on a scale from one to ten on the awkward moment scale

Why Shenmue Matters

It has become a running joke in gaming communities that the much anticipated Half Life 3 will never be released. The continually disappointed desire for this sequel from Valve has inspired people to jokingly declare “Half LIfe 3 confirmed” at the slightest provocation. Everyone is in on the joke. They’ve been waiting for 11 years for that game. 

Well, Shenmue fans have been waiting for 14. Their game was released on the doomed Dreamcast console. The SEGA that funded the game is long dead and buried. And yet, somehow, Shenmue fans have been surprisingly resilient, unable to accept the death of their beloved franchise and move on. What is it about Shenmue that inspired this kind of passion?

What Might Have Been

Shenmue was released at a moment where the future of gaming was very much in question. It symbolized all of SEGA’s hopes and dreams, and was a peak moment for Japanese creativity and ambition in gaming. Shenmue’s creator, the legendary Yu Suzuki, was attempting to fundamentally push games forward in a big way. Ultimately, the Dreamcast just couldn’t compete with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Shenmue found itself released on a console with a fast approaching expiration date. Shenmue II was released half-heartedly on the Xbox, and it was clear that the dream was dead.

To a generation of fans, Shenmue came to represent an aborted vision for gaming’s future.

Shenmue is Not Like Other Games

It is hard to compare Shenmue to anything else, because there is simply nothing else like it. One could say that Shenmue is an “open world” game but it is not like any other game that comes to mind when you hear that phrase. 

Shenmue is a singular piece of work.

This is a game where you can call your friends on the phone for absolutely no reason and than have really awkward conversations. You can go to the convenience store and spend a bunch of time trying to find the right food for an abandoned kitten. You can try to bury your grief for your dead father by distracting yourself with arcade games and gambling. If you stay out too long, your housekeeper Ine-san will let you know that she was worried about you. You can still stay out late if you want, but you’ll feel guilty about it.

This is Shenmue.

Shenmue Feels Real

More than any other game I’ve played, Shenmue creates the feeling that you are this person. This is your life, this is your house, these are your friends, and all of it has been tainted by this horrible event that has shattered your life.

In most games the heroes just leap into action with no consequences, but with every bold action you take in Shenmue you are made to feel the ways in which you are scaring and hurting the people around you who care about you. 

Intimate Scale

Most games, especially “open world” games, seek to impress by throwing as much information at you as possible. Look at all those hills! You can walk up them and maybe you will find a bandit that you can kill! 

Shenmue has its own kind of grandiose scale and it is found in the micro-detailing that has been applied to every aspect of the game’s universe.

Shenmue is a game in which you can walk through every room in your house, pick up every item, open every drawer, and really feel that everything was put there for a reason.

A Different Kind of Martial Arts Game

One should not forget that Shenmue was created by Yu Suzuki, creator of the Virtua Fighter series. Martial arts violence is commonplace in video games, but Shenmue was always interested in dealing with the more philosophical and practical qualities of martial arts, rather than just the visceral violence. 

Shenmue is a game in which you must practice carefully in order to improve. You’ll find yourself standing with an old man in a park practicing the same simple move over and over until you can do it elegantly.

Again, Shenmue is not like other games.

Virtual Tourism

Shenmue summons up a true sense of place. If you want to know what it was like to live on the coast of Japan in 1986, this game is as close as you’ll ever get. The game has an undiluted sense of cultural immersion that is totally unique. It is not just cosmetic, you can truly interact with almost everything in the world around you.

Shenmue also had an innovative weather and time of day system that was jaw-dropping when the game was first released. Every inhabitant of the game’s village had their own schedule, seeming to live their own life. As the seasons changed, it was reflected beautifully by the game world. 

Resurrection

A few days ago, the impossible happened. On the Sony stage at E3, Yu Suzuki came out and announced that he was working on Shenmue III and was launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for it.

The campaign reached its two million dollar goal in less than ten hours and will run until July 17th. 

Shenmue III on Kickstarter

Why did I write all of this?

Shenmue had begun to feel like some strange shared dream, a gaming memory that only a select few still held onto. A dead game on a dead system, and a story that would never be completed. What is happening now is the kind of thing that almost never happens. Shenmue is back from the dead, and may be discovered by a new generation of fans. 

Recently, I have noticed that some of the verisimilitude and subtlety that Shenmue had pioneered seemed to be coming back in style. The games of Quantic Dream, and the recent Life is Strange seemed to be exploring some of the same territory in terms of wanting to connect the player to a world and character in a grounded and sophisticated way. 

And yet, none of those games had anything close to Shenmue’s scale and level of player control. I couldn’t help but notice that these games were doing things that had been done even better 14 years earlier. It felt like it might be the time for Shenmue to return, and now that is precisely what is happening.

Shenmue is a game that has never been well understood. When it was released it was so far ahead of its time that people didn’t really know what to make of it. But now, in 2015, Shenmue seems like exactly the kind of deep, thoughtful game experience that people will embrace. 

anonymous asked:

Can you do a story about the jellybean scene? Instead of lucas deciding who he picks, it will be Riley deciding between farkle and lucas. And the last question she realizes she wants farkle.

Pairing: Riarkle, Riley/Lucas (Mentioned)

Words: 1.7k+

Note: So this is written in a weird way that implies Lucas and Maya got together and this is not what I am trying to portray so I apologize for the misunderstandings. This isn’t anti-RL. I tried my best to portray them in a good light and  I hope that came through.


                                                    ***

It was supposed to be Lucas. It was always supposed to be Lucas. But after everything with the triangle Riley found that she was distancing herself from him. He hadn’t made a decision. Four Years later and still nothing happened. Though over time he did grow closer to Maya. Riley was sure they would eventually tell her they were together.

Riley remembers Farkle asking her how she felt, she remembers trying not to cry because she thought she lost them, she remembers Farkle telling her that no matter what he would always be there for her. And he was.

Farkle was there through everything. Through the triangle, through her many breakups, through her diagnosis, he was there and sometime during their 2 AM Phone Calls and 4 AM Ice Cream runs her feelings became more than friendly.         

                                                       ***

It was early Friday Morning when Riley pulls him away from their friends and into one of the empty Science classrooms. She still hadn’t said anything, the only sound was her heels and the door closing behind them. Flipping the light on, she turns towards him a false smile on her face.

“You know Sugar you keep doing this my girlfriend’s gonna get the wrong idea.” Zay fixes his shirt which was messed up in the process of manhandling him.

“I need your help.” The panic in her tone causes the amusement to slip out of him. Riley rarely came to him for help. He wasn’t all that offended by it I mean Maya and Farkle were closer to her. It made sense they were her first choice.

“What’s up?” Riley drops her bag by the door and pulls out a small black bag.

“I was asked to Prom.” He lets out a sigh of relief. Okay so maybe it was just Riley having a typical ‘overthinking it’ moment.

“That’s great.” And she glares at him. Zay takes a cautious step away from her before speaking again. “I mean that’s bad?” Riley pulls out two clear bags out of the smaller black one. And he finally pieces it together. One bag had Blue Jellybeans. The other Orange.

Lucas and Farkle.

“I don’t know what to do. I know you helped Lucas before and I just really need someone to help me figure this out because I am so confused and I don’t want to lose either of them.” Riley looks up, her eyes pleading with him. “Please help me.”


Keep reading

Useless ramblings about murderers and MRAs

This is going to cover some emotional and hurtful topics pertaining to recent events, gender, sexuality, and guns.

So – as we surely all know by now – a young man in California published an incredibly long manifesto about why he hates all women (to the point of wanting to torture and starve to death the entire gender in concentration camps) and went on a murderous rampage. Since he started with his roommates, and since he was put on the run early on in his fantasized sorority-ending shootout and started just shooting whoever, the majority of people who have actually died at his hands were men. I mention that because some people will use that statistic to show that it wasn’t “really” about misogyny, he was just plain crazy and wanted to shoot people. This ignores that he extensively documented his intentions, which were to destroy the entire sorority, specifically because they were his idea of attractive young women. It just didn’t work out like he planned. The deaths of these men who happened to be in his way are, of course, every bit as unjust as the deaths of the sorority women he did succeed in murdering, as are the injuries of the dozen or so survivors, which also includes both men and women (and possibly nonbinary people). Everyone who was murdered by this young man died for his misogynistic cause. Trying to dismiss misogyny from the discussion or minimize its importance by pointing out that he murdered men too is to miss the entire point of what happened and why. I don’t object to characterizing the desire to walk out into a crowd of strangers and murder them over ideology as “crazy.” It’s hard to imagine a more suboptimal human behavior. Stopping at “crazy,” however, which we tend to conceptualize as an inevitable force of nature, means enabling this exact thing to just happen again.

As many people pointed out on Twitter yesterday, man-on-woman violence motivated by rejection happens literally nonstop, to a far greater extent than any other gender combination, but it’s usually a one-to-one ratio of aggressor to victim. The incidents that don’t end in murder are disproportionately under-reported by the victim compared to most other types of crimes, due to fear of retribution and other societal factors that can make life even worse for the victim than “merely” being physically abused. Meanwhile, many MRAs are convinced that a large portion of rape cases brought by women against men are deliberate lies. MRAs: Men’s Rights Activists. You may not have heard of them. People (mostly men) who explicitly identify as such are relatively fringe. However, many people (not necessarily mostly men) hold some MRA beliefs. Men’s Rights Activism has an unhappy relationship with feminism, because, as a cursory glance at world history will show you, men’s rights have always preceded women’s rights on a scale of decades to millennia in pretty much everything. (This is a non-intersectional simplification with respect to things like race and class.)

At its mildest, Men’s Rights are concerned with the rights of fatherhood. And you know what? On some points, they have a good case. It really is true that (American) court systems systematically make decisions that show they assume mothers are better parents than fathers. Here’s the thing, though: I consider this a feminist issue. A modern feminist should stand for it not being knowable a priori whether a father or a mother is the “better parent” when it comes to a custody case and each situation must be handled individually. Since Men’s Rights defines itself entirely in opposition to feminism, however, this thing we should agree on falls apart. What a waste.

The sorts of men one finds on online MRA forums, however, don’t seem like fathers worried about maintaining access to their children. They may be aware of this problem, certainly, and agree something needs to be changed, but that’s not really the issue which drew them to the MRA online community. This is my perception of who they are after lurking a bit around their activity: they tend to be young – many are still boys, really. They tend to be college-educated or college-bound, which implies a host of correlations about family background, financial resources, and future outcomes. They’re the platonic ideal of a redditor, really, not to imply redditors are all MRAs. (Technically, I’m a redditor, with tens of thousands of karma.) Reddit is, in fact, a major hub for the exchange of MRA news. /r/mensrights is approaching a hundred thousand subscribers, and there are many smaller, more specialized subs. They certainly have the subs I frequent beat.

There is a lot of overlap between these young MRAs and PUAs (pick-up artists). Not one-to-one, of course, but the Venn diagram certainly cuddles close. Pick-up artistry is, frankly, a scam. A few men who have some natural charisma and flair (but probably not a good personality to establish a long-term relationship with) capitalize on it to sell how-to books to desperate young men who, for whatever reason, can’t get a date. They then try the algorithmic approach, and predictably usually fail entirely or don’t find the type of connection with a woman they were hoping for. This has spawned an entire second community of men who have ragequit the PUA system but still have the problem they started with. So, you have this loose grouping of young men who a) want sex and/or a relationship, b) haven’t gotten it or can’t keep it going consistently, c) have actively tried to remedy the problem with suggestions from other men, d) still failed. Enter the incel.

Incel – short for involuntary celibacy – describes the state of actively desiring sex but being consistently turned down by potential partners. Being “incel” is relatively common, especially at a young and awkward age, but most people wouldn’t particularly feel the need to find the word “incel” to describe it. If someone has taken the step of self-identifying as incel, they have framed their situation as adversarial: they are involuntarily celibate, which is language used to describe coercion; sexual satisfaction is being withheld from them against their will. Whether or not it’s deliberate, they’re priming themselves to see the targets of their desire as collectively working against them. (For the rest of this discussion, assume I’m referring to straight male incels, and the targets are women in general. Incel can of course work in any direction but that’s not highly relevant here.)

Whence “involuntary celibacy”? The root cause can be any number of issues, of course, ranging from physical disabilities to perceived ugliness to social problems, and most of these are not the incel’s fault, which can easily lead to entrenched bitterness against their bad luck. It genuinely isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean it’s the people turning the incel down who have done something wrong. Consent is a two-way street. Some incels will eventually fulfill the dream of finding that special someone who is attracted to them. Some never will. Some may eventually decide that resorting to rape is acceptable. And then there’s our murderer, who, again, is not in a class of his own for using murder as a tool for vengeance; only the scale of the attack, targeted against strangers, is unusual.

I want to make a point of something: some male incels are incel specifically because they give off “I will snap and murder you the moment you no longer please me” vibes to women. Almost every woman has met a guy she got this vibe from, if not a dozen. Clearly, not all of them will ever snap and murder someone, but don’t tell us that we’re being totally irrational to fear that outcome. The murderer in question is exactly the worst-case outcome we fear and I would be willing to bet that more than one woman turned him down or backed out of the early stages of a relationship because she got that “I’m going to get murdered if I stick around” feeling. We are not imagining that this is a common problem. In my country (United States), a woman is more likely to be harmed at the hands of her sexual partner (usually male) than any other type of violent crime, and that’s after we apply the “murder vibes” filter. This means that boyfriends are literally the most dangerous threat women face. I’m sorry if you, a non-violent and consent-respecting man, have missed out on a possible good relationship because you unintentionally emitted the Murder Vibes. Please understand that women, collectively, cannot afford false negatives. We’re not trying to hurt you with overcautious rejection: we’re trying to do everything within our power to make sure we’re not the one who gets raped or murdered.

The murderer filled his papers, videos, and forum posts with the language of the male right to sex. A man’s rights, defined in opposition to a woman’s rights: sound familiar? In this extremist version – which, I delicately emphasize, is not held by all or even most MRAs – a man literally has a right to however much sex he needs to feel fulfilled, and it’s womenkind’s responsibility to provide it, which totally ignores their collective individual rights to dissent. This is not an idea he came up with in total isolation due to being infected with The Crazy. I have personally seen about a dozen other men post the exact same idea. One or two even said so directly to me online, but they usually stick to posting such things in places already known to be predominantly if not exclusively male. They post such things to forums and blogs associated with the MRA community. They meet with agreement or at the very least the toleration one affords an ideal slightly outside of one’s own. Such things are often highly ephemeral, and sometimes they are deleted after an outside group discovers them, so I can’t provide you an exhaustively cited list of hyperlinks of individual examples. Trying to dig them back up with google would only open a black hole of intense distress anyway. You can try if you feel particularly emotionally armored today.

The MRA community has not been unified in its response to the revelation that the murderer was pretty clearly associated with the MRA movement. Some insist that he’s not an MRA because MRAs don’t advocate shooting up sororities (well that’s good I suppose). Others insist that since he watched more Pokemon by volume than MRA materials on Youtube, you might as well blame Pokemon. Others yet that he just wasn’t a good enough PUA: that he was “beta,” and if he had manned up his “game” enough to be more alpha, he’d be swimming in babes and there’d be no issue. Others take it to the very extreme that motivated him to murder in the first place: the issue has nothing to do with MRA or PUA, the issue is that women failed in their responsibility to sex him up!

I think it’s irresponsible to deny that the murderer used language and articulated ideas that come from the loose coalition of MRAs. That doesn’t mean I think all MRAs are murderous psychopaths waiting to happen. It means they need to fix their movement, because, again, the murderer is not a lone wolf in his extremist version of men’s rights. They exist and they flourish, almost entirely unhindered. In the past, their existence has been repeatedly dismissed to me as mere boys posting mere words that they would never, ever act on. Never, ever, ever, and that’s why six people are dead.

I want to close with something slightly tangental. I’ve been involved in a Twitter spat over my stance on guns. My stance is: I don’t want to be in the same room as a gun. I’m scared of guns and I request that you keep them away from me. In particular I am scared of a man I don’t know and trust having a gun near me.

Several men said, to me or behind my back, that I should be thanking male strangers for carrying guns in public because it’s to protect me.

From who? Well, from other strange men with guns, primarily. It’s a nice fantasy, I guess, that they hope to be the noble hero rescuing the damsel in distress.

But usually, when a woman finds herself staring down the barrel of a gun,

There’s no male power fantasy hero there to save her. Only the male power fantasy of sexual domination, which rapes and kills her.