Never Too Old for the Gamers' Vow

Before we get to this “vow” I speak of, let me share with you a little story. I sat down with a friend this weekend, in front of his Wii, and grabbed a classic controller. We loaded up Super Mario World. Those were the days. Mario and Luigi still looked exactly the same, with a small palette swap, but infinitely better than they had looked on the NES. You could swear that big round nose was going to come right out of the screen. The cape Mario applied to fly had so many frames it had to have been motion captured. Yoshi was the best addition to a video game saga in the history of video games. And the game itself was filled with just as many secrets as games from the golden years. Secrets which drove me mad.

My friend and I resumed a game we had already started – we made extensive progress through this Mario World, right up to Bowser’s castle, and several of the “SPECIAL” levels. Somehow, all of that was done within hours. This night, however, would be a tale of woe and frustration. As we paraded through the overworld map of completed levels, we looked for secrets we may have missed. One right outside of Bowser’s castle… a hidden exit on “Valley of Bowser 2.”

Frustration set in as I tried to remember if I had to obtain all of the coins to unlock the secret exit, or if there was a “POW” block that uncovered a secret door, or perhaps a winged Blue Yoshi had to fly my to the skies where I would collect gobs of coins. Nothing worked. My friend, meanwhile, spent nearly 90 minutes on the “Outrageous” level of Star Road. Our rhythm was gone. Whatever had possessed us to make it as far as we had was gone. “Our grade school selves would be so disappointed in us,” we agreed.

Angered, I searched the internet for answers. A key hidden in the valley would merely unlock another level I would be stuck on for hours.

I was defeated. By the game. Not only were we killing off our portly plumbing pals with prodigious persistence, but we had forgotten where things were hidden. We forgot our shortcuts, keyholes, and whether to be Super Mario or mini Mario. I resorted to a YouTube walkthrough.

What happened to you?” my grade school self prodded. Before I had a driver’s license I was able to get a “*96” rating on my game (100% of secrets found). This was in the days when the internet was new, walkthroughs and wikis were non existent, and YouTube wasn’t even a twinkle in any of the tri-founder’s eyes. We did this on our own, with patience, and determination. We wanted the reward. To get from 93 completion points to 96 – to see that star.

It begs the question: am I too old for these video games? Did I find Mega Man 9‘s demo frustrating because I didn’t belong in that era any more? Have I forsaken reflex time, curiosity, willingness to explore my worlds? Have I given it all up for superior voice acting and million dollar story lines? Have I given up on my roots and found First Person Shooters and Party Games the only two forms of entertainment for a digital generation?

Today I vow to return to that which made me passionate. I will go back to the things that turned this from hobby to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I will find several of my all time favorites and replay them, with a burning desire to complete them, to not quit until all my continues are gone. And I hope I have inspired you to do the same. I may not be able to complete every game I ever touch, but how dare I turn my back on what it means to play a game, to enjoy it, to truly experience it. Today I take the vow of the Gamer.

The Gamers’ Vow

We are not like the rest.
We are sword, shield, heart, fireball, sneakers.
Where there is a star to be collected, I will be there.
Where there are gold rings, coins, and experience points to be gained, I will be there.
Where there are princesses to be saved, girlfriends kidnapped, and forest creatures to be freed, I will be there.
I will explore the unexplored, collecting medkits and health viles along the way.
Injustice, in all its forms, cannot hide.
I devote myself to tirelessly pursuing all my enemies to the ends of the Earth, or whatever plane of existence on whence we do battle.
Man or beast, sprite or model, my weapon is my controller, and together, we shall overcome.
I accept my faults, but do not hide behind them: I welcome challenge.
Though I may not always win, my defeat will be graceful, and our rematch filled with intensity.
I will not be defeated by evil, no matter how many years it may take.
No secret will stray from mine eye.
May my arrow, bullet, and plasma blasts fly true.
My brothers and sisters in this fellowship will form a kinship, carrying us in to the world after our continues have expired.
I will battle by their side when called upon, and will hold my fellows to these same high standards.
All duties and responsibilities bestowed upon me henceforth, as a Gamer, do I most solemnly take on, without purpose of evasion.
I am a Gamer.

If you have pledged this vow, leave a comment below!

Bored? Wanna Win A Game? Talk to me!

Everyone is in media lockdown mode, preparing for E3. No major announcements coming from the big companies, and the few things happening aren’t things that are capturing my interests. I don’t know why, just seems like a lot of “we knew it was coming” – even the big things like the Mythic Map Pack and such. I browse the usual sites, and the best I can come up with is reporting that the Wii’s Motion Plus add on will be available June 8th, for a mere $20 – or downright free with Wii Sports Resort.

With spring time boredom setting in, I have decided do something sweepingly fun. I want to build a community. Not just have a website, really give people a home. I have been a bit of a vagabond over the years, in different forum. And for a time, in each one, I really got the feeling like I was at home, and that these people were my friends. Some groups of people just fit well together. I’m hoping to find another group of those people – and bring them here. So let’s talk about games, movies, music, just go ahead and introduce yourself – kick off your shoes and do what makes you feel comfortable.

I thought you said I could win stuff? Oh you can. Register with WinBreak, post in the forum, and start making this place your own. See what kind of community this becomes, join the fun. Help give us our own identity – be the shapers and molders.

I still don’t have quite the pull that the bigger guys do, so when I do contests, they come right out of my pocket. So here’s what I am putting up for grabs: 3 “2nd place” winners will receive Xbox Live Arcade games (your choice of $5 or $10 title from the new Amazon Digital Marketplace). A grand prize winner will be selected and offered a prize valued at $20 – whether you want Wii Points, Microsoft Points, Multiple Arcade games, or PSN Store Credit.

How I will choose winners / Rules: Post in the forum. Each forum post containing substance you make will count toward your total number of entries in a random drawing. “Substance” will be judged by Garrett “NuAngel” Culver; obviously abusive entries (example: “I agree” being the entire contents of the post) and spam posts will be discredited as entries, and repeat offenders will be disqualified. No warnings must be given to those disqualified. This contest will end 11:59 PM EST July 31st 2009. Contest is open to residents of the 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (if prize codes have errors, something will be worked out). The process is ongoing. Each “2nd place” winner will be selected at random intervals between today, April 14th 2009 and 11:59 PM EST July 31st, 2009. The Grand Prize winner will be announced August 1st, 2009. & Garrett “NuAngel” Culver reserve the right to cease the contest at any time. Winners of 2nd place prizes are also counted in the “Grand Prize” drawing, but are eliminated from remaining 2nd prize drawings. All winners will be announced on main page of If you have any problems with the registration process or forum, please contact us.

Goozex claims to have saved gamers $3.7M!

An interesting story, today, emerging from They put out a press release this morning stating: “As of today, Goozex members have saved $3,745,929.00 compared to trade-ins at retail stores, and they continue to save every day.” The total may or may not have been deduced by using their very own cost-savings calculator, seen here:

3.7 Million Dollars. That’s the current figure, from Goozex. I think that is quite the savings, and I have to believe I have contributed more than a couple bucks to that figure. But Now I am wondering if the big companies are going to take notice and formulate some kind of perversion of copyright law and try to sue Goozex. Now that we are talking real dollars and cents, not just Goozex Points, these companies might band together and try something drastic. I am hoping they, instead, realize that people would buy more at a lower price point, and that maybe there is a way to stop the industry from going solely toward digital distribution. Time will tell.

If you want to get in on the savings, feel free to use me as a referral and we’ll both get some small bonuses for it!

Xbox Live currently has 52 Billion Gamerscore

The sound, familiar to us all, the beloved “ba-loop” of the Achievement Unlocked. I’m not the only one who never gets tired of the rush, who doesn’t tire of watching my Gamerscore grow. In an April 1st article on Gamasutra, Aaron Greenberg, director of product management at Xbox said that an approximate 2.5 Billion achievements have been unlocked, leading to an estimated 52 billion Gamerscore points.

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bragging right, or it makes one gamer any better than another. But I do love the gamerscore races, challenging my friends unlock specific achievements. And, as a friend and I have discussed, in prior console generations, we used to make up similar challenges. Particularly in Xbox Live Arcade titles, pacifist style achievements like those seen in Geometry Wars Evolved, or killing three pterodactyles in Joust – these were the kinds of things people have been coming up with for decades. It adds just another reason to keep playing a game, or to try a game you’ve never played. The addiction takes hold when you find yourself simulating 30 years of Madden 2006 for two hours on a Sunday afternoon.

Others are trying to emulate it, now, but I have not found myself as enthralled with my PS3’s Trophies… yet.