Web Crush Wednesdays: Stupid Boys Hit Each Other with Sticks and It’s Amazing

webcrush picI often talk about games that are among the finest ever made—exemplars of engineering and bastions of creative storytelling in a world often chock full of diss-worthy games like Pikmin. (Yes, I am a hater. Thanks for asking.) But, that’s not just limited to Naughty Dog games, or my obsession with Pokémon, which has changed the way the world thinks about handheld gaming and game merchandising. There are also games like Shadow of the Colossus, which are an easy response to anyone who might tell you that video games aren’t art.

kirby hammer brawl 3giHowever, I haven’t really talked much about the funnest games ever made, and any list thereof would undoubtedly include the Super Smash Bros. series. At its essence, SSB is a response to the question “What if we took everyone’s favorite video game characters and made them fight?”

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Will You Press The Button?

webcrush picToday, we’ve got something different for you that has been immensely popular on Tumblr the last couple of weeks. It’s called Will You Press The Button?

Will You Press The Button? is a game sort of like Would You Rather. It’s structured like this:

Will you press the button to do (great thing) but (bad consequence)?

You then click the button or click the “I will not” box. Finally, you get the percent of people who pressed the button and the percent who didn’t. And then you can do it all over again.

Now I know it doesn’t strike y’all as very nerdy, but the questions they come up with are definitely for the nerdy internet community. Just look at the screen cap below.

button press 1I totally pressed the button on that question, you guys. But you get my point. Anyway, it’s a really great way to pass time, especially with a bored eighth grader you are supposed to be babysitting. Have some more examples!

button 4The one downside to the site is that it often uses LGBTQ+ situations or “becoming a feminist” as the “bad consequence” side. (These responses, of course, are generally a source of amusement for tumblrites, though, who regularly point out that “you get a billion dollars but you become a feminist” or “your favorite ship becomes canon but it’s a slash ship” have no real negative consequences.)

button 2

Topic of a post for another day, I promise.

Like? Dislike? Ambivalent? Regardless, Will You Press The Button? is a great way to spend or kill some time with friends whether you are sober or not. So go check it out when you get the chance!

Web Crush Wednesdays: Letters to an Asexual

jr9fangirls1111Well, it’s Asexual Awareness Week, so I thought that I would share some videos about asexuality. Letters to an Asexual is about exactly what it sounds like. It is a series of videos by YouTuber swankivy, who reads out loud some of the more ridiculous and offensive letters and messages she has received for being asexual.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: The Onion

In honor of the upcoming inauguration, I give you a political-themed Web Crush featuring The Onion.

jr9fangirls1111This Web Crush starts with a story. The other day, I was telling the sophomore boy I chauffeur for that I had seen The Hobbit. I was telling him I liked it, but a it was little long. He told me he read that there was a fifty-three-minute scene where Bilbo tells him what to pack. I informed him that it wasn’t true. He told me it was since he read from an online newspaper. I asked which one; he told me The Onion. And I proceeded to laugh at him for not figuring out it was satire.

onion_logo_03_LIn case you aren’t a news junkie, The Onion is a satirical newspaper that mostly follows political events. Most of their stories are extremely over-the-top, and well executed. For example, they named Kim Jong Un their sexiest man alive. A bunch of newspapers actually thought it was real and reprinted the article. The articles are funny in and of themselves, but they become funnier when someone actually thinks they’re legit.

If you are in DC, they also have hard copies that you can get free on the street. However, they are always the first ones to be taken. I know this is a Web Crush, but I have a personal preference for the hard copy. Nothing was funnier than their weekly weather reports and those are only in the hard copy.

And yes, it’s always fun to run into the stray person who thinks they’re being serious. So if you are in for a good laugh and are into the goings on of the world, look no further than The Onion.

Web Crush Wednesdays: Penny Arcade

It began with a comic strip, and has evolved into a blog, a journal, a video channel, a charity, and a convention.  It’s Penny Arcade, today on Web Crush Wednesday!

Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik started the Penny Arcade comic on the now defunct loonygames.com before starting their own site.  Holkins and Krahulik are now members of a small group of comic authors and illustrators to be able to make a living from their webcomics.  They typically post a new strip three times a week, accompanied by blog posts often elaborating on the comic’s subject matter.

The Comic

Having debuted in 1998 and since grown to over three and a half million readers, the Penny Arcade webcomic has few peers in terms of longevity and popularity.  It follows the exploits of the often ridiculous Gabe and reasonable Tycho.  Always with the flavor of the gaming world, Penny Arcade’s humor and setting ranges from ridiculously abstract to observational commentary.  While at times the comics deal with rather esoteric subjects, the day’s blog posting often explains the topic in a concise, straightforward fashion.   Furthermore, even when the subject is esoteric the humor is often universal.  Penny Arcade’s comedic skill and diversity has given it massive exposure, to the point now that even many of those without even a casual interest in gaming have probably been forwarded a comic or two.

With such great success over such a relatively long period of time there have been, of course, a few controversies here and there.  One such controversy began on August 11, 2010, with a comic making a joke involving rape.  As someone uncomfortably close with this subject, the comic does make me feel uneasy.  However, this particular comic might be the only concrete example of a rape joke where I actually side with the authors.  In fact, I actually laughed despite my firmest attempts to let the hate flow through me.  Forgetting the dark and absurdist nature of the joke, two schools of comedy for which I admittedly have a weakness, they are indeed making a statement about something.  That statement may not be about rape, but it involves our ability to empathize and sympathize in such situations.  Particularly in MMO’s (Massively Multiplayer Online [Games]), quests often involve a noble purpose: feed the hungry, employ the poor, cure the sick, slay the beast, free the enslaved, liberate the raped, et cetera.  The problem is that in an MMO, there must always be victims to be saved by the next player.  So, after you free a prisoner, kill the warlord, or end an epidemic, within minutes of your victory the environment returns to the victimized state so that the next hero can save the day.  The problem is that after saving any day you haven’t really saved anything since it goes back to the way it was.  This makes the player feel less concerned about the bigger problem and care only about doing his small part.  It breeds that feeling because it’s the only feeling it validates.  At times it is worse than that, giving the player a quota of people to save, rewarding you after freeing perhaps seven of the countless enslaved.  So the player learns to feel nothing for the hundreds left un-freed – they are someone else’s problem.  And that kind of thinking is dangerous.  It turns the needy into a problem; they are a liability taken on to leverage yourself to greater goals, namely experience, gold, and equipment.  It turns the seven you save into dehumanized credit.  Somehow, by making me laugh, I feel as though humanity and relatability has been brought back into the equation.  I reflect on all of those left-behind, pixelated polygons and sprites differently after viewing the comic.  So, for lampooning this phenomenon with the situation in the strip, a situation which unfortunately is only isolated from the reality of acceptability in games only by the name “dickwolves,” I side with the authors.

The Rest

Penny Arcade, largely thanks to its business manager Robert Khoo, has come a long way from just the webcomic and blog it began as.  The PA Report is a journalistic source for all things video games, featuring not only authored editorials but links to quality articles on other sites.

PA TV is the Penny Arcade video channel, currently featuring ten shows, my favorite being Extra CreditsExtra Credits is a very skillfully executed critique and reflection on the state of games and its culture, both present and future.  The highly capable team is composed of three industry professionals: chiefly written by the incredibly qualified James Portnow, narrated by the colorful Daniel Floyd, and illustrated by the fast and talented Allison Theus.  It is clear that the three of them work very well together, and I have yet to come across an episode which was in any way a miss.  Do yourself a favor and check them out.  It’s both educational and entertaining.

The Penny Arcade forum is itself pretty impressive.  It is relatively friendly, considering how bad many forums are on the net, and a strong sense of community bound by a common interest permeates throughout.  This community has come together to do some pretty interesting things in multiplayer gaming, not the least of which was their community mined and built underwater recreation of Bioshock’s Rapture in Minecraft.

Child’s Play is the charity started by Holkins and Krahulik.  What it does is send toys and games to children’s hospitals throughout the world.  They have shamelessly used the Penny Arcade brand to promote it, and rightfully so.  My first exposure to it was as the charitable option on the Humble Indie Bundle.  To date they have raised over twelve-million dollars for their cause.  I think it’s a great charity, but then its pretty easy for me to imagine a child stuck in a hospital bed, confused and scared, lucky to find any joy or entertainment during their stay.  I once spent a long and lonely week in the nearest children’s hospital as an ill child.  The Nintendo 64 I was able to play was so important to me, and it led to some very positive memories of what should have been a wholly terrifying and traumatizing experience.  Those children’s hospitals which are so far connected with the charity each have their own Amazon wish list for you to donate directly to them, or you can make monetary donations on the Child’s Play website.

PAX, or the Penny Arcade Expo, is a full-fledged video game convention.  It is particularly wonderful and dear to the gaming community because E3, the industry’s premier convention, is open to industry professionals and journalists exclusively.  So, PAX is perhaps the best way to come together as a community, meet professionals, see the new and the exciting, and play games.

The comics, writing, web series, community, charity, and convention all have a special place in my heart both as a gamer and a human being.  Altogether, Penny Arcade is an abundant well of entertainment and passion whose waters I am thrilled to have wash over me.

Note: I didn’t have time today to discuss all things PA, so apologies to The Trenches and the games, and all of the other great things I missed!