Preparing for Alice: Madness Returns

Back in March, I was stationed on the Children’s floor of the local library that I work at, tasked with tidying up the shelves and making sure the place was orderly. I always admired it because the majority of the books I enjoyed from elementary school well through high school were aptly defined as children’s books. While I never could read everything I set my mind to back then, I always walked past a certain title that made me wish I were a kid again, with no responsibilities, free to leisurely read. Before Harry Potter took the position of the most important children’s book of our generation, that title was firmly held by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

I checked it out immediately, and made a habit to read a couple pages a day since then. I finally finished it last night, and I not only enjoyed it for the literature it was, but I believe its going to be very important in terms of understanding the context of the upcoming game based upon it.

Alice: Madness Returns is the sequel to 2000’s American McGee’s Alice. Both games take the original plot from Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in a decidedly darker direction… And darker is putting it lightly. Wonderland, the utopia as it was shown in the books, is corrupted by Alice’s mind, twisted into a bloody, grotesque, evil incarnation. It’s inhabitants also morph to reflect these changes; The Cheshire Cat goes from a plump, jolly feline to an emaciated feral beast with pierced ears. The Mad Hatter, constantly dining with tea and a pastry, regresses into a green-skinned fellow who spends his time experimenting on the other hapless denizens of Wonderland, taking them apart and replacing their body parts with machinery…

…This isn’t Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter, and this isn’t the Wonderland any of us were taught in grade school. These are just a few differences, but you get the picture.

Although Alice: Madness Returns is clearly an action adventure title, I think it’s very important to not only take into account the game play elements, but also the atmosphere and the storyline. Many game reviews will either praise an action game’s storyline if it’s good, or hastily push it to the side and not weigh it as much if it’s bad. For this game, I think both sides will be important to take into account. Not many games draw directly from the world of Literature like Alice does, so I think this game will definitely be a treat.

Alice: Madness Returns will be dropping on June 14, 2011.

It’s Been a Year Already?

It’s a calm night. I look to my fireplace altar, my college’s newspaper, and sometimes, Google. These are a few sources, but they’re all places where you can go to see what I’ve done. While it hasn’t been a drop in the bucket compared to the professionals of this field, I’d like to think I’ve made a great start. Somewhere out there, my words have touched someone else. I’m not saying that I’ve given a spiraling depressed person some hope for life, but in the span of a year, I would like to think I’ve done something nice. To me, it’s something important.

This month marks an anniversary of sorts. I’ve been pursuing video game writing for a year now! It really doesn’t feel like it, but it has been a great ride so far.

The duties of an aspiring video game journalist are always as tough as they want them to be. One could occasionally write game reviews, and just be satisfied with quietly submitting their work onto a blog like this. If that isn’t fulfilling enough, they could kick it into high gear; suddenly, they would be cycling through an endless queue of titles, playing and reviewing from sunshine till moonlight. Of course, people in my position aren’t being paid for doing the same bread and butter things that actual gaming websites and publications pay their staff for, and that’s okay. If you’re like me, you’re also a college student, and have a job to top that off. More often than not, it’s going to be difficult juggling two important responsibilities like those with a time consuming hobby. Nobody ever said it would be easy, but doing this for a year has definitely helped me grow not only as a writer, but as a lover of video games.

What have you learned in one year?

Writing about games has introduced me to a new sphere of knowledge in this field. I always had a relatively small view of the gaming industry – A select few entities were covering the entire scene. In a nutshell, I simply thought the scene was like this: Publishers and developers worked on the games themselves, while a couple of publications had the magazine aspect of covering games taken care of, and the rare but beautiful G4TV (when it actually has video game-related programming) occupied the airwaves, giving a face to the coverage. Anything in between previously didn’t exist to me.

What dawned on me was the legion of hopefuls that looked on at these lucky people who have the privilege of making a living being surrounded and working within the gaming industry. It was something I couldn’t fathom. By delving deeper into the communities of various video game publications such as 1UP.com, I saw many people just like me – people with dreams of working in the industry. Whether that may be as a competitive gamer, in art, programming, or writing, I started to see how dense and complex this industry I grew up alongside truly was. As a friend of mine took his first step as an art intern at a video game publication, I started to believe that it was possible. I also was inspired by another good friend whose designs were picked up to be the basis of an iPhone game. People close to me were making things happen! I began to see that it was possible to break into this world and work in it as well. Most importantly, I started believing that a pipe dream such as “working in the video game industry” actually had potential to be made true.

What have you accomplished thus far?

At the time of this article, I’ve reviewed six games. Each title has brought me great joy in covering because I’ve not only played through them like everyone else does, I went the extra mile in analyzing what makes them good, or bad. My reviews are my pride and joy, and my experience in doing them has helped me develop as a writer. Rogue writers such as me have to also make sure their stuff is getting out to readers, and for me, this has manifested in the formation of the Facebook Like page I dedicated to this blog. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s another way that I can forward my stuff out for people in the vast social network to see.

For those of you that I’ve continually pestered in conversation to check out my blog, thank you so much for actually coming here and seeing what I’m doing.

I have tried my hand at contributing my work to video game blog sites (1UP.com, specifically) as well. I enjoyed sharing my writing with other like-minded people, and while I was doing it, it was a blast. Unfortunately I have stopped posting my work there a few months ago. I would love to start doing this again at 1UP or another place, when I’m able to make the time commitment in keeping up with another website that for the most part already accomplishes what I do here.

What do you plan to do next?

So where do I go from here? In short, I’ll keep plugging away. Like I said before, my blog stands between the two main demands of my time: work, and school. Both of these will definitely remain fixtures in my life, but despite that, they’ll never keep me down and out for too long. If I ever go a while without posting something new, just know my mind is constantly bouncing to this blog.

In terms of content, I would love to start writing a number of different types of articles in addition to what I’m already doing. Here are a couple ideas I’ve either been mulling around in my head, or have been suggested to try:

1.       More articles about the industry

2.       More interviews

3.       Nostalgia pieces

4.       Covering events such as E3 (this will be the hardest, but we’ll see!)

5.       Persuasive arguments

6.       Videos / Podcasts

7.       Getting my work published in a magazine

I’d love to hear from you guys. Despite the fact that I started this blog for my own use, each comment and every morsel of feedback help me so much. I strongly encourage all of you to take that small effort to write back to me. This could be a comment at the end of my posts, on the links I post via Facebook, or as a private message. Any way you think is necessary, I want to hear what you guys have to say! Do you want to see me review a certain game? Let me know! Was I incorrect in judging a game; too harsh or too lenient? Let’s talk about it. Responding and holding an ongoing dialogue with readers is what keeps writers doing what they do, and for me, I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Writing about video games is my ticket to accomplish my dream of working in the gaming industry. With that said, I want to thank all of you again for supporting me by coming to my page here and seeing what I’ve got to say. There are a number of websites and publications that do what I do and much more, and knowing that you guys make the time to check out what one person is doing really means a lot. Thank you all!

Here’s to another year!