Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Help me give money to 343i and not GameStop

I can't wait for this game to come out!

I have an idea...

After nearly two years avoiding GameStop, I had a moment of weakness and walked in.  My intention was to pre-order Halo 4.  Thankfully the employees were following corporate protocol perfectly and quickly convinced me NOT to give them any money.  

I would much rather pay Microsoft directly for Halo 4 and be able to download it at midnight on November 6, 2012.  I don't think that is unfair of me to think this, so I drafted a letter to Microsoft with my proposal.  Below is my letter:  

Dear Microsoft,

I want to stop the blood flow and increase your revenue flow.

Almost daily I read about the unfortunate closing of another beloved game studio--and every quarter I read stories about record profits of used game stores.  To me, this is a tragic imbalance.    

My goal is to give the largest percentage of my gaming dollar to the companies I love; meanwhile, avoiding giving money to the companies I believe are responsible for this current travesty.  My solution and proposal is using day-of-release digital distribution via Xbox LIVE’s Games on Demands.  

I am not alone in this, as many of my gaming friends would also support same day release sales on Games on Demand.  Furthermore, I would like to believe millions of gamers would support this concept.   Yes, I would venture to say, by cutting out packaging, shipping, and other overhead related costs in association with retail stores sales, the companies I love—such as 343 Industries and Microsoft Studios—will see much larger profits by supporting same day sales on Games on Demand.

So do we have a deal?  You release Halo 4 via Games on Demand on November 6 and I’ll give you money whenever you want.


I would like your help.  If you see something in this letter that would make it more convincing, please let me know.  Also, I would like names, e-mails, and addresses to send this to.  I have less than two months to accomplish my goal.  Thanks for your support!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2 Thessalonian Politics, aka The Church of Koch

“They're real life demonstrations of the biblical adage 'If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. If you teach the man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime.'” - David Koch
 American religion and politics has confused me.  I'm baffled--stumped really--why so many self-professed Christians are using their religion to help support contradictory politics.  Personally, I don't believe any political platform represents the embodiment of any particular religion.  Lately though, I've been seeing more gun-toting, Jesus-loving, enthusiasts shouting from the mountain tops of Facebook that God hates various groups of people: poor people, gay people, and democratic people chief among them.

That's Not the Jesus I Know

I've been around the block and have dabbled about in religion.  I would even consider myself a Christian.  Despite reading through the Bible (King James Version) six times, I just can't recall the level of hate these people are generating.  Old Testament aside, the Bible seems very loving and caring to every person.  I think most people would agree with me.  We see the modern church feed the poor and help the needy, but something else seems missing.

My life has dropped me in a number of rolls:

  • Church Secretary: my job was to count the money and help send it where it belonged.  The church had a majority of tithe payers that would faithfully give 10% of their pre-tax income.  On top of tithe, they would give in regular pledges and offerings.  The church had no debt and was financially stable.  During my three years in this position, nothing was given to anyone needing assistance.
  • Christian non-profit EA: my job was supporting the Senior Vice President of a large Christian organization.  No one was allowed to work there unless they professed the Christian faith.  Lots of money was given by donors and several worthwhile programs were in place for people around the world.  However, no money or programs were offered to transitional families within the United States.
  • Unemployed: probably the lowest point of my life.  The only money we had to feed our children came from state agencies and federal programs.  Despite previous involvement in churches and having a Christian belief, no money was given to us from any church or Christian-based program.
Which Jesus do you remember from Sunday School?

One Verse Religion

There's a large variety of churches out there, many of which I'm familiar with.  The most dangerous ones are those that seemed hinged on one or two Bible verses.  One group thumps around with Mark 16:18 and then drops dead from poisonous snake bites.  Another group touts Acts 2:38 as the only way into heaven, but unless you're speaking tongues after being dunked in water, you'd best be ready for hell.  Oh, and that same group doesn't believe in that whole Trinity thing either--you know, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

There's a new group on the rise, which I refer to as The Church of Koch.  I started out this blog with one of the Koch brother's quotes.  The Bible verse this group seems to cling to is 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which says, "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."  As for the Bible verse David Koch is referring to above, it's not actually in the Bible, it's a Chinese proverb.

The Church of Koch, which tends to be very libertarian in thought, seems to completely ignore these other scriptures (all New Testament):
  • Acts 2 & 4, where everyone had everything in common and there wasn't any needy among them.
  • Matthew 19, where Jesus tells followers to be perfect, sell what they have and give to the poor.
  • 2 Corinthians 8, where the same writer of Thessalonians says fairness is giving out of their abundance so that no one would be in need.
  • 1 John 3, asks how the love of God can abide in someone who ignores a brother in need.
  • Ephesians 4, talks about doing honest work so that they can have something to share with someone else in need.
  • Galatians 6, commands us to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another's burdens.
  • Matthew 25, where Jesus talks about feeding and clothing Him every time they feed or clothed another needy person.
  • Luke 3, shows Jesus commanding us to share our clothing if someone else has none and then to do the same with our food.
Current one-verse religions

What's Koch Got to Do With It?

The Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to try and stop social welfare programs.  Of the $600 million in noteworthy donations given, none of them support the homeless or those indebted by medical bills.  Contrarily, the organization that is heavily funded by the Koch brothers, the Cato Institute, has published a handbook for congress, asking to abolish ALL federal funding of welfare.  God bless 'em.

This last weekend, the oil billionaire, David Koch invited the Morman presidential candidate over for a quaint, $50,000-per-head dinner. (Having Christians rally behind a cult member for President will have to be another topic of mine.)  Political fundraisers have become a sad and necessary evil on both sides of the fence; they also serve to show us allegiances.  

Mormans tend to hold very similar beliefs to the libertarian Tea Party: smaller government, fewer services, do less for the needy, do more to protect mortality (anti-gay marriage, etc.), and have less environmental laws.  

And that's why I'm confused--why do so many Christians seem to support this way of thinking?  

Jesus as an all-American bad-ass


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kinecting in a World of Duty

Kinecting in a World of Duty
I’ve always been a fan of video games and technology.  Anything that would marry the two would be icing on the cake.  Starting out on the NES, I would hook up every accessory available, from Broderbund’s U-Force controller to the Miracle Piano Teaching System.  So naturally, when Microsoft announced they were releasing a product that would be able to track your entire body, I was first in line.

Prior to the launch of Kinect for Xbox 360, I was already trying to get back into shape.  I was using SparkPeople.com to guide my habits and the Wii to get in shape.  The Wii Fit was a great product for me, but seemed more of an introduction to exercise, versus a substitute for it.  The Wii Fit was where I found my love for Yoga, so no complaints there.  However, I couldn’t wait for the release of the Kinect.  Every video I watched only made me hunger more.

One of the nice things about SparkPeople is the ability to create groups, similar to Facebook.  Knowing how powerful and amazing Kinect would be, I set out to start a fitness group called, “Kinect to Spark”.  I solicited the help of Tema Chipo, who has been an amazing motivator in other video game groups.  At the launch of Kinect in November 2010, we had about eight members.  From that point, we tried everything in the book to drive growth of the group.  And not just growth, but growth while motivating members of the group.

When the Kinect launched, it was evident how transformational it would be in people’s lives.  Our members were finding amazing exercise in everything from Your Shape Fitness Evolved to Dance Central.  Even the game that came bundled with the Kinect, Kinect Adventures, proved to be a fitness challenge in some areas. 

Needless to say, the Kinect sells itself, especially to those that are looking to become more active.  There are days where I just like to go to Best Buy and watch people try out the Kinect display.  I love watching the magic in people’s eyes when they first experience the Kinect.  Usually what happens is, they try out the Kinect for about 20 minutes, call someone over to watch them play, and then they go seek out where it is sold.  It’s hard to explain to people what it does and feels like.  Once they’ve played it, the magic begins.

We certainly had the momentum rolling, coming off of the holiday season.  However, in February, I suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  My parents were in town visiting and we started off the day playing a bit of the Kinect.  From there, we went out to eat and the next thing I remember was having my chest pounded on.  72 shocks and a coma later, I woke up feeling like a train hit me.  To this day, doctors don’t know what caused my Cardiac Arrest.  My heart was clean, but there was some kind of electrical storm that dropped me instantly.

While this momentarily set me back, both in exercise and weight loss, I am thankful for the experience.  While recovering, I became addicted to another technology called OnLive.  Essentially, OnLive is a streaming video game service.  You can think of it as Netflix streaming, but for video games.  I became increasingly involved in the community and even started reaching out to developers and publishers about putting their games onto the service.

Thanks to the connections I was able to make with OnLive, I then had inroads to people working on Kinect games.  Looking to reignite my Kinect team, I started up another site, called Kinect Reviews and Interviews.  Since September, I have been reviewing games, conducting interviews, and hosting contests on the site.  All for the purpose of driving people to our Kinect fitness group.

Today the Kinect fitness group is thriving.  Sure, there is always room for improvement, but we have come a long way.  We currently have a weight loss contest with some nice prizes the members have contributed.  We also have a virtual walk across the country, ways to motivate each other on Xbox Live, a Facebook group, another contest to win Dance Central 2, and many other things to keep each other active and motivated. 

So while we may hit a few snags in the road, such as losing members or PR companies not responding the way I want, there are always rebounds, such as making a new video game industry contact or seeing a member reach a healthy milestone.  These member milestones are actually the reasons I keep driving on.  We’ve had members that have lost over 100 pounds-playing video games.  So while the world of video games may be full of the Call of Duties, I can still find solace in the success of the Kinect for Xbox 360.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Video Game Interview Portfolio - So Far

These last few months have given me a wild ride, one which I never would have expected.  I say it all started with my love for the OnLive Gaming Service and the technology it presented.  I didn't think a lot of people understood what this technology meant for gaming, including developers and publishers of video games.  I would reach out to varous individuals involved in gaming and would try to tell them how amazing streaming video games was.  Never before have we seen On Demand gaming like this.  It started with Twitter, then Facebook, then LinkedIn, and grew to e-mails, phone calls, and more.  I started getting inside scoop that other other people craved.  At that point OnLiveFans.com reached out to me and asked me to write my first article for them.  Combine this with the Kinect Fitness group I was leading and everything started piecing together in some amazing ways. 

So just in the last few months, I have had the opportunity to interview some of the biggest gaming studios in the industry.  There is more to come, but here is my video game interview portfolio so far:

So there you have the interviews I've done so far.  I've gotten better, but I also know there needs to be a bit more polish.  Overall, I feel pretty good with what has happened in just a few months though.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Scary Video Games to Play This Halloween (some FREE)

There are several games that you can play to get you in that Halloween mood.  Many of them are FREE this weekend, thanks to OnLive.  (see details of free games here)

One of the scariest games of all time is Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  I am almost willing to bet money that you can't get through the whole game with the lights off and sound up.  Here is the trailer:

The next game I recommend for Halloween is FEAR 3.  It has a single player story, co-op, and multiplayer.  Here is a clip of me playing it on OnLive:

Finally, for the Kinect lovers out there, you should really check out Rise of Nightmares.  Here is a link to my review and below is my video review.  It got a lot of flack for not being like other horror games on Xbox, but I found it great for a Kinect game.  Here's my video review:

A Contest for Dance Central 2

Thanks to the great folks at Harmonix, I'm able to give away two copies of Dance Central 2 to members of my Kinect to Fitness and Health group.  

Check out the details here: http://bit.ly/vS0cur

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Busy Week for Kinect Reviews

Today is a huge day for the Kinect.  Lots of titles released today and I got a chance to review a few of them already.  Here are the reviews for the following games:

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster Review
Forza Motorsport 4 Review
Kinectimals Now with Bears! Review

The reason I'm excited about doing these reviews is because in each one, I have a link that directs readers to leave comments at my Xbox Kinect to Fitness and Health group on SparkPeople.com.  The group is definitely growing and people are doing some amazing things.  Every day I am seeing people getting motivated to play their Kinect and they are getting healthier and more active in the process.  That is the true beauty of working out with the Kinect; it is so fun that you don't find it a chore.

There are a few more games that have come out and I am hoping to do reviews for: Just Dance 3, Hulk Hogan's Main Event, Michael Phelps Push the Limit, and Wipeout 2.  Next week's releases include: Twister Mania, PowerUp Heroes, and Minute to Win It.  Plus, there are a whole bunch more games coming out after that.  Exciting times for a Kinect owner!

Thanks to all my readers and supporters.  Together we are on a journey to see more and more people reach their health and fitness goals.