Loyalty is a commendable attribute. It’s a measure of one’s integrity to value the convictions of another’s adaptable principles with resiliency and respect, even if mistakes are made along the way. We consider loyalty a virtuous exercise in tolerance, a virtue deserving of admiration. Is there anything more chivalrous than 2 heroes stood side by side, facing down against an opposing force even though their failure is all but assured, simply because loyalty commands them to do so? To wilfully betray someone who you’ve followed with such dedication can be perceived as dishonest or even cowardly. But when does loyalty become obstinate faith, blinded by perceived nobility? Is loyalty really a commendable attitude to have or just a falsity derived from the persistent hope that things will improve because of your staunch defiance or willingness to persevere whatever the cost. We form bonds and relationships everyday with people we expect to pledge significant loyalty too. Friends that you’d happily lend money too, spouses you can rely upon to provide counsel in times of distress or football teams that continually disappoint. We forgive the minor transgressions because of the dedication of familiarity and the committed modesty of loyalty that has been forged by years of sustained attachment. So it funny just how often loyalties are disposed with by gamer’s and just how fickle we tend to be.
Being loyal to a brand is grounds for either instant acceptance among your peers or instant isolation. The “console wars” that have been waged since the SNES and Genesis days has always been about flaunting your preferred fealty to one or the other. In school playgrounds there would be heated discussions between two opposing students at lunch that often resulted in fraudulent evidence distributed by both that trumped the other, and a petulant retaliation of scrappy punches and name calling. These sorts of conflicting loyalties haven’t abated as the consoles have progressed but have worsened, thanks in part to the advent of PC’s and the all too often communal latrine known as the Internet, where opinions are expressed and presented as fact! I myself have always favoured Sony products because of their reliability. Having been a firm investor in Sony products since the PS1 days, I have never felt compelled to purchase a competitor as I’ve never experienced any significant issues with any of my endeavours, barring a few innocent, self-inflicted fractures. Not even Sony’s arrogant approach to marketing the PS3 didn’t deter me from remaining loyal to my favourite ambiguous entity. Of course such purported reliability is all relative as others may have had opposing situations that they themselves just couldn’t tolerate, deciding instead that the freshly mowed grass on the other side was perhaps greener.
Many would consider my loyalty to Sony to be something of considerable naivety, that I have been too lenient towards Sony’s shortcomings. It’s understandable that formerly resolute defenders of Sony would feel discouraged by their inability to secure their own servers from hackers, causing PSN to collapse quicker than a stack of cards assembled by arthritic Nan. You can’t blame gamer’s for turning their backs on such a catastrophic lapse in security and protecting their clients confidential information from cyber terrorists. The trust, reliability and of course loyalty is hard to repair then. Yet I remained and continue to do so just like so many others. Does that make us ignorant? Stupid? Loyal? I remember when Microsoft announced they would be implementing restrictions on trading games on the Xbox One, in an attempt to regain profits lost through the second-hand market, by supplementing trades with a convoluted initiative that permitted trade agreements between specified friend for a limited time, rather than simply giving the game to a mate and play at their own discretion. Many fled the proposed dictatorial scheme, which was an obvious collusion between developers and Microsoft like guests at a Coldplay concert, yet many stayed. Are those loyalties any less deserving?
I guess extreme situations such as these are more to do with trust rather than loyalty, though they are mutually associated. So when can an individual or a product representative of a corporate agenda push the loyalties of someone too far, to the point that their rooted allegiance becomes irreparable? Personally I think it really comes down to just how much trust you have, without that how can anyone expect to remain loyal? If you maintain trust then you should retain the loyalty of your friends. Just don’t get hacked….or try to undermine your audience. That’s the moral here folks.
Do you think you can be too loyal? What does loyalty mean to you? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Variety in games for the most part is a good thing. It allows players to craft their own individual style with specific requirements that suite their needs. Precipitating enough versatility to a games basic functionality to accommodate the dedicated precision of some while facilitating the casual persuasion of others. Of course with such a wide range of options available it can be difficult to customise either a character’s appearance or inventory without compromising something else. “Did I choose the right skill? What if I need that other one later? What if I can’t alter the style or colour of my hair later? Is this green afro a major fashion faux pas!” Personally I find character creation a tedious nuisance. Whether it’s the alignment of your characters nose, the positioning of the cleft on the chin, the detailed structuring of one’s cheek bones or the wealth of opportunity to enhance the modest assets of your female elf, it’s all just unnecessary accessories that trivialize my experience. I get that there are a catalogue of facial subtleties and cosmetic alterations that add a deeper level of personalised integration that many find endearing, but I don’t. I just want to play the game. For me it’s a redundant feature I rarely utilise that I have neither the time nor the inclination to indulge in. It makes sense that people want to create an identifiable character that exhibits personalised traits reflective of their own, but for me playing the game should evoke such catharsis, not the gilded tunic the snow elf is attired in. But I don’t begrudge the features intrusive implementation, I simply ignore it. The real problem with the concept of “variety” is the way it’s used to restrict the player as you progress or more accurately level up.
Most games adhere a similar ubiquitous tenant of levelling up. A system legislated so that players can’t become all-powerful gods immediately, but rather distributing the benefits of progression in a timely fashion. You kill a few enemies, accumulate a differing amount of experience – dependent on the strength of an opponent you’ve defeated – ascend to the next numerical digit and reap the slight benefits of your increased stature and repeat. It’s familiar, easy to understand and the most assured way of preventing the game from becoming too easy. Particularly if enemies level up in conjunction with your own, which is the case with Skyrim. The method of progression in Skyrim differs slightly from its contemporaries in the sense that it isn’t necessarily an encompassing points system that allows sustainable development of your character, but rather focuses on the contributions of singular attributes. For instance I have taken preferential steps to become a prolific exponent in stealth, archery and aggression simply because it suits my surreptitious style and hostile feelings towards mankind, which has provided a steady growth in both stealth and archery as well as two-handed weapons, light armour, blocking and other disreputable proclivities such as pickpocketing and lock picking skills. As each individual skill improves so too does my level. But once these skills get closer to their maximum capacity it becomes harder to reach the next level, leaving you with little choice but to engage with less desirable attributes. The superfluous attributes that require sustained repetition to improve, most of which concern the use of magic.
Because a more direct combat style negates the contributions of skills such as alteration, conjunction and illusion you’re now forced to adapt your preferred play to accommodate a style you won’t ever use in active combat. The only time these kind of ancillary support is ever useful is for casting the odd restoration spell to replenish lost health. You’re probably thinking that a game that encourages the player to diversify is a good thing, and you’d be right. It’s certainly a creative way of engaging the player’s ability to utilise a variety of skills to improve both performance and level. But that doesn’t prevent it from being annoying too! Now I’m reduced to merely waving my hands around like I’m doing my own interpretation of “Jazz Hands” with arthritic wrists, casting vapid incantations through the cities of Skyrim, much to the grievance of the city guards in an attempt to improve these latent abilities that have little use in my own combat. Sure it’s great that games have adapted the limitations of levelling up by incorporating a multitude of variants that goes beyond the banal accumulation of experience points. I just wish that the ideologies were a little more naturally occurring. Features or in this case skills that you don’t favour shouldn’t be compulsory, but rather enhance the things you do use. Forcing elements that some consider unfavourable shouldn’t be necessities but endeavours that complement and reward rather than just benefit you through persistence. But I guess there’s nothing that can be done, so if you’ll excuse me I have guards to upset with my magic hands…..wait, no! That’s not what I meant?!
How d you think levelling up in games can be improved? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Everyone has a moment in time that they revere more than any other. A memory so enduring that you can recall the most singular details with intimate clarity. Sometimes that cognitive imagery can feel more like an affliction than justifiable periods of elapsed time worthy of retention. Some instances can even unduly define the course of a year, curtailing the prospects that might otherwise have been interpreted favourably if a more affectionate memory were associated with that gentle expanse of time, thereby associated to a far more promising start. People retain radically differing ideas on what constitutes as a substantial bad year, depending on the individuals perspective. It’s all relative and deeply personal. Many consider 2016 to be an exceptionally bad year for a number of political or contrite reasons. For me though one of the most difficult years of my life occurred in 1997, prompted by a monumental event that transpired nearly 20 years ago to the day; the day my parents split up.
I don’t think people truly respect just how receptive children are even at a tender age. Though I never physically observed my parents arguing I could sense an ambient hostility around them, generating a vacuous atmosphere devoid of any gentility. They both made a concerted effort to conceal the collective ire they shared for one another from my sister and I to ensure we maintained some consistency with our lives, but even though I was too young to define what exactly was different I just got a sense that something wasn’t right. I was still in primary school at the time – I don’t know what the American equivalent is but I was about 9 or 10 years old. It was a Sunday when things really escalated between them. My mother was absent for most of the day, owing to some feigned illness that conveniently prevented her from being in the same room as my father. My dad had cooked dinner for my sister and I (he never cooked dinner!) and allowed me to play on the SNES for most of the day without any limitations (again, never happened). The following day was a school day so my sister and I didn’t go to bed too late, yet I didn’t sleep comfortably.It was late in the evening, or early in the morning if you want to get technical that I remember being startled by my parents arguing downstairs. As a kid I was never very good at confrontation and I certainly didn’t know how to broach such a volatile situation. But in the end I decided that I just wanted it to stop! I made my way down the stairs tentatively, attempting to suppress the sound of my feet as I made awkward strides towards the living room. When I entered the room my mother’s rage was palpable, yet tempered by her tearful demeanour that had remit further as I approached. With my father’s bags packed he informed me that he was leaving. Needless to say I cried myself to sleep that night.
At first I thought it was something that I had done, which is a natural reaction when you’re that young. I even resented my mother for a spell, purely because I was angry and she was in proximity. Though it was clear that the only person at fault was my father. Well him and the home wrecker my adulterous father felt compelled to dishonour his marriage vows for. Who also happened to be my mother’s best friend (formerly now). Honestly no one did betrayal quite like these two. There are a retinue of choice words I’d like to type to describe their wanton cruelty, but I wouldn’t want to waste valuable asterisk let alone time to do so. Despite this duplicitous act, as well as inspiring half the marriages in Westoros my mother prevailed, taking assertive action to preserve the solidarity of our divided family, with the aid of friends and relatives, most notably my Aunt Violet. Her presence commanded the admiration and love of the entire room. She was a shining beacon of hope and serenity that captivated every family gathering. She possessed an incredible talent for healing your spirit with just a few gentile words and a soothing embrace. The world didn’t seem so cynical when she was around. My girlfriend and I even christened our daughter Rose Violet to commemorate her incredible contribution to my families lives. My mother had endured a torrent of heartbreak when my inexcusable father left, but Violet contributed so much to my mother’s emotional rehabilitation, placating the severity of any crippling bouts of depression she suffered…..making Violets sudden death all the more gut wrenching. Besides the collapse of her marriage, the death of my Aunt was the most traumatic incident for my mother. She was her confident, her muse. The one person she could rely on for advice and comfort. And she was gone. Her sudden illness and subsequent passing was a significant blow to the equanimity of our family. But we recovered, eventually. My mother possessed a far greater strength than even she knew she had, and her indelible passion for life and extroverted inclinations that had always imbued her with formidable resiliency to the adverse whims of the world had paid dividends. It wasn’t always easy but nothing worth having ever is. It wasn’t until I became a father that I truly appreciated just how courageous my mother was at raising two children, with little resources by herself. Just how much has to be sacrificed in order to sustain a functioning and above all happy home.
You see the most important people in my life are women. My mother, my girlfriend, my sister (to an extent), my Aunt, my Nan, my daughter. Each and every one of these women has contributed something to my growth as a son, a boyfriend, a brother (to an extent), a nephew, a grandson and a father, nurturing the rudimentary principles that are a rooted contributor to my faculties; to be a good man, or at the very least a better man than my father. They ensured that I experienced a childhood furnished with memories well worth preserving. Allowing me to encapsulate significant moments in my youth that I can readily recite and distribute to my daughter, to you guys, to anyone that will listen with gratifying clarity. I have been provided with boarding, food, the necessary tuition that has adequately equipped me for the highs and lows this world has to offer, as well as support when I was being an insufferable teenager with delusions of my own significance to the world. Ensuring a habitable consistency that couldn’t have been achieved without the herculean commitment of the women around me. They are and continue to be the reserved, often understated pillars of my life and the heroines I’d most wish to emulate.
Who are the most important women in your life? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Brilliant! You’ve finally completed all your domestic duties. You’ve put the kids to bed. You settle down with your partner to watch some abhorrent CGI crapfest when your significant over gestures to you with her outstretched arms and involuntary yawn, indicating that they’re going to bed for an “early night”. “Oh yeah!” you exclaim with great relish having read the subtext in their sudden prostrated admittance. It’s been too long since we’ve spent some quality time with one another, and such intimacy has to be utilised whenever the rare opportunity arises, to sustain a deeply connective relationship with your spouse. “Are you ready to be turned on?” you coo. With a quick peck on the cheek, a nurturing exchange of pleasantries, ensuring that they sleep long and comfortably, waving your other half good night, safe in the knowledge that they couldn’t possibly leave you for a more affectionate consort….as you remain downstairs to play your neglected PlayStation (or whatever your preferred means of gaming is) until you awake at 3am greeted by the static words “Game Over” etched across the screen of a long since passed battle. “My how I’ve missed you darling”. Of course there is a far greater threat to gaming than mere marital or parental concessions. Oh yes there is a far more assertive danger that lurks in the furtive servitude of your consoles inanimate dormancy. An enduring hindrance that provokes world-wide agitation with its protracted obstinacy. The compulsory interference of the dreaded software update! How I loath them!
As necessary as some of these patches can potentially be their automated intermissions can be incredibly disruptive, refuting the whimsical spontaneity associated with gaming. The ability to casually select a game to play is compromised because of an expanded update that could take up to an hour to implement! If you have a limited window to indulge in games like me then this is an unacceptable restriction. Now you have to manage, delegate or even prioritize other content just to free up time to install a patch for the game you wanted to play. My favourites are the ones that ask you if you’d like to continue without first downloading the requested update. You respond with a yes but are then prompted that you can’t until the necessary update has been implemented. Great. Thanks. Why bother asking me then? Games now become inaccessible, forcing you to yield to its data consuming whims. Sure most software updates require marginal space to facilitate the downloaded amendments, but when there’s 1, 2 or even 5 separate games in need of updates then all of those auxiliary space soon accumulates, exceeding the internal storage facilities by a ridiculous margin. Data consumption is mercifully a negligible thief for me thanks to some genius foresight on my part, with the installation of an expanded capacity in the form of a 2TB HDD. Having replaced the default storage system mitigates concerns regarding the allocation of game storage as well as updates, but still doesn’t help the speed or consistency of them. You can of course alleviate the problem by downloading updates in the background while you play an alternative game, but unless it’s a single player game that doesn’t require Internet connection then you’ll have to share your router. Besides you shouldn’t have to compromise what game you want to play! By far the worse thing about updates and patches to my mind is that the majority are generated to fix specific systemic issues within the game. Surely the game shouldn’t suffer such persistent maladies in the first place?
I accept that there are a number of variables that you can’t always predict nor adequately prevent. A game as expansive and interactive as Skyrim for instance is understandably going to suffer a few innocent textural blemishes. But a recent update on the PS4 and Xbox One version had to be generated to swiftly correct a glitch that forced the game to crash after 5 minutes?! A problem that didn’t exist until a previous update. So what, is was added? Evidently quality control is a minor consideration and resolving disputes as well as issuing a sizeable reparation seems to be reserved for after it has been mass-produced and distributed? Is it ignorance, laziness or just an acceptable practice to permit the release of a game riddled with bugs with companies only feeling obliged to redeem their credibility with belated initiatives to remedy the issue. I may sound old, bitter, nostalgic and perhaps even a little medicated, but forgive me if I yearn for the days that I could play any old game – regardless of how long ago it was since I last played it, without being concerned about game breaking glitches and intrusive updates that consume precious gaming experience. Functionality is a distinct advantage long since humbled and it’s funny how a modern game can be praised simply because it works. When has that ever been an acceptable barometer for a games quality?
How do you deal with updates? And do you think companies deliberately ignore glitches just to get the game out? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.