Default Tester

Help people get better with video games. Donate to Child's Play for karma Achievements.

Join Default Tester and save the Galaxy. Service guarantees citizenship. Would you like to know more?

Great question. If I only had one video I could play it would be this.

Oh crap sorry! Extra Credits! Along with Heathcliff, I dedicate this story to the following people, in no particular order:

Ada Lovelace

Kurt Vonnegut

Bill Gates

Steve Jobs

Grace Hopper

Ray Kurzweil

Gabe Newell

Barack Obama

Michelle Obama

The Fam

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Issue : Games : Northern Lights

West of Loathing is a game about cows.

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is a 24 hour time standard kept using highly precise atomic clocks in line with the earth's rotation.

I think about UTC when I get overseas meeting invitation emails set for four in the morning pacific standard time. I think to myself what my bed feels like, I think about the sweet embrace of sleep. I then begin to wonder if the sender did it on purpose.

I always hate myself for thinking it. I know as well as anybody most office apps are weird to navigate and most people who live in them have a constellation of If /Then statement macros attached to different individual people and groups in their work email, add to that language conversion in the app and it's hard to imagine a world without four in the morning emails on at least one side of the communication street.

But still, sleep and bed and a brief respite from the grind are nice too. Such is life. I guess I am thinking about this because of New Years, earth rotation in full swing. I don't go out on New Year's Eve; Bad Juju. Learned my lesson last year.

I have always wondered why people are so obsessed with starting the new year off dubiously as possible. Like, the plan for some people is to get blackout drunk and attempt to do things that have long-term consequences. To each their own, but please don't drive.

Happy New Year to information, you are killing it. It's like having first row seats to the formation of Voltron. Thanks for all the awesome. 2018 is gonna get weird, please don't freak out. We got this. Also, JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape: Issue: People: OG Kush

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Issue : People : Cyclical

Signal Decay is a game about Moore's Law.

A medium time ago I was a sailor. My reason for joining the Navy was two-part, one because my best friend called dibs on the Marines, and two, I legitimately felt like the Navy would be an easier ride.

Before landing in Great Mistakes I thought the Navy was about sailing off to exotic locales, swabbing decks, and playfully snapping towels against men's butts in communal restrooms just like everyone else. Boy was I wrong.

I was given the rate of an ordinance man, which is the rate given to people who test equally smart and dumb on the ASVAB. It is that way because to dedicate your whole career to assembling bombs and guns you have to be, you get it.

But even with the little hiccup of receiving more responsibility than I was looking for at that time in my life I still felt at peace because the United States was not in any legit wars.  Then 9/11 happened.

It happened while my Aircraft Carrier was on routine training ops around the Catalina Islands.I was getting off midnight to six flight deck watch. As I walked below decks to my berthing I didn't spy a single person, which was weird.

A Navy vessel is like...hmm... Imagine living in close quarters with every single person from your work for six months at a time with no going home, work is home, home is work. And for a person like me who lived on the ship, work is everything.

Every day out to sea is Groundhogs Day, so when the girl from the catapults team wasn't there to block the porthole taking forever to get her deck gear off, or the guy in the hangar bay wasn't there to ask me how the weather was up on deck, it was noticeable.

Turns out everyone was in the berthing huddled around a television watching a jumbo jet fly straight into a building. Then another. I thought it was a movie at first, then I saw that it was a live news feed. It was the first live feed I had ever seen out to sea. I thought to myself, "Well, shit. This is probably gonna have something to do with work."

Then the captain spoke, then came three years of Groundhogs Days. Such is life.

War sucks, but the worst part is I had preordered a shitton of games from Gamestop, thinking I would pick them up when we pulled into San Diego. When it became apparent we were not pulling into anywhere except the middle east I called them to stop the orders and those assholes wouldn't reimburse me. Who does that?

I hope information understands the accusation of hipster is now a hipster trait. Didn't David Foster Wallace teach you nothing? Also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Perception            

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Issue : People : Paramount

Call of Duty WW2 is a game about hard-discussions.

A medium time ago I was a QA tester, and all the hardest discussions on the job were internal. I was tasked with the technical requirements checklist as well, which made most days yelling matches with my own memory.

There is a television, there is a console, there is a dev console, there are your monitors, and there are stacks and stacks of papers requiring you do the exact same thing over and over, in triplicate.

So by hour four of the sixth day of crunch-time before the game gets handed off to a whole other QA department in a whole other country to triple check the work you checked in triplicate the conversation quickly goes from, "Did I press the power button to black screen twenty-eight times or twenty-nine." To, "Does there have to be a hell? Could it be any worse than the ones we create for ourselves?"   

Anyway, I think I was talking about call of Duty. It's ok if you are into Call of Duty. If you are not into Call of Duty then you shouldn't buy it or any other Call of Duty game. I'll spoil all of them for you, in the campaign mode some dude who is for some reason tasked to do everything goes on a jingoist heroes journey for reasons, multiplayer is lit.

Yeah, that's about it. Oh the whole TRC thing, it wasn't as bad as I make it sounds but sometimes it was. I hope information enjoyed the bbq (damn lucky photogs), not lowkey mad though, nope... nah... :) Also JOBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Salient

Monday, November 20, 2017

Issue : Games : Osmosis

Cuphead is a game about the old ways.

A long time ago I worked at Little Ceasars for about two weeks. High School wasn't working out for me, I was crashing where I lay in the 209 and needed the cash to get around.  I was issued two Little Ceasars branded t-shirts, a branded dad cap, and branded bib. I liked the bib, there is something about wearing a bib at work that makes it so official, I thought at the time.

The boss was a dick, I also thought at the time. I'm older now and realize the boss wasn't a dick, kids are just idiots because they think they know everything without having actually experienced anything.

We all wanted the world to change by end of day, he just wanted the place to not catch fire, and go home to his wife and kids. Such is life.

I had all these ideas and a big mouth. I would pitch the ideas to him constantly, which he would constantly shoot down. I would run up to him (during rush hour service) and say things like, "Yo! We should arrange the pepperoni's into cool designs on the pizza's!" He would (without dropping eye contact with the customer he was attending to) respond "Please go back to your station."

I didn't get it. I was literally giving the man fire. I was putting fire in the man's hands that he could use to light the way into the new age. Who cares that it would take forever to create hundreds of bespoke pizzas a day, and the restaurant is a fast food organization, the whole premise is getting food to the customer fast.

I felt he was shackled in the chains of logic. Work was across the parking lot from Hammer Skate. After my shift, I would go play the Simpsons beat em up or watch the cool kids Rexing in the center rink. I couldn't figure how to move the ball forward with this simple man until one day it hit me like a bullet, I knew what I needed to do.

The next morning I walked into Little Ceasars, threw my bib over the counter toward him and yelled, "Nigga I Quit!" He caught the bib like a cheetah, with eyes like Willy Wonka's when Veruca fell into the egg chute. He replied, "Good luck, don't forget to return the shirts and cap."

I hope information is well. Sorry I have been off comms and can't make it to Turkey Day. But I'm back at it, let's get it. Also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Sedimentary

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Issue : Games : Sift

Euro Truck Simulator is a game about office space.

A long time ago I got involved in a high school small business class. I needed an elective and it seemed easy enough. I figured, "How hard could small business be?"

The teacher was a large black man. I have a hard time remembering faces of the past but I remember personalities and mannerisms well enough. He shook like Santa when he laughed at his own corny jokes. He was a patient man - never spoke until at least thirty seconds after someone had finished speaking. He was super space aware - I noticed he would stand exactly two feet from a student and would periodically look to the ground to calibrate.

The second week of class he sent around a hat with folded paper in it. The company described on the piece of paper the student pulled determined the company they ran. I picked a trucking company, the guy next to me ran a laundromat. Such is life.

I sat in the back of his class, pretending to not pay attention. In reality, it was my favorite class. Creating the market strategy, securing shipping contracts, ordering from vendors, negotiating tire price, multi-tasking, stressing over how many times my drivers were stopping to poop. It was all I never knew I wanted.

The teacher took note of my passion and threw more at me. Initially, I believed it was because he didn't like me, but later realized he was testing my limits. He saw I enjoyed running an imaginary business but wanted me to understand that I could actually run a company in RL.

Unfortunately, we had a personal disconnect. He took umbrage that I would come into class everyday pants sagging, reeking of marijuana, with a spicy attitude that projected, "Like I give a fuck."

He wasn't a fan, and he let me know constantly. I wasn't a fan of him not being a fan. I believed he was being paid to teach me how to run a small business, not to teach me to be me, and I told him as much.

One thing led to another, which led to me being kicked out of his class. I wasn't worried about it. I carried a 3.5 GPA across all the classes I needed to graduate. He was just an elective. Our relationship never recovered. When we would pass each other in the halls he would stare and shake his head, I would smile with the smug maliciousness only a teenage face can create.

Years later I walked into the offices of a big tech company for an interview. My previous gaming industry experience made me comfortable in my skin and confident of my value. I walked into the VP of marketings office wearing a button up shirt, my lucky blue windbreaker with "Oddysey" printed on the back, pants sagging lightly, Black Chuck Taylors on my feet.

I figured if I pretended to be someone I am not to get the job by wearing a uniform I imagine they would like, I would have to sustain that, which would be the first lie I tell the company. Starting off behind in the game by your own choice is not fun, so I don't bother.

The interviewer was a middle-aged Italian man. He looked like a mob dad working a side gig. Warm eyes with the cold aftertaste. Pragmatic: wanted numbers and action items before any personal chat. His body language screamed, "I couldn't be less threatened by you, only moneymakers exist to me: if you prove your worth you are a made man."

The interview went well. We vibed, I understood what he was looking for and clearly explained how I would go get that for him. At the end of the interview, he thanked me for my time and asked if I had any questions. My question was simple, "Is there a dress code?" His response was simple, "Are you joking?"

Anyway, I hope information is ready to shake the pillars of heaven. The video game blues brothers, getting the band back together. Meh, it's something to do. Also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Sieve

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Issue : Games : Phrenology

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a game about what happens while you are busy making other plans.

Moscone Center is named after George Moscone. Dude was mayor of San Francisco in the 70's. Moscone was assassinated, some retired cop ran up on him and his city supervisor Harvey Milk one day because the cop was mad that Harvey Milk got his job. So it goes.

Parking at Moscone is impossible (well, impossibly expensive), same with every other place south of market. It's better to take the BART, something rarely said in the bay area. I never found many occasions to be in SoMa until the office moved there. It moved right across the street, plopped on top of that Italian restaurant and Starbucks. Convenient.

My buddy was working the game developers conference in Moscone and wanted to check out the new digs. I was like, cool. So we headed up and I'm in there showing my ass, giving super extra handshakes to people I maybe shared five email chains with, talking all loud, stunting above and beyond the necessary.

We headed over to the window overlooking the city and started to reminisce. He pointed out Maritime Hall, I mentioned how dumb he was for convincing me to climb up on the roof one night to sneak into a rave. He reminded me we got in.

I pointed out the coffee shop he would drag everyone to in support of his budding slam poetry career. He reminded me there was a time I wore JNCO jeans, I wasn't sure what he was talking about cause I never wore those. He was trippin' cause I don't remember that.

I asked him how his wife and kids were, he said they were fine, said his oldest was starting third grade and sent him an email containing a pro and cons list for why she should have a cell phone. Told me he drinks in the bathroom sometimes, and that his kids will knock on the door and he gets scared, like, legit scared of a child.

I couldn't relate to his struggle because my life is awesome so I told him a story about how two weeks ago I put a pot of ramen on the stove and then took a nap, and how I woke to a fire alarm and my cat slapping me in my face. The point of the story was to convey that parenthood is hard. His face made me feel he felt sorry for the cat.

I asked him how his new game was going, he told me he was tired of all of the bullshit hoops console companies made him go through, said he was officially joining us in the PC Master Race. I asked him if he knew what master race meant. He said it was an expression used by Nazi's for the race they wanted to create, a pure race of white people suited to take over the world.

I asked him if he thought the normalization of expressions like that are irresponsible. He replied, yeah they are, but we should be fine because there are no Nazi's around anymore and the expression PC master race applied to everyone, so it was taking the word back like black people and the word nigger.

I asked him if all Nazis were dead then who would be getting the expression back? He replied he didn't know the details and I needed to fuck off because I was making him think about uncomfortable things and that I always do it on purpose to make him feel bad about himself and his actions and that he is super not racist because he has black friends (motions to me) and reminded me of the black girl he had sex with that one time and that should really be the end of it.

I stopped talking about it but I never let it go. That happened in 2015 I believe. From now to then I have been biding my time, hoping some way, even one American Nazi would rear it's head so I could deliver it to him like Clegane dropping that white walker box in front of Cerci. Needless to say, 2017 has been a banner year for me. I have been working on the email to this guy for two straight months, it's fire. It's so fire.

I hope information made it home. Hurricane season is no joke, I hope all are well and safe. Also JOBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Cranium 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Issue : Games : Orbit

Sonic Mania is a game about revolution.

So a long time ago I was a noob video game tester (God I love imagining the collective groan after people read that. It's great to have phrase that puts people off faster than when I say, "The thing about the black experience is...") fresh off the splash screen and ready to take on the gaming world.

I had a plan and everything. Like, I bought a binder, I wrote the plan down, it had citations, I put the little... uh, sticky arrow bookmark things in between sections. It was serious business. I was going to learn how to sail, take over the ship, then steer it to... Uh, gold or something I don't know point was to get the ship. Figured the destination would sort of reveal itself over time.

Boy was I wrong. Turns out a destination doesn't just reveal itself, you have to steer to it. Also turns out that if you sail in one direction long enough odds are you will find land, but not a destination, probably just some random place, which puts you in pretty much the same situation as when you departed. Such is life.

I realised I wasn't sailing to any particular destination one night while standing in a dark room full of random souls working on a test plan for a card battle game. To play the game users needed a waist high flat surface. We used the cafeteria tables, which made us many friends. On the flat surface sat a cloth mat separated into nine sections. The game console's camera would display the mat as a battle arena and any card placed in those nine sections as 3D visual representations of the cards avatar.

The goal of the game was to conquer five of the nine squares on the mat. Our job as testers was to make sure the computer did everything the user asked them to do, and to ensure the user could win or lose in all the ways they were supposed to win or lose. A starter deck of thirty cards, a booster deck of eight cards, and a hundred different spells rolling out monthly through DLC. I loved that game, the overtime was crazy.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I was at Gamesync sitting in a dark room full of random souls while my PUBG avatar was sitting in a bathroom holding a shotgun, listening for footsteps. Somone taps my shoulder and asks why our company is named Default Tester.

The only answer I ever have is that it's the name we started with.Then I realised at that moment I was doing the exact thing I had been doing at the start of my career in an eerily accurate recreation of a quality assurance test bay. Then I realised the destination was the ship.  Then I realised I had sailed in one direction with no map and stumbled ass backward into exactly what I was looking for, which was the ability to play video games in a dark room full of random souls that like to play video games as much as I do. I had no idea that was actually a thing.

I hope information understands that yes America is a shitshow right now but we have good stuff going for us too! So many things I don't have to really mention them right now because there are so many. It's not like I can't think of any, it's just there are so many it's hard to choose, damn near impossible. No of course I'm not dodging the subject anyway have a good one oh wait did you see Elon's new space suit? The guy has time to lobby against the upcoming sentient robot war, makes solar cars, and still finds time to sew spacesuits, goddamn tryhard. So jealous. Oh and also yeah JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Trajectory

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Issue: Games: Plod

Splatoon 2 is a game about gamut.

I have a hard time trusting any Californian without at least a hundred hours clocked on the Grapevine. I could drive the stretch in my sleep at this point, but I don't because another Californian fact of life is people dying in fiery wrecks on the Grapevine.

It's easy to get lullabied by the 5. Miles of two lane asphalt framed by a Microsoft grassy hill screensaver image peppered with windmills. Then comes the lowered Honda Civic racing the Prelude you swerve around, then come trucks side by side because one truck just isn't enough, and then there is you flipping out into an embankment. And then there is your picture on an Old English lettered R.I.P. t-shirt sold in the parking lot of your high school for 20$ a pop by a graphic artist acquaintance named "Trenchfoot". Such is life.

The Grapevine reminds Californians a long stretch is just as dangerous as a short one. So pay attention, always bring music, it's ok to appreciate the scenery but it's not what the trip is about, and never stop in Los Banos. Just don't.

What did I want to talk about? Oh yeah, so a short time ago I made the trip home to chill with the fam. My nephews were in the living room watching PopMMO, I have no idea what is going on in the children's Minecraft world and I do not understand the words coming out of their mouth when they attempt to explain to me what is going on in said world.

To me, all of these new nations that spring up are simply action items and the question is how to integrate a product into the new reality in such a way as to increase brand recognition, reach, and revenue streams for all parties. I don't mind. I'm just glad I can contribute to something they enjoy. I was tempted to tell my nephews that I had done business with the people talking to them on the other side of the screen. Had given them headphones at the Rooster Teeth Expo, they seemed nice.

Then I thought, why should they care? Then I saw a picture of myself in my younger days on the adjacent dresser, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't have. Never much cared how the sausage got made, I just wanted to play video games. Not much has changed.

Anyway, I hope information understands that the new DuckTales show is fuckin' lit. Dare I say I believe it to be better than the original and anyone that disagrees lives a different kind of life and I really do feel sorry for them. Godspeed, Disney XD. Godspeed. Also Jobs.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Trudge

Monday, July 24, 2017

Issue : Games : Erudition

Lone Echo is a game about code-switching.

As a local to the land of water and sand and kitesurfing and lightning bolts I know I'm supposed to hate Comic-Con, and I do.

I hate the people in the Airbnb next door blasting industrial techno, engaged in literal cyber goth dance battles at 3 am and I just have to deal with that because my neighborhood slipped into the hipster singularity long ago and if I go over there and beat them to death I am no longer hip so this is my life now.

I hate business owners that pander to the demo, dusting off an N64 and plugging Mario cart and calling it "Gamer Night." It's about comic books... right? I dunno, doesn't matter, it's about all that stuff. I hate that people from varied walks of life decided to shed stress and inhibitions to celebrate common interests.

I hate the sun and the moon and the dreams of children. Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah! What I hate most about Comic-con is gaming industry people coming into town and asking for an "off menu" tour of my city. So I take them and their flannel shirts to the Whistle Stops and the Soda Bars and the Coin-Ops, and they swoon and gasp at the "culture" and how different I am when I'm not at work.

I sit there, smile and drink the overpriced drink they bought that tastes like diabetes (Thank you! craft beer just has so many carbs! I know right!?) but inside I think, "I literally made up an entire persona just to survive in your world. It's called "Culture Fit." And it's exhausting."

I guess I don't really hate comic con, I regret who I feel I need to change into just to survive in the industry I love. I might hate tourists though, yeah, I'm ok with that.

I hope information gets its shit together. Yeah, I stole your line :) And yes the Kickstarter is a shitshow but that is the fun part. Fall publicly and spectacularly, then get back up, earn every scar, keep staring the beast in the eye, campaigns not sprints. All things we do every day. Also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People :  Refinement

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Issue : People : Boreal

Wonder Boy: The Dragons Trap is a game about headway.

A medium time ago, I was a platform engineer, and boy did I love my job. Sitting in SCRUMM, playing buzzword bingo, mapping the arcs on MySQL chart's wondering what this "Complete State" they always speak about really means. Smoking in the Q44 parking lot, not because I was craving a cigarette, more because it was outside.

I had life in the palm of my hand. I couldn't imagine a better place to be. Menial, repetitive tasks where my version of Shangri-la, everything was in its right place. Then I had this idea, what if everybody could do the same thing I was doing, what if everyone could do the same tasks every day but for like, fun.

I knew I was on to something and I knew it was brilliant, the only problem was no one had yet told me its brilliant, which makes any idea way more brilliant. I figured there were a bunch of smart people around to potentially validate me. Or my idea, I mean. I should try them.

I was wrong, they were dummies. They all hated the idea, didn't think anyone would want to do it, didn't think anyone would pay to do it. Bath salts were gaining in popularity around that time, vicious drug, but game development was a harsh mistress so I chalked their collective lapse of judgment to the rigors of addiction. They were all on bath salts is what I am trying to say.

So I grabbed some folks, built and launched the business, and it failed miserably. Who could have saw that coming? Anyway, so I went home, (the whole thing happened over the course of a week) and slunk down in my DxRacer chair, admitting defeat. The market got me, bro, as it does many a young entrepreneur with no connections, no experience, and a half-baked plan.

I thought to myself, "What went wrong? I had it all figured out!" My girlfriend at the time happened to be in the room, and I happened to be talking out loud. She said, "You know, if you really took your time and thought about what people need, versus what you want, and take the time to do it right, you could do great things." She was the worst sometimes, but she had a point.

So I started thinking about that, and when an idea came I took it to my buddy, and he thought it was pretty good too. Then we built a plan, then found some people, then we launched Default Tester. Hope information stops by from time to time, if we make it. Also, JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Halifax

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Issue : People : Brouhaha

The Steam Summer Sale is a game about population.

A long time ago my dad owned a bar. I don't remember much. The story of my life. I remember it was downtown, it had an Irish name, had a colorful clientele. It was the place that taught me that one thing all old people have in common is they drink a lot. I don't know.

Pop never let me hang out much but my friends and I would get to bus tables or do this or that during the summer. We had nothing better going on and figured a couple extra bucks for games never hurt.

He had one hard and fast rule, don't get caught up in the patron's stories. I still wonder what he was thinking with that one. The stories were the best part of the job. One thing I know for sure thanks to that place is when old people drink they love to tell stories.

That's what he did most of the day, listened to them. I remember my dad's calm while listening to the wildest tales. Didn't matter who. Aldermen, cops, bikers, and preachers all had the same basic yarn. This happened, then this happened, then this happened, now I'm here. No matter what the story, what was involved, or who was telling it, I remember my dad treated every tale with the same attention and interest. Quite the soft skill.

I can't remember a fight that happened there. Everyone felt so at home. Well, the police station was right up the block, but still a very rare occurrence. I only hung out there a couple of years. I got really into skateboarding and figured that was going to pay my bills forever. Such is life.

What the hell am I telling this story for, I totally forgot? And also it's a sad day when you want to re-buy things you already purchased that you haven't even played yet on the Steam sale and they won't take your money?! Fascists. Also yes information I can verify it is indeed a thing but everything is fine and also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Tumult

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Issue : People : Staging

Tekken 7 is a game about teamwork.

A long time ago I was a talent show host. It wasn't my fault, Claudio dragged me into it, as was the way of the era. Claudio and I met at the Scoops shop, an Ice Cream Shop/Arcade. That was actually still a thing at the time. He played Tekken, I played Street Fighter.

After a while of seeing each other enough we decided it best to join forces. He would teach me his Hwoarang, I would teach him my Guile. Later we met in middle school performance class (only elective with no graded tests) and hit it off. The school was throwing a talent show, and the teacher asked for volunteers to host.

This guy... This frikking guy stands up and declares, "J4RMZ and I can do it!" We had not discussed this move. The gaul, the goddamn gaul. After class, I approach the guy and ask him what could be possibly up with the whole "Damming us to hell" thing.

The guy tells me this, " I did that for you. It's like your Hwoarang, you play at range and never attack, it's all reactive. You could do so much more if you capitalized on all the opportunities you miss by waiting. Same with your Guile."

I was aghast. This sum'bitch actually thought his Guile was better than mine. I secretly vowed at that moment I would prove to him the errors of his ways. Never did, dude beat me full set at the Nor Cal Regionals. Not mad though, just disappointed.

Anyway, we killed the Talent show. Came up with a routine where he and I were sitting in a beanbag chair playing video games and every talent show participant was a different game. Looking back that doesn't make any sense but it killed at the time. We were referencing early Nintendo games and had a solid Fred Savage reference to his role in the feature film "The Wizard." We were worried because it was hella dated but wow did it get a laugh break. Still patting myself on the back for that zinger.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, I was done with the allegory. I feel like Battleborn doesn't get the audience it deserves.I also think service dogs should have some kind of identification on them. How am I legitimately supposed to know?! That's not related to anything in any way. I'll stop typing now. Also I hope information knows how much the location means to us. Also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games :  Scaffolding

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Issue : People : Conduit

Friday the 13th: The Game is a game about convolution.

I have a friend who's job is to make friends with the internet. On any given day her home screen is Tweetdeck, a second PC dedicated to Instagram scraping, a tablet for Facebook, android for messaging and G+ alerts, and a laptop to create report decks, as all relevant information is to be reported on every twelve hours.

Her worst nightmare is a wildfire post happening while she is asleep. A wildfire fire post is a negative post that goes viral. Not much you can do about that, people gotta sleep. Just kidding, you set phone alarms to wake you up.

When a wildfire post occurs it's her job to raise the banners so all departments may assess and address the risk. It's a hard email to send, I imagine. It's like contacting a parent to let them know everyone thinks their kid is ugly, to which the parents reply, "Well, go tell them my kid is pretty and smart and buff." And she has to be like, ok.

She get's a lot of shit in meetings due to being attached to a phone, retweeting and liking and nudging. Nudging is when a person makes a comment on the internet in an attempt to lead the conversation in the desired way. It's a thing.

One day I asked her if she ever interacted with the internet like a regular person would. She replied, "Nah, I treat this thing like any other opiate." She then returned to her salad (A Ceasar with no dressing, who does that? Psychopaths, that's who. It's just Romaine hearts at that point) as if comments can't be terrifying.

A kid in 2056 who enjoys spelunking will run across the greatest crowdsourced speculative fiction book ever, written on social network parchment.

I hope information enjoyed Mrs. Hill's soundcheck. Asshole:) Thanks to team #Soundset for the hospitality. Also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Pipeline

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Issue : People : Theatre

PLAYERUNKNOWNS BATTLEGROUNDS is almost a 1:1 metaphor for life, I guess.

A buddy from the OG QA Squad was moving on and as is tradition the closest member to them must make it by train, plane, or automobile to their current location for the manilla envelope lunch.

The manilla envelope lunch is named after how testing operated at that time, and probably now. After a title completed within the next few days or weeks, all QA personnel of tenure knew an email would arrive in our inbox for a meeting concerning some innocuous discussion like roles and responsibilities or workplace standards and practices.

All QA personnel that had been around for a while knew exactly what would happen the moment we walked into that room. We would be called into the room ten at a time. In the room would sit human resources, a group of c-level company executives (If they had the heart for it), and our management team.

In front of the HR rep would sit a stack of manilla envelopes, the contents of the envelopes would be different, depending on the company, but they were always manilla envelopes. The management team would go through the old jazz standards, "This isn't about you." "We gotta keep the ship afloat." Yadda, yadda, yadda. Some would manage to squeeze out a tear or two but we always understood if they couldn't. It would be a long day, and there are only so many tears to shed.

Afterward, we would all go out to eat at a Diner. The Diner was themed after a movie studio in the 50's. We would talk sometimes, we would sit in silence sometimes.We would discuss if it was better to wait on word for the next game at the current company or move on. We would pool or collected recourses and networks, some people would announce this was the last job they would have in the gaming industry. They were moving on to the real world. We would wish them well. That type of thing.

So that's what I and my buddy did that day. He happened to work in walking distance so I proposed we meet at a chicken and BOBA restaurant nicknamed the "Horde shop" because Horde for life. We sat in silence for a while, then chatted about what's next. He said he was taking a break to vacation with his husband as a thank you for putting up with his life, and then figure it out. I asked him when he and his husband have sex, who calls who "Daddy?"

He then went into a long and disturbingly detailed explanation of gay sex, as he did when I used to ask him the same question in the QA bay. The most popular game on the QA floor was to make everyone in the room as uncomfortable as possible as fast as possible, as we were doing to the other patrons of the restaurant at that moment. Most times my buddy was ranked number one and I was a distant second.

Anyway, we reminisced, had some laughs, then moved on. As we were saying goodbye, for now, he asked me, "So, what's next for the intrepid nomad J4RMZ?" I replied, "I have no idea, but what has come before is going to be a hard act to follow."

I wish information health, happiness, and fair winds. The scene changes, never the dream. Also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Stage 2

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Issue : People : Diaphanous

What Remains of Edith Finch is a game about branching paths.

A short time ago I was a 4loco salesman. I didn't mean to be, it just happened. The story of my life. Let me back up.

So the Red Bull Air race was coming to town and of course, I wasn't getting involved with it because I didn't have to work it, there wasn't a vendor or a partner to meet, it didn't intersect any of my verticals, and I don't wear flip flops. Not my lane.

That didn't jive with my buddy who thought I was dead. She thought I was dead because I hadn't been to any of my haunts around the city in months. That happens sometimes to people like me, we just... forget to go outside.

Not because of any reason of malice. We just run across a game we really like, we get impregnated by a thought that just won't go away and have to get it on paper, or we just sleep for a month and don't notice. Sounds wild to healthy, well-adjusted human beings, but it really is a thing. Like the type of kid that leaves the house with their pants on backward and don't notice until the whole lunchroom is laughing at them. Wearing pant's was the victory.

Anyway, she put forth a compelling argument for my involvement which pretty much boiled down to "I won't let you not go." So I decided that I would take the choice offered to me but slid in the caveat to meet me at the corner store because I needed to pick up smokes.

When I got to the store I bumped into Ignacio by the trash bin who was throwing away copious amounts of 4Loco. I asked him why he would ever do such a horrendous thing. He said, "Because nobody buys them."

I told him that was a poor reflection on the neighborhood and not the drink, and if he would be so kind as to give me the 4Locos I would be more than happy to sell them and split the profits. I don't know why I did, the words just came out. He agreed, and my buddy pulled up to find me sitting atop almost a full pallet of 4Loco. I had every hope in that moment she deeply regretted her decision to try and be a good person.

After a short explanation cum negotiation, she relented to letting the 4Locos into the vehicle. Relenting to let me in shortly after. She asked me how I planned to get the 4Locos into the Air Race. I reminded her that our other friend is working security and I already called ahead. She asked how I convinced him to risk his job for this fools venture. I reminded her I had almost a pallet of 4Loco on my person, she didn't get it.

I started drinking the 4Locos on the way to the event so I don't remember much about the day. Couldn't tell you how I actually got the beverages in, I do remember I secured a bucket and Ice from the fine folks at Fall brewery in exchange for a handful of 4Locos. I do remember I set up shop on the tall grass with a neon orange sign that said: "4LOCO $8!!"

People couldn't get enough. They would find me, grab their friend's and come back. My bet was that college kids and hipsters (don't roll your eyes I'm too old to be a hipster, we talked about this) would take the 4Locos as a challenge and eschew the craft beer that surrounded us for the bespoke experience of tossing back the liquor equivalent of a rap album with a warning sticker on it. The bet paid off.

Later on in the day while I was partaking in an impromptu pop-lock battle because I was drunk off my ass on 4Loco and was preeety sure I had learned that skill at some time in my life I ran into a former co-worker who recognized me, then the bucket of 4Locos. He took on the look of pure sadness like he was watching a VH1 behind the music episode in real time.

He said, "Hey buddy, is everything alright? Need me to take you somewhere?" I replied, "Yeah, take me to the bank cause I'm cashing out!" I don't even know what that meant. I wanted to tell him that none of this was real. That I had a good job, I was relatively happy, and I wasn't a salesman of loose 4locos at air races. But then I thought, yeah I am. To him, I will always be whatever I am at this moment, and I can't do anything about that. Sobered me up quick.

Anyway, I made around 180 bucks for Ignacio minus my cut. He was stoked. That made the trip completely worth it. And for the record, 4loco is fuckin gross. I buried the lead.

Thank you, French information. You gave us a convincing win when we really needed it. If you can keep marching, so can I. Also, JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Gossamer

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Issue : People : Timelapse

Everything is a game about everything.

It's important to have super-heroes that look like you. I have a family full of them. I got lucky.

Take my cousin, for instance. He's a gymnast, accomplished medical professional, and gifted technologist when computers were first starting to get their feet under them. A hard act to follow. I would come to visit their house and the scene was different depending on the day of the week.

A house full of beautiful girls doing tumbling runs in the living room framed by conversations about advances in diagnostic imaging and treatments for congestive heart failure. In the garage he had crates full of rare comic books and a Zeos 486 DX2 running at 66 MHz with 16 MB RAM and 384 MB hard drive with Windows 3.11 that he would just like, let me use.

Needless to say in my early teen's their house was literally heaven on earth and my cousin was basically black Batman; if Batman had a compulsively positive mental attitude, otherworldly work ethic, aversion to curse words and self-pity, and a moral integrity that conferred dignity and hope into every soul he met.

So not exactly like Batman, per se. He was closer to Superman canonically, but nobody wants to be Superman. Ok so maybe he was a Superman/Batman hybrid of sorts. He was actually into Marvel, so I don't think he would co-sign either comparison. I feel like I'm making this into more than it needs to be. You get the point.

Anyway, I just got word my cousin died in a hospital in a far off land. I don't know how or why. Just that it happened suddenly. All I know are words in a text.

At school I would tell all these stories about him. "My cousin can do tricks on a horse and he can do like a hundred flips and my cousin brought a guy back to life in the mall and my cousin knows how to make the internet!" Kids at school thought I was full of shit. They weren't wrong. Mostly. But they thought my cousin was another one of my tall tales. They were very wrong.

It's funny, A ways back the family was attending my other cousins graduation from law school up the street at the Balboa open air theatre. I was sitting next to my cousin when he turns to me with that omniscient smirk he was like to take on from time to time and says to me, "You know what, I envy you. You have known exactly what you have wanted to do your whole life. You are lucky." I remember being so confused. I go to Balboa and sit there often, trying to figure out what he meant.

I've been searching for a picture of us. I can't find any. I wish I took pictures now. I thought there was more time. I'm terrified I will forget his voice. Silly to think a picture preserves those things. Anyway, been a while, information. How's things? Also Jobs.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Voyagers Golden Record  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Issue : People : Effigy

The Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild is a game about expanse.

A long time ago I watched a man burn in the desert. I ended up there thanks to my friend's dad. He lived in Pacifica and worked construction, or was an architect, or something like that.

Anyway his son and I got close thanks to skateboarding. Kid was a spot wrecker, had tailslides, back blunts and Caballerials on lock way before everybody.

Everybody respected the kids skills but talked a ton of shit because the kid's dad would hang out at spots from time to time to cheer him on (at the time receiving a parents love and support was an egregious disrespect to skateboarding culture) and the kid was white but happened to be waaay into Japanese culture.

He would work his limited knowledge of the language into conversations, he would practice with a kendo stick while at the spot, all of his hair and clothing was (I thought it was dope, still do) very Japanese.

We got to bonding one day when he overheard me talking about this game I was playing called Lunar: The Silver Star for Sega CD. He just walks up and starts going off about games I should play and how Hironobu Sakaguchi was a living god and... It was a lot... he was a lot to deal with at first I won't lie, but we ended up a cultural trading post. He put me onto Japanese Slang, I walked him through the 36 Chambers. That type of thing.

His parents had recently divorced and his mom happened to live near me so we ended up skating together a lot. I would also tag along when he would go stay with his dad in Pacifica. My buddy found himself a girlfriend near his dad's house. She was the consummate pastiche of early ninety's feminine angst; a post-goth riot grrrl into cutting, marijuana, and tarot cards. So we found ourselves there quite often.

Every once in a while to make a little extra cash we would work with his dad on whatever construct he was dealing with at the time. One day he asked us if we would like to go to the event where a project we were working on was going to be displayed. We were like, cool. We weren't in school and didn't have shit going on.

I told my parent's I was staying with my buddies dad for a week or so, which was true. Didn't get into logistics details of where we would be going as that information would not have helped my parents comfort level, and at the end of the day I just wanted them to be happy.

I also didn't know enough myself about where we were going to provide a compelling argument, I knew it was in the desert, I knew it was some kind of festival, I knew his dad was a hippie so I was pretty sure it was going to be the boilerplate Bay Area hippie shit going on, nothing special.That was enough info for me, figured I would treat the situation like just another skate trick, rush headlong into the situation without thinking and hope for the best. Sixty percent of the time, it works everytime.

I am a historically bad packer. For this trip I believe I brought three shirts, two sweaters, six pairs of underwear, four pairs of socks (two pair being black silk dress socks and one pair turning out to be only one sock rolled up in a manner that made it look like two socks on later examination), my Houston Astros cap with my nickname embroidered on the back, a gigantic bag of Sour Patch Kids, My Gameboy with The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening, and the Sal Barbiers on my feet.

My buddys dad piled his son, his son's girlfriend, and myself into the cab of a truck, attached a gigantic mobile home looking thing to the back and we took off for Black Rock. I was sitting in the front seat of the cab while my buddy and his girlfriend either slept or did what the young and in love do. His pop and I were cool, but not hours in a car together cool.

His dad spent the time asking me how my buddies mom was doing, was there anybody new hanging around her house, was his son "happy" there. Until those questions I never took one nano-second to try and understand why any of this was happening, and now it was clear as day. Him shuttling his kid to all those skate spots, him bringing us here, the look on his ex-wife's face when the guys name came up.

I felt bad for the guy because even at that age I knew he was going about it all wrong. I knew my buddies mom as well as I knew my buddies dad. She's super conservative, always wants us to wear pads to skate street. She would never sign off on this. And if this is about winning the love of his son, one, why, because he already had it, and two, how, because his decision to let Wednesday Addams tag along was a horrible move. No one beats teen hormones; he's not gonna see his son the whole week.

I thought, " Yep, no one outside of this car knows we are here and I am the goofy sidekick who is finna die and have an unmarked grave in the desert. Well, at least I brought my Gameboy. Shit could be worse"

I pull out my Gameboy and load into Links Awakening. My friends dad turns to me and says, "Hope you brought extra batteries for that thing, ain't gonna find any on the rock." I swear to god I almost cried, that was it, I was done.

Didn't turn out too bad actually, candy was another thing the rock was light on. I ended up flipping those Sour Patch Kids into quite the economy. That's a whole other story though.

I'm praying for information's mom. She is going to be alright, and it's great you are there. Also get out of your feelings science fam I'm on your side. I said what I said to the studio and them, you scared of the men that's protecting them. Also Jobz.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Metempsychosis

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Issue : Games : Upshot

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a game about Ludonarrative Dissonance.

A long time ago I was a little kid in the jungle, seduced by science. The wanderlust stuck, I still spend way too much time staring at the night sky wondering what could be.

But instead of chasing the work of systemic functions getting to those twinkling lights I chose the job of getting people from different walks of life interested in the idea of working together without killing each other. I think both are equally important because real talk, we are not gonna make it far in the cosmos the way we are now.

We spend the majority of our time arguing over bullshit like skin color and who is smooching who. If we did find life out there, we would immediately try to kill it, or fuck up the interview. There is no doubt in my mind.

I say that to say I love NASA more than I love any organization in the world, but damn do they need to step it up if they want to survive. Announcing a press conference is a smart move eighty percent of the time, but not when the announcement is light.

I know, the discovery of a habitable solar system is one of the most major discoveries of this era, but science fam, listen, you got a boss that is literally trying to kill you and half the constituency believes the earth is flat, science is a made-up creation of the Illuminati, and Jesus rode dinosaurs two thousand years ago.

Gotta do better hiding the medicine in the cake. Do you truly believe these people are gonna grasp the importance of these discoveries using old school marketing and PR tactics? And if you don't care if they do or don't, and don't think they could in the future, then that's the problem.

The globalization train (Jesus man, like, I get it, but this reads like the origin story of a left wing super villain) is coming into the station. India is breaking world records, Elon Musk is going ham launching private spaceships from NASA launch pads, and every corporation out there sees the money in making science fiction a reality.

How does NASA survive in a world where it's at war with the governmental structure that funds it, a majority of the public it serves is too dumb to (harsh, but true) understand what it does or why it's so vital, and the organization itself is composed of a group of passionate souls that (understandably) feel like they shouldn't have to engage in the base and bombastic eye and ear warfare it takes to get engagement in this ADD-riddled society. I don't know the answers, Sway. All I know is I refuse to be part of the generation that lets NASA die.

Sorry for not being able to link up at GDC information. It's a whole thing, I'll tell you all about it later. Also R.I.P. to Nicki. Remy Ma bar'd you to death, I'm so sorry for your loss. Also JOBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Dilation

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Issue : People : Trepidity

RE7: Biohazard is a game about Horror.

I'll be out in the field on my video game Grizzlemania when these young turks approach me with game to pitch and if I have time to catch I will do so. They have a video game they want to make, a product they want to get exposure for, an idea they want to bring to life, or an event they want to throw. That type of thing.

They confer this Morgan Freeman meets Morpheus gravitas upon me based on this thing of words and gifs and music, where I currently work, who I know, and where I have been on my gaming journey. It is a thing which I absolutely fucking hate.

There are slivers of time during these interactions where I am desperate to say:

"Look, Ash Ketchum. Don't believe the hype. I am a stone cold moron who swims in the deep end of the autism spectrum. I stumbled ass-backward into my current life and couldn't tell you how I did it if I had NFL replay video magic.

To the gaming industry en masse I am basically Mephistopheles. Harbinger of outliers, scary music, and discomforting thoughts. Most C-level gaming executives would gladly choke me to death with a Playstation 2 controller if they could get away with it. I have no life, I run on vengeance, IPA, and Top Ramen. Go into Biochem, this industry is the fuckin' jungle and you walking around like a smiling Tapir on vacation."

But instead of saying all of that I remember it's not about my reality, it's about their dream, and my job (edit: My choice) is to help their dream become a reality, not to impose my version of reality upon them, or to talk them out of the reality they see in their brain bucket.

I have a mother and father who bought me subscriptions to Game Informer and EGM when no one else in the house was gonna read them and they personally couldn't care less about gaming but could tell I do. Bosses who took a chance on me when they had no practical right too. Mentors who go to bat for ideas of mine that from most perspectives are just insane, they are, I don't know how else to say it. They do all this for me and here I am. So I do all of that for whoever is brave enough to chase their vision, cause I know how incredibly hard that swim is against the deluge of people telling you who you are not and what you can't do.

After I listen to them, I go step by step into how they could make that thing they just said happen. How long it would take, manpower requirements, how much it would cost, and the darkest caveat; to be aware that no one is going to help them more then they help themselves. The abject terror in the eyes on these kids. I have no idea what some of them expected but wow, reality bites. The kids that truly scare me though are the ones that look me dead in the eye, nod, and reply, "Psh, that's it?" But no matter the reaction the last bit of advice I give them is always the same. It gets easier.

I wish I woulda bet information. Strike Greenlight down it will grow more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Also JOBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Consternation

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Issue : Games : Clique

Overwatch is a game about entitlement.

My DM's have turned into a slip and slide of people asking why they haven't seen me playing Overwatch as obsessively as in previous day/night cycles. It's a pretty simple reason, the reason most people stop doing things that they were previously doing. The game became boring.

Not boring in the systemic sense, the game is undeniably fun to play, although the systemic portion of the game is a contributor. Imagine you decided you were going to get really good at baseball and worked hard every day to learn the rules of the game. You figured out the dimensions of the field, what each player does, chose a position and learned every action and nuance of your role on the team.

Then you show up to play a competitive match in the game you took all that time to learn and it's completely different. The field is different, the players are different, the "feel" of the whole game is different. Some of the changes you can tell are for the better, some are kind of confusing, but the net-net is you have a day job and don't have the time to relearn the game every time it decides to shuffle the deck. It's a helpless state that implies gravity could change at a whim, so why even try.

Then there is the nugget of my withdrawal, which is... Ok, here's the thing. I come from an arcade competitive gaming culture. In the arcade, you physically saw the person you played against, there was smack talked, personal nemeses, times where you knew certain people were going to be at certain locations, so if you wanted to get better you knew to be there at that time; both to get better and to get your name out there so you would get invited to places where players of note were playing and receive insider information and strategy. Networking.

When the switch over to majority online play happened, a great deal of that culture died, but a savior of online culture was when a game allowed for personal servers. Hopping into a community server is like swinging open the doors in your favorite dive bar.

As of yet there is none of that in Overwatch. Yes there are amateur and professional circuits, robust Youtube and Twitch communities, and all types of other ancillary community platforming. But for a person starting out with just the base game you go in there solo-queue or teamed up with people you already know, you jump into a server full of random souls, accumulate numbers, which allow points, you use those points to purchase doo-dads that have no effect on gameplay, then you do that again and again. The higher the number, the higher your worth.

So there is the reason, I'm not going to continue playing Overwatch just because everyone seems to be playing it. I've been playing games for almost 3 decades and could give a shit less about keeping up with the Jonses. To continue playing a game it needs to tell me a story or I need to know who I am playing against. I'll form my own hierarchy of needs from there. OW is cool, I just don't think it's done yet.

I hope information is rooting for the Patriots so I have reason to hate you for more than your foolish Sagat. Also JERBZ.

* Edit: And of course 2 days after I write this Kaplan introduces server browsers. Cute.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People :  Savior-Faire

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Issue : People : Paunchy

Pit People is a game about irreverence.

So "Q" is dead. He died of cardiac arrest on a massage table, classic "Q." A happy ending, all things considered. Let me back up. "Q" is the creator of a website called (this will be the first and last time I ever link to this site, but not for the reasons you may think)

You know how sometimes a dog looks like it's owner? Ok, let me back up even further. "Q" and I live in the same town, there aren't many black people in technology in general let alone in one town so we were bound to bump into each other sooner or later. We weren't anywhere close to friends, we disagreed on life, like eighty-five percent of it. People are basically good vs. people are basically not. That kind of thing.

I will say he had this "Jerry Springer" swag that was magnetic. The type of guy to be affable but when he started talking about business you could taste the joyful nihilism in the air with a subtle hint of "he cared about everything deeply at one time, then something happened, then he just like, legitimately stopped giving a fuck about helping people grow or change."

My theory is that when he started his website there was a faint glimmer of hope inside him that end users would see past the anger, past the fear, past the hurt, past the knee-jerk expulsion that occurs when a person is exposed to something miles out of their comfort zone that is hard to process but needs to be seen to be understood.

Instead he flipped the switch, saw the perpetual schadenfreude convention thrown in any given Worldstar comment section and said, "Well... shit. Might as well get paid."

All said and done "Q" did the world a huge favor which is guaranteed to go unappreciated for many, many years to come. Until this modern era the ability to read and write and thereby the ability to archive thoughts and experiences has been an incredibly exclusionary practice.

We can only know ancient life from the perspective of leaders, philosophers, and the wealthy. I have always wanted to learn about the daily life of a 9-5 schmuck living in Rome around the end, I want to know what the builders of the Pyramids joked about on the job, what music a so-called simpleminded surf listened to and what they really said about the king's policies after downing a couple drinks at the pub.

Years from now when the world isn't like this anymore, a young person will enter an internet search for "Urban life in the early 2000's" and Worldstar will provide them an unedited look through the periscope of time. It is sort of like putting an earth period into a digital trust, only to be cashed out when humanity is far enough away from the moment to appreciate the currency.

Rest in peace "Q" you tubby shitlord. Also, thanks. You are a champion, and I appreciate you. Also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Corpulent

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Issue : Game : Pathology

Dead Rising 4 is a game about enterprise culture.

As I have mentioned before people love to call me crazy for how far I drive to work every day. I forgot to mention the reaction I get most frequent. People say, "Aren't you worried about the damage you are doing to your car?" This is a question I never have a good answer for because the math adds up. No amount of devil may care nullifies physics, which is the pith of the question.

A million little things have to go right to get through every single day of this waking life. For instance a meteor has to not hit your house while you are sleeping, when you wake up you have to not slip in the shower and hit your head, your car has to start, every belt, cylinder, and fluid in the car has to work properly, every driver around you has to not behave like a sociopath, and your place of work has to not be hit by a meteor so you will be able to make money and do it all again the next day. That sort of thing.

The car is by far the sketchiest bucket of variables in my day. I spend four hours a day in the thing and no amount of upkeep assuages my knowledge that it's only a matter of time. Roll the dice long enough you gotta crap out.

Recently I crapped out. Well, I crapped out a few months earlier as well when that landscaping van T-Boned me but that's another story.

It's an interesting feeling zooming down a stretch of abandoned highway in the dark and rainy night, hearing a loud pop, gripping a paralyzed helm due to loss of power steering, pressing down on the gas pedal and nothing happens, hearing the screech of car horns zipping around you. You think, "Oh, it really kinda is how it seems in movies." Anyway, that's what I thought.

While resigning myself to ignominious death like a dog in the street I noticed the coast highway offramp in Oceanside and adjacent California welcome center. I thought, "Oh, I could pop into there!" So I used the wild momentum the car still contained to drift off the highway, around the bend, through a busy red light intersection and came to a stop on street parking directly in front of the welcome center. I turned off the car, unclenched my butt cheeks, and thought, "Well that worked out."

The problem with being a misanthropic hermit is when adversity strikes and things fall apart figuring out survival is overwhelmingly on you, very few lifelines exist. A series of unfortunate events led me to spend my savings on other matters, such as being too slow to outrun creditors and trying to keep my psychotic cat alive. So a tow truck was out of the question.

There are many family, friends, frenemies, associates, and co-conspirators in my phonebook who would come to my aid, and I for them, but most if not all have hard and fast situational rules when it comes to dealing with me.

For instance, not allowing me to babysit their children (teach a kid to make one kitchen knife chandelier and everybody looses their minds), not loaning me money in the form of bitcoin, or not picking me up in random locations on short notice in the middle of the night, especially if covered in blood. I could only think of one person who has been game for all of the above scenarios, so I called him. He responded, "I'll be there in 25."

As we were pushing the car into an off-street location for later retrieval and rigging it with traps because why wouldn't we he asked if I wanted to head downtown the next day to watch the inauguration and drink every time that guy made that weird pinched finger gesture, insulted a culture while using words or numerology they invented, or referred to himself in the third person while referring to himself in the second. I told him nah, things falling apart ain't nothing new or party worthy. Tomorrow I gotta find a way to my car, then find a way to work, then start making the million little things go right again.

I felt compelled to thank him for helping me out, although such acquiescence to sentimentality are not required in relationships such as ours. But I did anyway and he responded, "I could think of better ways to spend my birthday, I'm sure my wife could." I responded, "She mad?" He replied, "Nah, she knows you."

I hope information understands how much I appreciate him and his awesome wife. I love how this misadventure wouldn't even make the highlight reel. And I talk about rolled tacos so much cause I fuckin' love rolled tacos, man. I'm eating them right now and I'm not even that hungry. Also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Dendrology

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Issue : Games : Inimical

The King of Fighters XIV is a game about engagement.

I'm a fan of battle rap. Shocker, I know. Battle Rap is a hip-hop activity where two humans stand face to face trading linguistically stylized boasts, observations, and insults for thirty minutes.

I ran across the activity as a kid and fell in love because I had (edit: have) a big mouth and the idea of saying whatever I wanted to someone without the threat of being beaten to death was my literal interpretation of Martin Luther Kings "I've been to the mountaintop" speech.

The activity was invaluable for my growth because I was taught how to physically defend myself but until battle rap came along I had no idea how to defend myself against the neverending crucible of microaggressions levied on a daily basis.

"You black so you ain't got no dad. haha." "You ride a skateboard and talk funny, you're white. haha." "You got long eyelashes, you are gay. Haha." "You play video games and read books for fun, you a nerd. Haha." That sort of thing.

Those may not be the exact words for everyone, they'll be bespoke. It will be in a cafeteria, or a classroom, it will be around a group. Classic fight or flight, these moments define a person.

Listen: It's inevitable; some day some kid is going to walk up and call you a faggot.

A school won't teach a kid how to address this. Parents wouldn't even know where to start. So a kid looks to his environment for strength or learns how to live with indignity. I could have gone a number of routes with it but I found my allies and heroes in battle rap. The biggest tool I took away is one I use in my working life to this day. My strength wasn't in the aggressor role but in the defense.

The battle is part what you say and part how you react to what is being said. The rule of battle rap is that if you react poorly to what is said (speak out of turn, look visibly upset, physical aggression) you loose the battle.

It was weaponized indifference, a style of verbal martial arts I never imagined existed. I had to learn it so I asked someone to teach me, and they did. It taught me to keep my mind about me, listen and process what is said without reacting immediately, and respond out of clear thought instead of anger. And once I had that lesson in the bag it became increasingly easy to manage aggressions levied on me. I could choose to respond if I felt the insult worth my time or I could choose to keep it moving if it was a craftless repeat of things I had already heard.

"You black so you ain't got no dad. haha." "Damn, I'm sorry Daquan stole your bike when you were nine. What else ya got?""You ride a skateboard and talk funny, you're white. haha." "Doesn't add up, good luck with that cognitive dissonance. What else ya got?""You got long eyelashes, you're gay. Haha." "Then I'm in good company. Gay people are cool. You aren't. What else ya got?""You play video games and read books for fun, you a nerd. Haha." "True, I'm smart. Great observation. What else ya got?" That sort of thing.

The only drawback is compartmentalization. As in getting so good at absorption, deflection, and counterattack you become numb to what truly hurts or run risk of misinterpreting a fair critique of things you should work on as an attack. It gets in and doesn't get out, which is a victory in itself for their side.

Anyway, I guess I mention this because at an event I sat with yet another kid broken by the internet. She had the audacity to open a Twitch channel and share with people, with predictable results. Most of the jokesters happened to be her classmates. Now she doesn't want to share, she doesn't want to go to school, doesn't want to live. This is a bug. I hope information logs back in, you have fans rooting for you and I'm one of em. Also JERBZ.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : Games : Pernicious

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Issue : Games : Abbey

Vertigo is a game about giddiness.

A long time ago I was calvary youth. My mom wanted to give me a head start in life so she enrolled me into a christian academy elementary school. White shirt, black vest, black slacks, black shoes. That sort of thing.

I lasted a couple months. I was nowhere near used to so many people smiling at me, gently touching my back, or queuing up in line for everything when they could just walk the fuck in. There was nobody stopping them, they would just say "blessed be" and stand there waiting for somebody to let them in. I would be like, "JUST GO!!!" And they acted like I was the crazy.

I was still a feral little kid trying to figure things out. I had no concept of my relation to god except my mom was down with him and she was cool so I should at least give it a shot. I thought the books were pretty brutal in parts which was awesome but they were hella hard to read. I preferred R.L. Stine. I never assumed I should be taking either texts, like, literally. Boy was I wrong in the eyes of the church.

The end came on what seemed like a normal day at the academy, although for me there were no normal days there. My class was standing in line after lunch waiting to go back in and I'm losing my shit. I can't stop shaking my leg because I neurologically can't stop shaking my leg, most times I don't even know that I'm doing it. I'm trying to get a convo or something started with the adjacent kids but they are all on Xontar entreating with the fuckin' all tree.

I spit into a bush and the kid behind me points at me hollering at the top of his lungs to the Nun "HE SPIT! HE SPIT!" I didn't even have time to turn and face his snitchin' ass before the Nun is on me. She drags me into the classroom, shoves me into a chair and begins the interrogation. She says, "To spit on the earth is to spit on the lord. Did you spit?" I'm terrified, but in that moment I'm thinking both, "Lady, what the fuck are you talking about?" And, "Lady, you played yaself. You don't know what I did, do ya?" So I said "No."

She asked again, "Did you spit?" I responded, "You calling me a liar?" I didn't even know what the phrase meant, I just knew my uncle Pete said it when he didn't want to admit guilt or to stall for time and it had one hundred percent efficacy. It sent the nun ballistic, she stormed over to the chalkboard, grabbed what is still the longest, thickest ruler I have ever seen, takes me by the collar and starts wailing on my sides.

I'm thinking, "This has gone too far." I'm no longer thinking of her as a teacher, I'm trying to disarm a combatant who is bigger than me and looks like Azrael the angel of goddamn death. I figured the only exit was the truth so in between bawling yelps for mercy I scream "YES I SPIT ON GOD! YEEEEEESSS!" She stops and stares at me in what I can only describe as a look of completion and says, "Doesn't that feel better?" I'm thinking, "No bitch it really doesn't." But I remained silent, for once.

Anyway, after I told my mom about the incident she marched up to the academy and I was in public school soon after. The first day I was in the foyer searching for the queue to get into class when I ask the person next to me where I should line up. Dude punches me right in the face. Kid looked thirty, I thought he was a teacher. I'm looking around like, "Is anybody gonna address this?!" Not a single person made eye contact. I got up and stumbled into class, any class, luckily enough it was mine. I'm sitting in the back of the class, head throbbing, for the first time truly conceptualizing the rest of my life. I thought, "I have to be here again tomorrow, and the day after that. My mom can't pull me out of every school. I'm fucked."

Anyway, what was talking about? Oh yeah, Vertigo. It's good. It's a VR game, I know, but I've had a change of heart toward VR, AR, and XR in general thanks to Google Earth VR. It's not about how good it is, it's about how good it wants to be. Plus a pre-rendered earth would save a shitton of money on 3D asset development in games.

I hope information understands that it's just a concept, most don't come to the light. And although I do believe there are racial and socioeconomic factors that contribute,  I also acknowledge the visceral reactions I engender in people are mostly due to me being an asshole. I'm an acquired taste. Also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Cloister

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