A Blatant Act of Repression… or Distraction. With Some Poorly-Withheld Glee Seeping Through. Also, There is Talk of Video Games.

Galleons, tonight I’m holding in a powerful bit of gushing about the first part of the Doctor Who season finale. This repression is due to the fact that it is the first half of a two-parter, with the latter bit airing next Saturday, and to talk about this half now would mean I’d have to dedicate another post to part the second next week.

And that just doesn’t seem like an economical use of my bloggin’ skillz.

Instead, to highlight my thrifty wordin’ (the thrift is in the combining of various, related items I want to discuss, not the actual word count, which will probably be, as per usual, about 200 words too many and involve a fair amount of cussing), we’re gonna have a smörgåsbord of video game chatter.

Which is pretty convenient, what with E3 recently going down and all… I’d say I planned this, but I totally didn’t. “Never ignore coincidence… unless you’re busy, in which case, always ignore coincidence.”

*meep* I couldn’t help myself. Sorry. No more Doctor Who.

***

So, a psychologist named Jayne Gackenbach recently did a study that showed a correlation between video gaming and lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming, for those who don’t know, is where the sleeper is aware that they are dreaming. Simple enough. Apparently, those who are aware they are dreaming can also influence their dream environments and the experiences within (which I am calling bullshit on, because I lucid dream like mad, but I still can’t make people not shoot me or make Al Pacino just make out with me and not kill all my friends or grant myself the ability to fly… though I can always breathe underwater, which was super useful when I was being chased by a panther, because I just dived in the water and settled down to the bottom and waited, because everyone knows panthers aren’t big on diving, what with being giant kitties and all).

Anyway, what’s-her-name’s (Gackenbach’s… say her name out loud, but add some extra phlegm action, and you understand why German is hella fun to speak) study makes perfect sense. Because gamers are so comfortable controlling characters in a virtual world, the skill set easily transfers to the land of dreams. Gamers’ dreams also have certain video game-esque traits, like the inability to control anything but their own actions and switching from first- to third-person views (this happens to me all the time).

Apparently, those “video game traits” do not include having the buttons of a controller on your head, allowing you to pause, restart, and select items just by poking your head in various places… Not that that’s ever happened to me. Or anything.

So… what the hell is the point of this study? I mean, sure, it’s an interesting (if wholly unsurprising) correlation, but is there a use for this knowledge? Well, Gackenbach also found that gaming lowered the amount of threatening or aggressive dreams (poppycock, I say), but, more importantly, when a gamer has such a dream, they are not afraid. Instead, they are more likely to fight the dream threat.

Gackenbach says that this is evidence that video games could be used to help combat frequent nightmares, especially among veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But she won’t be able to adequately continue her research until she builds a proper sleep lab…

I don’t like the idea of sleep labs, because they make me think of this.

***

Onwards to another seemingly useless study involving video games. This one hails from the University of Nevada, and it involves a project that helps blind children exercise more… through video games.

“Lack of vision forms a significant barrier to participation in physical activity and consequently children with visual impairments have much higher obesity rates and obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes,” said Eelke Folmer, the leader of their research team.

So, basically, these folks modified the Wii Sports games so they can be played without visual feedback… which seems like a waste of time to me, seeing as most Wii games are full of annoying noises that probably serve as useful auditory feedback already. But who am I to prevent blind kids from getting off their asses and swinging a controller through a television screen? I mean, hell, it’s not like they need to see the screen, anyway. They are probably the best target audience for Nintendo’s shake-and-move system…

I’m going to stop now, before Satan shows up and puts me in a handbasket and transports me to a land of fire and brimstone. Because I am certainly not dressed for travel. Or for a barbeque.

In all honesty, I think it’s a good thing they’re doing for the children. Also, I’m all about bringing gaming to more people.

***

So, speaking of those motion-sensitive controllers, E3 seemed to be all about Sony and Microsoft jumpin’ on the Nintendo bandwagon to unveil their own motion systems (and 3D, but the bizarre new trend toward 3D entertainment is a post for another day). And while I continue to fear that this is going to have a negative impact on the production of awesome games in favor of family-friendly, casual, dancing-and-flailing games, I am also aware that the games created for the Playstation/Xbox are infinitely better than those produced for Nintendo systems, so Sony and Microsoft stand a much greater chance of really exploring the potential of the motion controllers for serious gamers.

Like bashing zombies. And shooting hookers. And stabbing Nazis.

***

I said that all games created for Nintendo systems pale in comparison to games made for Playstations and Xboxes, but I was lying. Because there’s one game series that is on par with the big boys of serious gaming.

We all know I’m talking about The Legend of Zelda series (both due to its inherent awesomeness and my own fan-girl devotion to it), so don’t even pretend you are surprised.

Well, there’s a new console Zelda title coming out. Which, naturally, has me interested. It’s called Skyward Sword (I’m really not impressed by that title, guys). And it looks…

Okay, I’m going to be honest- I’m of a mixed opinion here. And really, I’m mostly on the gibbering, frothing, I-must-own-this-beautiful-piece-of-sexy-game-pie-now side of things. This title looks packed with tons of new features. New weapons, new ways to use old weapons, new types of puzzles and challenges. And, frankly, it looks like the first time Nintendo has really gone all-out to explore what their own motion-sensitive system can do on a real game (Twilight Princess was released simultaneously on both GameCube and Wii, so it didn’t really take advantage of the perks that could come from the Wii, it just kind of added some motion to the GameCube version and tried to ease folks into the new style of gameplay).

Which is all awesome.

But…

The graphics. POR QUE?!?!?!

Okay, I’m going to be honest with you lot- I actually really enjoyed the toonish, cel shaded goodness of Wind Waker. It was remarkably detailed and a very lovely world, and no matter what anyone says, it was a graphical step-up from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.

BUT, something has happened in the world of Hyrule since Wind Waker and its controversial cel shading- Twilight Princess came out. And that game is a piece of fucking beauty. It went back to the more realistic rendering of OoT and MM, but it did so beautifully. Though I think most of us can agree that they could have dialed down the light bloom just a wee bit…

Anyway, what is really impressive about how lovely TP ended up looking was the fact that it was really created for the GameCube, which was a system far inferior to the next gen systems already on the market (remember that the Wii and 360 had already been released at the time TP hit shelves, and the PS3 came out about a week later). Taking the brilliance of TP and expanding it to the next game in the line-up seems to make sense to me.

Instead, we have this weird fucking hybrid of WW and TP graphics. The creature designs and effects shots look to have been lifted from WW, and the cel shading has returned, but Link’s character design and the landscape feel like they’ve been pulled from TP.

Instead of getting something spectacular, I feel like we’re getting something less visually stellar than either title the graphics are based on. Which saddens me greatly, because while I give older games lots of graphical leeway (…I grew up on Atari games, folks, so I have a high tolerance for awful visuals), I like new games to stay on the cutting edge.

I’m worried Skyward Sword is going to fall a little flat there.

Still, gameplay looks sweet, and I cannot fucking wait for this to come out.

Also, Nintendo is re-releasing OoT for the 3DS. In high-res, with 3D support. Which seems unnecessary, but if it introduces a new group of gamers to the near perfection that is OoT, I can live with it.

Plus, I thought it amusing that Eiji Aonuma (the creator of OoT) had this to say about the remake, “You know the Water Temple? Who thought it was tough or even horrible? I’ve lived with that for the last ten odd years. But with the 3DS we have a touch screen. You had to take off and on the iron boots constantly, right? So I’d like to lay the evil shame to rest, and add a feature to make the iron boots control much easier.”

I don’t know how I feel about making the Water Temple easier. While it is a horrendous pain in the ass, it’s like a rite of passage.

Stop making our gamers soft, Nintendo. Gaming is for the mentally tough and the physically squishy.

***

I did it. I talked and talked and managed to not geek out more over Doctor Who.

Till now.

Balls.

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