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Thursday, May 4, 2017

the Tao of Git Gud

The Tao of Git Gud Do

No, that title is not poor syntax or a guest appearance from Yoda honoring today--although, May the Fourth also be with you.

In China, where most traditional martial arts have their roots, “Tao” roughly translates into “the way” or “path” in English. When Bruce Lee decided to name his fighting approach, he chose Jeet Kune Do: “the Way of the Intercepting Fist.” In this particular case, “Do” also means “way.”  

Following? Good. Then, let us discuss how martial arts and fight games lead us along the Path for a Way to “Git Gud.”

Humble Beginnings
Those in the Fight Game Community (FGC) are not strangers to the saying “Get Good.” Ever wonder what a “Normal” is? You are not alone. Maximilian Dood, a Youtuber and fight gamer, has a series explaining how to "Git Gud." My friend, and A State of Gaming director, Rondy “Mega” Wooten started "How to Marvel;" each episode highlights basics and useful knowledge from Capcom’s Ultimate Marvel versus Capcom 3 to improve a player’s skill set. Why? Because the fight game genre is a beautiful, but competitive mistress and regardless of your fighting franchise favorite, a player must practice and excel at his or her craft with diligence if they wish to advance in a simulated situation-- i.e against the computer-- or against a seasoned player.  

Martial arts are no different. In order to succeed in both, you start with the basics. Devoted martial artists spend several days a week in the dojo or on the mat practicing blocks, kicks, punches, take-downs, and throws from static and mobile positions. You practice these with strict repetition until the motions are natural, fluid, and stringing together a combo is as comfortable as tying your shoes without looking at your feet. The determined, new fight gamer logs hours into a game’s training mode doing the same thing-- attempting to master a character’s normals (usually punches and kicks), blocks, and throws until those simple button presses become basic combos flowing from practiced inputs.
Where some martial arts practitioners have kata (pre-set fighting forms) and patterns that you practice to further understand or develop a style, fight gamers have combo command tutorials that deepen your comprehension of a particular character’s range, hit-box, techniques, weaknesses, and strengths. Only when you have mastered the basics and your personal style of fighting can either fighter consider advanced techniques such as countering, timing, and distance.

So, what drives the fight gamer and the fighter to “git gud?”

The Salt and Sacrifice are Real
I do not care if you are a patron saint: everyone has a competitive spirit within. Nowhere is this more evident than the martial arts and fight game communities. Some of you may remember from before that I practice martial arts. A Martial Perspective briefly discusses my background and what spawned my desire to be a professional fighter. Simply put: I want to put myself to the ultimate test of my skills. You can practice against the hardest Wing Chun wooden dummy or makiwara.. SNK boss God Rugal’s input reading bullshit might push you to madness, and Alpha-152’s 16-hit terror fuels fire, but these opponents pale in comparison to a one-on-one battle with a living, breathing, possibly trash-talking person facing you.

This is why one strives to, as Max’s Scrublord persona says, “get good, or die trying.”

When I play Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore, (DOA2), I exploit Ayane’s weakness whenever the computer pits me against her. Ayane is agile and quick, but whenever her back faces her opponent, she is vulnerable to throws. The computer A.I. in this particular franchise entry has a tendency to linger there as if she will be safe. So, I double-tap forward and input any grab I feel like tossing out at that time. I can do this due to practice, but also because the computer is predictable. A human player, however is not. A human may decide to high-diagonal-back+kick me--a somersault kick Ayane can execute-- if I dash in for a throw. He or she can choose to down-kick for a low sweep that would interrupt, a.k.a. “punish” my step-in.

Enter a Dead or Alive tournament and you may face more than one player that mains Ayane. Just as martial artists from the same school or style do not fight exactly the same, neither shall your fight gamers. Did I mention some fight gamers in a tournament can main the same character you do?

If two high level martial artists from the same style spar or fight, the winner is not determined by fight record, but by their ability to adapt and focus. The best fight gamers, those that “git gud,” know when to execute a command, how to bait their opponent, and are adaptable.

Then, we have sacrifice. A loss on arcade cabinets of old against another player meant several quarter tributes to the fight game gods in order to play again. Centuries ago, a martial arts loss in a duel could mean death. The stakes are not necessarily as high now, but they are stakes nevertheless. The Evolution Tournament Series, an annual fight game genre event held each year, awards prize money and accolades. Many martial arts events do the same. Honor and money are on the line.

Discovering Yourself
Pride is deafening. In martial arts and fighting games. A participant in either discipline can never allow his or her pride to dictate the mind. Umehara Daigo, a legend in the FGC, mentions that he has “...never thought ‘Oh this person is weak, so I can half-ass it.’” But, as I mentioned before, these are competitive environments. Egos inflate and on the Path to Git Gud, the reason and motivation to continue getting good tends to fall under the piles of praise and glory. The old adage says: “the greatest opponent is one’s self.”

In the path to “git gud,” one realizes that the path never truly ends. I believe that even a martial arts master will never perfect a technique or truly understand it. One day, the artist sees a block, the next day a strike, the third day a joint lock, another day a parry, and the discoveries continues until suddenly, you are at a block again, but the block has evolved. Striving to “git gud” did not alter the technique, but rather morphed the practitioner’s school of thought and interpretations.

Surprise, surprise, the persistent fighting game player shares parallel experiences. Chun Li’s Lightning Kick in UMvC3 is no longer just a normal attack. It also serves, as a dear friend displayed, as an evasive air maneuver when dodging a full-bar, X-factor Dark Phoenix regenerating health like an asshole.
Wherever the Path takes you, keep your mind open to learn from others.

Until Later Guys,


Umehara Daigo interview “Mind of a Beast”:

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Beast, The Beauty, and The Wardrobe: Childhood Relived

The Beast, The Beauty, and the Wardrobe

by A'Gia Alston
Twitter: +Xminess 

In March 1989, yours truly joined the Spring baby ranks. Mom knew from my appetite, lungs, and disdain for heat that she had someone special. By two years old, I could walk, talk somewhat, and I swore I could read. Something else happened in 1991 outside of my bookworm pride blossoming, Disney released Beauty and the Beast

I have seen several Disney movies in my 28 years, but this one always had a place in my heart. I had the VHS, two different Belle collectible dolls-- Christmas and Ball-- and a Beast doll that allowed you to transform him into the Prince by removing the mask, tail, and paws. In my late middle school years, I would reenact "Be Our Guest" for my baby cousins and they were awed-- a one woman Broadway show for about five minutes. The live action remake worried and excited me, but I had to see it.

Blessed be the Enchantress that I did. WARNING: SOME SPOILERS AHEAD

I appreciated Beauty and the Beast (1991) because Belle was not your usual female protagonist-- or woman in general for that matter. I could not identify this reasoning as a child, but I felt it. Her character is defined by her choice to go against all society's norms for her time. She rarely wears make up, loves books, had an exemplary intellect, wanted adventure, and did not need a companion to make herself feel better. The older I got, the more I could empathize with her character because I felt like an outsider growing up too.

The 2017 remake made me laugh, cry, sing, and once again remember why I truly adore her character. Watching her assist her father, Maurice, reminded me of finishing my mother's sentences as a child. When she decided to design the first horse-powered washing machine, I could recall building camcorders out of Kleenex boxes, paper towel rolls, and saran wrap. Despite all the bestiality jokes we noticed later, Belle was a true, strong-spirited individual and I applaud Emma being cast for the role; Hermoine Granger already showed us she could tame beasts and teach others the benefit of education and ingenuity.

Childhood Redesigned

Childhood 26 years later looks like this

Disney deserves a standing ovation for this. Everyone is hemming and hawing about what they perceive as a same-sex scene, a country outright said they would only allow the theatrical release if said scene were removed, and I am sitting here cackling like Witch Hazel (yes, that Witch Hazel) as Disney basically flips the bird to stereotypes, society's expectations, and, in a way, Walt Disney himself! As I explained to a friend via social media, Beauty and the Beast (2017) has a brown-skinned librarian in, what we can safely presume is late 17th century France, interracial couples, same-sex romantic implications akin to the end of Avatar: the Legend of Korra, and a woman telling a man "No" in, again, 17TH CENTURY FRANCE.

The animation giant also did something that few remakes ever attempt to do: address plot holes and risk making changes. I will not go in depth here to preserve the sanctity of excitement, but if you watch the original as often as I did, you should have had questions about Belle's background and the Prince (because "[he] is not a Beast"). The remake fills in these gaps and reminds us why sometimes our memories of the past can mean more to us than the reality of our past.

If you do not watch the remake for any other reason, go for the ending-- not the ending you already know, but the climax leading up to it. The last computer graphic animation that made me cry like this was Tidus dying in Final Fantasy X. 

Young or old, the Beauty and the Beast remake introduced several generations to a "...tale as old as time..." and demonstrates that who we love is just as much our choice as who we are.

Until Later Guys,


For your listening pleasure: "Beauty and the Beast" song by Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion

Wondering how I assessed the era? Brush up on gun history & Gaston's Blunderbuss: 

PBS Gun Timeline
History of the Blunderbuss

Friday, January 13, 2017

Nintendo Switch: Snap to the Future

Nintendo Switch: Snap to the Future

January 13, 2017
A’Gia Alston
for A State of Gaming

Holy puns on the run Batman. This morning’s Nintendo Switch Presentation crawled slower than mini Toad hit by a storm cloud mid-race. There were more snaps than a bowl of Rice Krispies and a box of Slim Jims combined. I tuned in around 11:45pm EST and almost turned it off ten minutes in. Yes, the stage presence and presenting process was indeed that horrendous. But, I stuck it out for you lovelies so that you did not have to. So, let’s recap the Nintendo Switch Presentation:

1. $299.99 suggested retail price

The Switch *SNAP*  tiptoes along the $300 line mark when it launches March 3rd, 2017. The hybrid console/handheld will have two Joy-Cons (one left, one right), one AC Adapter (they learned), one docking station, and an HDMI cable. The Nintendo Switch website includes a breakdown of additional peripherals and their prices. Customers can choose between the standard black and grey console, or the black console with red and blue Joy-Con controllers. Based on the presentation, the Pro Controller will be sold separately and customers have to pay for a data plan. Social media overflowed as fans lamented concern over the additional data charge. $299.99 is not the $499.99 Sony aficionados spent on the Playstation 3 back in 2007, but for a system that may not have many launch titles to play on day 1, people are worried.

2) Launch Date: March 3, 2017

Prepare to trade in your systems and games at local retailers for credit because you only have a month and a half to get your funds together. On one hand, Nintendo’s ability to launch Switch with such speed-- when it was just announced and revealed last year-- is admirable. However, the downside is that interested buyers do not have a lot of time to grind for launch day. Tack on the holiday season just ending, and I feel Switch sales day 1 will suffer slightly. The other potential issue affecting the Nintendo Switch launch day is…

3) Day 1 Title Line-Up

...or lack thereof. Maybe I missed the memo in the Nintendo Switch Presentation this morning, but the murmur of playable titles accompanying the launch March 3rd could barely be described as a list. Super Mario Odyssey looks stunning, but it is forecasted for a Holiday 2017 release. Ultra Street Fighter II: the Final Challengers-- a game announcement that set my heart a-flutter with pitter patter-- has a new tabletop mode, two new characters, and configurable graphics settings, but no release date. Note: Ono-san and other members of the CAPCOM team are playing this Live on Nintendo Treehouse as I type and I stopped to watch it.
Courtesy of Harrison at Capcom-Unity

Arms, Splatoon 2, and Xenoblade 2, to name a few others, have release dates after launch. As of 1AM EST, only Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2 Switch are blatantly confirmed as available day 1 titles. This is no small feat and my Twitter feed blew up as fans rejoiced for Legend of Zelda, but that was literally the highlight of the whole show. If anyone watching the presentation decided to dip out ten minutes in like I almost did, they would have been left with a lackluster impression.

4) Legend of Zelda

Get hype and stay hyped folks. Breath of the Wild will be released March 3, 2017 for Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U. There are three purchasing options: a) buy the game alone for $59.99, b) purchase the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Special Edition, or c) go big for the grand Pubah Master Edition. Both editions are Nintendo Switch exclusive collections. Ready for the bad news? Neither edition comes with the actual system. Why is this a problem? Because…

5) No Bundles

The Nintendo Switch is small and affordable, given the technological advancements it manages to embody. However, gamers have grown accustom to bundle possibilities when systems launch. The Switch will not even come packaged with 1-2 Switch to at least get you started.

6) Third Party and Indie Love

Electronic Arts, Bethesda brings Skyrim, Suda 51 and Grasshopper are hinting at Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes...the Nintendo Switch Presentation may have been campy, but the third party support is there and if the Nintendo Treehouse Live feed is anything to go by, Indie developers will feel right at home.
... V: Skyrim</i> Review


Innovation and fun have always been Nintendo’s modus operandi and I do believe the Switch will be a rewarding experience. The revealed games are fresh and the promotion team made sound decisions showcasing various genres. The dry humor, awkward transitions-- someone messed up Suda 51’s introduction and content display-- and forced enthusiasm made the presentation cumbersome. It felt like a product suggestion a team delivers to their boss hoping it will get green-lighted as opposed to a persuasive, explosive marketing hook. It kept your attention for all the wrong reasons.

If you can ignore the stage presence, Nintendo Switch has promise. The launch day line up will not make it a day 1 purchase for me, but I look forward to bringing it home.

Share your thoughts with the A State of Gaming team via Facebook and Twitter. You can yell at me about how cool Mario’s new hat is, the Fight Game Community’s USFII hype levels, or anything else that popped up via Twitter @Xminess

Friday, October 21, 2016

You Know Something is Wrong

There is something very wrong with the world we live in- not the planet. The planet is fine and will continue even as we decay and join it. I mean the human aspect. In the United States, we are born, forced, by law, to receive twelve years of adequate schooling, then told we are adults and need to follow societal norms: get a job, find a career, pay taxes, and then we die. That is it. We are advised to “see all the world has to offer”, but in bursts: short vacations that must perfectly coordinate with our bosses wishes and company production. Vast settings described in books and poetry.

Fools are we all.

This human controlled world is a cage that is as error-ridden as its creators. How can anyone be whatever he or she wants when schooling and internet are only as available as the money in your wallet or the governments’ leniency? A child of meager financial background does not stand an equal chance with those born amidst opportunity. The India of old had a caste system that many outside countries held in disdain. But, is it not true? Steve Jobs did not come from money, but the opportunity presented itself that his great, open mind saw and gunned for- not without setbacks. How many low-income children see this opportunity? How many citizens in internet-censoring countries happen upon opportunity’s door and trudge through? Rarely do we exceed the possibilities of the caste we are born into. The caste system was thoroughly improper to implement, because it lawfully imposed what tends to happen regardless. It removed the hope and determination to be more. However, it is worse to dangle misled hope, while destroying the mountain leading to it.

See, the problem is the structure.  We are constantly herded to find a career niche. If we do not, we are not contributing to society and instead are wasting government money. No one, save the wealthy, can freely roam the world and truly learn from it. If you were to drop out of high school and decide to backpack the country while working odd jobs, most people would consider you foolish and responsible with no future. A portion of the group would be envious of your choice, because you seem to be chasing “freedom”. One may find financial stability this way, one may not, but why must we judge them? Employers look at a varied resume and assume the candidate lacks commitment and is a risk, but do not these same employers willingly go through employees like expendables? Lay offs, providing few hours or demanding all of their employees’ time. A resume with variety and content prior employers says a lot about a candidate. If you complain, you are labeled lazy. If you are young, you are told that you should be fine with long hours since you have the energy to handle it. How are we to appreciate the world around us when we are blackmailed on a daily basis to turn away from it? Thus, those who want to have, do almost anything to obtain; those who already have, make the rules to keep; those striving to give their life meaning are asked to give in and assimilate.

This circle of unyielding bullshit table-flips any possibility of harmony because almost anyone who is not on top- and chooses- not to conform struggles. If one chooses to conform, he or she still struggles- either with his or her own convictions or the looping corporate staircase hierarchy. Why is it wrong to want to experience and learn more? Humans are the only species that forces their fellow kind to choose one way of survival/life and ostracizes them for standing out. Why is there a need for virtual reality or augmented reality? Because apparently, we are tired of the reality we face each day. Think about it. Players escape to video games to be/do/say/try/explore/create/achieve what they want because we live in a crystal snowglobe- a cage where serenity and distortion are often in another’s hands.

Now imagine coming to grips with this in your mid-twenties. Knowing that despite your efforts and hard work the potential to change it is dimming.

[1] “God doesn't make the world this way. We do.”

[1] “God doesn’t make the world this way. We do.” Rorschach Watchmen (2009)

Until Later Guys,

(_ _)m

Twitter: @xminess

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Gotta Catch Em All" Together

With Mrs. Popo following me around, maybe Mr. Popo will finally get the peace and quiet he deserves on Kami's lookout.

Niantic Labs, the creators of "Pokemon Go," added an update a few days ago that allows trainers to carry a buddy with them in-game. We get to relive our childhood dream of watching Pikachu follow us around as we explore Kanto, Johto, and Washington D.C.! 

Sort of. 

Your chosen buddy does not walk next to your avatar in real-time. Instead, you see them stand next to you on your profile page. Once you select a Pokemon buddy via the avatar page menu, that buddy will earn one candy of its type when you have walked a certain number of kilometers. The required number of kilometers you must walk with said Pokemon depends on which one you are paired with. As you might have guessed, the coveted Pokemon require more cardio. As you can see in the link above, I have a Jinx paired with me now. She is going to require 5km. Thus, I would suggest choosing a Pokemon that needs more candy to evolve but, be warned! Switching your Pokemon before they find a candy resets your buddy distance to zero, as others have pointed out.

Now I know what you are thinking:  "Pokemon Yellow," "HeartGold," and "SoulSilver" had this feature, so this is nothing new. To that I say, you are absolutely correct. But who needs a party pooper? Besides, this is your personal avatar we are talking about, not Ash in a coma.

So, who is your Pikachu? Tell me in the comments below, or reply on my tweet with a picture of your partner in PokeCrime!

Until Later Guys,


Twitter: Gia A.
Facebook: A State of Gaming

Monday, August 1, 2016

Kingdom Hearts: Prologue To An End, Pt.1 -

Fans and newcomers of the Kingdom Hearts series rejoice! I tackle one of the most complex video game stories within the past twenty years in preparation for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X

Kingdom Hearts: Prologue To An End, Pt.1 -

'via Blog this'

Monday, May 16, 2016

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X (Chi) Zootopia event is OVAAAAA!

The Zootopia Event quest for #KHUx officially ended May 16th at 3:00 A.M. EST! The event began one week ago, offering five event boards and two avatar boards. The avatar boards ran for 3000 jewels a piece- quite a sum when you could spend the same amount for a chance at ten high-powered medals. Some prefer customization, but I am more of a core player. Thus, I attacked this campaign aiming for TOTAL EVENT BOARD DOMINATION! I suffered a frustrating incomplete during the Epic Kingdom Hearts II Event quest by a handful of nodes, so this time it was personal haha.

The Event boards offered wrist and chest accessories for your "stylin and profilin'" avatars, but the true gold this time around was the Munny and Experience Medal board (pictured above). Each event board also contained on Cid Cost Reduction medal for 200 coins. Merge five of those bad boys together and a 6-Star medal drops from 46 Cost to 41 Cost. But alas, we can jump into the fine details later. For now, check out the Event board recap below and let me know how you did this time around!

Until Later Guys ,


Zootopia Event Recap

Did you miss the event entirely? Then you should peek at these too!

Zootopia Event Quest: Eggcognito
OMEGA Queen Bee Raid Boss

Have questions or comments for me? Leave one below or try the following for a quick reply!

Twitter: @Xminess

Vid Highlights