still super, super groggy in the morning. I get that it’s kind of part of the programmer ethos to want to, like, figure out the solution to a problem based on data, and I think that’s what I’ve been trying to do, but a few more weeks of this and I’m going to start worrying for reals. Is there such a thing as a nutritionist but for sleep?

There is not

Yt. truly regrets[4] all this not-writing he’s been doing. I might be able to claim illness and pre-/post-XOXO anxiety as the cause, although this is totally untrue.

But anyhow, it has been a touch slow at ~*~my day job~*~. I had a chance to blow out my Instapaper queue,[5] and there are some things on the Internet that perhaps you all as an amorphous (but charming, of course) Internet blob will enjoy.

  1. I’m honestly still coming down from my XOXO high. I feel like I might have done a bad job describing what it was like, but luckily Glenn Fleishman has it covered. And it’s true what he says; there was a strange mix of joy and inclusion and cliquey-ness, as if to say, “This is my inspirational group! Mine!” To be a part of such a group is empowering and terrible. Fleishman mentions this as well, but Tim Maly’s essay on who was not at XOXO and who we (i.e. western-centric technologically literate people) consider “creators” is difficult but worthwhile.

  2. Zoyə Street does a close reading of “Tsukema Tsukuru,” a Japanese pop song about makeup. (Yes.) I like the distinction drawn between “fake” eyelashes and “attached” eyelashes; anyway, authenticity is just a social (as in collaborative) construct, right? I think there’s a lot of power in consciously separating “the feeling of wearing makeup from the sense that makeup makes you look [a] particular way to other people.” Feels kind of like the first step in owning the conversation wrt. yr. own authenticity. (Which, again, is probably unimportant because it’s a social construct.)

  3. The latest trailer for Final Fantasy XV is out and it’s—it’s certainly something. Every time a Final Fantasy game is announced, I poo-poo it, and then I watch a trailer and I’m in love again. Frankly, if the game really is just four boyband members taking a dramedy roadtrip with swords, I’d be mostly okay with that. It’s disappointing that this appears to be the first Final Fantasy in many years not to feature a woman as a party member—esp. since the best (read: most interesting mechanically/thematically) games in the series are the ones to feature women in lead roles. Okay, granted, I’m thinking mostly of X–2 and XIII–3[6], and the conceit for both of those is wearing different clothes to get different powers. I can’t tell if this is perpetuating a stereotype (girls, clothes, etc.) or (as per the makeup thing above) owning it, so to speak.

  4. Gamergate has been quiet for the last week or so, but it’s sadly only a matter of time before 4chan shitbirds start another campaign of astroturfing and harassment. The exact reasons for why GG is total bullshit have been covered extensively elsewhere, but it’s still very much an open question of what effect it’s going to have on journalists and indies trying to make a living in the industry in the months and years to come.

  5. Of note, though, is that games writing has seen the departure of Mattie Brice and Jenn Frank, two of the finest writers the industry has had. It’s easy to feel bad about this (and true enough, that video games are so toxic as to allow such a thing is genuine cause to feel bad); but it’s worth remembering that as they move onto bigger, better things, they both leave behind an admirable body of work. Paging through Brice’s blog is an excellent way to spend an afternoon, and last year Jenn Frank covered That Dragon, Cancer; and what starts as a game preview turns into something confused and sad and maybe, a little, feelings-are-looking-up. Worthwhile also is Frank’s tremendous piece on caring for her parents, agoraphobia, and living in Second Life. I am rereading it, paragraph by paragraph, as I edit this post. I am crying a little bit.

  1. Apparently Terran bureaucracy has delegated so much and become so (in)efficient that the leader of humanity has time to sell clothes on the side.  ↩

  2. Not about race.  ↩

  3. There’s exactly one (1) good bit of writing in the game: Ghost talks about looking up at the Moon and seeing the aliens’ data transmissions coming off of it and wondering/dreading what they were saying. Now, granted, his delivery is pretty bad; the line isn’t actually about Ghost looking up at the moon and being filled with a sense of wonder/dread at the prospect of extraterrestrial life; it’s actually just more exposition, because Ghost goes on to talk about encryption protocols or fake space magic history or whatever. But despite the writers’ best efforts to totally botch this line—this idea that a robot would look up at the night sky and see infinitely more than what a human could see and yet still be filled with that same (presumably) wonder/dread that homo sapiens felt 200,000 years ago—the thought is nearly perfect.  ↩

  4. So, honestly, yt. has been using the “yt.” appellatory abbr. as a bit of an affectation; I have finally justified it here, though, because unabbreviated, this would read “Yours truly truly regrets…” and that’s just nonsense.  ↩

  5. not a euphemism  ↩

  6. I hated typing those tortured numbers as much as you hated reading them.  ↩