The Real Neat Blog Award, round 3

It’s another award, this time from Pete Davison of MoeGamer.  Pete writes about worthy niche games that certain professional game review sites either look down upon or won’t get anywhere near.  It’s well worth reading, and if you like my stuff anyway, you’ll like his too.  Thanks very much again for the tag.

Here are the rules once again:

1. Display the logo
2. Thank the bloggers for the award.
3. Answer the questions from the one who nominated you.
4. Nominate 7 to 10 bloggers.
5. Ask them 7 questions.

So with 1 and 2 out of the way, let’s move on to the substance: the questions.

1. Have you ever deliberately sought out a piece of media you knew would make you uncomfortable somehow? If so, why did you do that and what was the experience like?

I can’t say I’ve done that.  I’ve watched movies and read books that have plenty of heavy, depressing parts to them, but I wasn’t really going in with the mindset that “I will be uncomfortable with some of this material” or anything like that.  I can’t even say I was seeking those kinds of works out because I thought they’d make me uncomfortable.  As far as media that expresses opinions I completely disagree with, I did read the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s book A Matter of Interpretation, but that was assigned for a class, so I don’t know if that counts.  For what it’s worth, Scalia was a very entertaining writer, a rarity for a federal judge or a lawyer of any kind (I hope I’m an exception to that rule too.)  I still think most of his views were repugnant and/or crazy, but it’s a great book to read if you want to understand the mindset of a typical conservative judge in a US court.

These days I spend most of my time at work, and when I play, watch, or read something for pleasure, I prefer something that brings me pleasure, not discomfort.  I do understand the value of playing games, watching movies, or reading books well outside your comfort zone, though, even if I don’t necessary seek them out myself.  I’m just getting old and cranky, that’s all.  But I believe there’s a lesson in this, especially for game developers: if you want to express an aggressively challenging message, just wrap it in great gameplay and interesting characters and have it sneak up on me and I’ll be all about it (unless your message is bullshit, of course.)  Also, for God’s sake, make the message just a little subtle.  I don’t want to be talked down to like I’m a child.  Even children shouldn’t be talked down to like they’re children.  Give your audience a little credit, please.

2. What is your favourite tangible, physical item that you own and why?

A page from the Harada artbook. Very worth buying if you can find it for a halfway decent price now.

Does my entire physical library of games, albums, and books count as one item?  No, I guess not.

I’m not sure there’s one single thing I can say I own that’s my favorite.  They all have different functions that are pretty useful to me. I don’t have any family heirlooms or anything, and even if I did, I don’t think I’d get much value out of having them myself beyond the memories that might come with them.  I do really like that Takehito Harada Art Works Vol. 1 artbook I was talking about a couple of posts ago, though.  If I were forced to sell all my artbooks but one (God forbid such a thing should ever happen) that’s the one I’d keep.  Harada is one of my favorite artists, and the book is full of art of some of my favorite characters, so how could I bear to part with it?  It’s also translated, which is nice because it means I can read it now instead of two or three years from now when I hopefully get through most of my Japanese lessons.

3. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever sat on deliberately?

I could think of all the sorts of lewd answers you might get to this question, but unfortunately I don’t have any of those.  My actual answer is the Duck, an old World War II amphibious military vehicle that’s basically a combination car and boat, a boat with wheels.  The “DUKW” as it was originally named (get it) is now used by a Boston tour company to take people around the streets and into the famous harbor.  I can’t remember whether the tour was worth taking — I was 8 or 9 at the time the one time I was in Boston.  But the Duck tours seem to still be operating, so I guess it’s something to do if you’re there for a while and have nothing else going on.

4. What do you want for Christmas? (I’m not going to get you it, I’m just curious.)

“What is this, exactly?”
“Don’t… don’t ask.”

You know you’ve truly become an adult when your answer to that question is “a Visa gift card so I can buy food.”  There are certainly some less necessary things I want, but I’m going to be buying those for myself, not asking my family or friends for them, because they’ll start to ask some questions about my interests at that point that I don’t feel like answering.  At least not until I’m rich enough to not have to care what anyone thinks of me anymore.  If you know a good way to make millions of dollars while not being an asshole tycoon who pollutes the environment or employs contractors like Foxconn, please let me know and we can work something out.

5. Do you have something you would like to achieve that you know is well within reach, but which you can’t seem to make progress on? If so, what do you think is stopping you? If not, what was the last major achievement you think you accomplished?

I need to get my piano proficiency back.  I used to play pretty well, but I’m rusty as hell after years away from it.  I know I can still play from messing around on pianos and keyboards a few times — once you’re good enough, playing an instrument isn’t something you ever forget how to do, no matter how much time has passed.  But I’d need a month or two to get back to where I used to be.  Sadly I don’t have room for the family piano where I live now, and I don’t have enough to afford a non-shitty keyboard with weighted keys, so there’s not much I can do at the moment.  Maybe next year.

6. Assume you work full-time if you don’t already. If we suddenly switched to a 4-day working week, what would you do with that extra day?

I usually work well more than full-time, so a 4-day week is an even better deal that it would be for actual 9-to-5 toilers.  Hell, I would jump at the chance to work four tens, but that’s just a fantasy.  Assuming the fantasy could come true, though, I would use that time to write and accelerate my Japanese studies.

7. Think of the characters you find attractive — in terms of both personality and appearance. What traits do they have in common, and what is it you find attractive about those traits?

Well, here’s the big question.  I thought about it a bit, and while I find a variety of characters attractive in personality and appearance, I really like those that are extremely loyal.  Not the yandere-crazy type of loyal, but the stubborn type.  Like Saber from Fate/Stay Night, Flonne from Disgaea, and Aigis (who you could argue as an android is programmed to be loyal, but it’s pretty clear she gained a sense of human-like identity in Persona 3 so I think there’s a lot more going on there.)

I suppose it’s pretty obvious why loyalty is attractive, at least on the surface.  It’s great to be with someone who you can trust even with your life.  On the other hand, loyalty can have its downsides — if it’s not reciprocated, it can cause a lot of emotional pain, and it can drive people to do stupid or even evil things if they’re loyal to the wrong sort of person.  A little skepticism can be good sometimes as well.  Even so, I like the idea of having a loyal partner if only for the reason that she’d force me to examine my own sense of loyalty and honor as well and hopefully make me a better person for it.

Or maybe I just like cute blonde girls.


Thanks to Pete again for the insightful questions.  Now here are the questions I promised last time.  I’m cheating a bit here because the previous nomination I received required 11 questions, but I’ve done a few of these now and the well’s run a bit dry.  I hope I’m not repeating any of my older questions with the following seven.  The last couple are holiday-related because I don’t know.  The holidays or whatever.  You know.

1) Is there a game, book, or other work that you’d like to experience but that you can’t because it’s untranslated, not ported, or otherwise inaccessible?

2) What’s one work that really affected you or stuck with you in the last year, and why do you think it did?

3) If you could revive one series of works that’s been abandoned or dropped by its creators for any reason, what series would it be and why?

4) When it comes to music, do you prefer songs with vocals and lyrics or instrumental pieces, or do you have a preference at all?  If you prefer one type over the other, why do you think that is?

5) When was the last time you bought a magazine, newspaper, or other form of print media?

6) Is there a holiday you don’t get to celebrate/take off because of family or work reasons but that you wish you could?

7) If you had to create a new holiday, when would it be and what would it involve?

And the tagged persons are:


Scott @ Mechanical Anime Reviews

Gaming Omnivore


Pinkie’s Paradise


Red Metal @ Extra Life

As usual — if I tag you too often, or you don’t care for these questions, feel free to ignore them, but if I haven’t tagged you, also feel free to answer them.  Do whatever you want, in fact.  Freedom is great, isn’t it?

17 thoughts on “The Real Neat Blog Award, round 3

    • Of course!

      As for that product, all I can say is it’s lewd and has something to do with a yandere girl. I don’t actually think I’d want any kind of yandere-themed product. I do like the box though.

  1. All the best with learning Japanese. Some day you will understand those art books! Mastering a new language and returning back to the piano. Between that and work you better hope four day work weeks become a thing or else when will you find time for games? 🙂 There is a reason why blondes are so popular and I don’t think it’s because of loyalty.

    • Thanks very much. I’m trying to live healthier and improve myself and all that — no need to wait for the new year/decade. Sadly the lawyer’s life doesn’t leave room for a lot else.

      I guess I should say I like loyal blondes? Does that sound too weird? You’re right, though.

  2. Thanks for the tag! Looking forward to answering the questions.

    In the first questions about a piece of media that makes you uncomfortable, the first thing I though of was pretty much anything Eli Roth has ever directed or been involved with. I remember going to the theater to see Hostel and thinking “yeah…I’ve heard this movie is pretty messed up”.

    • No problem. I look forward to reading your responses.

      I never saw Hostel, but I know exactly the kind of movie you’re talking about. Not a big fan of pure shock value stuff like that. I did like Roth in Inglorious Basterds (?) though.

  3. But AK, you’re not supposed to show and not tell! According to some of the most critically successful contemporary filmmakers, you’re not a good writer unless you talk to your audience like they’re fourth graders, pander to the current zeitgeist, and lash out at anyone who provides a dissenting opinion. QED.

    Anyway, I do like the idea of consuming media from people whose viewpoints you don’t share. Indeed, one thing holding back the current critical circle is that they’re too quick to lavish praise upon a work that echoes their viewpoints back at them regardless of the quality of said work. That said, I don’t think I could ever read anything by Antonin Scalia without either falling asleep or wanting throw the book at the nearest wall.

    Recently, I’ve picked up a few things outside of what I usually like to see what I think of them, but if you don’t have free time, I get why you’d want to play it safe. No use in using what little free time you have on something that ends up being a turkey (looking at you, A24).

    Anyway, thanks for the tag! I’ll definitely have my answers up sometime next week.

    • Ah, you’re right. I know how much you like that moralistic, black and white approach to filmmaking and storytelling. I really need to get with the times, don’t I?

      Yeah, you’re quite right; critics are too easily pandered to. This isn’t quite as big a problem in game criticism, but things seem to be heading in that direction, at least in some circles. Even though I’d probably agree with a lot of the politics of people at ResetEra, the way they approach games can be really aggravating. All art is political and has to 100% orthodox according to our views, otherwise it’s garbage and the makers should be tarred and feathered, all that nonsense. Speaking of politics, I understand your desire to throw Scalia’s writing at a wall. I felt the same way reading most of his opinions. He really did have some great lines, though. I forget which case it was, but one of his hypotheticals involved a stadium full of people exposing their genitals to each other.

      I’d probably get out of my comfort zone if I had time, but as you say, it can be hard to do when time is limited. The next game I’m looking forward to is Persona 5 Royal, and since I’ve already played the base game I couldn’t possibly find a safer choice than that. Happy I never got into A24’s movies too much. I certainly don’t have time for a bunch of people trying hard to look like intellectuals but putting out bullshit.

      And you’re very welcome. As usual, I look forward to reading your responses.

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  5. Fine answers. Definitely agree on the idea that works with “messages” should do their best to incorporate said messages naturally into their structure rather than taking the time to go LOOK AT THIS, LOOK AT IT.

    One of my favourite examples in this regard is the contrast between 2064: Read Only Memories and VA-11 HALL-A. The latter is technically a spin-off of the former, but is far superior in almost every way — mostly because the former is obnoxiously transparent about the things it’s trying to point out to the player.

    In contrast, VA-11 HALL-A blends its more “progressive” components naturally into its overall narrative and setting. Protagonist Jill is bisexual, leaning slightly further on the homosexual side, but this is just part of who she is and there isn’t a whole scene talking down to the player about bi erasure or whatever, whereas ROM features numerous such “this is how you talk to gay/trans/non-binary people” scenes that just felt really out of place when trying to tell a serious and dramatic story.

    I need to make more time for piano practice. I also need to get my piano tuned. Every piano I have ever owned has had a boingy E-flat below middle C, and my current one is no exception. It’s rather offputting when trying to play something!

    • I’ve heard about that difference between VA-11 HALL-A and Read Only Memories. In fact, I’ve known a couple of people who loved ROM at least partly for its progressive elements but who also dropped VA-11 HALL-A because of how it talked about sex and specifically because of the character of Dorothy. I agree that VA-11 HALL-A did a great job addressing some of these sexual identity issues in a natural way, as a part of the story, which is exactly how it should be done. I thought Dorothy also raised some interesting questions about how AI might change the way we think about sexual relationships in the future. Not sure why some people took issue with these elements of the game, because I felt they were very sex-positive and open and all that stuff, and I thought that was the whole point. But no, I got to hear that I was a bad person for liking it. Whatever.

      I’ve only played the ROM demo, but from that and what I’ve seen of it from other sources, it does seem to have that “sit down and listen to a lecture for a few minutes about social justice” feel to it. If I want that, I can probably just go to a free college seminar in my city or watch a TED talk on Youtube. It’s too bad, because I do really like the setting of the game. I’ll just keep looking forward to the VA-11 HALL-A sequel coming up.

      Sorry to hear about your piano. I hope you can get it tuned sometime. There’s nothing worse than playing an out-of-tune piano and cringing when you hit those sour notes. I’ve only got an old piece of shit Casio right now that we dug out of a closet, so at least I don’t have to worry about that, but it’s still not the same of course.

      Thanks again for the great questions!

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