Pokemon GO

Ten strangers meet at midnight in a small triangular park in central Austin barely big enough to house a small mosaic and a patch of grass. The strangers were attracted by a Lure module that was placed at a Pokestop.

This is hardly a rare sight as I’ve come to discover. Adults all over Austin, and the country, are playing Pokemon Go late at night. I do it because I can’t stand the over 100 degree weather of Austin’s summer and because I happen to be awake late at night.

Pokemon Go initially felt like a real life Pokemon Safari Zone. You walk around and run into pokemon that you can only catch by throwing Pokeballs and fruit to. But once you discover good locations the game becomes something different.

It’s a unique social experience – playing Pokemon Go. Walking down N. Lamar we realized that the best place to go was wherever there was lots of Pokestops, and because our neighborhood was a deadzone, we started searching the city. We found new stops and new gyms and explored parts of the city we never would have before. I caught my first Magikarp and Psyduck on a small walking bridge above the Colorado River.

We were on foot but we saw other Pokemon Go players in cars. You can tell because there is almost always someone in the passenger seat holding a phone and they stop or slow down at every Pokestop to collect pokeballs and other goodies. N Lamar had no fewer than a dozen people walking around visiting pokestops and fighting gyms.

It’s not rare for a person on bike to stop and talk to you about where his friend said he spotted a Charmander. Or a car to stop by and ask if you’ve caught anything good, and then drive off after you’ve directed him to where you found your first Pikachu.

Pokemon Go is a wonderful Adventure. Millions of people trying to catch digital monsters, again, after 20 years.

A hundred students gather around a field at midnight. Recently added Pokestops and the 4 lures that were placed in the Quad attracted all the late night goers. Groups discuss Pokemon and complain about the number of Magikarp this area has. Except the few that desperately want that Gyarados. I am one of those few. It’s fairly quiet save for that light chatter until a figure in the dark yells out, “Valor”. Many yell “Yeah!” in response.

“Mystic!” another counters.

“Instinct!” yells the last group.

The commotion dies down and everyone continues to sit relatively quiet around the field. I sit on a bench watching the people go by and listening to the discussion when the final outburst of the night happens. “Dratini!” one yells. Other’s repeat. Everyone is now looking at their phones trying to catch their first Dragon type. Swipe. Snap… Catch.

Terraria

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Day one: on this arbitrarily chosen day I am cast out into a strange world with only a few tools to aid in my survival in this world called Kalinea. Was there anything before this day that was significant? Why do I not have any sense of history to myself?

There is another person here named Seth. He drowned when a tunnel got flooded. I’ve only seen him a few times since then, moving around. I won’t be talking about him again.

I tested my ax on some trees and collected it’s wood. This might come in handy later. I tore down another tree and encountered a slime-like creature. It attacked me so I killed it.

I feel compelled to dig. I carved myself out a hideout. Maybe I’ll make a password for it. I found a natural cave structure and started digging it toward my own hide out. Soon I created a large underground passage straight through a rather large hill. Now the only thing left to do is go down.

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Night One: I have been down here a long time. When I went out I realized it had gotten dark. I was attacked by ghouls. I see no purpose in fighting the dead so I flee into my tunnel. Some follow me in but they are soon dealt with.

I continue to dig. Now I’ve learned to avoid underground pools. It’s not long before I get the hang of where I’m going.

Day two: I ventured back out of the tunnels to find more supplies. More slime creatures attacked me. I killed them. I discovered that the remains of the creatures can be used to bring me light. This will come in handy in the darkness.

 

I dug all day. I’m heading back out now; it must be near night fall.

Night: I went out to get more wood and found a star that had fallen from the sky. I don’t know what I can use it for so I’ll keep it in my pocket. I’m heading back down so I can go further, deeper, to whatever awaits me.

Much down here is filled with stone. It takes so long to break through.

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I find myself obsessively correcting the harsh mistakes that mother nature makes in her designs. I will make this cave my cave.

I haven’t been outside in so long I don’t know if it’s day or night. I will run out of materials for torches sometime and have to head out.

I found a fish. I liberated it into a larger pool of water. It seems happy.

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Worm like creatures dwell down here, giant long creatures that attack you. I killed it but it was a terrible fight. The only way to know what way they come is to let them attack you then try to hit it first. It took quite a few hits to tear it apart.

This cave here has a heart. It just floats there like a stained glass window frozen in time. I don’t know why this cave needs a heart so I keep moving. My new tunnel needs to be swam to. It’s my way of keeping out the ghouls.

I created a forge for myself with an anvil, a stove, a workbench and other necessary tools. I put up a sign so everyone knows it’s “my forge”. There’s a grave there but I don’t remember dying. “Why do we pity the dead?” it asks.

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I tunneled my way back out. Now my tunnel has 4 entrances. It gets dark underneath. Sometimes I only know it’s night by the sound of the dead wailing as they hunt for me in the tunnels above.

I’ve begun letting the earth decide which way I move, traveling through earth because it’s softer than stone. I still clear some of the stone though since I use it for construction.

Water – water everywhere. It becomes difficult to navigate around it. I make sure to keep my distance. We don’t want another flooding.

Day or Night too long to count, I have reached an area made entirely of stone. Digging through will take twice as long, but there’s no tell how long it is around. I must keep going further.

The tunnels in this area are getting smaller. I’ve found it difficult to dig through so much ground so I use tighter patterns. We’re making amazing progress. We will be there in no time… but where?

I, on occasion, discover large underground caverns. They are terrible discoveries. Smaller caverns are easier to integrate into my design but the larger ones take more to light and more effort to navigate. At least I’ve made tremendous progress.

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I discovered a cavern with glowing mushrooms. Lots of water in this area, more enemies to contend with.

The area beyond the mushrooms is no different than that above it. Things have gone back to normal it seems. I haven’t been back to the surface. My last trip gathered enough materials for a long stay. There are slimes underground too, and they provide me with lots of fire.

Lava – lava everywhere. I don’t want to touch it. My skills in avoiding the water have aided me here. I can’t believe how far I’ve come and yet it seems so natural.

The lava has become increasingly difficult to navigate just as the water before it but I’ve managed thus far and I will not fail.

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I’ve seen hell. I saw it with my own eyes. I witnessed the imps and demon’s that inhabit it. I have retreated for now but will continue in the morning, or whatever can be counted as morning. I think I will trek to my forge and fashion something to keep me safe.

Equipment forged, including my shiny new armor. I feel like a bright, easy target. Oh well. Onward, to face whatever awaits me…

Persona 3 (Gender + Sexuality)

Gender:

I had read about it before and Operation Babe Hunt was the only reason I finished the game. I wanted to see for myself how horrible it really was. In the middle of the game there is a segment where everyone goes to the beach and one of the characters (Junpei) wants to go hit on women at the beach.

The entire scene is supposed to be funny and it’s actually quite short. Maybe that’s why I didn’t find it difficult like the scenes from P4 but more annoying. It’s more a feeling of frustration with the existence of the stereotypes that they are re-enforcing. I am not trying to tell developers what to do, but if you are going to have trans characters, something other than the same negative cliche’s would be nice.

Here’s what happens in the scene: the boys run around hitting on random groups of girls. Of course, they only meet comic failure. Only not quite humorous. The only woman who responds positively to their advancements was the trans woman. That’s where the stereotype painting trans women as sexual deviants/predators comes in. Other than that, they also use a question mark in the name “Beautiful Lady?” which is offensive.

But like I said the scene went by quickly and within the game it was more of a nuisance. It’s just another example of Atlus poorly portraying trans characters. It’s the same type of quick joke that has been done before and likely will be done more. Though, I admit Atlus does seem to be improving with their trans characters. I wouldn’t mind seeing how much they can improve. They make good RPGs and great characters.

All in all, the scene was overshadowed. Because, even thought the reaction from the characters was negative when they discovered that she had a bit of stubble on her face still, and the game didn’t include any option to speak up against your classmates opinions (which would have been nice), just a moment later…

Sexuality:

I saw a girl. I knew right away. She’s the tank they were just mentioning a few scenes back. “OMG, She’s the Tank,” I proclaimed. She instantly became my favorite character of the game. Her name is Aigis and (Spoilers) she is a robot made for killing shadows.

As I’ve said before, I love AIs. For me the prospect of playing out a relationship with a robot was exciting. It drew me in, immediately. Unfortunately, the game makes you wait a long time before you can experience it.

Much of the story for Aigis revolves around her trying to understand what it means to “live” and trying to live. There isn’t any profound revelations from her unless I’ve overlooked something(actually entirely possible). She realizes that she wants to protect you, the main character, and that she loves you.

Toward the end of her story she asks you to touch a delicate component that lies at the base of the neck, behind her bow. She tells you that it will burn some of your genetic information onto the component and then she apologizes if she makes unusual noises. The scene ends with her request, “Will you… untie my ribbon?” It is a very intimate moment even though nothing is shown.

It was a beautiful relationship. It was made even more significant to me by the fact that I made no other effort to date any other of the characters in the game. Although, it was a different kind of relationship that I don’t think the developers intended to be used as a romantic relationship. At least maybe not the way I viewed it. Probably because of the issue of her being a robot. I assume this since the game didn’t prompt me to give her any gifts like it did with other characters. But it definitely was the most meaningful to me.

Digital Relationships:

I almost missed this last storyline in the game. That would have been a shame because it was one I could easily relate to. I thank my friend for pointing out this social link.

Early in the game one of the characters gives you an MMO game to play. For a while I didn’t realize how to play it but near the end of the game I realized I had just overlooked it. You enter the game and are greeted by a girl. You interact with her through the game and she begins complaining about work. After a while you can really feel a closeness. The two seem to care more about each other than the game.

One day you get a note that the server is shutting down because there aren’t enough people. At this point I think it’s just you and her. This is a sad thing to me. It’s an end. That is enough to start to be sad but then you wonder what will happen to the relationship and it’s even sadder. The girl, Maya, devises a strategy to send the company your chat logs so they can see how important the game is to you.

Then the sad parts happen. She changes her mind. The chat logs make her want to refocus her life and she leaves, forever, before the servers even shut down. No exchange of information. No “see you later”. Just, goodbye. But she leaves you a note. She tells you to take a screenshot of it for your phone after she leaves. Then she’s gone. Her note reads, “I LUV U”.

Maybe it’s because of who I am, but it’s one of the sadder things I’ve ever read. Anyone who reads my blog probably knows, I don’t have many RL friends. So, the bonds I make online are very important to me. I care about all my online friends very much. I am grateful for having them. It is a scary thought that they could disappear like that. I went back to my computer several times to see if it would let me try to talk to Maya again. It did not. And I cried (though I had also been depressed at the time).

There is hope however. The girl reveals enough information that you figure out who she is IRL. You don’t get to interact with her until the end of the game. She discovers who you are and starts to freak out. She feels bad for telling you all the things she did. Then she asks you to dinner but runs away.

My friend said that the scene was funny but I just felt the loneliness that I feel everyday. I feel like something is slipping away from the characters and they are just standing there letting it. It’s an empty feeling for me.

Mini Review:

P3, much like P4 which I’ve already reviewed, is a very well crafted RPG. The music is fantastic. The Visuals look nice. The characters are endearing. It starts off very slowly, much like P4, although the characters early on feel weak. None of the social links you can make are very interesting, so even though the game opens right away, it still feels restricting. Once more characters start to be added the game really starts to take off. You get more social links that you actually want to see through to the end, including 2 that I mentioned above. The game also has an intense story with many unexpected surprises. It would be difficult for me to choose a favorite between P3 and P4. I liked them both despite each having some things that bothered me. This game also has become one of the only few games that have made me cry. It is a great journey and I think you should experience it.

(forgive me if this reads awkwardly, I was crying while writing most of it. I’ll come back to check it later.)