Monday, May 27, 2013

I Lost 30 lbs. Since Owning Wii Fit

Obesity is a growing problem in many developed countries and especially in the United States. Unhealthy foods are the cheapest and most convenient foods and transportation is such that little exercise is required to get from place to place. Everyone has different ideas about how to solve this problem, but what if the solution is already available? What if the solution is Nintendo's Wii Fit?
Before I bought Wii Fit, I was overweight. Now, I weigh a healthy 136 lbs., 30 lbs. less than when I started using Wii Fit. What makes Wii Fit even more amazing is that I lost this much weight while only using it an average of once per year after the first month. Clearly, there is a strong correlation between owning Wii Fit and losing weight.

But perhaps you already own Wii Fit, and you haven't had the same success as I have. Don't give up! If simply owning Wii Fit isn't enough, here are some tips to help your weight loss along:

Weight Loss Strategies
  • Eat less - If you don't eat, you can't gain weight. I can't in good conscience suggest the cessation of all food intake, but eating less and eating healthier is a good way to lose weight and prevent weight gain. Replacing soda with flavored seltzer water is also a good technique.
  • Exercise - You don't have to limit your exercise to your time playing Wii Fit, you can exercise any time you want! Instead of driving to school or work, why not try walking or biking? Even though I haven't exercised much myself, many people I know swear by it as an effective weight loss technique. Find an exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly.
  • Be consistent when weighing in - A person's weight can fluctuate a few pounds just throughout the day. Why? Because of eating and pooping. To maximize your results, be sure to weigh in after pooping, but before eating. For an added boost, you can try removing all items from your pockets or removing your clothes entirely. But be aware, these strategies will only buy you time. If you aren't consistent, these daily weight fluctuations could result in apparent weight gain at your next weigh in.
  • If all else fails... - By far the fastest way to lose weight is to surgically remove excess body parts. Some organs and limbs simply add unnecessary body weight to your total. If you can live without it, have it removed for instant results.
Owning Wii Fit can be an incredible help for anyone who is trying to lose weight. I hope that by sharing the story of my success, I can inspire others to achieve the same success by purchasing Wii Fit and going about their daily lives while their balance boards collect dust within an arm's reach.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

XBox One Reveal Concerningly Unrevealing

Update (6/19/13): Due to the public outcry against Microsoft's policies on XBox One, they have announced several changes. Reselling, renting, and lending games will function in the same way as 360 games and other retail disc based games currently does: without restriction. Offline games will also no longer require an internet connection. Further details are here.

Update (6/7/13): Microsoft has officially revealed most of the information concerning the questions below on their website.

We now know many details about the next XBox that we didn't know yesterday, but many of the console's most important aspects have yet to be revealed and the nasty rumors have yet to be dispelled. Here's what we don't know:

Does XBox One require a constant internet connection, even for offline games?
We don't know, but cloud-based gaming was mentioned multiple times during the press conference. This could just mean that new kinds of online gaming will be possible on the console, but discussion of the cloud was vague and unclear. It has been revealed that computations can be offloaded to the cloud to increase the console's abilities at a distance. It seems likely that any games that use this feature would require an internet connection to be played.
Update: XBox One requires an internet connection, but not a constant one. It seems likely that the internet connection will be required for first time installs of games as an anti-piracy and anti-pre-owned games measure. (source)

Does XBox One restrict playing pre-owned games?
We don't know, but the rumor saying so has grown more specific, asserting that all games must be installed to the hard drive before they can be played and that playing the game on another account will require a fee. 
Update: The rumor seems to be true. (source)
Update 2: Multiple users on a console will be able to play a game without additional fees, but if you want to play a game you own on a different console, you will need to pay for an entire new copy of the game. You will be able to play for free if you sign into your XBox Live account on the other console. There will be some form of trading used games online, but there are no details so far. (source)

Is XBox One backward compatible with 360 and original XBox games?
We don't know, but it's kind of a big deal. The 360's backward compatibility was limited at first, but expanded over time. The upcoming PS4 will not be compatible with games, retail or digital, from previous consoles. Wii U plays Wii games and digital downloads (limited to Wii mode), but not GameCube games. It's hard to say which trend One will follow.
Update: Microsoft has confirmed that One will not be compatible with 360 retail games or XBox Live Arcade games. (source)

Will XBox Live still require a paid subscription?
We don't know, but if people are paying for it now on 360, I see no reason why Microsoft would stop charging for it on One.

How much will it cost?
We don't know, but it isn't too abnormal not to reveal the price this early.

There is still plenty of time before launch for these details to be made available, and it's likely that we'll find out more at E3. Still, it's concerning that this big reveal failed to quiet any of the concerns and questions that gamers have been begging for answers to. Could Microsoft's silence on these hot topics be as good as confirmation? Only time will tell.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Benevolent" Nintendo Lets You Let's Play (For Their Financial Gain)

(Original artist unknown, let me know)
In case you haven't noticed, recording oneself playing through a video game and then sharing the video on Youtube (aka making Let's Play (LP) videos) is kind of a thing nowadays. There are seemingly gazillions of channels uploading kablillions (citation needed) of videos of games for your viewing pleasure, and some are even popular enough that they earn a significant amount of money from their viewers viewing ads in the videos.

Why would people want to watch someone else play a game, you ask? For any of a variety of reasons including: to see what a game is like before buying it, to watch the rest of a game that is too difficult to finish, to watch part or all of a game that you're too lazy or unable (due to region-locking, etc.) to play yourself, or just because the player's reactions are entertaining to watch. Whatever the case, they're pretty darn popular, say nothing about the rapidly growing popularity of live streams on

Now what Nintendo has done this week that's gotten the LP community in an uproar is staking its claim on its games by running ads on LP videos "over a certain length" and collecting the ad revenue for itself. For many small time LPers (like me), that might not be a very big deal, but for more popular channels, it could be disastrous. What this means is that small channels which didn't run ads for their viewers' convenience may now have ads anyway and popular channels which were previously earning money in ad revenue, will no longer earn revenue from videos that Nintendo stakes its claim on.

Nintendo has every right by law (and by Youtube's terms of service) to do this and could even demand that the videos be removed if they wanted to (a fact that they made clear in their official statement, basically saying "you should be thankful for the privilege of earning us ad revenue, since we could shut you down completely").

It's the same reasoning behind not being allowed to upload copyrighted movies and music to Youtube. Except that video games are not the same as movies and music. While uploading music and movies is essentially giving it away for free, gameplay videos do not capture one important aspect of video games that music and movies lack: interactivity. 

If you can watch a movie online for free, there's no need to buy it. However, if you watch a game online, you may get to see the story, but you'd be missing out on actually playing the game yourself, the whole point of video games as a form of entertainment, and thus you'd still have a reason to buy the game for yourself.

Would I be infringing on copyright by showing off my
awesome new bounce house? (img source)
There's also the issue of fair use. In most cases, the gameplay videos aren't simply being uploaded raw, but are uploaded after dedicating a significant amount of time to cutting videos, adding commentary and reaction videos, balancing audio, and other editing. By the time a professional quality Let's Play video is finished, it isn't solely a display of the game developer's work, but is also an original work by the LPer (albeit, one significantly using the game as source material). You could compare it to taking a video of one of those inflatable bounce houses and the bounce house patent holder claiming ownership of your video because you used their product to produce the video. Or if football players couldn't earn money for playing football because they weren't the ones who invented the game. It certainly is a grey area in regards to copyright, though as of now, the law is on the side of the copyright holders. Still, there's always the possibility that the law could be "wrong" (for lack of a better word) and changed in the future.

The troubling thing is the precedent that this sets. If all video game companies forced their own ads on LPers of their games, it's likely that the number of professional Let's Play videos would decrease significantly. Or worse, other companies could demand that videos be taken down completely (perhaps to stop people from seeing how much their game sucks, as some companies do with review embargoes). If this trend carried over to the live-streaming community, the entire streaming site could go under without any way to make money off of the streams.

Let's Play videos are essentially advertising the games that they show off already and are a rapidly growing phenomenon. One could even argue that game companies should be paying the LPers for the free publicity. The announced Playstation 4 will have a share button built into the controller to facilitate sharing gameplay footage (though likely in small chunks and possibly also with ads), and there are rumors that the next XBox may also place some focus on sharing gameplay online. Although Nintendo may be smart and well within its rights to make this move from a financial standpoint, I have my doubts as to whether it will be worth inconveniencing such a large and growing subset of its fanbase in the long run.

Monday, May 13, 2013

8 Unflattering Depictions of Well-Known Games

Super Mario Bros.

Souper MerryO Bros. Jump over stuff until you're done.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic teh Hedgehog: Hold right, except sometimes.

Every freaking MMORPG

MMOs: Hit things with sticks until your numbers go up high enough so that you can hit different colored things with different colored sticks.

Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Trade insults with children while playing some stupid shooting minigame.

Street Fighter

Street Fighter: Push buttons better than the other guy.


Journey: look at all this beautiful sand.


Borderlands: compare stats, manage inventory.


Minecraft: Take these blocks and put them somewhere else.

This blog

Monday, May 6, 2013

Confessions of a Lifelong Gamer

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. I may not be the all-knowing and masterfully skilled gamer that I have led you to believe I am. And while it pains me to say it, my confessions do not end there. Even though I've been playing video games for almost twenty years, there are a few areas in which I have fallen short. I hope you can all forgive me.

I have never defeated Ganon in Ocarina of Time

The series of unfortunate events leading to this absent achievement in my life is woeful indeed. To start with, for some unknowable reason, I lent my copy of Ocarina of Time to a friend before I had finished it. It's a fairly long game for a kid the first time through, so it took a lot of motivation to keep going, even if it was one of the best games ever. But lending the game out stalled my momentum so that by the time I resumed, I felt that I should start from the beginning. After quite a long time, and many delays, I did manage to get to the final boss. I defeated Ganondorf, escaped the castle, and... died to Ganon. To be honest, the ordeal stressed me out a bit, so I decided to take a break before my next attempt. That break turned out to last until after I had a Gamecube and my focus had shifted. For Gamecube, I acquired Ocarina of Time / Master Quest and I started my journey anew once again, this time on Master Quest. This continued until the Fire Temple, where I ran out of arrows and didn't feel like getting more. Since then, my memory card has been accidentally erased. It seems that if I want to finish this, my only hope now is to hook up my N64 and settle things the old fashioned way.

I have never finished a Final Fantasy game

Final Fantasy games tend to be pretty good, so I've always wanted to play them. They also tend to be pretty long, and while the stories are interesting, the battle systems and overall pacing have so far failed to hold my attention for an entire game. It's not that they're bad, it's just that I always end up getting a more entertaining game before I finish and drop whichever Final Fantasy game I had been playing. As of now, I own VII, IX, X, and XII; and have tried I, II, III, VIII, and XIII. I don't think I've made it much more than ten hours into any of them, but I've made it the furthest in VII and IX. Interestingly enough, I did make it almost all the way through Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, in spite of the comparatively lacking plot. I even managed to fight my way through the last couple levels and final boss, but only by using Action Replay to cheat. In any case, I still fully intend to finish a Final Fantasy... eventually.

Slippy was my favorite Star Fox character

I played Star Fox 64 a good deal as a kid. I remember that I rented it a few times before I finally decided that I should probably just buy it. I'm pretty sure that everyone who has played this game has all the quotes burned into their memory. For me, it was one of the first console games I played that had voice acting and I was always disappointed when other games didn't have voice acting after that. Anyway, I grew to like Slippy the best out of the Star Fox team, not because of his voice acting, but because Falco was a jerk, Peppy was boring, and Fox was the main character, so he didn't count. Slippy also more obviously helped out by displaying the boss's HP. That, and frogs are just awesome. I wasn't the only one who liked Slippy either; my sister also liked him so much that "Slippy" became her go-to name when naming pets or anything else. So it was to my dismay when I found on the internet that it was popular to hate Slippy. I didn't want to admit that he was actually my favorite when there was that kind of anti-frog climate online, so I kept it to myself. But no longer! I'm not afraid to say it: Slippy, you rock!

I spent hours playing Bejeweled Blitz and similarly mindless games

Regrettably, there was a time in the middle of my college years when I was so stuck in the doldrums that I lacked even the motivation to play video games or do much of anything else. Arguably, I still am in those doldrums, but since I somehow manage to play new games and regularly write for this blog, I'll count it as an improvement. Back in those dark days, I wanted nothing more than oblivion. I exerted the minimum amount of energy required to stay on top of my schoolwork, but spent the rest of the time trying to distract myself from my thoughts with the least intensive activities I could find: Bejeweled Blitz and other Facebook games. They were so easy to play, but occupied my mind just enough that I didn't have to think about anything else. As time passed, I hated myself for it and thought about how I could be playing good games from my backlog like Earthbound and Chrono Trigger, but I just didn't feel like it. Eventually, I guess I just got bored or sick enough of the idea of how much time I was wasting that I quit playing. I graduated to actually good Flash games and then back to the meatier games I had been playing all my life. It's good to be back to those.

I was a die hard Nintendo fanboy

Don't get the wrong idea; I still love Nintendo consoles and first party Nintendo games are still some of my favorite games, but back in the day, I was a hardcore Nintendo fanboy. I wasn't always that way though; I owned both a Super Nintendo and a Sega Genesis (actually, it was a Nomad with TV hookups) and I was totally unaware of the raging console war. Still, I played Super Nintendo significantly more. For the next generation, I owned both a Nintendo 64 and a Playstation, but once again I spent most of my time on N64 and my Playstation gaming was limited almost entirely to Spyro the Dragon. Perhaps the fanboyism started around that time, when it seemed like Playstation players felt that their console was better and less kiddie than Nintendo's. I resented that a bit, since most of my favorite games were on Nintendo consoles. By the next generation, I was stubbornly Nintendo-only and, spurred on by the Nintendo NSider Forums community, I dissed Microsoft and Sony at every opportunity and backed up even Nintendo's worst decisions. It was mindless, obnoxious, and unconditional support for Nintendo that lasted through the beginning of the Wii's life cycle. It was around that time that I finally got a Playstation 2 and started to catch up on all the great games I had missed. With that, the spell was broken and thenceforth I allowed myself to buy and enjoy games from all consoles. Except XBox, because screw paying to play online.

Do you have any gaming confessions? Let me know in the comments to get it off your chest!
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