ERROR #003 → 2022.03.02 → WEDNESDAY
SORRY BUT YOUR PARTY HAS BEEN CANCELLED
Another blog abandoned by yours truly? Wow, it's been almost four months since my last post! Which is kind of funny at this point. Time just continues to lurch forward. Oh well! Things are going pretty well. I've been on a good wave of graphic design and have redesigned my other personal website. I also printed and mailed out a little zine (the first time in MANY YEARS). Heavily inspired by Y2K aesthetics, ofc, but have been really pleased with the little things I've been making. I'm excited about graphic design again and that feels nice. Not sure what exactly lit the fire this time, but I'm just trying to keep fanning those embers.
I'm also excited about music again. Getting into ska in a big way. The entire The Shape of Ska Punk to Come Volume II album by Bad Times Records kicks ass. Also loving the Bad Operation album, among other things. Feels great to stumble into a lively and interesting subgenre with so much history and activity to explore. I also fell down a rabbit hole listening to AJJ last night and goddamn, it's nice that there are some decent, kind-hearted people out there making art. (Things are pretty bleak, which goes without saying. Rage against the dying of the light, and what not.)
I'm also continously excited by the indie web. A friend prompted me to look into the Gemini protocol and holy shit, another whole new world to explore. It feels a bit like when I first discovered Neocities. People being creative and expressing themselves outside of the walls of the corporate-controlled internet? I'm just fascinated by it all and plan on participating in some small way. Also have to give a ton of credit to the Yesterweb project. It feels like they are really leading the charge and I hope to eventually contribute something to that good and just cause.
More relevant: I've been playing a lot of PS1 games recently! Blown away by Duckstation, strongly recommended. Played through THPS1 again, Wipeout XL, Wipeout 3, Omega Blast, and dipped into RE1 and Tomb Raider II. I'll eventually write another post here on DISC-CONTENT. Maybe about THPS1, but I'm thinking about focusing primarily on the soundtrack. I don't have much to contribute in terms of game analysis, but maybe I can sing the praises of the musical choices (and talk a little about why ska-punk is so great). WE'LL SEE.
That's all for now. Thanks for reading. Have a nice day and a better tomorrow.
ERROR #002 → 2021.11.15 → MONDAY
WRITING ABOUT WRITING ABOUT VIDEO GAMES
It turns out I’m not very good at writing about video games. I’m still trying to find my angle, I guess. I consume a ton of video game related content, mainly in the form of podcasts and the occasional video essay, and I’ve been thinking about the different approaches and what would and wouldn’t work for me and this site.
My favorite podcast is Watch Out for Fireballs!, from the Duckfeed.TV network. They have the most holistic approach that I’ve encountered, discussing each game like you would in a book club. They go chapter by chapter and analyze the themes and mechanics as they arise. It’s really great and comprehensive and often results in 2+ hour long episodes of insightful and entertaining discussions.
While I love this format, I don’t think it would translate very well to written articles from a single perspective. Podcasts benefit from the ability of having a dialogue. There’s a natural back and forth between varying perspectives that keeps the pace snappy and the entertainment value high. Adapting this format to my site would likely result in a loose walkthrough with occasional bits of written narration. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’d be very interesting.
Other podcasts, like Retronauts and Cane and Rinse, have a more journalistic approach. These come across as slightly more formal, but also operate at a higher level — not digging in as deeply as the chapter-by-chapter format. These podcasts are sometimes more informative about development histories and critical reception, but they rarely get as deep into the weeds of individual scenes and gameplay moments.
But what they do bring to the table is a more industry-insider perspective, as many of the hosts are former video games journalists (and sometimes developers). Because of their backgrounds, these shows often have a more authoritative voice and occasionally offer some behind-the-scenes information.
I’m a huge fan of both Retronauts and Cane and Rinse, but their approaches are even further off limits to me, as I (obviously) do not have a deep history with or a massive knowledge of the video games industry. But what I do have are the memories and personal experiences of a fan, which is something all of these podcasts regularly feature. Each show usually has a segment where they read from listeners who write in about the game(s) being covered. These personal anecdotes are often my favorite part of the episode.
These stories vary wildly: they can simply be a retelling of someone getting a game for a special occasion and how they spent countless hours with friends playing it. Or they can be emotionally-moving stories about bonding with a loved one over a game, forever giving it a special place in their hearts. Or about how a game helped someone through a difficult time in their life by giving them much-needed escapism or another way of looking at their problems.
These personal stories are actually what prompted me to start this site. Because, hey! I have a few good, gaming memories to share. But even these are often difficult to write about and essentially boil down to a good feeling or general nostalgia. There are a few specific anecdotes, like hearing about the dog’s head in Silent Hill. But even that, as distinct and impactful of a memory it is to me, can only take an article so far.
Taking inspiration from video essays also has its pros and cons. One benefit is that they are usually from a single perspective and rely less on conversations. But a drawback is that they have the advantage of video to help communicate their ideas and be consistently engaging — even if it’s just showing footage of the game they are discussing. It’s much harder to get someone to read a whole article than it is to watch a video, regardless of production value.
One example of this is Noah Caldwell-Gervais. He usually creates a custom introduction, but the rest of the video is essentially a stream of semi-relevant gameplay footage. This isn’t a complaint at all, because Noah is one of the best critics of all time — and he doesn’t promote himself as a videographer. (In fact, he’s often unnecessarily apologetic about the quality of his videos.)
The reason you should watch him, is because he’s an intellectual powerhouse who does some of the deepest analysis of video games you can find. (His latest is a 7½ hour long analysis of the Resident Evil series. It’s excellent, a masterpiece — I’ve watched it twice!) And because his focus is primarily on the script, I actually think his videos would translate well to the written word.
However, there’s only so much inspiration that I can take from Noah. I’m just not as smart as this dude. I think I have a good understanding of what does and doesn’t work (or what I like and don’t like) in a video game. But there’s no way I can write an article as good as one of his videos, so I’m not even going to try. (It’s good to know your limitations.)
Another favorite video essayist that I’ve only recently discovered is Grim Beard. He has a bigger focus on lowbrow comedy and writes from a very distinct and personal perspective (goth gamer nation).
His attitude about sharing his opinion reminds me of Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop. These guys are both up front about the fact that they are just fans with opinions and an internet connection. There’s no pretense that “music reviewer” or “video games reviewer” is necessarily anything more than that. This level of honestly is worthy of respect, but more importantly, it’s super encouraging because it explicitly means that “you can do this, too.” (Which is a message I hope my site communicates on some level.)
Grim Beard’s approach to making videos is very structured and follows this basic outline: 1) Intro, 2) History, 3) Story, 4) Spoilers, 5) Gameplay, 6) Sight Sound, 7) Critical Reception, and 8) Conclusion. Even though he occasionally complains about boxing himself in with this structure, I think it generally works well and is something that could probably help my own writing. (I just doubt I can be as funny.)
In the Critical Reception segment, which he calls “Bitter Recompense,” he responds to negative reviews about the game he’s covering. It’s a very funny segment and is kinda ballsy because he’s often calling out actual reviewers — just putting gamers on blast, which I generally consider a community service.
I really like this segment because it’s almost the inverse of the AVGN-style of game reviews that has dominated the internet over the last decade. In these segments, Grim Beard is often pushing back against people who are being unnecessarily or unreasonably harsh. (Or people who are just fucking stupid, there's a lot of that, too.)
It’s refreshing because it’s essentially a positive segment, that also includes dunking on chuds. At best, it feels like meta commentary on the state of video games criticism, while also surfacing common complaints so they can be addressed. And it does all of this while providing more room for good jokes. It’s like that Miyamoto quote: “A good idea is something that does not solve just one single problem, but rather can solve multiple problems at once.”
I’m doing all this thinking about podcasts and YouTubers not because I plan on ripping them off, but because I enjoy analyzing why I like the things that I like. That’s ultimately the goal of the whole site, ya know. If nothing else, maybe I’ve introduced a random reader to one of these creators. They're all great, go check them out!
(Ah shit, I probably am gonna rip them off — but just a little, just a tiny bit.)
ERROR #001 → 2021.11.13 → SATURDAY
ERROR MESSAGE // INTRO
As you may have noticed, aside from today's burst of activity, it had been almost a year since I posted anything substantial on the main site. And hey, that sucks! Despite my neglect, I still really love the site and even visit it often. I still have a strong desire to flesh it out and add more content. I even have a couple rough drafts and several to-do lists filed away. But every time I sit down to write a post, I instantly get distracted or run out of energy.
There are lots of things I can blame for this — It’s been a hell of a year. And obviously, this site is not a big deal at all. It’s hard to prioritize because it’s so trivial, but that’s also a big reason why I enjoy it so much. A real conundrum I’ve created.
I initially thought that putting restrictions in place — only writing about video games from a specific console — would narrow my focus and boost my creativity. But since that obviously hasn’t worked, I’ve decided to try a new tactic: a brand new section of the site which will essentially be a personal blog.
I don’t really understand why I would want to blog rather than just keep a private journal. (Although I sometimes try to do that, too.) I think it’s related to my fascination with the old web. Just the idea of people sharing their thoughts and feelings on little homemade websites that will only be viewed by a handful of random strangers — there’s something endlessly charming about that.
And like, it’s hard enough to Log Off completely, so maybe spending time doing stuff like this will be more enjoyable than doomscrolling elsewhere. So yeah, that’s what is (hopefully) going to be happening here.
It’d be fair to say: “yeah, fine, but why here? I came for PS1 games!” Well, for one, it’s my site, motherfucker! And two, this section is fairly tucked away and not being promoted outside of one link and occasional updates on the on the Neocities feed. The design is also distinct enough to clearly communicate: “You’ve entered a new zone.” It’s totally cool for you to turn back. It’s even the expectation.
I’m nesting this here because I still want DISC-CONTENT to by my main personal site. Maybe the proximity will serve as a constant reminder that I should add to the main site, while also creating another rabbit hole for people to explore. And wow, this is maybe more minutiae than is necessary, but that’s a thing I really like about the old web and personal blogs. Just a pointless avalanche of haphazard thoughts and ideas. I dunno, I think it's nice!