Change Is Inevitable

Posted: October 19, 2011 in Video Games

I’ve been a gamer since I was a little Craig-ling.  My mom loves reminding me that I used to boot up the old Apple computer to play Frogger when I was 5.  Some of my earliest memories were of me and my sister playing Super Mario Bros 3.  Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I can remember how I acquired every console I’ve had. I like to consider myself a pretty devout follower of the industry, but there are several things about it that have raised red flags recently and have made me wonder whether my loyalty is displaced.

Nintendo has always been a very reputable company.  They completely changed the industry during a time that looked very grim for most developers.  Go ahead, Wikipedia “video game crash of 1983.”  I’ll wait.  Done?  Alright, so the Super NES years were undoubtedly their best in terms of quality of product and revenue, even though I didn’t get around to playing those games much until I downloaded emulators online.  But let’s face it–there were only 2 competitors in those times and Sega was always ahead of the game, in the end left behind.

Project Rainfall is a phrase that should be familiar to most gamers, whether they have a Wii or not.  It revolved around 3 RPG’s (role-playing games), 1 in particular, being made in Japan, translated into English, then released in Europe instead of the United States.  Original RPG’s were scarce on the Wii at that time, and it was especially unheard of that a game be released in Europe, where there’s little demand for games, but not the US.  People to this day are still outraged and I think the whole issue shows that Nintendo of America simply doesn’t care for their customers as no real explanation was given.

The big N has a great resume to be sure, and they really sold the Wii well with its motion sensing technology.  But their problems actually started way back with the N64, with their inability to have 3rd party developers make games for their system.  Now that issue has evolved to a point where they won’t even allow other companies to develop, making their 3DS which has been out for and they may end up following in their former competitors’ footsteps, becoming strictly all about developing software.

After that long spiel on Nintendo, you’d think they were the only ones with problems.  Granted they have the most, but Sony has definitely had their fair share, particularly in the last several months.  Unlike Nintendo, they have a very large catalogue of games especially if a person has a fully backwards-compatible model (like yours truly!).  However the company is beginning to make the same mistakes as Nintendo by not bringing over certain material from Japan.  Most of them aren’t a big deal, so this is pretty much a non-issue right now.

The biggest problem is their customer service.  A few months ago a hacker managed to break into Sony’s network.  For days people wondered if their accounts were hacked into as well, keeping an eye on their bank statements.  Meanwhile the company was working tirelessly to restore security to the network before restoring service.  During these first few days, Sony literally said NOTHING regarding any details about people’s accounts.  In fact it took Congressional involvement for them to finally tell the customers what had happened.

That brings us to the youngest of the trifecta: Microsoft.  I have to admit that I don’t have much against the video game division of the company besides the fact that they don’t really have a lot of decent material exclusive to the X-Box.  I personally feel like Microsoft shouldn’t even be in the industry because it cheapens the brand, the games, by making their name too available.  Therein lies the problem–the corporation is so bent on world domination that they push the hardware before it’s ready.  Red ring of death, no native Wi-fi connectivity, and corded controllers are all products of this ambition.  Even the Kinect, while enormously successful in the short-term, lacks the software support it needs in order to be revolutionary.

I’m a little worried about the state of the video game industry.  The main cause of the crash in 1983 was oversaturation which led to poor consumer confidence.  I definitely feel less confidence right now in the industry’s future than I did 10 years ago.  I think 1 of the 3 major corporations needs to do something that changes the business soon or gamers will probably have to start going without their favorite pastime.

Craig’s Fashion Revelations

Posted: October 17, 2011 in Mens Fashion

I’ve become extremely interested in men’s fashion the last several months for several reasons including wanting to have a sense of individuality, to set myself apart from the masses, and to express myself in a way people would notice.  It all started with the need to update my wardrobe because I still had black polyester shirts hanging in my closet from high school.  I graduated in ’02.  My philosophy has always been if you’re gonna do something, do it well.  So I did a lot of research before I even bought my first pair of shoes that weren’t in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. And now, I walk into a Saks store knowing all the brand names and what kind of clothes they make (this probably doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment, but hey…babysteps!).

Professionals in various fields agree that a great way to save time, money, and effort is to know exactly what you’re buying. Seems pretty easy right? You go into the grocery store knowing that all you need is milk and bread, so you get it and leave. But along the way, you see a TV dinner that looks really good, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s you know you deserve, a bag of a new special edition flavor of Pringles you can’t live without. Before you know it, you have a shopping cart with $75 worth of food. That’s bad. You obviously have a shopping addiction and need help. But then there are those of us who go to the store, can’t find anything cuz they’ve remodeled and by the time we find the stuff, we discover that they were out of the kind you really wanted. This can lead a person to be very angry and start breaking things.

As I’ve grown more and more knowledgeable about men’s fashion, trying to update my wardrobe to mostly classics with a few seasonally trendy pieces, I’ve grown increasingly picky about what goes into it. Specifically, I’m in the market for a pair of hiking boots that have a chocolate brown, full leather upper, at least 6 D-rings, and black sole. Hell, it doesn’t even have to have all that Vibram and Goretex crap. Unfortunately I can’t find ANY in the outlet mall near my place and the only ones I can find online are at least $200.

So needless to say, after 3 hours of searching in the mall and countless hours searching online (broken up by episodes of Breaking Bad), I’m a little frustrated.  I mean, my search for the cheaper imitation of the perfect boat shoe was pretty fruitful.  The only reason why I hadn’t bought them until recently is my finances haven’t been the best.  I’ve been spending too much on video games.  And furniture.  And fast food.  And Starbucks.

I had a revelation a few weeks back regarding clothing labels and putting logos on what they sell.  You have no doubt seen shirts, hoodies, jackets, shoes, etc., sold or worn with the name of the company emblazoned on it like a billboard.  These articles are almost always sold in the factory stores for a fraction of the cost of their other clothes.  They’re also what makes up a majority of the clearance section because no one wants them.  I think it’s obvious that no one wants to be a walking neon sign.  However, there’s another reason these cheaply made, mass-produced articles are sold for so little.  The company is basically paying the wearer for advertising.  But that’s where they really come out ahead–people will buy these things up because they’re cheap and they want others to think that they are cool and fashionable because they’re wearing a name brand like Abercrombie & Fitch.  In fact, the opposite is true, and a person will have to pay a small fortune to own nothing but classic items that are versatile (i.e. able to be worn with different things) and don’t make a person look like they’re paid commission.

There are some labels that notoriously don’t have company names or logos plastered all over them because they don’t need to.  Stores like H&M, Zara, Asos, Topman, etc., are sanctuaries for guys like me who want to look trendy, but don’t want to have to give up an arm and a leg to do it.  But there is a problem with these stores: the quality will usually only be sub-par as they take articles straight off the runway and mass-produce them.

Unfortunately, that leaves you with only one more option which is usually not an option for people like me who were given mostly hand-me-down clothes when we were little–the small business designer.  These guys will usually have places on the catwalk in Milan and will make only a few of specific items that are hand-made by 10-year-olds in China, and for some reason kids need food more than once a week.  You will definitely pay a premium for this Chinese labor, but you’re lucky if you can go anywhere outside of New York wearing that unless you want to turn heads…away from you.  Because you look like you’re dressing up for Halloween and it’s only May.

Men’s fashion is definitely hard to keep up with.  It’s a little frustrating to know that there’s no way I can be fashionable without being poor.  I feel like I may have to end up making my own clothes as no one seems to want to sell the things I want for a reasonable price.  Anyone wanna buy my underwear for $200?  ;)

And here I am…

Posted: October 13, 2011 in All

Today’s events have really motivated me to do something I’ve always wanted to do but never thought would actually go through with.  Of course, I’m talking about letting complete strangers into my world to judge me and immerse themselves in the glory that is my life.  I’ll start at the beginning–cuz that’s where most things start.

I was checking my Facebook like normal and I had a message waiting for me from a former high school classmate.  He told me he needed my address, email, and phone number, so that he could send me info on the upcoming 10-year class reunion.  I mean here is a guy who, in his profile picture, is dressed in a suit and tie, has grown better looking with age, never really paid attention to me in high school except to make fun of me, and seems to have been successful in life.  And here I am…a guy whose profile pic includes a grey X-Men T shirt and a dirty mirror, who still hasn’t bought his first suit because he hasn’t needed one, who has spent the better part of his post-adolesence trying to get from point A to point B using as straight a line as possible.  Needless to say, I was caught off guard. 

As my eventful day droned on, an officer who worked in my office for about a month came in to say hi and drink my coffee because he had nothing else to do.  Eventually, conversation led to how much I needed a suit and how much better my life would be if I would’ve been an officer rather than enlisted.  I was feeling more and more like I was playing a lead role in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.  I knew that soon I’d be telling people I’d invented Post-its.  Then the thought occurred to me:  maybe I could still be an officer!  If I started now, I could have like 4 suits by this time next year! 

While on my lunch break, I felt that I needed to talk to my boyfriend about this, as he’s been talking about moving to the great city of Charleston, SC, to be with me.  As we talked we figured out that I shouldn’t become an officer because I don’t want to.  That put me back at square one. 

Then came the cigarettes.  A chick came up to my office to get some of my coffee and we started talking about me being gay.  Not directly, of course.  That would be offensive.  I felt like this was more “smoker’s pad” than “enclosed office” talk, so I asked her if I could smoke her cigarettes while I regaled her with all the details of my life.  As with most, nicotene is my social uninhibitor.  We both talked about our goals and annoyances in life, and by the end of the smoke break, we were singing to each other. 

By the time I got back up to my office, I was tired from all the thinking and singing I’d done.  How the hell am I supposed to get a suit without becoming a successful officer?  I reached into my manbag and pulled out a manual for blogging.  It all makes sense now.