The Herald Cometh – Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball


In the depths of Bowser’s Castle, no doubt a plan unfolded most dire.

We must strike back at this free-to-play horde, but how, the Nintendo suits inquired.

We will wrap real money purchases in story, with solid mechanics and feel to boot. We will then rake in all the money, and dance upon our loot.

A dog recruited, yes, he will be their undoing.


We will tell a tale of hardship and tears, of a marriage gone awry. Of puppies in need, mini-games will provide their feed, players can haggle till the pups howl high.

Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, simple yes, but that is what we will call it.

A herald of games to come, the players will never see it coming.


Note: Nintendo Badge Arcade invaded my 3DS last week. A riff on the popular Japanese crane game genre, Nintendo Badge Arcade features:

  • Solid controls/gameplay mechanics.
  • Daily Nintendo news and trivia.
  • Real money transactions. A dollar for five crane drops/plays.
  • Five free practice plays, on the practice machine, per day.
  • Nostalgia. Lots of nostalgia.
  • A rabbit that is as evil as Tom Nook.

The game boils down to using a crane to grab digital badges to decorate your 3DS menu screen. The badges do nothing else. Nothing. But the badges do look cool.

Nintendo has created a unique formula for the free-to-play market. I shudder though to think of what real money transactions will take place in their upcoming Pokémon GO. Gotta catch them all, right?

The Written Dead – Video Games Deserve Better


The Walking Dead: Season 2. An intense melodrama framed against a backdrop of a society unhinged. Survival key to everything. Language uncouth.


Telltale Games typically feature the above word, repeated over and over, like a chorus of a modern worship song. As the drama of young Clementine spirals out of control, the characters around her sing out. A fearful hallelujah to an unknown god.


What did you just say?

I struggle with language in video games.

Coarse language has the appearance of a written shortcut. A writer’s bloody tool to add flavor, character, and meaning without earning it. I want depth. Written shorthand short-changes the player. No matter what the situation, no matter how “realistic” such words might be, I see this as lazy writing.

Weaving characters into intricate plots is an art. Video games are art in motion. While time can be a commodity, a reason to force narrative shorthand, I think that it is an excuse.

– Words NEED to be strung together in such a way that the audience, the player, is left savoring wordplay.

– The English language DEMANDS exploration. So many words lie neglected, dusty, and ready for use.

– Characters NEED to be developed to the point where they have EARNED the very words they speak.

I am not calling for shelter but for thoughtful engagement and consideration of the words used in video games. The worlds we explore deserve better.

Wii Music – Music of the Night


Tabitha, Wyatt, and I played Wii Music for the first time. Our jam session ended in a battle.


Mii Maestro, a minigame within the game, allows players to use the Wii Remote as a conductor’s baton. Your repressed childhood dream of conducting an orchestra:


At the end of each musical piece, the game rates your conducting ability. Game on, Hall family.

The fog of music has erased my mind of whatever score Wyatt received. My own brilliant performance of conducting Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was spectacular. I knew that I had nailed it. I also knew that there was no way that Tabitha was going to best my score of 74. I was wrong.

Not only did she beat my score with an 80, her inspired rendition received a thunderous applause. Mii applause.

My pride shattered. How could I have been schooled in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Wait, did I just type that?

I spent $0.97 on Wii Music. Worth every penny for a small moment of friendly competition. Now to find batteries for the other Wii Remotes. Multiplayer awaits.

The Dangers of Comparison


“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Comparison is dangerous.

We often compare ourselves to others:

  • How come I haven’t started my own company like her?
  • Why don’t I have a truck like him?
  • If he can write a book, why can’t I?
  • Why do they have a housekeeper and we don’t?

We even compare ourselves to the person we see in the mirror:

  • I wish I weighed the same as I did when we first were married.
  • If only I was optimistic like I was back in college, things would be different.

The act of comparison is a circular thought trap. We become me-focused, selfish, ignoring the blessings God has given us. People he has surrounded us with; things we have been given for his glory.

This month, I want to shine a spotlight on the comparison trap. Don’t fall for it. Change your focus. Join me as I write down what I am thankful for, once a day, until Thanksgiving.

If anything, we’ll be thankful that this exercise in thankfulness is over.


Note: This all boils down to an issue of the heart. There is nothing wrong with measuring ourselves. Grades let us know how we are doing in school. Performance reviews show us how we can do better at work. The world of social media can cause us to live in comparison to others. It’s time to stop.

A Crash Course On The ESRB


The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) looms large over the video game industry. A non-profit, self-regulating body, they exist to help parents make informed choices.


My wife, Tabitha, and I were in a GameStop. Standing in line, we watched a father and son approach the register. The store clerk looked at the game, asked the parent, “do you know that this is rated M and that it has the following in it?” Dad, shocked, decided to pass on the game due to listed content. Him and his son walked away from the register empty-handed. The ESRB rating had informed the parent; the ESRB rating had done its job.

The recent release of Minecraft: Story Mode sent me on a quest of my own. I found the ESRB’s nebulous content descriptors lacking. Just what is the ESRB? Do they screen/play every video game released? How exactly do they determine whether content is age-appropriate or not? Reading through the helpful FAQ the ESRB has posted on their website, I learned that:

  • Submitting games to the ESRB is completely voluntary. Yet, retailers and console manufactures have created policies requiring games carry an ESRB rating. The entire system is self-policing, in a way.

ESRB raters do not play reviewed video game submissions due to:

  • The volume of games submitted
  • Personal bias/worldview
  • Differing in-game experiences (especially games that feature choice)

Raters do revisit games after release to verify accuracy of disclosed content*. Which is good to know.

Each game features a Rating Summary (recently rated games are featured on the ESRB home page). Check out the example below from Yo-Kai Watch:

This is a role-playing game in which players search for and capture ghost-like creatures (Yo-Kai) around a city. Players identify and interact with various Yo-Kai, earn their friendship, and use them in turn-based combat against other creatures. Damage is indicated by colorful light effects, smacking/zapping sounds, and depleting hit points. The dialogue includes some references to violence (e.g.,“This will only hurt for a minute…After I cut your heart out…You won’t feel a thing.”). The game includes several depictions and references to bodily functions: a Yo-Kai called Snotsolong with mucous dripping from its nose; Yo-Kai (Cheeksqueek and Buttsqueek) with buttocks for heads that use flatulence-like attacks (Text reads “Emits an evil fart that significantly lowers the SPD of its enemies.”).

For parents everywhere, the ESRB represents a first line of defense in making an informed purchase for your child.

Game on.

Wave Splinter*Disclosed content is submitted by the developer to the ESRB highlighting possible problematic content.

For more information on the ESRB and their rating process, you can click here.

Gamers Are Stupid


(Dear Reader, Please take a literal minute to view the above source material. You’ll thank me later. Promise. – B)

Grab yer pitchforks! Equip a torch or flashlight? Best prepare. We have now entered the land of the 700 Club. Where the still breathing Pat Robertson reigns. Doing good. Fighting the fight.

A viewer writes in:

Recently, I was looking through my daughter’s phone, and I found many pictures of a cartoon skeleton with one glowing blue eye and wearing a hoodie. When I asked my daughter why she had such demonic images on her phone, she told me there was nothing wrong with it because it was from a video game. How do I help my daughter not be attracted to such demonic things?

Pat Robertson was born during the Great Depression. Public Works project Hoover Dam, the dust bowl, and prohibition were headlines on March 22, 1930. Movies were the accepted gateway to escape, a retreat from harsh times. Video games a dream of dreams.

There’s got to be some video game that isn’t so evil, but those things are filled with violence…and brutality, it’s unreal.

Why would any self-respecting gamer expect an 85 year old to understand video games? Especially Pat Robertson. Gamers are stupid.

As Twitter lit up with this video yesterday (11/3), the bandwagon hitched, and Robertson declared a fool. But what wasn’t questioned, beyond Pat’s demonic assumption, is what are “demonic images”? This is where Pat failed. He ran with a blanket term and commented on a video game he knew nothing about. His viewer failed him; he failed his viewer.

Video game headlines on Pat Robertson are low hanging fruit. “Hey, let’s see what that crazy Christian guy is up to today.” I wish Pat had taken the time to dig deeper. To weigh his words. Gamers can be stupid. Don’t feed them, Pat.

Bad Parenting: Pete – The Monster in the Closet


Meal time conversations…

Just the other day, I told Wyatt that a monster by the name of Pete lives in his closet.

How do I know Pete exists, you may ask? Well, Pete is afraid of the dark, so he turns on the closet light.

“If you ever see the light on in your closet, that is Pete.”

I then told Wyatt that I have to feed the monster on a daily basis to keep him from attacking Wyatt in his sleep.

At this point in the conversation, my wife looked like she wanted to kill me. She muttered something about me sleeping in Wyatt’s room if my story spawned nightmares.

That led to a trip to check the closet. We walked into his room, opened his closet door, turned on the light. Nothing. Wyatt somehow tripped as I gave him a little push, landing on something cushy. I closed the closet door and walked away.

When Wyatt came out, I told him that his name is actually Pete. He is the monster! AHHHHHH!

Talk about a twist ending. Therapy won’t be cheap.

Note to Self: Next time go along with the setup. It was perfect! Scare the kid. Not too late to redeem this story. A simple closet light turned on, right before bedtime, might work wonders. Or not…