Borderlands | The Game That Defines FTWRuubin

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Audio

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

There is so much talent on display in this collaboration that it’s amazing. From FTWRuubin, today we have, well, Ruubin! This blogger has mastered the art of humor, and you can’t help but laugh all the way through reading their posts. We’re honored to have Ruubin on board, discussing the quirky sci-fi western shooter Borderlands!

Ruubin recently took on one of my Daily Inklings — my series of writing prompts I publish everyday at midnight!

And here are some other recent favorites!

Give this great blogger a follow — they deserve it! And with that, we hope you enjoy the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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starring

Dm_wdLoUYAAXNuT

Ruubin @ FTWRuubin

Twitter: @FTWRuubin

For the masks…

Game: Borderlands
System: PS3
Release Date: October 20, 2009

1P Start

From games like Borderlands, we learn about kindness, that children can be scary but often grow up being reactive to negative experiences in their childhood, and that people can hide behind a mask so we need to look more at the way they treat people instead of the makeup they wear.

Let me sum up the first twenty years of my life as a gamer with one word — casual. I was the biggest casual gamer out there. For the n00bs that have stumbled upon this post and are wondering what in the world that would even mean, a casual gamer is a gamer that plays a few games a year. Sure, I grew up with video games and consoles (Super Nintendo, Gamecube, Kingdom Hearts, Mario Kart, etc.) but my record of ever beating an actual video game was shorter than the attention span of a goldfish.

Then, college happened. And, the very idea of having to embrace this awful thing called “adulthood” was so intimidating to me that my only coping mechanism was embracing the nerd inside me and evolving from a “casual gamer” to “hardcore.” Yup, I didn’t transition from different levels, I jumped straight from being a Charmander to Charizard himself. I ditched the generic “family-style” games like Super Mario and dove straight into defending the Horde in Northrend and saving Pandora as a Vault Hunter.

Of all the games I’ve played, the two that had the most significant influence on my life was World of Warcraft and Borderlands. Life changing events happened while I was immersed in these two worlds. I graduated college. I got married. Started my first “real” job where I have to think about scary things like taxes, health insurance, and retirement. However, a lot of what I learned from life, I learned from video games. Which leads me into the top three things I learned from Borderlands about adulting that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise:

1. Always Be Positive

I know there are going to be a lot of gamers out there that disagree but Claptrap is the most underrated character in Borderlands. As my gaming friends would say, Claptrap is that annoying NPC you wish would just die already, but let’s be real for a minute. Really, Claptrap is just that one annoying person in your group of friends that always has to be optimistic. Someone whips the entire instance? Not to fear, so and so will give us a pep talk about how it’s not about the dungeons we conquer but the time we spend together as friends, and blah blah blah.

They’re not just always there for the group raids or in the discord chat but the one that gives the best pep talks and advice. They’re just there and frankly, if they weren’t, deep down you’d kind of miss them. They are that little bit of hope that reminds you that life isn’t so bad. And, we can’t help but love the Claptraps in all our guilds, friend groups, etc. Sure, they might annoy us but in most cases, it’s better to hear them hammering on about how positive their day was or how delightful the pizza they just ordered is then listen to everyone else breathing through their mics (thank you gaming universe for the push-to-talk button now).

Moral of the story. Sometimes that positive person gets on our nervous. There’s always a brighter side to things but if you really think about it…at the end of the day, we’re just playing a game. It might as well be a positive experience.

2. Children Can Be Creepy

Tiny Tina has some pretty foul language. Tiny Tina is a twelve-year old explosive expert that likes to blow things (and people) up. How creepy is that? However, you have to admit, her names for things are always really funny. I mean, who else enjoyed searching for the badonkadonks (two rockets) in Borderlands 2?

I mean, Tiny Tina is crazzzzyyyy. When I think back to my twelve-year old self, I’m pretty sure I was playing innocent games like Legend of Zelda or playing outside with the kids in our neighborhood. I wasn’t building bombs. However, in Tiny Tina’s defense, she and her family were some of Handsome Jack’s test subjects so I think poking and prodding a child is just reason to make her into an explosive-building warrior. It also shows that the traumatic events children experience truly do impact the way they grow up (#stopbullying). However, it’s because of Tiny Tina and her crazy language that I usually recommend Borderlands to my friends with a slight disclaimer.

3. You Can’t Hide Behind a Mask

Handsome Jack is the villain for the majority of the Borderlands franchise. He‘s taken over the Hyperion corporation, is trying to take over Pandora, and has stolen the credit from the original Vault hunters. However, his mask can’t hide the truth that he’s actually a fraud.

I think in today’s society we often overlook things because we only see the outside appearance. As sad as it is, we judge people based on their beauty. However, beauty works both ways. Sometimes we might overlook someone who is beautiful and automatically assume they are a bad person. We might judge them by thinking they are obsessed with themselves. Instead of judging people on appearance, we need to look more at how they treat people. In Handsome Jack’s case, it’s easy to see through his mask and realize that he’s just a dictator trying to take credit for things he didn’t do.

Overall, I think we often mistaken the value of video games and the impact these stories have on our lives. So many people are willing to point their finger at video games as the cause for today’s violence and negative behavior in the younger generations that they fail to see the influence some of these characters have to enhance the opposite. From games like Borderlands, we learn about kindness, that children can be scary but often grow up being reactive to negative experiences in their childhood, and that people can hide behind a mask so we need to look more at the way they treat people instead of the makeup they wear.

So, my question to you is, what’s a life lesson you learned from a video game character?

❤ Ruubin

P.S. Thanks to Nikki and Matt for letting me participate in this collaboration!

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form.

Image Source via Borderlands Wiki resource. Borderlands is owned by Gearbox Software and 2K Games.

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Zombies Ate My Neighbors | The Game That Defines 3PStart

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introduction

Welcome to day five of The Games That Define Us! You’re in for a treat this week, as we’ve got some absolute beasts in the writing realms presenting some outstanding contributions.

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

And the award for most fun to design goes to… this one! At least for now. What is it about quirky zombie books, films, and video games that can always be counted on to capture our collective imaginations?

Today we’re joined by The3rdPlayer from 3PStart for a very surprising pick: Zombies Ate My Neighbors. I remember playing this 16-bit cult classic a while back, and it just oozes with quirky undead charm.

Here are a couple of 3PStart pieces you should absolutely pick up after finishing here. Also, kudos to those awesome blog post titles:

All right, enough from me. We hope your braaaaaain enjoys this chapter of The Games The Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Audio

Well, at least we managed to work in one Zombies Ate Me Neighbors remix into the playlist. After that things began to get a little crazy.

 

 

The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

starring

DmRZQAuU8AANmR1

The3rdPlayer3PStart

Twitter: @the3rdplayer

For the neighbors!

Game: Zombies Ate My Neighbors
System: Sega Genesis
Release Date: July 19, 1993

3pstart

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is satisfying candy. It’s a game that I can pop in to start the distraction that will lead to me feeling better. While it’s a fantastic game, there is no story to speak of that will snap me back to reality.

It would be an understatement to say that the early 1990s forged my pop culture tastes. I was preoccupied with horror movies and finding the next great game to play. When I came across Zombies Ate My Neighbors at the tender young age of 10, I only knew two things — the cover looked like a cheesy black-and-white horror flick and the back sounded goofy and entertaining. After convincing my mother to buy it for me, I went home and popped the game into my Genesis, eyes wide and white knuckles on my controller.  

Needless to say, my mind was blown.

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Around this time in my adolescence, I was still playing at games in the backyard over at my best friend’s house. If we were playing a game that would normally involve guns, it was Super Soakers or Nerf guns in lieu of the real thing. Shields were inner tubes or plastic garbage can lids. If we were using magic or superpowers, we found a dodgeball or something less damaging than rocks to lob at one another as spells. While 1993 was the time when reality was setting in inch-by-inch during our hangouts, we still incorporated things like squirt guns and other props into our more frivolous moments.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a crucial element and persistent reminder of those definitive times for a number of reasons. In a very straightforward way, it was a go-to game for me whenever I had someone to play it with. Whether it was my best friend or my mother, it was a bonding experience laced with the frustrations and joys of cooperative gaming. Growing up as an only child, it was one of the first games I really played with friends rather than alternating one controller, spawning my love for couch co-op and eventually online gaming with friends. There’s so much more to how this game really defines me, though.

I’ve told a few folks, if they want to get to know me as a gamer and a person, play Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Plenty of gamers have a specific game or two that they resonate with; it truly feels like the game was made for them. It reminds me of a prominent concept that people talk about with music — if you listen to their favorite song, you’ll understand them better. This game — from the case, to the manual, to the actual game experience — has always felt like my game in that sense. Heck, growing up, I’ve spent two Halloweens as Zeke from both the original game and the sometimes maligned sequel, Ghoul Patrol.

Above everything else, the game is quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The only real direction that you get outside of the instructions comes in the form of level introductions, all of which are some play on pop culture from all over entertainment history. Fighting giant babies, tourists-turned-werewolves, and chainsaw wielding stalkers with soda can grenades and silverware felt reminiscent of movies like Monster Squad and The Goonies where kids had adventures full of danger and resourceful solutions. While there was the fear of Game Over screens, the horror always felt light and tongue-in-cheek. Rather than the game feeling like it was punishing me, I felt like it was there to entertain and challenge me. Much like the films I mentioned, it also gave me the desire to go outside and be active — in between gaming sessions, of course.

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I also learned how important having interesting game design is. At the base of everything, you’re doing the same thing over and over again. The undeniable allure for me comes from the touches that are so easily overlooked. I still remember finding all kinds of secret passages in the pyramid levels and tripping across the secret lair of the questionably named Dr. Tongue in a solid nod to Frankenstein’s monster. I remember getting lost in the hedge mazes strewn throughout a couple of levels, but never being so frustrated that I gave up trying to navigate them. Even the scope of the levels felt different with neighborhoods always feeling like sprawling fields compared to office buildings and cave systems that appropriately felt claustrophobic and a little tougher to navigate but easier to strategize around. Among plenty of other examples, these pushed my interest in game design and intention. Each level just feels custom-made to give a great experience, once again prioritizing my experience as a player rather than a need to pad out the game to justify a price tag. The construction of these levels and small touches cultivated my opinions on what makes a great game so great.

On the deeper personal side of things, Zombies Ate My Neighbors has always been my failproof mental health enhancer. As a huge fan of RPGs growing up, I have plenty of games to go back to for that warm and familiar feeling that bring me back into the positives when my mood is low. Those games, though, have beautiful stories with conflict, self-discovery, and grandiose adventure. They also tend to bring up reminders of the issues that have gotten me into the negative place I’m in, so there can be fluctuation as to whether they can be a positive influence on me as the experience goes on. During a the few devastating events in my life involving relationships and family, I could only get so much mileage out of returning to games I love like Final Fantasy VI and Secret of Mana.

Zombies is satisfying candy in this sense. It’s a game that I can pop in to start the distraction that will lead to me feeling better. While it’s a fantastic game, there is no story to speak of that will snap me back to reality. Levels are short so there is always some sense of achievement and the game really is just goofy fun laced with exploration and reflexive interaction. There are more than a handful of specific memories that I have of racing around as a teenager, straining to make sure I took all of the right precautions to swoop in a retrieve that last cheerleader before some axe-throwing killer doll could, all while I felt like my life was coming down around me half an hour before.

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Like me, this game is nostalgic, quirky, full of esoteric trivia and references, and just a little bit long-winded. Much like an important part of my own philosophies, it also feels like, despite its difficulty, it wants everyone involved to have a good time; developers, programmers, designers, and most importantly, the players. LucasArts has always felt that way, as anyone who has played Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle or any of the Monkey Island titles can tell you. The fact that this game is my go-to for hard times is completely incidental, but I’m glad it has been. Zombies Ate My Neighbors suits me and my tastes to a near-perfect T from the humor to the references and everything else that it has to offer.

adventure map


WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

patreon

This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
become_a_patron_button

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