Responding to My Sunshine Blogger Award

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In a strange and stunning turn of events, I was nominated for another award recently by Red Metal over at Extra Life Reviews.  While I gather my thoughts on some more games, work on my piece for the Games That Define Us collaboration, and piece together some more collection gushing, I thought it could be fun to respond to this!

As usual, I want to give a special thanks to the person who sent this my way.  Red Metal’s been around since this blog started, and his blog has been a bit of an inspiration for me and how I’ve been working to improve on 3PStart here.  He also just recently put up another piece in his series on The Legend of Zelda series (this one on Breath of the Wild which I’m still reading through), and he always offers up interesting background information and cool insights on the games he writes about.  Head on over and check out his stuff- once you’re done here, of course!

With that said, onward to the always thought-provoking questions!
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The Ship Sinks – When the World is Full of Spoilers

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Picture yourself sitting at your computer.  My guess is that at the moment, this may not be a stretch but bear with me.  As you’re scrolling through the front page of your favorite gaming site, you see an advertisement for a game you’ve been waiting for what feels like five lifetimes to play.  It’s been out for a few weeks, but you’ll finally have the money to grab it and see what everyone’s ‘oh man’s and ‘you need to play this game’s have been all about. As you scroll down your Twitter feed, you happen upon an interesting looking screenshot and linger a bit too long.


Is that the main villain of the game?  Wait, though, that character was clearly being shown as a friend to the hero in the trailer you watched.  You would have never seen that coming!

Okay.  No problem.  It sucks that the plot point was ruined for you, but you get your mind off of it by heading out to the movies for the night.  You’ve been looking forward to the new Marvel movie (there’s always one, isn’t there?) and after the diligence you’ve put toward avoiding interviews with the stars and major movie sites, you’re sure you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the two-hour thrill ride that awaits you.  You sidle into the line at the snack counter and just as you start to order, you hear the group behind you talking about how they are on their third viewing of this movie.

“Seriously, I can’t wait to see that again!  I was totally surprised when-”

Before you have the chance to throw your hands over your ears and sing loudly to mask the voices, you’ve had the entire second half of the movie ruined just because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you’re someone who wants to go into a piece of media pure and uninformed, the Information Age can be tough.  The general populace seems eager to not spoil everything for people who haven’t checked out the latest games, movies, books, and other works of the sort.  Eventually, though, the question arises:

When Is a Spoiler Not a Spoiler?

I took to Twitter to throw together a poll, gauging how people felt about spoilers and how long the grace period should be between something releasing and when you can generally get away with talking in a public forum about it in gritty detail.  The results?

Spoiler Poll Results

Thanks to the folks that participated in the poll!


Like most polls, I was in the minority on this though I’ll get to that in a bit.  While I admittedly left out the option for folks to express that spoilers are no big deal, I expected a bit more breathing room between release and full-blown public critiques.  Of course, that would be my feeling on this if people hadn’t replied with such well explained feelings on the matter. Given the stipulations and reasoning, six months to a year actually sounds completely understandable.  It also comes as no surprise to me that the second strongest answer was that it is never okay to talk about anything spoiler related. I don’t subscribe to the same thought process necessarily- if I want to tell people that they’re going to find Toad (spoiler alert)  in seven castles before they actually get to see Princess Toadstool, I’m taking the liberty to do so.  That said, if someone wants to go into detail about some of the finer points of a game like Final Fantasy VI, even with a grace period of 24 years I feel that the responsible thing to do is at least warn a fellow gamer.

Thankfully, that seems to be the major caveat that most people who answered the poll added.  Providing some kind of forewarning that there are indeed spoilers incoming will help the person looking at your blog or your Facebook post decide whether or not they want to partake in the information you’re putting out into the atmosphere.  There is certainly something to be said for consideration when discussing anything in depth especially in a place where everyone can see or hear it plainly. There are a few factors I hadn’t considered in my initial question, though, one of which doesn’t revolve around video games.

The Shameful Narcissist (check out their blog here) made a good point that some of the consideration could revolve around monetary and time commitment.  While no one wants to see spoilers for a movie they’re excited about that just released, ticket prices are not nearly as expensive as most games fresh off of the shelf.  Along the same lines, a film takes a couple of hours worth of investment whereas quite a few games can range from five to ten hours or so up to even 60-100 hours (I’m looking at you, Persona 5).  

Does this make the spoilers for a film less important than a video game?  Not at all! The cycle of a film, though, does feel like it lends itself to a shorter spoiler process.  Being able to finish a movie in a couple of hours means that it isn’t spread out over the course of a month or two.  Rarely can a video game be completed on the first day it’s purchased. How is this judged for things like television shows, books, and other media?  In a world full of people who believe the nature of spoilers to be different concepts, it’s tough to come up with one conclusive answer.

What Is a Spoiler?

A miserable little pile of secrets.

Actually, that kind of works, doesn’t it?  A lot of folks that I’ve spoken with, both online and off, have stated their opinions on what exactly constitutes a “spoiler” in the grand scheme of a game.  The story I tell most people to outline my confusion on the topic is that either just before or just when Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released, I mentioned to an acquaintance and diehard fan of the series that the bow that Link uses in the game looks really cool.  Their response was for me to stop talking about it because they didn’t want to hear spoilers for the game. Never mind that I haven’t played the last few Zelda games in any capacity but either they had avoided spoilers so much that they hadn’t seen the promotional art or the paranoia of the conversation continuing into spoiler territory was so great that the mention of a prominent weapon throughout the series set off their alarms.

The majority of the people I spoke to and that responded to the question online came down to the same conclusion as to what constitutes as a spoiler concerning a video game.  To most, a spoiler is a revelation that would remove the emotional impact from the game as a whole. Whether it be through character beats, plot twists, or the result of difficult choices that may affect the game, people tend to see these as spoilers that are the most egregious.  To confide my opinion on this in general, I feel the same way. I had a huge plot twist to Final Fantasy X ruined for me a few months after it came out and still haven’t finished it to this day because- well, why bother when I know the plot now?  Experiencing the plot is half of the point of playing an RPG and despite my resolution to go back and finish it someday soon, that mark will always affect my interest in watching everything unfold.

While in the minority of answers to my question, a few people did say that they take it upon themselves to cultivate the amount of promotional material they’ll observe and avoid whatever they can leading up to a game’s release and their time with it.  While I don’t take the same approach, the understanding did seem to stress the point of taking it upon themselves to avoid the information.  It can be difficult now especially if you read blogs or keep up with social media.  There is a lot to be said, however, for people wanting to get the most out of their experience and holding themselves accountable with filters and avoiding their favorite gaming news sources until they can get into the game themselves.

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Sometimes, you just have to put your headphones on and tune out the information spread.

A Conclusion and How to Handle Spoilers

To coin a phrase that I’m sure someone else has said in these exact same words: “Everybody wants something different.”  Some people will play through a game regardless of how much they know about the plot and its intricacies while a number will go into a media blackout until that game hits their console or computer screen.  Some folks think that spoilers are something that should never be talked about while others think that once a game is released, every bit of information is fair game to post for the world to see. Where does this intrepid blogger stand on it?

Spoilers don’t bother me as much as most at this point in my life.  If I’m going to play a game, I’m going to play it regardless. I respect the fact, though, that plenty of other people don’t feel the same way that I do.  When I post screenshots of modern games, I try to make sure that they won’t ruin anything plot related or any incredibly interesting mechanics that may add to the experience for someone and aren’t common knowledge.  I feel that it’s my duty as a blogger and someone interested in promoting gaming history and analysis to outline when I’m going to discuss topics like that and while I may not always succeed, I hope the effort is as effective as I want it to be.  Personally, my threshold for full-on discussion without discussing spoilers openly is about ten years but it does depend on how it might affect the work. Talking about Super Mario Odyssey and its plot and mechanics is a bit different than talking about Octopath Traveller or Persona 5.  Still, I don’t see myself throwing out the Plot Discussion and Spoilers portion of my long form reviews anytime soon.  I’ll just do my best to keep highlighting and containing that information.

In the long run, games are there to be enjoyed.  A lot of people get enjoyment out of surprises and engaging with media with a fresh and clear view and as a community, I think it’s good to bear that in mind.  Thankfully, most of the community I’ve spoken with tend to agree as I honestly believe that a big step in creating a positive community around any media is to let people enjoy things the way that they like.  Being aware that some people want to have this information highlighted for them at the very least is a pretty small step toward that goal.

If you have any thoughts or want to discuss, feel free to do so in the comments (and much like in my Twitter question on this, I have faith in the folks that talk on here will keep things civil)!  How do you feel about spoilers? Any thoughts on how things like re-releases and remasters affect them? Any other advice on how to handle them? Feel free to chat me up here or on Twitter ( @the3rdplayer ) to let me know.

Have a great Friday and weekend, everyone!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

General Updates – Bright New Horizons

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Hey folks!

I’ve tried really hard to stick to my guns on not excusing myself every time I have a long break between posts but I felt like this warranted at least some kind of signal that I am actually still active and avidly writing up pieces to post up here.

First, the serious ‘real life’ business: without going into too much detail, some pretty life-altering events have occurred over the past month or two that have caused a need for relocation and a general upheaval of my way of living.  Sadly, this isn’t as cool as being a super spy or anything like that.  I do want to reassure anyone that despite my vagueries, I’m doing all right and managing things like my mental health well.  As a part of managing that, though, I feel like transparency is important on a subject that involves a sudden drop in frequency that may take some time to recover from.

That said, I’ve been working on some pieces for the blog concerning reviews, collecting, and editorials!  “Like what?” you might ask.

Well, I’ll be happy to tell you!  For one, I have a few mobile games that I’d like to get some quick and dirty reviews out on.  I’ve also been working through my Steam backlog a bit and on the back of writing about Lucius as my last entry, I’ve started playing through Lucius II: The Prophecy so I’m sure I’ll be working on something regarding that soon!

So far as collecting, my relocation has made things a bit difficult regarding my original plan to accumulate the Atelier and Fire Emblem series, but I have some other items to show and chat about.  That particular vein of chatter, however, may dry up just a bit until I’m back up and running on all cylinders again.

Editorially, I asked a question on Twitter recently about the nature of spoilers and folks’ opinions on them.  Some interesting answers popped up and along with expressing my own opinion, I’m looking forward to finishing up a piece involving those discussions.

Last but not least, I’ve signed on to write a piece for a collaboration being set up by Matthew over at Normal Happenings about “The Games That Define Us”!  While I’ve just started conceptualizing and jotting down notes, the cast of contributors is phenomenal and have been super energetic and friendly to engage with so far.  If you want to check out more about the project, the original call for entries is here.  I am definitely looking forward to the project and see how it all turns out!

I understand that that is never a need to explain your hiatus or a long stretch of time between posts- real life happens and sometimes it happens in a hard and sudden fashion.  I appreciate everyone who stops in and checks out what I have to say here so at the very least, I wanted to let people know that I’m doing all right and that while I may not be at my previous frequency for a bit, I’m still standing.

Thanks for understanding and keep being great!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

The Big 150 and A State of the Blog Update

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First of all, to those of you who have just started to follow along here- welcome, thank you, and I hope you enjoy what you see!  Feel free to reach out through comments, e-mail (3pstartgaming@gmail) or on Twitter (@the3rdplayer) if you want to chat sometime.  If you’ve been around and/or already chat me up, thanks for that.  I’ve seriously enjoyed interacting with everyone I’ve gotten the chance to!

Recently, I was hanging out with my buddy, Alex (a.k.a ShoggothOnTheRoof) and our spouses when I took a glance at our review archive.  I enjoy looking at the list and seeing if anything sparks something to write about or play.  Then I thought ‘hey, I wonder how many games we’ve written about’.

Well, my math might be off but if I read it right, my last review brought us to 150 games that we’ve discussed- either in series overviews or in-depth reviews.  Since I started this blog a few years ago and brought it over to WordPress, I’ve been learning plenty and seeing what a fantastic community the video game blogging world can be.

Honestly, the last span of time working on this blog and witnessing what others are doing has been a trip!  I want to take a quick look back and forward, though, while I’m thinking of it.

Reviews in Retrospect

After looking through the list of games we’ve talked about, I picked a few that I’m either particularly proud of or that I think should be a fun read whether you’re new to 3PStart or just looking for a fun few pieces to pass the time:

Sweet Home – My first review I ever did for the blog and a criminally unrecognized forebearer of survival horror.  Despite being a Japan-only release, the translation brought it over to us and it became one of my favorite games- enough to prompt me into starting a gaming blog!

Zombies Ate My Neighbors – Constantly vying for my favorite game of all time with Final Fantasy VI, this review is probably the best example right now that I have of my writing when I’m head over heels for a work.

Phantasy Star IV – While I wrote about the first three fairly recently, ShoggothOnTheRoof wrote a fantastic piece on the fourth entry of the series before I dug into those.  Honestly, while he has some amazing pieces on here, I know about his passion for this game and it’s reflected in his piece.

Fire Emblem – An Overview – This series on Fire Emblem is more educational than subjective, but that’s another goal of mine: to educate on games, their histories, and their development.  If you’re at all wondering if you want to try Fire Emblem, this can hopefully help.

Where is 3PStart Heading?

First, I’m sure there’ll be more overviews and reviews.  Specifically, I’ve been working on continuing the overviews for Fire Emblem with some snippets here and there and writing about the next trilogy in the Atelier series.  There are at least three or four other games in the pipeline to write about so- I’m at no shortage of material.  It’s just a matter of writing it!

Ideally, I’ll be working to collaborate a bit more and either seek out some more contributors or maybe even contribute to some other projects, if I can.  I’ve really been digging some of the interactions I’ve been seeing and the community has been a creative lot.  I enjoy working with people and incorporating other folks’ opinions and ideas has been something I’ve been interested in from the get-go.

On a technical standpoint, I’d like to improve the site and add more ways to check out other blogs and projects going on.  I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, but once I streamline the blog a bit and create a few more directories and pages, that might be something that can easily be fixed (and I can share more of the work going on outside of 3PStart, too!)

Last, I want to help promote and celebrate positivity in the gaming community.  There are a lot of people working against the negative stereotypes that have grown regarding gamers and their attitudes.  People who enjoy gaming, analyzing the business and the games themselves, and generally enjoying their hobbies and passions with others- there are a lot of people who are doing exactly what this section of the pop culture community needs.  They are encouraging healthy discourse, constructive debate, and generally working toward making things less toxic.  I think these efforts are worth mentioning and I want to figure out ways to illuminate them.

So I guess in short- I’m glad I’m still working on this project, and I hope to get more out there so that my little corner of the gaming world can be a safe place for people to discuss games and learn a little something or reminisce.  I’m pretty happy with the direction I’m going in, and I’m glad to have folks along for the ride, as well.

Have a great week everyone!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

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The Family That Games Together

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Not everyone can say that they have fond memories of gaming with their parents.  Based on the few replies on Twitter from a recent expression about my mother’s Animal Crossing achievements- I called to check up on the house and part of her response was that she just reached 50 million Bells in her bank account on the game- being able to game with your parents is a rare occurrence.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but I suppose it makes sense.  Most households where gaming was within the family seems to be either with siblings or as a hobby that their parents didn’t associate with.  I definitely gamed with friends, but until I was old enough to actually go to their houses by my own means, my parents were usually up for a game of some kind.

It’s probably pretty safe to say that in traditional stereotypes of the only child: I was spoiled.

My fondest memories of gaming with my mother go back to running through all of the Donkey Kong Country series together.  When I play them now, I realize just how good at gaming she had to have been because those games are not a walk in the park by any means.  The second game, Diddy’s Kong Quest, was probably the one that got the most play since she absolutely adored Diddy Kong, and I was a big Dixie Kong fan.  Thinking about that game transports me back to my room as a kid with vivid memories of sitting on the floor and staring up at the TV as we pushed through those games level by level.

There were a few other games that she really enjoyed (or humored me with as I enjoyed): she helped me through parts of Secret of Mana when she had some free time, enjoyed exploring Tomb Raider and its sequels once the Playstation era started, and Super Mario 64 was a family favorite.  She and my dad even went into the trenches with me with X-Men: The Arcade Game and The Simpsons cabinet (as I wrote about briefly in my arcade gaming history).  I have a close family, despite some of the usual differences that come up, and I think a lot of that was due to being able to share in hobbies and interests, gaming being a large part of them.

Gaming with my dad was a different experience, but it was still a bonding experience when we got the time to do it.  The sharpest memory I go back to with him was when we got the Nintendo 64, and the first game we played wasn’t Super Mario 64 like most kids.  It was Wave Race 64.  He commented on how awesome the intro was, realistic water effects and all, and we sank a ton of time into jetskiing around courses together and against each other.  Earlier in out gaming adventures, we spent a lot of time with NHL 95 on the Sega Genesis.  I don’t play a lot of sports games now, but I still have the urge to go back and play some of those because I remember how much fun I had with this when I was younger.  He was a big fan of racing games in general, so we had them in a bunch of different forms: Super Mario KartRoad Rash, and SSX Tricky making prominent waves in our household.

Lately, we don’t play a ton of games together and when we do, it tends to be remotely.  My husband and I played through portions of Fantasy Life on the 3DS with my mother, and every so often, we would visit her town in Animal Crossing.  My dad briefly got into the Wii craze when it first came out, but recently, he gave their system to me as a backup since they don’t play as often anymore.  Due to my parents not really being able to get out as often as they used to, my husband and I are always looking for games for my mom to check out, mostly in the vein of Animal Crossing and the old Legend of Zelda games.  My dad has pretty much played Candy Crush for months and that’s about all of the gaming he does now, but it works with his job to play in quick spurts so while I may feel like that particular game is- well, what it is- it makes him happy so I guess I can’t argue with that.

There are still plenty of memories to be had and written about, and I will probably jot them down as the mood strikes me.  Gaming really has the ability to bring people together, and while plenty of folks have made some of their best friends through gaming, I also managed to have it strengthen the bonds between my family members and create some pretty amazing recollections to come back to.

So how about you, folks?  Do you have any memories of gaming with your parents growing up?  If not, maybe you had some other family members who shared the same gaming bug that bit you just as hard?  Let me know and feel free to chat about it in the comments!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)