Lasombra Files Episode 26: Uptown Stakeout
Welcome to season 3 of the Lasombra Files, PSU’s weekly hit program. Follow the story of Lasombra and V as they try to solve an inter-dimensional murder mystery of ostentatious proportions, while at the same time shining the spotlight on gamers around the world and in our community.
The world is covered in a grimy darkness as if the Hamilton steel plants increased smog production by 1000%. The streets looked the same, the buildings and stores too, but it felt different. Storm clouds enveloped the sky as it poured rain upon the city, making our walk even more depressing. I keep thinking people will recognize me but a second later I remember this is not my body. As we walk towards the NGN network headquarters a news story catches our attention, as people are lining up to watch it on a variety of TVs in a store front window in Episode 26: Uptown Stakeout. We see this world’s me, reporting on some grisly murder uptown. Cops lined off the area, as he interviews the police lieutenant about the event. Without any leads or resources, that crime scene is the only way we can find him.
Name: Zach (Upmagic)
Occupation: Student (Computer Science, Japanese). I would like to break into game journalism.
Disclaimer: This interview is reproduced as written by the interviewee. Pictures copyright of their artist/photographer/owner. All likenesses used are for parody and/or satirical purposes.
Lasombra: How long have you been gaming?
Upmagic: I still have foggy memories of the original Prince of Persia and watching my older brother playing Final Fantasy III on the SNES. I’ve been around games my whole life.
Lasombra: How did you find PSU?
Upmagic: I was literally googling for gaming communities. I missed being a part of one.
Lasombra: Are you solely a Sony gamer this generation or do you split your time between multiple systems?
Upmagic: I game mostly on my PC while the PS3 is my go to console.
Lasombra: What do you like about the community at PSU that keeps bringing you back for more?
Upmagic: A lot of it has to do with the age of the community; it’s the first thing I look for nowadays. I’ve been on gaming message boards since they existed, pretty much, and I’m just totally burnt out from all the petty arguments you find on them. It’s just meaningless versus debates, top lists, and people seeking self-gratification, and it does absolutely nothing for me anymore. I had a lot of passion for that stuff as a kid but you grow out of it, you realize none of the discussions hold any real weight. I find that gamers in their 20s and 30s are simply more down to earth with the hobby. But I’m sure a lot of new blood will come in with the PS4 announcements, and I won’t try to ruin their fun.
Lasombra: In your opinion, what needs to be done to help the community to grow bigger and better?
Upmagic: Site minimalism (in all facets: interface, features, writing, etc...) and constant community interaction, it’s just the way the internet is heading. For example, places like Reddit are draining a lot of activity from traditional forums and it’s almost 100% user run. I’ve been on forums for a while now and a lot of them are starting to look really obsolete in this regard, things have just been the same for too long now and it’s starting to show. On that front I think PSU is in as good of a position as any other site to start moving forward.
Lasombra: Do you have any gaming goals for this year?
Upmagic: When you’ve been gaming for a long time you begin to appreciate the medium as a whole, and that’s made me want to catch up on some older titles of past generations. You can find insanely great experiences in old games for little to no cost, and this year I just feel like I should explore as much as possible. Great game design doesn’t age, and I’ll always stand by that belief. Of course, I hope to continue to write a lot about the industry, and pump out plenty of reviews.
Lasombra: Are you a Trophy hunter, and what do you think about trophies overall?
Upmagic: Trophies/achievements have never interested me in the slightest; I don’t think I’ll ever understand the craze. Well, I understand it; I’m just being an ass. If a game is fun to experiment with then I will do that regardless, I don’t need a to-do list and virtual rewards of nothingness to encourage that. God only knows what mundane nonsense you had to do to get all those points. It’s meaningless.
Lasombra: The PS2 dominated a console war like no other system. What tricks does Sony need to pull out of their hat to create the same magic with the PS4.
Upmagic: I would tell you that another traditional generation of consoles simply wouldn’t work again, but what people buy will never cease to impress me. What I can say for sure is that something like the PS2 era really can’t occur again under the current model. Microsoft and Sony are pretty much producing personal computers at this point, the gaming brick days are over. So I ask the question: why not just stick with my PC? The answer will come down to games. Throw tons of money at the talented visionaries of the industry, and let them work the magic for you. Best thing Sony can do is make more accessible architecture for those developers than what they had with the PS3.
Lasombra: Do you have a favourite era of gaming? The SNES/Genesis war? The reign of the Playstation Reich? Hail to the NES?
Upmagic: The decade of competitive Starcraft: Brood War in South Korea will always have a place in my heart, if that counts.
Lasombra: Is there a lot of gaming culture in your area of the world? Unique stores, conventions, etc?
Upmagic: Not much, really. The internet cafe days of Counter-Strike died a long time ago. Chicago does have a fighting game scene, and as a tournament goer I actually founded what I dubbed “Fight Club” at my university. So yeah, I still do meet ups to keep my Super Street Fighter IV skills up to speed.
Lasombra: Have you ever been burnt out from a gaming session?
Upmagic: I’m the kind of guy who can marathon RPGs for 12 hours, but I had to stop playing Starcraft: Broodwar because a 20 minute game would just mentally exhaust me for the entire day. It’s a really intense game.
Lasombra: You are starting to get some cred from doing community reviews for the site. What got you interested in doing the reviews? What is your personal philosophy for reviewing a game? For example do graphics get bonus points, or is it all about the story? (Genre dependent of course)
Upmagic: I’ve been reviewing for a couple years now and I still have much to learn, but the interest goes back to what I was saying about the message board experience. I think I enter them with different expectations than others in that I’ve always taken arguments and debate very seriously. But you go on a forum and no matter how well you present your position, no matter how much you write or how well you write it, no one will listen to your opinions because they’ve got their own. There’s no space in between to share, or learn, or analyze. But when you write 1200 words and label it something formal, people suddenly listen. With an article or review I at least have a chance to grab the reader’s attention and have him consider the evidence I present. At the end of the day, I’m just expressing myself as I always have.
My only philosophy for game critique is, well, not following a philosophy. The reason why most game discussion is so horrible is because people have become too comfortable in compartmentalizing the interactive experience. To say a game is one part graphics, one part story, and one part gameplay -- it makes no sense, it never has. Not a single gamer here has a brain that works like that while gaming. You don’t gut the jugular of a guard in Assassin’s Creed and decide whether it was the graphics, sound, or game mechanism that was most entertaining, you don’t. My mind cannot even comprehend those arguments anymore. When I talk about a game I talk about the experience and the design goals of the experience, and that’s all that matters.
Lasombra: What is it about game journalism that makes you want to break into it? As someone wanting to get into the business, what are some of the good and bad things you are noticing with modern day journalists compared to the magazine days of years past?
Upmagic: Games journalism is a still a young field and for a while it wasn’t even occupied by actual writers, just gamers. Those are the people who made all those ridiculous rubrics and artificial sets of standards. Things weren’t better years ago; we’re actually still trying to shake all that nonsense off.
While I don’t really follow any particular outlet, with a little digging around you can find great individual columnists and writers, indie publications, and really find a lot of interesting discussion about the gaming industry out there on the web.
Lasombra: Having lived in South Korea for 3 years myself, I can testify to the dedicated Starcraft professionals over here. What got you into the game and an interest in the sport? Who is your favourite pro?
Upmagic: I’ve always been a huge competitive gamer since games like Tribes and Counter-Strike 1.6, and while I’ve being playing Starcraft since I was 9 years old, I didn’t hear about the Korean scene until I was graduating high school. It's fascinating for anyone in the West to see an eSport grow to that level, and I really enjoyed being able to catch the last few years of it. My favorite players were Jaedong and Savior; in fact, I got to shake Savior’s hand at Blizzcon, haha.
Lasombra: Being a tournament goer for Street Fighter, do you have any plans on ever participating in an EVO if you have not already done so?
Upmagic: I’m not nearly good enough for EVO, and it’s just too much money to attend. I always catch it on the stream, of course.
Lasombra: As a PC gamer more than a console gamer, do you think we will see a time when consoles essentially disappear and we all become PC gamers, especially with the popularity and easy access of Steam?
Upmagic: Consoles have the appeal of the younger crowd. They are like simplified, personal entertainment spaces for kids, so they will always be a hot item. PCs are intimidating to parents and kids, so until people become better educated about using them I think consoles will continue to have a role in the living room. I don’t think the traditional generations of consoles can last much longer, though. Something weird is going to happen.
Lasombra: Right now all the media is abuzz for the PS4 and Xbox 720, even though Nintendo's newest system has been released. Is that a sign that the Wii U has already lost the next-gen war before it even truly begun, or is that just media fear mongering?
Upmagic: Nintendo is doing its own thing; I think that much was obvious with the Wii. They aren’t in the same “war” that Microsoft and Sony are, they just needed a little more power for their next round of 1st party titles, and that’s the Wii U. It is interesting that they will be sitting out on multiplatform games for another generation, but I can’t really say what effect that will have on the Wii U’s success.
The entire area is taped off by the police as bystanders look on like it was a pop band playing, all wanting to get on TV in some sick narcissistic fantasy. Sliding our way through the crowd, and watching the scene, it is obvious someone of importance died. There are too many cops, too many reporters on the scene. If it bleeds it leads but not all the major players would send their best to report on the average person in Episode 27: Hammer Time. Overhearing my voice I slide in closer to overhear the report. “We don’t have any suspects in the murder of our very own Ace Reporter, Stan Daman. All the police would tell us is they have some leads and they will be working around the clock to find the killer. This is the fifth reported killings in a string of media murders.” Their Stan died, but our Stan is still alive. Whoever is killing reporters is not stopping in one universe. Maybe this is a lot worse than The Boss thought it was, and whoever this mass murder is needs to be stopped before anyone else is killed.
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