Default Tester

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

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) Worldstarhiphop.com.

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

Monday, January 2, 2017

Issue : Games : Discordant




Watch_Dogs 2 is a game about improper fractions.

I broke a cardinal rule a couple days ago and instantly paid for it. The rule is I never go out on New Years. Almost all of my top ten near death experiences have happened on that night. The universe gives me a lot of shit but I truly believe it looks out for me; if only to chuckle at my misadventures.

The thirty-first of December seems to be my ethereal frienemies off day, and all sorts of grumkins capitalize in the form of drunks, gunfire, explosions and flashing lights. A lifetime full of grand openings followed by grand closings set to a day. I'm good and I get it, Steam sales and Netflix in the bunker, couldn't imagine a better start to the year now that I think about it.

Problem with this year is that I forgot to buy groceries for the last twenty years and I was hungry. Not like, "I could eat." Hungry. I was, "I am willing to risk my life for Rolled Taco's." Hungry. So that's what I did. I waited until an hour after the ball dropped because the downtown crazies will obviously be looking to beat traffic home, I threw on my away game gear and headed to offworld.

I walk exactly one block north when an SUV cop car rolls up with lights flashing. "HEY! Did you see somebody running this way?" "Nope." Cop car speeds off. I smiled and thought, "He didn't assume I was the perp! See, this isn't gonna be so bad!" I walk exactly one more block up and outside of the Taco shop stands a gathering of Hilltop Piru. I smiled and thought. "Goddammmit."

So here are my options. I can turn around and briskly walk back home, which can produce two scenarios. One scenario is I run back into the police cruiser who now gets suspicious which a synonym for guilty. Another scenario is I turn around and walk back which arouses the suspicions of the bright red wolf pack who now get suspicious, which is a synonym for lunch. My third option is to say fuck it I'm hungry and walk into the taco shop, get some fuckin' rolled tacos, and walk out. Any negative in that scenario is balanced by rolled tacos. So that's what I do.

Turns out the taco shop is packed. Out of towner new years revelers inside looking very entrenched by the gathering outside. There is a sort of absence of air in these moments. A space full of people willing the world into pretending the world they found themselves in is normal, at a safari park where an animal could jump into the jeep at any time, but they won't, because that kind of stuff dosesn't happen to them.

I place my order and head outside to wait because if there is any one thing I've learned in life it's that it's always better to not be inside of the building when things go south. I light a smoke and hear "Ey J4!" come from inside the crimson tide. It's the guy who works at the 7-11 up the street I chat with from time to time about video games who is also a blood, apparently. Every time he sees me he makes the same joke about how I remind him of the guy from a show he likes called The IT Crowd and how me and that guy share the same name.

It's historically accurate that jokes get 100% funnier when told drunk, and this joke was no different. He decided to share this fact with all of his friends who took to it like a fish to water as well. He told them what I do for a living, and one of the guys remarked how I reminded him of the guy from a game he is playing called Watch_Dogs 2, something I never get tired of hearing. The 7-11 guys girlfriend just had to show me how far she had gotten in Super Mario run and how she is thinking of joining in this Clash of Clans tournament at her community college. I thought to myself, "I don't like the conversation I'm in, but it's better than being murdered, sort of."

The restaurant called my name, I got my food, I said goodbye to the gang after giving them my Steam and Xbox Live names and I once again survived another questionable decision in order to eat bomb ass rolled tacos. Next year I'm buying some Lunchables or ramen or something, shit's crazy out there.

Oh Rhonda... Rhonda... Rhonda. I hope information doesn't really think escaping 2016 means anythng. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Every year. Also JOBS.

The Protoculture Mixtape : Issue : People : Incongrous

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