Category: personal

IndieCade, Micropalooza and Incredible Ape

Announced today were the 2012 IndeCade nominess, a list of 36 that included DYAD, Botanicula, The Stanley Parable, Guacamelee, Splice, and Analogue: A Hate Story.  I mention the games I’ve heard most about — actually, they’re just the the games I would most enjoy playing because — Ok, wait. Yeah. I have not played a single game on this list. What is wrong with me.

Botanicula indiecade nominee 2012

I don’t and unfortunately have never owned a Playstation, so that rules out DYAD and I’m sure a lot of other games too… no, it looks like pretty much all these games are on PC. Some are playable in-browser. Worst of all, I already purchased Botanicula, and I’ve never even booted it up. I’m really, really sorry, indie world.

It’s weird that I’m so behind because I’ve been feeling more and more “in tune” (wait for it) with my own Neighborhood Gaming Community. I’m helping out with Portland’s newest (first?) chiptune zine, an actual physical object devoted to chip music and the brainchild of an industrious pretty-much-cofounder of the Portland Indie Game Squad. We’re both newcomers to the genre, so we”ll be actively digging up what bonds us to this music and asking ourselves why the cords are so thick. That is to say that we cannot and will not be elitist about this music because we’re still figuring out why we love it, if we love it, what’s to love.

Micropalooza 2012 Mechlo at Ground Kontrol

For that zine I’ll be writing up a “review,” a personal essay sort of piece on Micropalooza, the annual chiptune extravaganza that happened to Portland last Sunday. Between Micropalooza’s two concert sets (which I’ll describe more fully in the zine piece, which should have some sort of online portion) PIGSquad had the crowd to themselves for about two hours. They set up a projector, two microphones and an Xbox, and then Josh Schonstal and Ian Brock – aka Incredible Ape – let loose their ingenius co-op sidescrolling jetpack shooter, PewPewPewPewPewPewPewPewPewon an unsuspecting and pleasantly intoxicated public.

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No New Leaf Left Unturned // Rock of Ages Review

german lung ashtray

I’m going to quit smoking tomorrow. Well, no — tomorrow I’m going to start the painful process of quitting. Past experience predicts a cowardly campaign riddled with retreats and pleading treaties with Future Me. But he’s a traitor, and just as weak. Within one month or two I’m at the 7-11 waving dollar bills like so many white flags.

But now my ultimatum is Online, and I’m hoping that might keep me honest. It’s in that same spirit that I’ll vow, with comparable solemnity, to post here once a week. In the next few days I’ll do a sort of Lightning Round with paragraph reviews of the various little indie gems I’ve been mining. Soon enough I’ll bring you up to speed on my collaborations with the PIGSquad folk — it looks like I might write a feature for Portland’s first (presently nameless) chiptune zine, so look forward to that. I’ll also pump out that KOTOR “After Pressing Start” and post it here if Nightmare doesn’t want it.

I won’t die a slow death if I lose this war, but I’m starting to think creative consistency will be just as important to good health. So here goes.

This post is maybe too short and too personal, so here’s some game stuff — an old review for Rock of Ages, a game I thoroughly enjoyed playing through a second time. The article was originally published by The Trail, our student newspaper at the University of Puget Sound — hence some formatting issues, a semi-academic style and such references as “semester” and “major.” Cheers.

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Coming Attractions

kotor jedi training

Thinking about doing a KOTOR retrospective in the style of Nightmare Mode’s “After Pressing Start.” (If it’s any good, I’ll try submitting to the site before publishing it here.) The game was massively important to me and to the nascent notion of morality-driven reward. I always thought it was strange; the game’s best force powers (and, come to think of it, all of BioWare’s “evil” rewards) are earned with flat dismissal of potentially enriching quests, insensitive insults, brazen demands for More Credits, all the way up to thoughtless murder, betrayal, and taking a dive to ruin someone’s stripper audition. I mean, the Dark Side stuff is silly, and I don’t take it any more seriously than I did when I was thirteen, but it gets really surreal, the sort of stuff the game encourages — hoping to earn a couple red-tinted bonus points and a sweet new portrait, you purposefully demolish a stranger’s chance at becoming a dancer. And you know what? I don’t even think you get any Dark Side points for that one. You just actually feel like a dick.

My tribute to Armando Montano, the AP reporter killed in Mexico City, was published at Medium Difficuly. The MD folks have been unbelievably encouraging and accommodating when I needed it most — can’t thank them enough for that.

Gettin’ Goin’

It has been an excellent couple of weeks: a few days ago, I got a job as a freelance translator. I’ll be writing little English articles about big German companies, and someone will give me currency for that, which is extremely nice of them.
A rusty and creaking train of thought, one that departed an academic station in 2011 and had since wound across the long rough country of Rewrites and Research, pulled in at The Escapist Magazine yesterday. To my great surprise, people seemed okay with it being there, and no one was much bothered by the billowing smoke (read: hot air). Anyway, it was my first “real thing.” I’m happy with it.
In more concrete and thus more invigorating news, I met a bunch of game developers, an elite cadre operating under an ominous moniker:
They are without a doubt Good People, and I can’t wait to see more of them and their work. With a pronounced Community Outreach bent, PIGS has been making a difference all over town; in a couple weeks they’ll be hosting a game tournament for charity in an space-themed dive bar. It’s going to be good. Actually, they’re loosely affiliated with a chiptune show going on this evening — I’ll update with pictures once I have them.

Good, good, great. All great. Mostly, though, I just can’t believe this happened:

I just went to the bathroom and came back to four more clicks on my bitly link. This is the sort of thing that makes me happy.

Dear Sir or Madam

Walter Garrett Mitchell
Post-Grad Limbo, OR, USA
(719)  PLZ – HIRE
grownup_email@bigbusiness.net

To all Potential Employers:

Salutations!

Welcome to the dogeared photo album of overambitious daydream that is my oft-neglected Blog! If you’re reading this I can only assume you took the blue-tinted bait I left for you, tucked in the resume that was sent to your temporary Craigslist address and/or left with your nonplussed personal assistant.

And how happy I am that you’re here! As you can tell, I’ve spent my valuable time (of which I keep a near endless store, in industrial vats of Afternoon) tweaking and aligning the various metrics of personal expression that frame the deluge of my self-indulgent mumblings. And (lets please be honest with one another) all in hopes of impressing you! So, please, take a moment to peruse my carefully stacked sidebars. You’ll notice the scattered scaffolds of eDentity I have begun to erect here and elsewhere on the Web — upon which I will, without a doubt, Establish Myself — as well as topical pop-culture appreciation (relevant hyperlinks included) and inter-blogosphere awareness! Aside from endearing me to your refined tastes, I hope to prove by way of demonstration that I am On My Way, Social Network-Capable and perfectly willing to engage in Ravenous Identity Whoring. I heard that these were good things!

That central monolith of text is less important. I can only hope that my actual opinions are spurious to whatever drudgery I’d shamelessly (happily!) sign on to do for money, so, should you decide to read on, note at least my impeccable grammar, innovative spelling, and avid devotion to the Oxford comma — commendable and marketable advantages, all.

I wouldn’t want to sound like too much of a suckup, so here are a few thinly veiled boasts under the guise of Telling You A Little About Myself — I recently graduated from a prestigious liberal arts college, often called “The Harvard of The West” by pretentious assbags as desperate as myself. Along with my numerous (and extremely competitive) academic awards, the English/German B.A. I received in May is already collecting dust on a pastel shelf in my childhood bedroom, alongside my numerous (and extremely competitive) youth soccer participation medals. Oh, no, I don’t live at home — I’m proud, militantly proud to have finally attained my independence, but really, who am I kidding? I’m on food stamps.

Given that a Bachelor’s Degree sets me apart from the crowd about as much as a personal email address, you might say that this blog serves as a kind of ersatz personality. I want you to get to know (the presentable, premeditated, heavily edited, Wikipedia-fact-checked) me! As such, I see my blog a sort of inimitable signature, a breathtakingly dynamic, endlessly surprising portrait of a white male 20-something geek from a middle-class background — a portrait like no other. Do not be alarmed at my ideological daring, my willingness to wrestle the hulking oily blackness of the unknown and interrogate with P.I. precision stomach-turning postmodern monstrosities like the Video Game, the Color Television Program and the Animated Gif Of A Silly Face (The Slow Motion One, From That Sports Thing (I Don’t Watch Sports Though, So)). It might unnerve you, but I’ll be upfront: I live on the bleeding edge, drinking the bleeding blood of the NOW.

Whoops, getting a little heavy there. Striking a balance between professional determination and approachable affability can be tough, but I hope you’ve noticed my readiness to walk this shit-slick tight-rope for attention! Just imagine the horrors I would put up with if you started paying me to do it — if the polish on my online presence is any indication, I’d crowbar my tendons free if I thought I might score more Twitter followers!

I do hope to have made an impression, and if you’re interested, I’d love to discuss your job opening in person or over the phone — either way, I’ll be seven times more self-conscious than this irreverent blog post might suggest. I’m actually an anxious shambles of a human being!

Oversincerely,
OH GOD PLEASE PAY ME

Japan is an Island

I was only just introduced to Mr. Murakami late last year (Wind Up Bird Chronicle was great, and I’m still working on 1Q84 — also great) and a few weeks back I caught the film adaptation of his 2004 publication Norwegian Wood. Needless to say I liked it very much, caught as I am in a bit of a Japan-craze. That might sound trite, even shallow (I know too little about the culture to claim proactive fascination with it), but for months now I’ve craved that singular blend of frankness, humility and whimsy that seems, to my uninitiated mind, native to Japanese fiction.


Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
was exceedingly cerebral and focused on the ethical questions/philosophical mindscrambles inherent to its robots-are-people-too premise, rather than invisible topless boxing — which has its own merits, of course. In the same vein, Metropolis (no, not that Metropolis) explored similar paradoxes, but presented them in a vibrant gift-wrap of candied animation and cartoony characters. Charming, and poignant too.As a kid I was always fascinated by anime. I still am, but I don’t spend as much time at the action end of things, anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Bebop as much as the next guy, and Yu Yu Hakusho is fucking sweet. Even so — call it senioritis-induced ennui, but I’ve been getting much more satisfaction from the more pensive stuff lately.

Just as charming and an addition to the list of anime I should have seen already is Tekkonkinkreet. It’s from the studio that put out the Animatrix, which I was only slightly ashamed to admit that I loved.  Tekkonkinkreet  is by turns beautiful, disturbing, touching and harrowing. Two orphaned brothers struggle to survive in “Treasure Town,” a slum put up for redevelopment by an alliance of merciless yakuza and smoothing-talking… aliens. It’s weird and wonderful, and worth a viewing for its visuals alone.

Last Life In The Universe

Pictured is Last Life in the Universe, which is not exactly Japanese. More exactly, it’s Thai, but the male lead is played by Tadanobu Asano, who is Japanese and also a very big deal. Asano paints a fantastic portrait of desperation and sympathy in Kenji, the film’s suicidal protagonist, and the plot is just edgy enough to allow for the tender moments that come later. Think Eternal Sunshine with little less abstraction and a little more homicide. Highly recommended.

I have also managed to get my “shit” sufficiently together as to apply more of Akira Kurosawa’s film to my eyeballs. Now, this one I know I’m really and truly behind on, so I’ll just say that High and Low is one of the most emotionally potent detective stories I’ve encountered, and leave it at that. So there you go.

Bonus: this post’s title is also nice music
Edit: Just realized that Shinichiro Watanabe directed both Cowboy Bebop and “Kid’s Story,” my favorite Animatrix short. Also, he’s teaming up with Yoko Kanno (again) to put together a new series.