Replacing Gaming Time with Lifetime Language Learning

By: Joshua Francom

In the past, I’d been a passable intermediate-level Spanish speaker. This was gained from four years in high school and up to 203 level in college. The next level I needed to grow my skill was to begin full-immersion studies either by taking classes exclusively taught in Spanish, or by going to a Spanish speaking country. My formal studies ended around 2011, when life changes forced me out of school. The loss of my skill in Spanish became one of my greatest regrets.

My relationship with Spanish was an odd one. I never felt the need to have a goal in mind for speaking Spanish fluently; I’m not sure why I stuck with it so long. I’d always enjoyed learning about history, political systems, and social studies (for lack of a better term). That being said, the need to travel was never in my blood, nor did I have a particular interest in one culture over another. I also never believed I’d have the money to travel, and I rarely considered the future to begin with. If I had to guess, I may have thought that lacking two years of foreign language studies on my transcript would disqualify myself for college. This is despite having no plans for attending a university. I was on the path towards fluency, regardless of my intent.

Letting my skill fall to disuse by 2019, I struggled to have conversations about even simple topics. The vocabulary was there, but the grammar and conjugation were lost and forgotten. I still remembered some basic idiomatic expressions, but I was definitely not speaking at even a kindergarten level. If dropped off in a country like Ecuador, I could communicate the basics, but it would not be pretty. Communicating in anything other than the present tense was practically a battle; it could not be done with any sense of expediency.

Maybe it was a sense of self-disgust which led me to downloading the app called Duolingo. I needed some way of gaining my ability back after years of considering it. Money for college is hard to come by, time is even harder.

Duo, the mascot of Duolingo. Don’t let the friendly exterior fool you. My family is still missing.

This is where the point of my article begins, and why it relates to gaming at all. I had to find some time in my day, and I found it by reducing my time with video games. I love video games, but lately my will to play them for long periods of time has left me. This has resulted in time being scheduled for video game playing, but instead of playing a video game, I boot up the YouTube app and binge. I then look back on my time and mourn its passing. Other times, I seem to not decide on which game to play; I get choice paralysis because I have a huge backlog to choose from.

Clearly, this isn’t a situation I’d prefer to be in. I like gaming, I just can’t bring myself to actually do it with life happening. I have YouTube videos to edit, a podcast to speak on, a girlfriend to keep happy, a day job to work, articles to write, and a website to run (the one you are currently on). I don’t say this to complain, just to add context to the point. Obviously, something has to give. Since, my video game time has been mismanaged, it just makes sense to take from that time.

Now, video game time is important. It is my primary way to relax. I can’t just replace video game time wholesale with Spanish studies because that’s hours of time to designate. Even during my most active schooling periods, only an hour was designated each day for Spanish. Being in the United States, running across Spanish speakers is rare in my personal life. This means that I’ll largely be teaching myself Spanish alone, with very few people to have conversations with. I would get bored denoting too much time doing anything. Remember, I was getting bored playing video games for too long as well.

Admittedly, when I first started using Duolingo, I wasn’t thinking about any of this. I just spent as much time as I could trying to get my skill back. As time went on, it became clear I needed to find some way to structure my time to keep from going overboard. Fifteen days into my studies, I started considering these things.

The struggle is real.

Out of necessity, I came up with a guideline: I will do my Duolingo lessons before playing video games. Once I get tired of my daily studies, I’ll give myself the go-ahead to play video games. I also decided to try to do my lessons earlier in the day so that I wouldn’t feel rushed to do them in the afternoon. The good thing about this is that if I feel like doing more, sometimes I can do two lessons in a day (morning/afternoon).

This system is working out for me, and I’ve found that my video game time hasn’t actually suffered considering I had a non-functional system before. By the time I finish my lessons, I know what I’m going to do with my time after.

I’ve even considered looking for video games which have a Spanish translation to help with this time. A search has been started for a Spanish language version of a Pokémon game for the Game Boy Advance line or earlier, but I’ve not yet found any. I could search for Spanish translation patches for use in ROMs, but the piracy aspect makes me consider otherwise. Instead of using these patches in emulation programs, I could use them on my Retron 5, since I’d actually have to own the game to use it there. The thing worth considering is whether I trust the site I’m downloading the patches from.

The Classics.

The easiest thing would be to just find actual cartridges of official translations. This is easier said than done. Searching Amazon’s Mexico page yields just English language cartridges for Pokémon. Same thing on Amazon’s Spain page. If this sounds weird, it is because I’m limiting my search to the Game BoyGame Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance titles. The reason for this is because there is less going on in those titles, and I’ve replayed them in English several times. Playing the Spanish language versions would be an easier affair since I have familiarity with them.

Another aspect of my search lead me to asking, Kelsey Spencer of the Pink Gorilla game store, whether any have come through her store. For those who don’t know, Pink Gorilla is a game store in Seattle, Washington. Kelsey was recently at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo (PRGE 2019), and was part of the Metal Jesus Rocks panel which I attended as a fan. To my joy, she told me they pass through the store fairly often. I live in Portland, so a trip to Seattle is a quick trip, but it’s not one I could just take up without some planning.

I also asked every other vendor selling retro games if they knew where I could find the macguffin I’d been searching for. This yielded no results, which is why I felt compelled to ask Kelsey about it at the panel.

A few days after the PRGE, a fellow coworker told me she was going to Seattle on vacation soon. Further, one of her planned trips was a visit to Pink Gorilla. Unfortunately on her visit, she did not find any Spanish language Pokémon games. I’ll simply need to plan a trip myself some time.

I hate to leave this article in a state without resolution to a problem. But this article, much like my Spanish studies and my search for a Spanish language Pokémon game, may never end or reach its goal.

This is not a paid promotion for Duolingo.

Dr. Disrespect and Privacy Law

By: Mitchell Lord
Editor: Joshua Francom

Dr. Disrespect is an infamous Twitch streamer, who has recently won Streamer of the Year for 2019. This reminds me of an old controversy which involved taking his persona too far. This is an old controversy; the statute of limitations has well expired in the minds of the denizens of the Internet. Five months is too long for most to consider ‘recent’. As the name implies, he’s known for being edgy, and his E3 live stream was no different. He decided to film every second of his E3 visit to make sure every bit of his disrespectful hyperbole was captured.

That would be fine, but the unthinkable happened: he had to pee. Since he was filming every second of footage, this led to a conundrum. He could choose NOT to film some of the footage or, as he ultimately decided, to film himself going into the bathroom, peeing, and looking over at the guys next to him trying to not attract attention. Needless to say, it wasn’t a winning strategy. It led to his E3 badge being revoked, a two-week suspension, and massive amounts of publicity online. This included a surprising mix of both positive and negative publicity.

Details on the event are scarce, but after some research I found the clips. Surprisingly, in my opinion, it was tame considering the controversy. Unless more video clips become available to provide context, it’s just Dr. Disrespect walking into the bathroom with the cameraman at a distance while he’s using the urinal. There are few people visible on camera. Since it’s a distance shot, they’d be hard to identify, and he’s at least smart enough to make sure nobody can get a clear image of anyone’s genitals. Similarly, the second clip is him walking into a stall, making a dumb joke, and then heading in. In no instance was he clearly announcing intent to violate the privacy of others.

Dr. Disrespect in his natural habitat.

Having done more research, I decided to look for a more explicit standard. Did he violate the law? At the very least, is there a law which is relevant to this situation? Sure enough, I found one. Now, whether he violated this law would be up to a lawyer, and a good defense lawyer could probably get him off anyway, but at least it provides a standard.

There are two relevant laws I could find. Firstly, California Civil Code 1708.8. This law concerns the “invasion of privacy”. Not to quote it completely, the gist is that someone can’t make any sort of recording of another person if there is a “reasonable” expectation of privacy, or a reasonable person would find it offensive. This is where a lot of the debate came in. What is “reasonable”. Is it “reasonable” to not be recorded at E3. Can one be recorded passively in a bathroom? I did more peeking into it, and came across the Peeping Tom laws!

California Penal Code 647(J) defines the examples of where someone has a reasonable protection of privacy. Now, Dr. Disrespect is not a Peeping Tom. The law makes it clear it must be secretly to fall under 647(J). Dr. Disrespect had a full-fledged camera rig, and it was clear people were aware. One person even looks directly into the camera. But, considering places where privacy is expected, a bathroom is at the top of the list for 647(J).

California law is powerful, not even bears can escape California under its watchful gavel.

Now, it is clear Dr. Disrespect’s transgression was accidental, it was still a transgression made in poor judgment. He could possibly be breaking the law. Furthermore, Twitch can be considered liable for it! Punishing Dr. Disrespect may become a matter of survival for Twitch. E3 already punished him, after all, and Twitch needs to show that they are against such things as well.

One other thing to bring up: no less than PewDiePie himself chimed in on this. He believes that Dr. Disrespect was unjustly punished. He points out the accusation that there could have been minors present, doesn’t hold water since E3 doesn’t allow minors. This is not completely true.

E3 doesn’t allow people who are under the age of 17. However, California law defines a minor as under the age of 18. This leaves a one-year window, in which a minor can visit E3. Which would make Dr. Disrespect potentially liable if he accidentally filmed any of them. Of course, figuring this out is almost impossible since he took all the clips offline, save for a few that are recorded. It is still however, worrisome enough to bring up.

Our last topic: justice. Quite frankly, I consider their two-week suspension light. It’s true that it will cost him a large sum of money, but Dr. Disrespect is one of the most popular Twitch streamers. Having enough publicity to be covered by major media outlets means that a two-week break won’t cause him too many problems. In fact, during a previous suspension, his income went up the second he got back because of the increased publicity surrounding his return.

I think Twitch should have given him a fine instead of suspending him. This would have helped balance out the increase in income he’s receiving from publicity and provide a more immediate punishment. What Dr. Disrespect did was (while done out of foolishness and not malice) wrong.

Twitch needs to make sure streamers are provided an incentive to tow the line on what is or is not acceptable. Doing otherwise can lead to instances such as Pewdiepie’s N-bomb, or Logan Paul’s use of a corpse for publicity. Admittedly, some of this happened on YouTube, but the point stands that neither service can provide incentive for actions not to cross the line into criminal. This is especially true in today’s day and age, where quick publicity beats ethics. For many people, it is clear being talked about about is better than being a good person. If we consider the fact he won Streamer of the Year, it worked for him.

For Chaos and Conquest

By: Mitchell Lord
Editor: Joshua Francom

Hi. I’m Mitchell, a new reviewer here. I used to have my own set of blogs, but I figure I’ll start fresh. It’s been a long time, but I’ve finally come back to do some game reviews.

First off, one that’s quite close to my heart. You see, I’ve been a Warhammer fan for ten years, starting with the tail end of 7th edition, and moving on to 8th edition. Which, for those who play Warhammer, promptly marks me as a ‘n00b casual’ who needs to ‘get gud’. At which, I shall have my Dark Angels Gunline detachment, together with my Space Wolves Wulfen, annihilate you in the Fight Phase and the Shooting Phase. I also have been quite attacked to the Old World, however. Ever since I discovered it, Warhammer Fantasy fascinated me.

The numerous nations, the lore, the characterization. I’m especially into Gotrek and Felix, and the lore of Norsca, a world of Chaos Viking Barbarians. Along with the Dwarves, obsessed with gold and grudges, bringing up my memories of Lord of the Rings when I was seven.

Admittedly, this is a bit of a digression, but it’s all to establish my pedigree. I am a huge fan of Games Workshop and Warhammer. That’s why when I heard about Chaos and Conquest, I got very interested. I found myself thinking, “An RPG in the Old World, where you play as a Chaos Tribe? That seems like, a fun idea. There is plenty of lore, fun creatures, and potential for some nice PVP.”

Unfortunately, the game produced is a blatant ripoff of Game of War: Fire Age. If you are unfamiliar, Game of War is ‘City Builder’ game more famous for its advertisements that consist of rather blatant fan-service, then any actual gameplay. It’s critically hated, but inexplicably popular; much like the Bayformers movies, actually.

I put ‘City builder’ in quotes, because only in theory does it consist of any actual ‘meat’ of building a city. In this game, the city building almost entirely consists of hand-holding quests where you are told exactly what to build, where, and with no real other options. The upgrade tree is almost entirely linear as well. In addition, every building is on a timer, with only two buildings upgradable at a time. An average city only consists of dozens of buildings.

The game also includes resource gathering. You send your army out to gather resources, again with a max of two at a time. These quickly become insufficient for your needs once the freebies run out, which leaves only one alternative.

PVP! Which consists of two armies throwing themselves against each other, with only basic strategy, and the winner being the one who has the bigger stick. If you’ve got bigger, badder units? You win. If you didn’t, you lose. That’s the game.

As for PVE? There really isn’t any worth noting. There are a few areas to conquer, but they’re mostly just outposts. The advertisement’s focus is clearly on PVP, and there is no story to speak of. This is a game that consists of one purpose: To show off how ‘gud’ you are at this game.

Chaos and Conquest, as the advertising of Game of War states, exists solely to show off how loyal you are to the Dark Gods. You play it solely to beat up other players. There’s nothing more of note to the game. The story mode simply consists of vague tutorials. I mean, sure, they name-drop the characters. But, they’re ultimately just there to give the tutorial and then head off.

All-in-all, there’s just nothing to the game to recommend it. The entire structure of the game has been done before and done better. If someone really wanted to play a game for just a little bit a day? Well, there are plenty of others. If someone wants to play a game where you can beat up noobs? There are plenty others. About the only thing it has is a Warhammer license, and even then? It’s clearly being wasted.

I give this game a 1/5. Only play this game if you want to sacrifice your wallet to Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure. And, in this case? Addictions that take everything from you, and give nothing back.