GameStop Stop!

I would have left the house to take a picture of my local GameStop but there is a sickness in the air.

Today [02/12/20] I’m reading GameInformer’s October 2019 issue. The note from the editor is interesting, for once, in the way you rubberneck at a carcrash. That’s because there were massive layoffs. Q2 2019 GameStop (GameInformer’s publisher) reported a 14+% loss and vowed to close 200 stores worldwide.

And that’s a big deal because GameStop is — especially in the United States — the chain. They bought out most chains and slapped on a GameStop logo years ago; the total transformation of videogame retail has been over for a decade.

I remember specifically 7 writers of a total of 120 employees were let go.
But back to the issue. —

This issue, at first touch, felt like it had been printed in a hurry with lower quality material. Colors ran; paragraphs weren’t justified correctly.

The feature articles are the bulk of the thin magazine. Pay no attention to how fighters have moved on from Street Fighter after two bad entries; or the “Tackling Infinite Expectations” interview with Sean Murray of No Man’s Sky infamy. Because we’re here for the footwear and jeans and college ads.

(The December 2019 issue has ads for cellphone plans, alcohol — not rated by the ESRB, and a naked baby with a full back tattoo and mohawk?)Speaking of small complaints, here’s a much bigger one: I dug for info about GameStop and I found their average wage is $8.35 per hour. That’s their average. The federal minimum wage is $7.35 per hour. For the sake of math, that’s only $1 above the federal minimum. $0.20 lower than Ohio’s minimum at $8.55. And that’s… really not a lot.

Got me thinking: paying someone minimum wage… isn’t minimum wage if you don’t give them full time hours. GameStop is infamous for attracting younger high school kids who can’t work full time and promising them a fast ladder to management. And even if you’re a manager you don’t get paid a lot; there’s only room for one manager per store.
If you do some thinking yourself, GameStop pushing their used games sales is what forced publishers to go digital.

GameStop led the Gold Rush on used copies. 100% of each sale on a used copy is pure profit because unlike a new sale you don’t have to pay per-copy licensing fees. (Or simply, you don’t have to order more copies.) It’s public knowledge that after a game’s release, if you take a mint copy off the shelf they will take a used copy out of their cabinets, slap in on the counter and say “it’s cheaper.” and they can afford to do so.

Go figure, after years of the biggest retailer cutting publishers at the ankles they would attempt to cut GameStop out of the loop entirely.

Years ago we would say things like “Where would we go for games if the biggest chain goes out of business?” and “What will happen to videogames if the biggest physical retailer shuts down?” but I’m beginning to think the rest of the games industry wants this.
The console producers’ marketplaces are set up; all the major developers have their own stores; it’s not like the indies were going to be able to afford physical copies or pay extra for shelf space at a GameStop in the first place.

Hold on! GameStops are closing because of their abuse to not only their employees but to the industry. Oh. See, when you frame it like that GameStop makes it difficult to care if they vanish in smoke.

At the time of writing this rant, I’m only halfway through the magazine. I’ve hit the part about Ghost Recon Breakpoint and my eyes are drooping.

An Anti-Retro Take on Final Fantasy 7 Remake

#RETROGAMERS are booing the new Final Fantasy 7 Remake and they should be celebrating it instead. It’s a chance to retell one of their favorite videogames with Modern Graphics, Gameplay, and Storytelling.

That’s the order of importance as well!

I support Square / Enix / Squaresoft / Square Enix games, as both developer and publisher. If you see the list they’ve had hands on, you’ll be wowed by the big-hitters you see.

And if you want to support Sqeenix and projects like ground-up Remakes of your favorites from 20+ years ago when games were objectively not as good, you should Pre-Order Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

This will confirm your interest in this project and projects like it. Understand, businesses are symbiotic macro-organisms that feed on Cash as feedback. Your Purchase assures them this is something you are willing to trade you Money for.

By now, Square Enix doesn’t need to be reminded we all love Sequals. But Remakes are a blossoming new territory for them. They want to see support by way of Pre-Orders and Day One Sales because it shows you care.

As I’ve said, you should Pre-Order FF7R. Yes, and in addition to that, if you’re a #RETROGAMER, don’t play it. You’ll grind your teeth and struggle with the new format of game called A-RPG. They’re relatively new. Think Playstation 2, and try not to wince.

Don’t play it, and instead watch your favorite Streamer handle the complicated controls. Even better: watch someone who has never played Final Fantasy 7 OG. You can relive the Story you once loved vicariously, and still grind your teeth and say “The book was better.”

Because that’s what passed for a game back in the 1990s. Turn-Based Role Playing Games? You mean reading a book. Nowadays we have a new name for those: Light Novels, or Visual Novels.

And it’s okay if things are different than what you remembered. My hope is with all that Polish left over, they may be able to write in some character development.

Learn to love again: Buy Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

Before I go, I have a knock knock joke for you.

Me: Knock. Knock.
You: Who’s –
Me: No one wanted to play Red XIII.

The Vampire Chronicles Progress 03/01/20

I have some thoughts about The Queen of the Damned (Book 3). I’m not enjoying it as much as Interview with the Vampire (Book 1) or The Vampire Lestat (Book 2) for some pointed reasons related to their POVs.

Interview with the Vampire

The first book is third person limited. Imagine a camera with a microphone in a room with two people in view: an interviewer and a vampire. The only information you are given is what’s observed by this camera, and what either of them say. The interviewer, if I recall correctly, is unnamed in this book. (He is given a name in Book 3, and that’s a point I’ll use against him later on.) Louis is who talks most, by far. He’s the vampire and subject of the interview.

Louis (lew-E) is a captivating personality. Being a vampire is a moral struggle for him, and as far as wikipedia and youtube essays have informed me, that’s a unique humanizing angle that didn’t exist before. It’s a treat to listen to him writhe uncomfortably about his religiosity over the course of centuries, hungry for redemption despite thinking maybe he doesn’t deserve it for feeding on blood from humans to sustain himself.

His frustration with Lestat – his vampire creator – and his lack of answers about the nature of vampires and their position in the hell / heaven dichotomy sends him down spirals of introspection. One thing I want to mention: Louis is religious and I am not; that didn’t stop his “god must be dead” toil from being both heartbreaking and compelling to read.

The Vampire Lestat

The second book? Wow. I have such conflicted feelings. Before reading, I would have swore to you Interview with The Vampire was as far as you needed to read in this series. It felt so self-contained. And so you know, that’s how I prefer things: for open doors to shut; for endings to be the end. Sure, leave some stuff for the fanfic people to explore between themselves, but the story within the scope of the book/show/movie must finish.

But Lestat de Lioncourt of The Vampire Lestat blew me away. Anne Rule had to have known we readers had questions about Lestat from the first book; we were thirsty for the deets.

Of course, I didn’t quite understand how thirsty I was until I read the preamble to Lestat’s *in-universe* response. Oh yeah, that’s right. He read Louis’s side of the story, and he has some clarifying bullet points, as well as a long-spun story of how he was human once.

And fuck me, that’s cool! I’m rapidly falling in love with the format of in-universe storytelling. (More on this in another post?) The book begins with a hook and sinks a couple more in you by the end. Sucks to suck if you were a Day 1 release reader and you were stuck agonizing, waiting for Book 3… Right?

The Queen of the Damned

While I can’t call The Vampire Lestat a roller coaster ride, given the 180,000-some word / 550-some page girth, it was exciting and the storytelling wasn’t patchwork like The Queen of the Damned.

Yes, I know why the perspective is changing to different vampires all over the world for the sake of worldbuilding: to show the ability set and power scaling of vampires. I’ll thumbs up the distinction of each character and how their perspectives and objectives are different. But I’m 25% through the book and the cliff-jumper at the end of Book 2 hasn’t been addressed by Lestat.

World-wide every vampire can feel the return of an “original” vampire. Everyone mentions their fear of a person able and willing to combust them with a thought. I’m getting this strong sense of “Shit’s happening! … Over there.” and what is interesting is not what I am reading.

I’ll admit both Book 1 and Book 2 are heavy on fluff, but you can blame on that on Louie and Lestat and their propensity for verbosity. I could even wager 25% is fluff – that’s novels in general. But the chance that all 25% is frontloaded for this one and I won’t have to deal with more afterwards…?

Ending Thoughts

1. The interviewer in Book 1 earns a name in Book 3. His name is Daniel. Armand (another vampire from from Book 1) makes Daniel a vampire after refusing for several chapters and that’s the kind of audience-insert nonsense I’ve learned to love and hate over the years. *sigh* It’s also important because it demonstrates Armand is a salty bitch and possessive of anything related to Lestat, even via Louie. So it gets to stay.

2. Book 2 is technically a prequel and a sequel. The prequel end of it is one of few I’ve enjoyed. Most leave a bad taste.

Questions:

Have you read this book and do you remember if it was worth it? I’m now 28% in and I’m grinding my teeth. HMU @casserlysnotes on twitter with your response.

Creative Constipation: Unloaded

For my dayjob, I work from home. So naturally, I stayed up far too late the night before and woke up the last second I could.

For the first half hour my stomach was searing with pain. “Must not have cooked the steak in those tacos all the way.” I resisted spewing out either end, hoping for the first hour to past quickly so I could take my first break of the day.

Sad to say, I could only stand half an hour before running to the bathroom for relief. Afterwards, I called work to let them know I wouldn’t be finishing my shift; my plan was to drink a bunch of water and sleep off the awful feeling. Thankfully the call-off line is automated, so I didn’t have to speak to anyone.

Filled with a light amount of food and water, I sat in my office, dwelling on the same sense of *bloat* I’ve felt for almost a month now: a bloat of words stuck in my colon-brain.

I’ve watched movies; I’ve read books; I’ve read magazines; I’ve taken a pack of half-notecards worth of notes… But nothing had come of it.

YES, I have all these ideas and topics and seeds and yet I’m creatively constipated. What luck! “I don’t know what to write about.” I say to myself.

Shit, three notecard boxes filled with plenty of *something* were sitting on my desk, within eyesight. Nevermind the corkboards on the wall, or twitter (with tweetdeck, an endless stream of topics), or any of my old notebooks or freewrite printouts, or the many writing prompt books friends and family have bought me over the years.

NO, I’m done with this. If only at 300 words or so at a time, I’ve got to [poop/write]. (I don’t know how else to put it.) I have to [poop/write] as much as I can, and resist the urge to [not poop/not write] with all my power.

This post has gotten away from me. I’m laughing, when initially I was cross and frowning. I’ve discovered, through a little discomfort, the title for this post as well. So as the post began, it will now end, with…

Creative Constipation: Unloaded.

Untitled Panic

My backlist of topics keeps getting longer the more time I sit at my desk, stuck in my head about writing publicly.

Today, like many days, I said to myself “I don’t know what I want to write about.” After a tall glass of coffee and kahlua and resting my head on my desk for awhile…

My eyes opened to find stacks of notecards scattered across every desk in my room, more filling cardboxes, and even more pinned to corkboards hanging on the walls. I also had my twitter feed for inspiration, my notebooks.

And now I’m overwhelmed. Where do I start?!

Well, I plan on starting small: How was my day today? Eh? That’s simple enough, right?

NO PRESSURE that this is the first thing I’ve posted on the site in… insert pause while I check the calendar … 12 weeks exactly. Don’t freak out because the text isn’t New Courier or the letter at the beginning of each sentence is capitalized. That’s natural.

Just… Type.