April 1st. As a gamer, this is the only day I dread all year long, well, other than my anniversary (I tend to lose track of the days and miss it, rush to buy a crappy gift, and have to put up with the results of my forgetting for months, but that's another story). It is this one day that all my fanboy hopes get raised, then hopelessly crushed as I learn the truth. I'm not really gullible, I'm just a gaming fan, like you.

See, April first is the day that all the game companies and media decide to taunt us gamers. These "jokes" tend to take the shape of your favorite childhood memory re-imagined for today just so you can get your hopes up. Of course, it's all fake, so on the first day of April expect to disbelieve all you read or see. Take this trailer from IGN, you know the one I'm talking about. Yes, I'm referring to the Legend of Zelda movie trailer. The thing about that damn trailer was that it looked pretty decent. Sure, it was obviously fake and had poor quality graphics, but it still sounds more interesting than a Halo movie. That one was just evil. Pure evil.

While a lot of sites had similar gut wrenching articles and videos similar to the Zelda movie trailer, I found some others that really got into the spirit of the day (and not in an evil, heart breaking way like IGN). Most sites did have a fake story or two like the unmentionable one above, but a couple of others went all out. Both Gamespot and Destructoid got a little more involved in honor of the day.

Gamespot's site remained identical to its regular format, but every story on the page was a fake. From the Rock Band PSP story to the Q & A with David Jaffe and even one about a preview of Half Life: Episode 3 with major spoilers. My favorite thing on the site though has to be the very civilized User Soapbox section. That was obviously a fraud. Since when are Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo fans that cordial to each other? I did happen to like the top 10 list at the bottom and the poll that gave away the joke. I wonder what the results were.

Now Destructoid went through some major revisions for the day. On April 1st, 2008 Foxtoid.com was born, and lasted for exactly one day. I thought overall that their effort was really well done and pretty funny to boot. I loved the videogame terrorists on the loose video. I'll never look at a certain iconic character the same way again. The Foxtoid site is history, but the stories are still there. Here's the first story that was posted for the day. I'd describe it, but I don't want to spoil the satire.

Those sites are all well and good, but my absolute favorite gag of the day has to be from Blizzard. Yes, even those respectable people at Blizzard decided to get into the fun. First up was an announcement and trailer for an upcoming game...for the Atari 2600, and that's all I'll say about that. They also had an addition to their latest expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. This new feature is the inclusion of a new class. A bard class to be exact. Now what makes this bard different from all others is the ability to play an axe (axe as in guitar not forestry equipment) to defeat your enemies. I could actually see this type of thing being possible and a really successful addition to WoW, but it'll never happen. Just keep dreaming people, and get some sun.

With the exception of a couple of articles that were just plain mean to my fanboy tendencies, the day was a pretty good success. I think next year (if I'm still writing this darn thing) maybe I'll join in the fun. I can take a joke, really. Wait, I do have a late joke for this year though, and here it is...


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I don't know why. I know I probably should. I know that they want me to. I know everyone else is doing it, so why not me? No, I'm not talking about drugs, alcohol, or something else not so good for me. I'm talking about buying into all the hype for these high profile games coming out. I know millions have been spent on marketing, that special editions are in the works, that limited edition consoles are out there, but I just couldn't care less (well, maybe I could but I doubt it). Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 hold no interest for me. Why? Because I've played the progenitors of both series and found them...meh.

I remember my first forays into gaming. In the late 70's to early 90's, the arcade was the best place to hang out and have good, clean fun. I would always bum a couple of bucks from Dad, then when I ran out of money, hit up Mom. The games of those days were pretty simplistic both visually and with depth of story. You had your shooters, maze games, and the occasional racing title. It was new and I loved it, but then I met Pong.

Console gaming started getting my interest in the early 80's. I remember going into KB Toys and looking at all the Atari, ColecoVision, and Intellivision games. There were a lot of arcade ports in those days, but as the years went by, console games changed. Stories were introduced, simplistic at first, then increasingly involved. Mario and Zelda evolved into the likes of Metal Gear and Final Fantasy. The days of the simple arcade games were numbered, it was just that nobody knew it yet.

Games eventually received better visuals with more control options and more complex story lines to compliment them. As time went by games began getting movie sized budgets and required large teams to make. The days of the lone programmer (although still possible, even in the era of multi-million dollar productions) were slowly disappearing. What resulted out of this boom of increased budgets was a need for the games to sell even more to turn a profit. Enter the birth of the hype machine.

Even in the early days, marketing was having a dramatic effect on the sales of games. I still remember an ad I saw at a drive-in for Dig-Dug. I don't remember the ad showing any actual game footage, but then again, what was there to see? Marketing would also evolve with gaming, from the early attempts at print and TV ads to the million dollar promotions of today. The first modern promotion that caught my attention was the Final Fantasy VII TV ads. Those ads were a sight to behold. Never before had I seen visuals so intriguing for a game. The hype worked for me. That was the reason I bought a PlayStation and my first game.

Unfortunately, there have been too many games in the vein of Final Fantasy VII turned out to be great, but with the many, many ads after that, I became a little more wary. Hype can help, but it can definitely can be a double edged sword, just John Romero. Oh, and are you his bitch yet? No? According to Ion Storm, you should be. Daikatana was the result of hype without a quality game to back it, and sales suffered as a result. Daikatana and too few in the realm of FF VII. That is why I don't believe the ads. I'm sure both MGS 4 and GTA IV will be huge sellers, but the hype is definitely a turn-off for me.


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