Inside Pulse 12

A Thumb To The Eye Number 21

I won’t pray here
Or bow my head
I won’t praise your name
I won’t kneel down.

I won’t pray to you
On this side of sane (Oh Lord)
I won’t pray to you
On this side of Hell (Father)
I won’t pray to you
On this side of Heaven again.

I don’t need faith
Forgiveness of sin
I don’t need saving
I don’t need lies.

I don’t believe
In the angel wars (Oh Lord)
I don’t believe
in the Virgin birth (Father)
I don’t believe
in the cross on the hill (Jesus)
I don’t believe
In the kindness of God to man.

I’ll drive a stake
Through the black of your heart (Oh Lord)
I’ll pull down your temples
And burn every word (Father)
I’ll kill all the angels
That show me “the light” (Jesus)
I’ll drift into darkness
And tear out the soul of god

“The Angel Wars” by Gary Numan

I know what you have to be thinking: “Why, the Hell is ‘A Thumb To The Eye’ back and who is that git doing News now?” Well, that git is Misha, who’s very excellent column, We Want Our Tea Back!, you may or may not have read. Personally, I think he’s brilliant, but I’m hung over on Monday morning and it ain’t from Gaming. Why the Thumb is back is a slightly deeper, more interesting question. For those who remember, the Thumb was, at one time, a fairly reliable weekly place for me to lose my mind. Ranting, raving, mumbling, clawing, and joking my way through the gaming jungle, I, and hopefully you as well, had a blast. Then, my outside life fell to shit. I won’t elaborate, but I will say that it hurt me. A lot. Enough that my confidence was severely shaken, my ego rattled, and my sense of humor was damaged. I went on sabbatical. By sabbatical, I mean I was a lazy self- loather for a few weeks. When I came back, a second, site oriented disaster occurred. I quit. Literally. I sent out some one week’s notice e-mails and I was preparing myself to start a new website or something along those lines. Once again, however, cooler heads prevailed and I stayed. Alex Williams, now so cool I can’t bring myself to call him Alex-2, he’s definitely his own Alex, now, offered me his Tuesday News slot. How could I resist? A news slot had all the potential in the world. I was on it. Unfortunately, I pissed all the potential away. I’ll be honest, my Clap Hands columns sucked a fat, juicy, disease infested Burger King hamburger. I never was pleased with the results. Each and every installment was kinda blah, there wasn’t much news and even less soul, on my part. I was blowing it. Big time. Seriously, I needed to find myself again. Then came the Puppet rant in last week’s Clap… I’ll admit, it got my juices flowing again. I felt the excitement that the other Clap Hands columns missed. The next day two things happened: Pankonin told me the names of Misha and my columns sucked, badly, and needed to be changed and Bryan Berg, my good twin and fellow JETS supporter, let me know he would be referencing my column in his. You know that feeling when things are coming together and you feel like you can see everything that is going to happen, like when you make a perfect play in chess? That’s how I felt. Name change, quality ranting from me, and a Tuesday shuffle. All it took was Misha, who, if he isn’t already an angel in the Kabbalah, should be, saying he wanted the News slot. Kismet! With that, Misha assumed the Tuesday News slot, the most important slot of all, I think, and I got to return to the Thumb. My smirk came back, the Gary Numan started playing, and my evil imagination came back to life. This should be interesting.

Moment of Clarity, Like Every Science Fiction Protagonist, Ever. Well, Except In Harlan Ellison Stories, But Those Are More Like Kafkaesque Parables Than Mainstream Science Fiction

I have very deep fears when it comes to other people having control. Be it the police, the government, the Masons, the Illuminati, the Great and Mighty Cthulhu, the chip in the base of my skull, I have nothing but suspiscion when it comes to the powers that be. I hate to think that even my video games might slip out of my control. The ESRB, excessively stringent import protection (SONY I’m talking to you), and anything that keeps me from playing the games I want to, when I want to, upsets me. But, most insidiously, I feel as if the games themselves are making it difficult to get full enjoyment out of them. This is where my Manhunt rant came in. I have more to say on that in a moment. Bryan Berg, the great man that he is, commented on my rant in his Thursday news report. I have something to say about that, as well. But, first, let me clarify my position.

The thing that made me notice all the control that we have lost, the titular “Moment of Clarity,” came whilst I was dispatching a white supremist in the “White Trash” level of Manhunt. More than the inability to use the most obvious of stealth killing techniques (Can you say bare handed strangulation?), it was the way the stages are laid out. Manhunt is King’s Quest, straight from Judgment Night’s set. It is, largely, an adventure game, like the old Sierra games, and little more. This was nothing but Snuff all over again, ironically enough. For those who don’t live in the video store, like I did when I was younger, Snuff was a fairly uninteresting South American action/ horror movie that had some (badly made) new, supposedly real, footage of a murder tacked on. It was a hoax, of course, perpetuated by the film’s distributer to drum up business. If I remember correctly, this flick did alright on the grindhouse circuit, but that is neither here nor there. What is important is the use of “realistic” violence to spice up an otherwise run of the mill product. Along those lines, Manhunt is a game that has an approximation of snuff style violence, also in a jarringly different style than the rest of the game, to generate interest. (For the record: I do not believe that there is a real snuff film in circulation. I may be mistaken, but I seriously doubt it. No, this is not an invitation for some half-wit twelve year old to tell me he’s seen Faces of Death and that it is “S0 a Snuf Filmm!”)

My position is this: Direct control of events in video games has slipped away and will, eventually disappear. Whether this is good or not depends on you. To be honest, I think that it will be the insistence on movie style aesthetic, what with cut scenes and all at the expense of letting me play the damn game, that will drive me from video gaming eventually. BUT the loss of control is tied in pretty close to that. The control you have in the games you play will continue to get more and more remote in order to fit in more CGI footage and jibber jabbering. This movie that you play aesthetic may appeal to some, but it mkaes me physically ill. Eventually, maybe not soon, but definitely one day, games will basically come in three varieties: Sports (including Tony Hawk), Pokemon Channel/ Sims/ Animal Crossing type time killers, and virtual movies. Seriously, the evil is coming and it is taking your joystick with it.

As far as Alex’s theory about sports games, and, to a certain extent, action games, is that they put you into the game, that the avatar is you. He posits that this sort of control is as close to being in a game as we have achieved. And he is right. Honestly, I used Tennis as an example because it is easy to understand as a model and is something I play. I would be stupid to argue that Madden is less “football” than “John Elway’s Quarterback.” (Although Tecmo Bowl is sooooo much better than both. Tecmo Bowl IS football to me.) What I was intending to say, and what I never really said, was that by the time you reach Top Spin, the game’s internal physics are no longer so much as a simulation of the Earth’s physics, but are, instead, like a world onto themselves. We are at the point were, if they want to, game designers can transcend simulation. Maybe it’s just me, then. I just feel more connected when I play ye olde games, more in tune with them. And no, it isn’t because there are too many buttons. God, I hate how people seem to assume that if you dislike a modern game and like an older one, you are some sort of gaming Luddite with no skills.

As far as the Manhunt situation goes, Reader Jason Mis sent me this:

Personally I’m hooked on Manhunt. Why do I forgive cutscene kills in this game? I think it’s because of presentation. The point is that in a way you are the Director. One of the hunters said to himself “she made me think those things with her innocent eyes”, hinting at the obvious act he had committed. I really enjoyed making Cash execute him. You aren’t really Cash being ordered by the Director, by playing the game you are the Director ordering Cash to kill, right down to choosing the weapon and level of brutality. At the very early stage the Director tells Cash of the hunters: “They’re scum, just like you”. They free you to kill without remorse, living out vigilante fantasies to extremes. That’s the appeal of the game, combined with feeding my bloodlust in ways that should be far removed from reality.
I got addicted to Pong at the age of four. The only similar experience now is light gun games, which are too few in number. A rant calling for more and longer gun games would be welcome. Otherwise, I’m just not sure what you have in mind.

Well, Jason, you make some good points, but I must, respectfully, disagree. Well, except for the light gun games, we need more and better ones. If you were the Director, than the end would mean that Cash has killed you, the player. That has an even more disturbing undertone that I don’t care to think about. As far as your, conveniently highlighted, point about playing as the Director, wouldn’t that mean the player is pulled back even FURTHER. You may be on track with the “kill without remorse, living out vigilante fantasies to extremes” idea. My view, though, is that this isn’t really a GOOD thing. Remember, you haven’t SEEN these people commit the crimes that the dialog presumes. You have no way to know that they, well, aside from the Skinz, are anything but actors playing a part at the Director’s behest. Maybe it’s my morals getting in the way, but I can’t get off on killing someone who just said something disturbing, particularly when they are in a situation in which mind games are necessary. Sorry, but even the slasher movie watching, splatter punk reading, violent game playing adolescent inside my head can’t defend this game. Not really for content, but for the sheer gall of pulling the player so far out of the action. from the action.

Poetry Corner

Bitch Slams a Circuit, So There!
Glass elephant comes the nightmare and ancient buzz saws
Yellow watch remorselessly walks yonder
Meat part senses under a plastic fnord
Neccesary devil always takes through a specific glass elephant!

Pigeon rapidly slams above surrealists
Pat’s record distills over a filthy mummy
tribal demon on a dirty telephone
A penguin sexually humps on nerds?!

Alex Williams on a telephone
No one’s there…

(Sorry, I’m feeling pretty dada at the moment.)