Monday, October 18, 2010

October Baseball- Go Giants!

I had forgotten everything I liked about baseball, or maybe I had just tucked it away for the last 6 1/2 years.  Everything changed the day my son was killed in Iraq on May 30, 2004 and baseball just wasn't that important after that day.

Ken was my baseball buddy as he grew up.  As a single mom, I was the scorekeeper or the team mom during his Little League days.  Ironically, Ken chose the Los Angeles Dodgers as his team even though I was a San Francisco Giants fan.  God knows how he made that decision, but maybe he came by it naturally. My brother, Tim and my sister, Shannon are Dodger's fans.  My grandfather was a Giants fan and I found it hard to believe that I was raising a Dodgers fan.  It caused some amount of friendly tension as we attended Giants games.

Ken and I attended lots of Giants games with our circle of baseball friends, mostly at Candlestick Park.  There were the Padres, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds and the Mets, but the most memories came from Dodger games. Gary, Mary, Mike and Celeste were the core group and they saw Ken grow up over the years at so many tailgate parties   Those were the days.  Ken and I had Giants season tickets for a couple of years and one year we flew to San Diego for a baseball weekend with tickets courtesy of one of the owners who was a high school friend of mine.  For that trip we sat in the owner's box and also in the owner's seats right behind home plate.  It was nice to see how the other half lived.

To say baseball was an important part of my son's and my life would be a fair statement.  When Ken joined the Army, I lost my baseball date, but I continued to attend games with friends and watched the Giants play on TV.  When Ken came home on leave from the military, we would attend games as his schedule allowed. If he wasn't physically in California, we would often watch games on TV while talking on the phone, life was good.

When Ken left for Iraq in May of 2003, I knew he would miss the whole baseball season that year, but that was the least of my worries.  I also knew that we would celebrate his return by attending a game or two when he came home from his deployment.  Of course, it didn't work out that way and since 2004 I was lucky if I attended one or two baseball games a year.  I enjoyed myself and the company of my friends, but it wasn't the same; that baseball magic was gone.

Fast forward to the Giants against the Braves in the playoffs last week.  The buzz around the Bay Area was loud enough to capture my attention.  I don't know that I would have watched the game/s on tv because I hadn't even attended one game this year and I hadn't a clue who the current players were or what the team dynamics were.  One of my friends at work, Carolyn, had an extra ticket and offered it to me, so I jumped at the chance to attend a playoff game.   I bought my sunflower seeds and my diet coke, and I was ready.  Carolyn filled me in on all the players, and I came up to speed pretty quickly.  In a stroke of luck, Mike & Celeste were within shouting distance in the next section over.  I can't tell you when that old baseball magic came back, but that night, under the lights at AT&T park in San Francisco, it did and I was happy. 

It was bittersweet, of course.  Ken should have been there, and he was - in my heart.  The Giants lost that night, but it didn't matter; baseball is different in October and I was happy to be there.  For the first time in 6 1/2 years, I watched baseball on tv this weekend.  We're 1-1 against the Phillies and the Giants are coming back to play on their home turf.  I'll be watching those games on tv, too. Go Giants!

War is not a Game- MOH, the battle continues

Clearly, gamers, especially those who play violent war games, get their panties in a knot when they feel a game is at risk of not being published.  There was much ado about the Taliban shooting US soldiers option available on Electronic Art's just released video game, Medal of Honor.  The Taliban shooting US soldiers option caused the game to be banned from AAFES outlets on 300 bases worldwide and in turn, Gamestop also said they would not stock the game on their outlets on military bases.  Less than a week before the game was released, the kerfuffle caused EA to pull the Taliban option of the multi-player game in honor of soldiers, but for $59.95 you, too, can now sit in the comfort of your living room and shoot and kill US soldiers for fun, you know, as in "it's just a game".

I have discovered a few things in these past several weeks about video games, gamers and the culture they live in, and it isn't pretty. Apparently the First Amendment applies to gamers, but not to me when I expressed my opinion that I wanted MOH to be pulled.  I still want Electronic Arts to pull the game because it is a tasteless, violent, disrespectful game that in no way honors the troops as they suggest it does, regardless of any proclamations to the contrary.  Greg Goodrich, the Executive Producer of Medal of Honor said in a statement, that after hearing from military families,
"because of this, and because the heartbeat of Medal of Honor has always resided in the reverence for American and Allied soldiers, we have decided to rename the opposing team in Medal of Honor multiplayer from Taliban to Opposing Force.

While this change should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay, we are making this change for the men and women serving in the military and for the families of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice - this franchise will never willfully disrespect, intentionally or otherwise, your memory and service.
To all who serve - we appreciate you, we thank you, and we do not take you for granted. And to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines currently serving overseas, stay safe and come home soon."
Except, Greg Goodrich also missed the point.  It wasn't the Taliban option that was disturbing.  It was that MOH allows gamers to virtually shoot at US soldiers.  It doesn't matter that other games allow the same options.  That MOH takes place in a current Afghanistan setting while real US soldiers are really dying, does not make EA any better than the rest of companies who do the same. And it shows the wide divide in this country between those who serve their country and those who don't.

I have found that when you don't have a good marketing plan that you are sure of and one that considers all scenarios, because you can't or shouldn't make it up as you go along.  Jeff Brown knows what I'm talking about because he came off looking patronizing, arrogant, stupid and unprofessional, but so did many other spokespeople for EA. Note to Jeff, if you write a letter to a grieving mother, you really should acknowledge the loss or don't bother writing at all, because if you don't, you missed that point, too.

I learned that when someone sends you an email and you respond, that doesn't mean it's an interview, regardless of what they say.   Especially, when I noted "I definitely do not take your questions the wrong way, I am always happy have a discussion with someone who appears to be reasonable.  What you do with my response, may be another issue.  I hope you will respect me and will use my words as intended. "  They didn't do either and that will never give you an ounce of credibility; you  know who you are, Anthony, and you should be ashamed of yourself.  The video game website, Beefsteak will never be the professionals that they purport yourselves to be.

As for all of the responses that were sent to me via Facebook, through this blog and other ways; it doesn't matter how horrible or juvenile or hateful the comments were; they were only words.  I have already had the worst day of my life, so your words did nothing to hurt me or to sway me. I published every post on this blog, regardless of the level of intelligence or profanity, and yes, I acknowledge that there were some responses that were thoughtful. 

Hard core gamers should have figured out that I don't care what gamers (and I do mean that in a pejorative way) think about the game, Medal of Honor, or what they think about my opinion of the game, or about how other games are the same, or worse, and why I am picking on Electronic Arts?  I don't care how gamers think I am impeding Freedom of Speech, or how my soldier son was fighting for the gamers freedom to play violent, objectionable video games, or how I am depriving US soldiers their ability to purchase MOH.  I don't care if you are 17 years old or 50 and that you waste your time playing violent First Person Shooter video games and therefore that makes it, what?  Right?  Because for all of the talk about Freedom of Speech, people seem to have overlooked the fact that I agree that EA has the freedom to release this game, I just think they shouldn't have.

And finally, I wish that people would stop saying that Fox News exploited me when they invited me on their show to talk about  MOH the day after the "Taliban shooting US soldiers" option was revealed, or leaked.  I am perfectly aware of how this media game is played.  I wouldn't have appeared on the show if I didn't know what I was doing or why I was doing it.  Fox gave me the platform and I thank them for the opportunity.

If gamers think I am the only person who doesn't like the game, MOH or other first person shooter games, then they are sorely mistaken.  Nearly all the people I spoke to about this genre of games were shocked and disturbed about the options available on these so-called games. Sadly, we are not the demographic that the gaming industry cares about, but if this controversy caused people to have a conversation about this game and this industry, then everything was worth it.  But mostly I do not think the final chapter has been written about this controversial game.