Over the past year, I delved deeply into a hobby I’ve had for a while. I’ve been into arcade gaming and pinball for a few years now, but before 2013, I’d only ever had 1 pinball machine. I got a pretty good bonus at work the beginning of that year, and treated myself to a new pin, a Gottlieb Stargate. Then, I sold my first pin, a Williams Phoenix, and bought another to replace it, a Bally Special Force. A few months later, I bought another, a Williams Jack-Bot. As if this wasn’t bad enough, I then picked up 2 arcade machines, a Mortal Kombat 2 and an Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. These were my first forray into actual arcade machines, and not just PC based MAME cabs. This kicked off a serious spending addiction that I only recently started to come to terms with.
It started out in a sort of innocuous way. I got the 2 cabs for relatively cheap because one wasn’t working, and it didn’t cost me any money to get it working again. I started learning about these games, and about the JAMMA standard, and became aware that I could easily convert these to other games simply by switching the boards. So now I started buying boards, and more boards, and then more cabs, and more cabs. When all was said and done, I’d amassed quite a collection of games, boards, pins, and parts. All of the games are in various states of restoration, and only 2 work without issue, though they need some preventative maintenance and cosmetic work. I thought nothing of dropping 60-100 bucks on a board for a game I really liked, and though I justified it to myself by saying it’s not too much, or I just did some side work, the fact of the matter is that I had no business doing it.
This all came to a head for me during the holidays, especially on Christmas day. When I was shopping for gifts earlier in the month, I was wondering what the Lish would possibly get me. The only thing I felt certain she’d get me was a book I’ve had on my wishlist for about 2 years, mostly because it was the ONLY thing on my wishlist. When I imagined what she could get me, I started to feel more and more guilty and unworthy. I felt guilt that I spent so much fucking money on myself for shit I didn’t need, and unworthy of any sort of gift because of my irresponsible spending. I tried telling her to not get my anything but maybe one or two small stocking stuffers because my arcade shit would count as Christmas. In hindsight, this was an obnoxious and unfair thing to say, since I was basically trying to take away the joy she got in giving my gifts, simply because I couldn’t cope with the guilt. Sure enough, though, that didn’t stop me from again buying another cab in mid December. It started to become apparent that I couldn’t stop myself, and just kept spending and spending. I had to stop, but I was still trolling the market for shit right up until Christmas.
Christmas morning, I opened up my gifts from the Lish. The last gift I opened, as you may have guessed, was my PS4. I felt horrible, like a total piece of shit. Not because I didn’t want this box of awesomeness, but because I felt so undeserving of such a gift, especially in the wake of my spending addiction. I reacted horribly, by saying that I didn’t want it, and that we’d return it. Her face fell, she apologized and said she tried, thinking it’d be a great gift for me. I felt horrendous, but immediately tried justifying my behavior with stupid bullshit, as if I was trying to get out of trouble. In reality, I was just racked by guilt, and coped with it in a shitty way. I realized then what my addiction had done to me, what I let it do, and what I did to the Lish as a result of it. I finally came clean to her later that day. I told her why I acted the way I did, I told her I was sorry, and I admitted to her that I have a problem. I dug us into a hole of debt that’ll take us quite some time to dig out of, and since that day, I’ve put a hold on any “me” spending until we’re out of debt. One exception has been made since then, for a replacement keyboard that I paid for by selling my last and favorite guitar. It broke my heart to see it go, but that’s the breaks.
The worst part of this whole thing is what I did to the Lish while trying to justify, absolve, and accept my behavior. I ruined the best part of Christmas for her, and took from her a joy that she did everything to earn a thousand times over. I created stress on our household and relationship, and in some ways bullied her into accepting my behavior, even though I didn’t know I was doing it. There’s no excuse for what I did. I don’t blame the addiction, I blame myself. Nobody held a gun to my head and made me do it, my wants just ran the show for a while and left destruction where they went. I know I’m probably coming off as melodramatic, but this is honestly how I feel. We’ve spoken about it, and everything is ok now for the most part. Still, I know what was done. I’m aware of how I argued about how they were similar to an investment, since I can flip them if need be and get most, if not all, my money back. I manipulated the situation, and worse, I manipulated her, all to get what I wanted. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. I’m doing what I can to get better. Just keep this in mind: Allowing an addiction, ANY addiction, to run you, will cause damage to you and those around you. It doesn’t matter how long it lasts, or how much you work to get better, the damage can NOT be undone. For those people like me, who judge themselves very harshly, it can be something that can not be forgiven. Nothing I do in the future will absolve me of the responsibility and guilt of the look on her face after unwrapping that gift. Lish forgives, Persona does not…
This Christmas, the Lish surprised me with something I wasn’t really expecting. No, not a blumpkin. It was a PS4! I know I’ve said in previous posts that I was basically done with console gaming, and I truly thought I was since I had zero impetus to indulge in console gaming for the past year or so. I had some difficulty coming to terms with accepting such an amazing gift, and I almost returned it. My inner geek ended up powerbombing its emo opponent, and I wound up keeping this monolith of awesomeness. I’ve played with it for the past 2 weeks or so, and I only really have the few free games you get with PS+ and Battlefield 4. That being said, here is my sort-of-review of the PS4 as it currently is. I’ll keep this as short as possible to counteract the usual eye rolling and bored arrowing down people usually experience when reading these posts.
First, the look. It looks pretty cool. It kinda reminds me of the scale model of the T1000 chip on Dyson’s desk in T2. I unboxed it, and setup was simple. Usual tab A and slot B kinda shit. If you have difficulty setting it up, and you are a geek or gamer, punch yourself in the junk repeatedly until you realize your folly and resign as a member of the gaming culture. The initial setup is quick and easy, and in a few minutes I was online downloading some free shit. That right there, is a huge boon for me. Out of the box, you get a free 3 month subscription to PS+, which gets you free downloadable games from the PS store. This means that, even if you can’t afford a full price AAA title like BF4 or Killzone, you get some awesome free games to play on your new system. The games I got are Resogun and Contrast. I’ve played resogun, and it’s an awesomely fun shooter. Cool music and SFX, great visuals, and smooth gameplay. I haven’t played Contrast yet.
Quick note on the controller. This thing is great. Feels beter than my 360 and PS3 controllers, and is pretty straightforward. It’s kind of odd not having a Start button anymore, now we have Options, but whatever, it functions the same. The battery life on the controller is pretty meh, but at least it’s rechargable and can use my phone’s wall charger so I don’t have to sit near the console if I let it get too low. It has a speaker in it, though lord knows why. It’s a novel idea that they stole from the Wii, but I never got the point. One thing that it does have, which is fucking awesome, is a headphone jack in the controller. This is not only for the chat headset, you can also plug in headphones and run ALL game audio through the headset, which also mutes the TV volume. This feature is awesome, and I can’t wait to get some nice chat headphones to really utilize it. Apart from that, gaming with this controller is sweet, no doubt about it.
The menu system is relatively straightforward, though lots of shit is missing that is present on my PS3. If it’s in there somewhere, it’s not intuitive to locate. For example, save game management. I used to be able to copy saves to a USB stick to take with me. Now, not so much. I also didn’t see anywhere to configure syncing saves to the cloud. Hell, you can’t even SEE your saves, which is kinda stupid. Another thing missing is a music section, photo section, and video section. As of right now, it doesn’t support copying music or videos from my home media server to the local disk for playback, something I used my PS3 for. I also would copy photos locally from a multicard reader to view on the TV after vacations. This is also gone. If you’re looking for youtube, look in vain cuz you won’t find support for it here. Oh, and if you have a large library of games, I hope you like searching, cuz this doesn’t allow folders either. Everything is in one area, which is very counterintuitive to me. I hope they change this up in future updates, cuz right now the layout can be irritating.
Chat is awesome. I chat with a few buddies of mine pretty often, regardless of what we’re playing at the time, and it’s seamless. The sound quality is great, even with the earpiece they include with the PS4, and I haven’t had any echo or static issues. It’s very much like the 360 chat system, just with better sound quality. You can also send sound clips to each other as well as text and such. There is also a share button that allows you to take a screenshot or short video to upload to facebook or twitter. It also lets you stream your activity, whether it be playing a game or the feed from the PSEYE, to one of two different streaming sites. Other PS4 users can browse through current streams through a section in the dash and watch them in realtime, as well as comment on them. The user sharing can see the comments while he/she plays. Pretty cool stuff.
Now, the addiction factor. Like its predecessor, the PS4 has DC Universe Online as a free to play MMO. I jumped on, created a character, and have spent HOURS playing this shit. As much as it suffers from the usual MMO problem of virtually no driving main story, it has plenty of superhero fun to keep me interested. The world isn’t too big, and the missions are pretty fun. I’ve gone in with a few buddies to share missions and shit, and it was an absolute pisser! Sure, there are fucked up moments like when Bizarro showed up and wasted me with one hit, but even that wasn’t so bad. All in all, it’s great fun with lots of replay for me, and you can’t beat the pricetag! I also picked up BF4, a game which has reminded me just how horrible I am at FPS’s. I died about 9 times during the freaking intro mission! I attribute this to my CounterStrike style of FPS play, which is running and gunning. This game is more about taking cover and being strategic, which is more like how I play paintball. It’s a shift in gears I’m having trouble with, but the game itself is pretty awesome. Graphics and sound are great, environments are destructable and fun, and the multiplayer is a meat grinder of awesome!
So, to sum up for the TL:DR crowd, the PS4 is an awesome machine right now, but needs some serious software updates to really become a replacement for my PS3. For now, both will remain in the living room until Sony sorts out their shit, but I doubt it’ll take long. They really hit the mark well with this one.
Now for the hypocrisy. I know I’ve previously denounced the overcomplication and such with modern games, in favor of classic games in their punishingly difficult simplicity (I’m looking at you, Donkey Kong!), but as it turn out, I still enjoy a good game on a console. The good news is, I’m not feeling the sick urge to go out and buy more of the latest titles
yes I am. I’m really pleased that I’ve gotten past that point I haven’t, I’m just broke. I feel freed by this newfound responsible maturity I’ll debase myself for a copy of Killzone!. SHUT UP! …don’t listen to him, he lies!