Taking a well-deserved hiatus (a short notice of inactivity)

I’ve started to notice that I haven’t been writing as much as I used to. Even though I’ve just released an article, I feel that now’s the time to take a hiatus from writing on this site.

Starting tomorrow, I intend to take a month-long break from blog writing, so that I can get my writing mojo back. I also intend to use this break to mull over the site’s new design and direction (as previously outlined in January), while also figuring out what to write about, and how I should manage my approach.

The other reason for my decision is because I have become interested in other creative possibilities and ideas, and I also have plenty of college work to do over the next two weeks. I aim to get back to blog writing as early as the beginning of May, but if I don’t, I let you know why.

That’s just about it for this short notice of inactivity. I’ll be back soon enough, but until then, I need this opportunity to kick back and relax, knowing that there’s not as much work on my mind.

Ladies and gentlemen, the death of the music industry

Yesterday, the representatives of music industry, or more or less pop music, hosted a press conference to promote Tidal, the music-streaming service owned by the jaded, money-hungry rapper Jay-Z. They’re hoping that you’ll cancel your subscription to one of the more successful streaming services (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, etc.) and switch to their’s, but the problem is that their service is more expensive. From a logical perspective, what is the point in paying $20 a month for music you can already listen to on the radio or YouTube for free? If you ask me, the whole Tidal venture is really an attempt by greedy, bitter pop musicians to get even more money and attention.

tidal launch
Is it any wonder why so many of us hate them?

If we didn’t all hate musicians like deadmau5, Kanye West, Rihanna, Madonna, Calvin Harris and Chris Martin et al, then the Tidal launch is bound to make us all hate them even more, and judging by the reaction it’s garnered on Twitter, I’d say that it has. Many have openly criticized the legion of pop stars for launching a campaign to make even more money than they already have, and in fairness, the big problem with this whole campaign is that all the musicians behind it are already exceedingly wealthy. Why on earth would we the people support what is obviously just a campaign to give them more money, when they already have tons of money that they didn’t even earn?

I suppose we wouldn’t hate the idea so much if the people behind it didn’t act so pretentious about it. They acted like they were going to change the course of history the entire time, but the only thing they accomplished successfully is showing us all just how out of touch they are with the real world. You just know the music industry is in a particularly sorry state when its biggest recording artists spend more time feeding their own egos than perfecting their art (if it can be called art).

The current decade has obviously not been a good time for the music industry, as people are now downloading music for free more often than they actually buy their music. Through the Tidal venture, Jay-Z is obviously hoping to make a change in the music industry, but what he doesn’t seem to realize is that the reason piracy became rampant to begin with was because of how expensive CD’s were and still are today, and many albums weren’t even worth full price. Streaming services like Spotify and iTunes didn’t completely stop piracy, but by offering a vast selection of music at a reasonable price, they helped to curb it. The problem is that the Tidal venture, by offering an exclusive library of “high-fidelity” pop music for a totally unreasonable price, is only going to end up encouraging piracy, and so Jay-Z’s venture won’t even tread water.

For me, this whole situation is what happens when the music industry stops caring about the music. I think the Tidal launch fiasco reflects an age where the music industry is all about advertising a product, and where the majority of the current generation’s recording artists now have their heads up their asses 24/7. If people like Madonna and Kanye West want to change the course of history, then they’ve clearly got the wrong idea. In fact, Tidal sounds like it might just destroy the music industry because it will only create an environment where piracy is more common. I can imagine people downloading music for free just to spite those guys.

In my opinion, downloading music for free is the way of the future. There’s no stopping it, and all attempts to stop it have failed laughably. If you can get any music you want for free, then it’s completely obvious that people are going to do it without shedding a tear. As long as that goes, the music industry will forever be at the mercy of an audience that isn’t interested in giving a bunch of wealthy snobs any more money.

Suffice it to say, this is the death of the music industry, and may the record labels rest in peace.

My thoughts on the end of youth

Tomorrow is a very special day for me, or at least it’s meant to be. Tomorrow is my 21st birthday, and in light of this, I think it’s time for me to consider youth and age. From that point on, the time where one can use youth to excuse his or her actions would be over, but more importantly is that I have a new challenge: figuring out how not to feel old.

I could just be exaggerating, but it’s generally accepted that when you turn 21, you reach a point of no return, after which your life begins to drastically change. I’m rather sceptical of that notion myself, since rarely ever has my life changed as drastically as I want it to. One thing I know for an absolute fact is that this might represent the end of the time where I can get away with being naive. I’m also starting to think carefully about the way I actually run the sites, but that’s for another time.

People tend to look at age as though it’s a bad thing, but nowadays, I tend to disagree. After all, when did being older become such a bad thing? While we’re there, when did it suddenly become cool to pretend we’re still young and live in a naive fantasy? I’m past my childhood and my teenage years, and for me, those were not the best years of my life. The best years of my life, in my opinion, haven’t happened yet. I know that at some point, we all want to be kids again, but if we already lived out our childhoods perfectly, what’s the point of going back?

My point is that when I grow old, I’ll grow old with dignity, but without losing sight of my own values, whatever they are. You can grow up without selling out your beliefs, and you can grow up without being a total conformist. In the end, it’s your life, and if you think getting older is bad because it means you get stuck in the rat race, that’s entirely on you for letting yourself get caught up in the rat race to begin with.

In conclusion, as the end of my youthful years are nearly at hand, I’d like to embrace what comes next with open arms. The first twenty-one years of my life have come and gone, and now I need to focusing on how I should live the next two decades, and beyond.

An interest in the comic anthology

Since the last months of 2014, I had become increasingly disenchanted with the prospect of making video games, even as I kept defending video games as an art form (I stance I maintain to this day). As my time in my art course progressed, I kept scrambling to search for new ways to express myself creatively, while simultaneously trying to defend my method of creativity to the death.

As I was tidying up my room, I found some early examples of my creative writing. Although they were quite crude compared to my later writings, they did inspire me to look back, and think of another way of exercising creative writing and preserving my creative ideas, so I came to ask myself: instead of creating video games as part of my own video game development team, what if I started up my own anthology comic book?

Think about it for a moment. The video games industry places a lot of limits on how its writers can express themselves, as in it has to work within the context of a video game. I fear that my ideas would wind up being either rejected or butchered if I worked with the video games industry. If I started a new path writing for my own anthology comic book, I could do whatever I wanted. All I would need is a penciller to render my stories in visual form, which I will admit is something I’m not good at.

The way I would consider writing an anthology comic book is to have, at a minimum, four stories in one book, although sometimes, it would be three stories, with one story being split into two parts. This format, in theory, would allow me to create whatever I wanted with very little format/genre-specific limitations.

Even though I covered comic books in my previous Creative iMedia course, I still admit don’t know enough about the format professionally. Before I boldly go into this new pathway, I think the first thing I should do is to do plenty of research. I definitely need to get college out of the way before I can go all the way with this. However, I can’t slack off forever. I have to start planning this as soon as possible, and that means even less emphasis being put on journalistic writing.

I’ve only considered this format for over a day, but already I see that there could be a lot of potential in this direction. With enough research and planning, the comic anthology direction could be even greater than I ever thought possible.

The merits of role models

In an era where we are easily influenced by celebrities and the media, are any of our values really our own? I feel that we live such uncertain times that it has become easier for us as individuals to adopt role models, people upon whom we base our values and behaviours on.

role models

In the past, I would say that we shouldn’t need role models, but I mainly say this in the context of children looking up to celebrities. I believe that having a role model is fine, but it can go to a point where you’re not deciding on what you really believe in. If a lot of your beliefs are inspired by the work and/or teachings of one person, it’s fine if you sincerely admire that person, but I don’t think we should worry about who’s a good role model and who isn’t. From my observation, the big problem with role models as that society expects celebrities to be perfect role models, when really, the majority of celebrities (mainly the footballers and “famous for being famous” celebrities) are terrible role models, since they don’t inspire meaningful values in anyone.

I think one reason that kids today have terrible role models is because they don’t see their parents as good role models. I believe that parents can be good role models for their kids, but many bad parents out there simply want their kids to follow in their footsteps, or to just do what their told do to. Kids don’t want to look up to something like that, and if their parents aren’t good role models, and the kids can’t see themselves as their own role models (assuming that makes any sense), then they’ll find their role models from the media, and you’ll never know what the myriad of D-list celebrities are teaching them.

I’ll admit that there are a few people, living or dead, who I might consider role models, but that’s because I relate to them in some way. You cannot expect every young boy in the nation to relate to a sports player, and you cannot expect every young girl in the nation to relate to a fashion model. I find that notion to be not only absurd and outdated, but also vulgar. The bottom line is this: if we as a society want to keep reinforcing the outdated and stereotypical idea of a role model, in which celebrities have to keep up a squeaky clean image and spout endless lies, then go ahead. We’re only dumbing ourselves down by doing so, and in the end, it is society that will suffer the most.

How to improve sexual education

In a society with increasingly loosened attitude towards sex, it’s important that we have good sexual education to keep the next generation from going overboard with it. Sadly, I feel that this is where society is a bit lacking. Suffice it to say, I think sexual education in this country could be much better, mainly because, in its current state, it only teaches about the act of having sex, and not about the wider issues, and certainly not enough about STI’s.

When I was young, they only taught sexual education once, and they taught it by the time I was 15. The inherent problem is that we assume that we’re all ready for sex at the same age. If that were true, then everybody would be doing it at the same time. I think they might have been focusing too much the physical aspect of sex, and not enough on real, emotional love, without which, I feel, the act of sex would be meaningless.

In my view, sexual education should be used to teach an impressionable younger generation about the difference between sex as depicted in pornography and how to treat an real partner. In other words, I think it would be a step in the right direction if sex education included lessons on how to maintain a good relationship and treat your partner right. I say this because the younger generation is constantly bombarded by the wrong messages. The pop industry keeps objectifying women in every possible way, and a lot of people are somehow okay with that. There’s virtually nothing going against this trend, and even when people do question this, it’s as though their words have fallen on deaf ears.

I also think that sexual education should be used to teach people not to see sex as a normal part of life, so that they won’t act completely childish about sex, as so many sitcom characters and religious demagogues do. I think that we would collectively have a much better outlook on sex and relationships if we were more able to handle it in an adult manner without sugar-coating any of the details, and if we were able to feel normal about it.

Simply put it, I feel that the best way to improve sexual education is to use it to change the way people see sex and relationships, in order to reverse what decades of Hollywood stereotypes and Christian scaremongering have done to how we see it. Only then will we have cured modern society’s obsessive and unnaturally overblown fixation with sex, which was caused by several centuries of sexual repression.

Azure Striker Gunvolt is still horribly delayed in Europe

azure striker gunvolt

A few days ago, Inti Creates announced that Azure Striker Gunvolt, the Mega Man-inspired side-scrolling action game that I’ve been waiting for a long time to play, will get a sequel on the Nintendo 3DS. That’s fine and dandy, but there’s one problem. Azure Striker Gunvolt still hasn’t been released in the UK yet, nor anywhere in Europe.

The game was already released in Japan six and a half months ago, with a US release following shortly afterwards. Since then, no European release date was even announced. We did get a hint that it might be released in the next winter (which, I though meant either December 2014 or January/February 2015). Since October, however, the developers have remained virtually silent, giving no release date whatsoever.

What I’d like to know is what’s taking so long? This isn’t the kind of game that should take long to be released outside Japan and America, but as usual, us European gamers have gotten the short end of the stick. We always get screwed over when it comes to Japanese video games, and it looks as though this game is no exception.

I’ve seen screenshots, footage, and artwork for the game, and I think this is the kind of game I would totally want to buy, even if it was download-only. I’m probably not the only one who feels this way. In fact, as far as I know, there are several gamers out there who are still frustrated by the delayed EU release rate.

Whatever information that is already out there probably implies that an EU release date is coming soon, but how soon that’s going to happen remains a mystery, so for us European gamers, the slow, agonizing wait continues, as does the tradition of us being the last major market to receive Japanese games.

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