51 Things I Noticed at San Japan XI

San Japan is probably my favorite convention, bar none, and this year was great! As always, I noticed a few things…

  1. BEFORE – I’m guessing “Magical Universe” means there will be a lot more Sailor Moon crossplayers.

    badge

    #17 Yay?

  2. They’re going to have to try pretty hard to top Okashicon for: “Con with the most pinks and pastels” prize.
  3. Between this and Furry Fiesta 2019’s ‘Roll Fur Initiative” theme, I’m not feeling a lot of love.
  4. As a nerd who’s old enough to have owned an Atari 2600, I’m not exactly the target audience, so yeah.
  5. I’m getting a new fursuit and this will be my first time wearing it. It’s just the thing for MID-90 DEGREE WEATHER.
  6. In addition to the usual con prep, I’m also looking for a new job and getting my house ready to be put on sale the Tuesday after. No rest for the weary! >.<
  7. I guess I can’t awkwardly refer to San Japan as a ‘Comic-Con’ anymore to normies for fear of being sued by SDCC.
  8. Staying at the nearby Tru by Hilton, which apparently is a more modern hotel, which means it annoys me somewhat.
  9. Thing I forgot (again): Aftershave.
  10. Chili’s seems to have become our San Japan Thursday dinner go-to.
  11. Looks like my fursuit won’t be ready for the show. Given the temperature outside and my lack of experience, it’s likely just as well.
  12. Had a funny moment with a friend when I had to remind him that he wasn’t working on Labor Day the following Monday.
  13. Dave: “You can have ambience or you can have a butt-load of arcade games.” I’m glad he went with Door #2.
  14. Maybe they should change the name to ‘Sign Japan.’
  15. I find the lack of security on Thursday nights to be just a little concerning.
  16. FRIDAY – Nothing like waking up early to go feed the meter; a small price to pay for cheap parking!
  17. I was happy with my badge art until I saw the volunteer badges have the same art and now I’m less happy.

    signjapan

    #14 The signage was YUUGE!

  18. Yay escalators!
  19. Yay, I forgot about the escalators and took the scenic route down to Artist Alley!
  20. Furst World Problems: I quit wearing my ears because the hairband kept digging into my head.
  21. I got a haircut the other day so there is less hair to cushion it now.
  22. The uneven lanes the Artist Alley are just a little weird.
  23. No panels to run on Friday: HOW DO I HAVE FUN?
  24. Retro Game Museum might be better off being called “Pong Museum.”
  25. Might need to put together a video game history panel, made better because I WAS THERE FOR MOST OF IT.
  26. The arcade was cool, though the sound on the music games wasn’t always loud enough.
  27. You know the competition between the three(!) Chinese joints at Rivercenter Mall is crazy when someone tries to hand you a sample WHILE YOU’RE IN LINE FOR THE PLACE NEXT DOOR.
  28. SATURDAY – I didn’t have enough change to feed the meter for the whole day, so I decided to live dangerously.
  29. Old hotness: Annoying music over Bluetooth speaker. New hotness: Watching anime subs on your phone with the volume turned up
  30. Sign of the times: Sriracha at the breakfast buffet
  31. Thanks for the retweet, Dave. Be nice if your Twitter account wasn’t protected, but such is life.
  32. I had an unfortunate situation with the light switches before Furry 101…maybe not for me, but the dance contest people next door likely hate me now.
  33. Very happy with the turnout and participation at Furry 101 this year, thanks for the help, San Antonio furries!
  34. I always have to buy a paleta from the vendor in front of the Henry B…BECAUSE REASONS
  35. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to lose fursuiters at an anime con!
  36. There seem to be more people wearing ears and tails this year, hmm.
  37. Chili’s again for supper.  I’m okay with that.
  38. SUNDAY – Good trend: Vendors playing 80s music
  39. I’m still having difficulty finding cool stickers for my my laptop, though I did buy a chibi Bender.
  40. I’m pretty much forced to stay all day thanks to having a panel scheduled at 530 PM.
  41. Decision time: Carry my laptop around all day or return to my car to get it at 500 PM. I went with door #1
  42. Luckily, there is less me to carry around this time so it wasn’t a big problem.
  43. Dunno if anyone is going to be at “How to Panel,” but the show must go on.
  44. laptop

    #39 Bite my shiny chibi ass!

    Maybe I’ll use the setup time to take a nap.

  45. Mental note: Add a “Finish on time and clear the room” slide to the presentation because the group before me didn’t.
  46. Yay, people showed up…including one person with REALLY weird questions.  Sometimes you get ‘that guy’ at a panel, and he definitely was THAT GUY.
  47. Overall, the panel went well. I learned some stuff and made notes to add stuff to the presentation to make the next one even better!
  48. I took one of those Lime-S rental scooters back to the car, it was pretty cool!
  49. I was relieved to not find a citation on the my vehicle when I returned to it.
  50. I really can’t find anything major that went wrong this year, it’s gonna be a boring post-game Con Talk episode.
  51. San Japan XII: Sports?! Finally, a theme I can get behind!

So Much Fun It HURTS!

One aspect of video gaming that has never bothered me is repetition. After all, back in the early 80’s, that’s pretty much all we HAD. “Game Over” meant you ran out of ships or had to leave the arcade for some non-game related reason. I don’t mind doing the same thing over and over again as long as its fun, and if all I get at the end is a high score, I’m fine by that.

I think it’s also why I have never played any online RPGs for any extended period of time. I know that if I were to get hooked on a MMORPG I would probably never come out.

With arcades dead and gone, I feed my desire for arcade-style gaming goodness with Nintendo DS and Xbox Live Arcade games. Fortunately, they are relatively cheap and quite satisfying. Every now and then, though, I will come across a game that I just cannot stop playing until I am in some degree of pain. This is particularly true of the Nintendo DS; one hallmark of a good DS game (in my opinion) is that I can keep playing it and playing it until the stylus leaves a painful indentation in my thumb. Mental note: I need to take a picture of that the next time it happens.

The most extreme example of this was a game called Meteos. I’m a sucker for a good puzzle game, and Meteos was just the thing to burn away the hours while working the late shift at a call center a few years ago. If nobody was calling, I would be happily tapping away at my trusty red DS trying to beat my high scores. With a combination of a really good battery life, no supervisors present, and available plugs for my charger, I could easily spend most of my shift playing Meteos, followed by a sore thumb on my right hand.

This went on for a few weeks until I noticed some recurring pain in my left arm. It got to be quite a nuisance, so I went to see my doctor about it. He examined my arm, bent it this way and that, asked does this hurt, does that hurt, yadda yadda yadda. It turns out I had “tennis elbow” in my left arm. The same left arm I was using to hold up the DS (the ol’ fat DS, BTW) while playing Meteos all those hours. Heaven help me, I did not have the nerve to tell the doctor. A bottle of pain meds and a lot less Meteos later, and I was back to abnormal.

Elite Beat Agents also left its mark on me (literally!) and now I am in the grasp of Rock Band (playing the drums on Hard is a pretty decent workout) and 1942: Joint Strike whose button mashing madness has my right thumb in a world of hurt right now, but damn, its fun. My high score is already over a million, time to shoot for two!

-shakes hands around, blows on right thumb to cool it down-

Maybe later.

The Lost Days of Arcade-ia

I think we all have moments in our lives when we get smacked in the face with the fact that we are getting older.

I had one some months ago when I was talking to a coworker who was born during the 80’s. We were discussing games, and I bought up Geometry Wars in all of its seizure-inducing glory, and described the control scheme as being similar to Robotron 2084. He then gets a puzzled look on his face and asks: “What console was that game on?”

I then realized that he was born after the glory days of the arcade, when they weren’t old temples kept alive by Dance Dance Revolution. At that moment, I could almost hear my hair getting grayer and feel arthritis creeping into these hands that have been playing videogames for longer than this kid has been alive!

I then explained that once upon a time there was a place called the “arcade” where one had to go to play real videogames and not the watered-down versions you got on the home systems of the time. We dropped our quarters because the games were fun, they were something new, and they let us pretend to really be racing a car or flying a spaceship if only for a few minutes or maybe longer if you got really good. The arcade was a loud place filled with lots of machines, lots of people, and lots of noise coming from both.

When I read reviews where some kid is gushing over the “BRAND NEW” thing they’ve just discovered, I laugh, because its probably been done before, and we probably did it first. Before there was Gran Turismo, there was Pole Position. Before there was World of Warcraft, there was Gauntlet. Take Missile Command, set it to music, and you get Every Extend Extra. The first commercial 3D game to use shaded polygons was made in 1983. It’s called “I, Robot” and it was made by the original Atari.

We also played to be the best. Even if you were only the best at the grocery store or corner gas station, it still felt good to see your initials at the top of the board. Three letters were all you got, and so you had to make the best of it. If you accidently hit Fire and entered an “A” by accident, you followed up with “SS” instead, snickered for a moment, and then moved on to the next machine. Of course, if your name just happened to start with an A, it was no big deal.

Before there was online with its miscreants and trappings, there was playing head to head with your opponent standing next to you or across a cocktail machine. There was also co-op, even though we didn’t call it that. If you wanted next, you put a quarter on the panel and waited your turn, and if you finished and saw a quarter on the machine, you let the next guy have his turn.

Of course, those days are gone now, but the games are still around in one form or another. I still play them, and they’re still fun to me. I laugh at the repeated, often failed attempts to reimagine them for the New Generation. Much like classic movies, the games are products of their time, and the zeitgeist of that era just can’t be reproduced. These kids are also too accustomed to the overly dramatic stories and dinner-theater drama found in too many of todays’ games. You don’t ask why Pac-Man has to eat all those dots or why the ghosts want to eat him, that’s just the way it is.

No matter what aliases, nicknames or avatars I use in these hyper-connected days, I don’t think they will have more meaning than the three letters sitting on top of the list of the Time Pilot machine in the corner store down the road from my house:

EDS