Most Disappointing Moments of 2014

Welp, it's that time of the year again.  We're down to the last few days of the year, so before we start hearing all that "new year, new me" bullshit, everyone's got to talk about the Best and Worst moments of 2014.      It's kind of a slam dunk in terms of work because its pretty easy to generate content about what you liked and disliked about the year, but it generates easy hits and I'm pretty desperate for those, so let's have a look at the Most Disappointing Moments in 2014.

Gamergate: Okay, just...gimme a minute here.  *takes deep breath, exhales*  If you ask the average person on the street their opinion of "gamergate", they're going to say something like, "What's that, a Nintendo thing?"   So it's kind of a tempest in a teapot sort of thing.  But if you're anything close to being a strong part of the internet geek/gaming subculture, this was by far the stupidest, most embarrassing thing you had to deal with all fucking year.

Gamergate started when a guy who thought airing his personal concerns about his feminist, game designing ex-girlfriend out to the world was a good idea.   He hinted at her sleeping with people for better reviews (later proven false) of her game, and thus the idiots of the world rallied under a banner of seeking "ethics" in gaming journalism.   The primary issue though, is that this whole thing was kick-started because of a woman's actions, so of course it was a clarion call for all the knuckle-draggers.  Gaming hit levels of sexism and misogyny I thought were mined and used up back in the '50's and '60's.  Women were insulted and needlessly threatened with both sexual and physical violence, and...for what?  Because they have opinions?

The whole affair served only to make gaming still look like a hobby for children and the socially maladjusted, as only the worst sort of people could've participated in some of the horror stories of harassment I read about--and I followed the whole thing as loosely as possible.   And the most ridiculous claim?   That it's about "gaming journalism", something the lot of gamers turned against back in 2007 when someone decided it was cool to hate on IGN and the other major game review sites.   So you didn't care when major publisher Ubisoft was discovered giving away free tablets to people at an event for $68 million AAA blockbuster Watch_Dogs, but you care when you think one woman might be sleeping around for better scores on a freeware game you're NEVER going to play?   Man, shut the fuck up and go back to your haven of empty Cheeto bags and disappointment.

The only thing close to as annoying in this whole mess were all the people trying to outlaw "gamer".  Stop it.  No one cares enough to actually make this change, and everyone in the "real" world is going to call you a gamer the moment they see you holding a game case.   The word isn't toxic, the people are.

Celebrity Nudes Leak:  I'll admit that I'm not all that pissed about the celebrity nudes leak itself.   What bugs me is the general attitude that people have had towards it, and what it means for our society going forward: "If you didn't take the pictures/do anything naughty, you wouldn't have had to worry about the leak."

Really?   Is that the message you want to send?  Basically, you're saying you're okay with having zero privacy.   This argument was fucking stupid when the government made it ("if you have nothing to hide..."), and the time it spent out of the limelight hasn't made it any less stupid.  To begin with, sending the message that women should be afraid to take off their clothes is already one I'm going to find it impossible to co-sign.   If a woman's natural opinion on sex is slightly prudish, that's absolutely her right, but the fuck I look like telling a woman comfortable with sex that she should stop doing so in her own home or she's forfeiting her right to privacy?

This has got to stop--as technology gets better, we're not going to suddenly stop being connected.  It's only going to increase, but we need to have some measure of respect for one another's boundaries or things are going to get scary.

Most Disappointing Anime: Admittedly, I don't watch that many anime.  My attention span is somewhere between "goldfish" and "eight year old who just ate a bag of cookies", so I have to cut what I watch to shows I know I'll care about.   With that in mind, I picked up Akame ga Kill.

It ended not too long ago, and I found my issues with it only got worse over time.  The show took zero time to properly develop its characters, instead killing them off often an episode or two after being introduced.  As such, attachment to the characters was impossible and it was forced to rely on a paper-thin plot about a rebellion and an evil king or some such crap.   I couldn't quite finish it, but I think I'm safe in saying that this series--which had such a strong first episode, typically gorgeous animation, and some fairly decent character design--is my most disappointing anime series of the year.

Most Disappointing Game:  I did a review for Destiny in which I stated that it's "exactly the game you think it is".   This still holds true for unsurprisingly large amount of people who think the game is trash.   Destiny is a deceptive experience--having just enough appeal with pretty graphics and solid gameplay that people are willing to deal with the disgusting amounts of grind that you have to deal with.    It has no shortage of players, and from what I've seen on gaming forums, no shortage of defenders.   But I want to pause for a moment and point out something: you paid for Destiny.

I'd be less annoyed if it were a F2P game, but it isn't.  It's a $60 title created by one of the biggest developers in gaming, one who reshaped console gaming as we know it and popularized the first-person shooter off the PC.   And even though the "$500 million budget" is an inaccuracy, it has one of the largest commitments I've ever seen from a publisher--a ten year deal with four titles that each have their own series of expansions, something that's unprecedented for what was basically an unknown, untested IP....and this is what we got?!

Destiny is an embarrassment to AAA gaming, console gaming, and gaming in general. A small handful of stages, a terrible RPG system, the most godawful end game I've ever heard of, no discernible story (it was supposed to sit alongside Star Wars and Lord of the Rings), lore that actually asks you to leave the game to look at it, and it's a space game in which you can't actually fly through space.   It's expansion is equally terrible, offering a smattering of content with palette-swapped enemies, a single new raid and all of two new levels for a whopping $15.   The only thing keeping it from being every modern-day evil of gaming shoved into a single box is that it didn't ship with any bugs.  Thank the Lord for small mercies, I suppose.

Most Disappointing First Year: This isn't really about Assassin's Creed: Unity, I just wanted to break up all the paragraphs with something and it ties in to what I'm talking about.   Gaming's had a rough go of it this year.   You can blame it on the developers all you like, but I feel like Sony and Microsoft deserve some of it as well.

Improvement should be a goal of every sentient being.  If you have to do something more than once--whether it's a speech or classwork or your actual job--you should actively attempt to be better at it the second time than the first, better the third than the second, and so on.   That's the way normal people tend to behave, right?   So why is it we accept the same shitty performance from new systems every generation?   The same lackluster launch titles, the same lackluster functionality and glitches...

These are multi-billion dollar companies who feel comfortable charging you a $59.99 MSRP for a title, and lately feel equally comfortable asking for the money before the game is even out, or asking for an additional $9.99 to $29.99 for "additional content".   There is no excuse for these people to not have their shit together.   It's obvious that most of these games were slapped together as rapidly as possible to give gamers a reason to justify their purchases of their $400 and $500 systems.    This, after the longest generation we've ever had to deal with in our lives--one that lasted nearly a decade.

I reiterate: there is no excuse.   They knew well in advance their systems were coming out at the end of 2013, so why is it that we had to wait until near the end of 2014 for most worthwhile retail games?  Destiny was clearly a PS360 title.   Unity obviously needed more time in the oven.  DriveClub was never going to be ready for the PS4 launch.  (It's barely ready now.)  Proper planning should not be a "big ask" from companies of this size.   How about next time we release systems when they actually have a decent line-up of games that aren't annual sports titles?   I'm tired of people telling me "this is the way it always is", as if improvement somehow is impossible from people with more money than some countries GNP.

Black Lives Matter: Honest truth time: I'm so desensitized to this.  "Oh, they shot another black guy who didn't really do anything?  That's a shame."   That's how that conversation goes now.  It's what I'm used to.   My mother used to work at a Wal-Mart where Klan rallies were held across the street.   I grew up with her telling me that I always had to be on my absolute best behavior because I was black, and I was male, and that meant people looked at me different.  I was more likely to be the "suspect".   That's just the way life was/is for me. 

Still, as desensitized as I am, I'm still tired.  These stories people are telling me would be comical if they were just fictional and actual lives weren't involved.  Why comical?  Because they keep happening over more and more ridiculously stereotyped situations.    Mike Brown was killed because apparently Darren Wilson thought he was trying to fight "Hulk Hogan".  He even "hulked up and ignored the bullets".  John Crawford was killed for holding a toy rifle in the toy department of a Wal-Mart, because apparently black people can't do that.  Tamir Rice was killed for pointing a BB gun at people.  Levar Jones was shot because the officer thought he was reaching for something in his car after being told to get his license.  And Eric Garner was killed because he was too fat and asthmatic.

While these stories didn't happen every day this year, it sure felt like it.  Each one more ridiculous and unfortunate than the last--and in the case of the ones that occurred in 2014, all of them from the people who are "sworn to protect" us.   And it seems like so many of them are being let off as if nothing happened. Maybe it's all a joke that I'm not being let in on.  Some people certainly seem to think that way.  

Still, I have a story to tell: Two weeks ago, me and three of my friends headed up to Memphis to help a friend move.   Around 9:30 or so, we'd just about wrapped up--we were moving the last of the odds and ends upstairs, and I was in the truck passing everything out to everyone when I heard an older white gentleman on the phone.   I couldn't hear everything, but it sounded as if he was speaking to the police.

Sure enough, about ten to twenty minutes later a pair of cop cars pull up.   It's almost 10PM at night, and I'm well over three hours from my home and the only person we know that actually lives here literally just moved here.  It was dark, and cold, and the only thought I had while I was in that truck was: "I didn't do anything, please don't shoot me."   And it wasn't until the cops actually went to the apartment across from us that I stopped repeating that mantra in my head.   It sounded funny--I even told my friends--but how long before someone's actual last words are just those, and they end up on a picture just like the one above?   I need 2015's answer to that to be "never", but I know better.

And that's just a primer course in the shitty parts that helped make up the fourth year of the second decade of this century and millenium.   This article's already long as fuck, so I'll just leave out how dry this summer was for music and the other wack bits.  That, or I'll make a second installment.  Will 2015 be any better?    Well, we can certainly hope so.  And before you think I'm just a negative nancy, I'll be back later this week with some of the cooler parts that helped make these awful bits better. 


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