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I have a really powerfully critical nerve. I assess things very quickly and I’m able to articulate why I like, or dislike, what I am currently experiencing. It’s one of my few gifts, and combined with my love of talking and expressing ideas, it gets me in more trouble than anything. So, this topic is not limited to games, because it can also happen with any form of entertainment. Here is the statement in question.

“Just keep with it. It gets better. I know why you don’t like it, but really, stick with it.”

This happens a lot to me with music, where I’ll get an album or a recommendation, and then when I don’t like it, they’ll suggest more of it instead of accepting my grounds for disliking it. I am sure I’m not the only person who has this experience, where this is the answer you’re met with. I wish I knew why this is the response people give, but I would like to speak to this idea, and the people who hold it, directly.

We’re all going to die. That’s one of the inevitable parts of life. Everyone has so much time on this world, and the way it should be spent is to experience as many happy, good things as you can, so you can gain a comforting and pleasant experience while leaving your little marks here and there in your environment. Of course, another inevitability of life is working, because the way modern culture works is that currency is needed to buy services, or products. This is not good or bad, this is just the way this is.

I’m going to bold this so you don’t miss it: If I don’t like something, why should I spend more of my short time or hard earned money doing this thing I don’t like?

It’s perfectly swell that you like the thing you’re doing! I know that you don’t roll your eyes at the answer that kid in the red coat gives about “what makes a man,” or that you genuinely enjoy the way Dragonforce sounds. That’s all well and good, and it’s swell that you do for a lot of reasons. I mean, just on a base level, it gives those people that work on it jobs, and also the knowledge that what they’re doing was worth the investment in time. But, no one likes the same things. Common communities will rally around the same kind of thing, but it’s not important that everyone likes everything. Again: It’s not important that everyone likes everything.

Just as you reserve the right to offer a suggestion, I reserve the right to critique it and express what I do not like about it, and you have that same right too. I could put out a suggestion out for everyone to listen to Pere Ubu’s “The Modern Dance”, and I know that I will get 70% negative reactions. If you don’t like it, though, I will not suggest you also listen to “Dub Housing”, the follow up, because YOU DON’T LIKE IT, and it would be stupid for me to say “well, here, try this.” It’s like someone going to a buffet of chicken and they fucking hate chicken. They have every kind of chicken readily available, mind boggling ideas and concept chicken dishes, but that guy fucking hates chicken, so he’s not going to eat any fucking chicken.

I get this a lot when I tell people I hate RPGs, too. They don’t listen to my explanations of why I hate them, and why they annoy me, which I have regurgitated so often I think I’m losing weight. The response isn’t “well, okay”, but “well what have you played?” What I’ve played doesn’t matter. I could say Lufia, or, Chrono Trigger, or Final Fantasy 7, and guess what? They still have the same problem (or problems) I have with RPGs, so who cares? The thing to address if you want to have a discussion is “why,” and the goal shouldn’t be to convert me, but to gain perspective. I’ve learned more about my music from people hating my recommendations than liking them, and it’s so easy to take that same stuff from what is a part of your favored medium what people think sucks about it than what people like about it. Don’t pretend that what you like doesn’t have flaws. Hell, go further: embrace those flaws, because that is a part of what you love.


I used to do this on an old blog, where I would just stream of consciousness write when I couldn’t think to do anything else. So, here we go again.

As a songwriter but a moody person, I have to capitalize on lyricism immediately, or I lose what I had in mind. At the same time, I’m also capable of finishing the lyrics within ten, fifteen minutes if I get geared up and going. The thing I have begun to notice is that, when I am playing a video game, that entire part of my head that lets me write, or come up with melodies, the thing I am worst at. I enjoy lulls in releases for that reason, because instead of thinking about a fake gunfight, I am thinking about what is around me. I can look at a field of flowers, and write a poem of a bee struggling not to belong to the hive even means it dies in the cold, but not if I ran Zul’Farrak last night and wiped at Gahz’rilla.

The other half of that is I don’t know a lot of songwriters that also play a lot of videogames, but that’s a different issue. Maybe the problem is more in that I show little interest in the music part of video games, where as an illustrator for example would deeply be effected by the visual aspects of the game since that is the most obvious part of a game, where as the goal of scoring music is to have it add, but not overwhelm the scene. The song is not meant to be in the forefront, unless it’s a rhythm game.

On the subject of rhythm games, I had been thinking about the existence of the view point where rhythm games are irrelevant when you can pick up a real instrument. We’ll forgive them the price side of the argument for just a moment, although in my own experience, I have bought a guitar and amp for just about as much as Rock Band. I think the core part of this argument comes down to creativity. Now, a lot of people are creative, or at least have the tools. The thing separating these two camps is the will, the desire to be creative. As an artist- as in, as someone who creates art, not someone who draws, and that is one of my largest pet peeves since the term Illustrator exists to define- my need to create things is driving and powerful. It is not up to me, when I am creative, or that I am creative. I just know that I am, and I need to accommodate that creativity lest it drive me insane.

My point is this. Some people have the receptors on. Some people can look at the clouds and think of the perfect line for their play. Some people can take a drink, strum a chord, and end up with an unexpected punk anthem. Some people can start to doodle, and end up drawing so intricately that it becomes a web of ideas and images that stand out for you and can be visible to others. Those people are the people who argue in favor of picking up an instrument, I believe. These people are people who, to them, creativity is everything. I am one of these people, and I do not mean to glorify it because the need to create stems from a lot of things, not all of them positive. The one word I will use to try to clarify that is “legacy”, and I’ll leave it to you to interpret.

Some people do not have the receptors on. It doesn’t matter whether you hopped them up on drugs and put them in front of your chosen medium, they won’t have anything to do with it because they just are not creative. That is the side on for Guitar Hero, and Rock Band. There is nothing functionally wrong with these people at all; it is just a difference in character. There are many advantages to not being creative, as well. To be frank, every single artist I’ve ever met is some fashion of unstable and can hide it incredibly well. Most people are unstable, and could point to some trauma as their proof, but it’s the combination of the trauma and that receptor that makes them creative, where as the uncreative types are left to doing other things like running from it, or dealing with it directly. However, I will say this: I have met more genuinely lovely, happy people that were not artists than those who were. I have met more people who are stably employed that were not artists than those who were. I have met more people that belong to, belonged to, or run a successful, turmoil free household that were not artists than those who were. And I imagine the majority of people are not artists. Speaking for myself, that’s fine. You can have all of those things, because I have my guitar and I have a message.

People who are saying “pick up a guitar instead” are not- or at least should not be- saying that your game is not the same as learning a guitar. They are- or should be- trying to encourage you to create, even if they don’t directly want to say it. They know what learning guitar has done for them, and that’s a pretty cool experience speaking from first person, so of course I’d be eager to share it, and I think a lot of the people that do say “play a guitar” aren’t meaning in replacement.

This is all just hope that that’s what it means, because literally, “play a guitar instead” is a really stupid statement. Learn guitar to play songs other people play? Why don’t you learn how to make movies so you can make The Godfather again as best you can, or animate so you can redo Sleeping Beauty scenes in your free time?

A little = 25 words or less

–Black Mountain – In The Future
You’re not allowed to follow up a 16 minute song with a four minute drone. Regardless, some good grooves and a stoner sound work out.

–British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
I do. This is only barely rock music, though. It’s good power pop, but “The Decline and Fall of” still stands tall above their work.

–Constantines – Kensington Heights
Apparently, “Soon Enough” did really well for them, because this is like an album of that. Come back, Constantines! We need rock spirit, not this!

–Fleet Foxes – Self titled
In the running for my second favorite album this year. It sounds like how Panda Bear was sold to me, but then it’s not boring.

–Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple
Imagine going down lots of stairs. It’s like that, by the end. Good to know it’s actually a band, though, and not just one album.

–Hercules and Love Affair – Self titled
I cannot make it past the first song without feeling nauseous. Like the evil clone of LCD Soundsystem.

–The Mars Volta – The Bedlam in Goliath
New drummer exists to annoy me. Cedric’s best album with the band: says things human beings say. They raped Rapid Fire Tollbooth into being Goliath.

–Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
I should like it, but I feel like I’m missing something. I’ve always felt that way with his stuff. Title track is really fun.

–Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I-IV
I support the distribution method. That’s why I bought this, and the Saul Williams record. Both fail to grab me, but my dollar has spoken.

–Nine Inch Nails – The Slip
Fails to annoy me. Seriously, it’s the first NIN album I’ve enjoyed start to finish. Logical follow up to Ghosts I-IV. Lyrics are still heavy-handed.

–No Age – Nouns
No Age and HEALTH seem to me like attacks on modern California from within. HEALTH is the chest burster, but No Age is the facehugger.

–Omar Rodriguez-Lopez – Calibration (Is Pushing Luck And Key Too Far)
Also competing for #2. The most interesting Omar’s work has ever been to me. I have no idea what goes so wrong with Mars Volta.

–Opeth – Watershed
Also competing for #2. Fucking weird album. I love it, but that’s not good news for Opeth fans. The funk organ solo is super ballsy.

–Spiritualized – Songs in A&E
Still working my way through it. Not sure what I think.

–Vampire Weekend – self titled
Definite #1. Sinks its hooks in early, and doesn’t let go. Very punk and very reggae. I recommend this album above all others this year.

–Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
Super disappointing. Lacks everything I liked about Apologies to the Queen Mary. Guitars are overwhelming, drums are simple, keyboards are simpler. Needs that frantic energy.

I swear to god this better work

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