posted: 2024-02-05

The Media of January 2024

Wow, January! A new year! The opportunities for new things! The chance to reflect on old things! All these things and more took place this year, and with your attention, I’d like to share a few of my notable attention-holders of January 2024.


I’m not going to talk much about my work here. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I can’t. As of a new research contract that began this year (which guarantees my funding through the rest of my PhD, yippeeeee!!!), my results are officially export controlled. That’s a cool way of saying “I’m a half-step away from doing classified research, but I’m still in graduate school, so they’re not going to let me do any of that until I get my Ph.D.”. That’s honestly fine with me, I like what I do and my work keeps me painfully busy waiting for my simulations to finish. I spent a week running 5 total simulations, each taking about 30 hours to run. I have since worked with a colleague in my research group to reduce this time by a factor of 8, which will help make things flow a lot more smoothly in February. Though, I should admit that as I write this little entry, I am 23 hours into a 33 hour simulation, so I guess things haven’t really changed from January into February. Oh well.


My media consumption is NOT export controlled, so I’m able to share a few of my favorite fun things that made my January 2024 distinct from every month I’ve lived through thus far.

“YTPs, Fesh Pince and You” by LowercaseJai

I look past Jai’s lack of the Oxford Comma when I say that this video essay, “YTPs Fesh Pince and You” is one of my favorite Youtube Video Essays I’ve had the pleasure of watching in a very long time.

The concept of a “video essay” on YouTube is something that has become increasingly flanderized in recent years. These videos will have titles like “Why [Insert Already Well Known Video Game Title Here] is an Underrated Masterpiece”. They’ll last far long than necessary, eschewing meaningful analysis and discussion for a bloated summary of the plot and gameplay, thus contribute to the arm race of video essay runtimes. Their creators, or narrators (which are sometimes two entirely different people), will often speak with a voice cadence that projects intellectualism but also mispronounces various proper nouns .

It’s why Jai’s video essay on the 2013 Youtube Poop, “The Fesh Pince of Blair” by KroboProductions, is so refreshing. Jai discusses the video itself, but also does an excellent job contextualizing the idea of Youtube Poops (or YTPs) and thus communicating the reasons why “Fesh Pince” is worth analyzing. Not a single minute in this video is wasted on gags that lack punchlines, or gimmicks that detract from the message of the analysis. Rather, Jai spends time exploring the ideas of what brings someone to create a YTP in the first place, and how these types of videos have contributed to the internet’s unique art experience. I admire Jai’s well-documented research on the subject, and I was particularly impressed by the comparison of these videos to the 1993 French experimental film “Passage A L’acte”. If a 12 minute movie that transforms “To Kill a Mockingbird” into a surrealist nightmare is art worth examining, then so is “Fesh Pince of Blair”.

I’m no film student, or even an art snob for that matter, but I have to wonder what kind of media critic I will continue become as I grow older and the internet becomes even more homogenized. YouTube is undoubtedly becoming more and more corporate, which in turn has made it harder and harder for videos like “Fesh Pince” to breach the levels of popularity they once did a decade ago (oh god fesh pince turns 11 this year?!). This progressive sanitization of the platform has made me reflect on the fact that the average internet denizen no longer understand why “PINGAS!” is an amusing expletive, or why musing “I Wonder What’s For Dinner?” will make me exhale air through my nose with a subtle grin on my face. Even former YTP creators like EmpLemon have leaned more into the idea of creating documentary-like video essays on the media they admire, albeit by maintaining some of the video editing techniques that allowed YTPs to flourish in the first place. In this notion, I feel that Jai’s comparison between YTPs and graffiti is so inspired. Both present art that an observer with preconceived notions of what “art should be” will scoff at, unaware of the creative effort that goes into the art piece’s creation. Again, I’m no film student, or art snob, or anyone who is remotely educated in this field. But I am starting to understand that art is fundamentally a creative expression, and that just because something does not immediately resonate with me does mean it isn’t worth discussing. It’s these discussions I hope to practice to improve my media literacy and appreciation as my prefrontal cortex now begins its decline into senility and the internet continues to become a corporate nightmare hellscape.

Shoutouts to the Goblin Bunker.

Starting a Bunch of New (to me) Games

One of the big takeaways from 2023 was that I should put less pressure on myself when it comes to starting games. While I won’t spoil the exact details of this statement as it is one of the thesis statements of my video (more on that later), I wanted to live with intent and start a bunch of new games.

So I played a few games:

Ristar - Genesis

You can read my full set of thoughts on Ristar on its corresponding page found here. I really liked Ristar’s vibe and I’m glad that it’s one the games I played through in January, especially after it existing in my orbit for as long as it has. It’s a concise game that brings some fun movement to the table, challenges the player to master its contorls, and then thanks the player for giving the game a go. In a gaming era where games are getting longer before they get shorter again, Ristar is a fun reminder that not every game is some 50+ hour grindfest.

Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade Chronicles is a 50+ hour grindfest I happened to start playing throughout January. I’m nowhere near being done with it, I think I have just under 24 hours logged in the game, which is fine with me. While I started the game in late 2023, I spent most of the playtime with it in 2024. Right now I’m about to enter the Eryth Sea, a space of the game I have to assume is a little past 1/3 of the way through the game considering I’m about to reach the head of the Bionis, the “world” of the game. There’s a whole lot I’d like to say about Xenoblade chronicles, that’s kind of what happens when one spends a day with a game, but I think I’ll limit myself here only because I don’t want it to dominate this piece.

What I HAVE found is that the gameplay is definitely living up to the expectations that had been placed upon it by my peers. I am really liking the game as a game that I can play and just sort of do whatever the heck I want, whenever I want, without an overbearing amount of stress. The combat is easy enough to wrap my head around despite all the numbers operating in the background, and it’s because the game only informs me of these numbers when they change. That isn’t to say that the overall game is easy by any means. I’ve had my fair share of “defeats” but defeat in this game has little to no penalty, which is HUGE in my opinion. It makes the game far more approachable than I initially thought, and it makes it so much easier to start and stop as needed. It’s also really helpful to have enemy levels be immediately visible, and thus allow me to gauge whether or not I’ll have a manageable time fighting them. While not a “bedtime” game, Xenoblade Chronicles is far easier to start and stop playing than I initially expected, and I’m really appreciating the gameplay despite its outward complexity.

Ghost Trick

I am so glad that I finally put on my big boy britches and started Ghost Trick. I honestly couldn’t tell you why it took me so long to actually even star the game in the first place. But here I am now, streaming the game on my twitch with my good pal Travis. He has beaten the game, I have not. I am still working my way through Ghost Trick, so I’ll save many of my thoughts for when I’ve finished the game. I WILL say, however, having played almost every other game written by Shu Takumi, this game is very obviously “a game written by Shu Takumi”. No character interaction is wasted. No object presented seemingly innocently is truly innocent. Every single piece of dialogue serves to drive the narrative forward. I am convinced that the bit that Sissel cannot read will actually pay off somehow. I am doing my best to dodge spoilers now that I’m aware of what the spoilers MIGHT be, but I’m really excited to reach the end of this tale. As of writing this, I have helped a certain inmate, D-99 escape from his maximum security prison cell (read, I got past the game’s filter section), so now it’s only a matter of making through the rest of the night.


The Five Games I Finished in 2023 Video is Coming Along Well

I’m still working on a video about some of the games I finished in 2023. I know I would’ve loved to have the project done in January, since by the time February rolls around nobody really gives a hoot about anything from the previous year. They’re more concerned with looking forward to the rest of the year than they are looking back on the previous year. I can’t say I blame them. But I knew that this video wasn’t going to be coming out in January simply because it is not and cannot be my primary priority.

There are 168 hours in a week. I have my research which takes up at least 50 hours of my week, sleep which takes up at least 45, my streaming schedule which lasts around 10, household chores which take 10, exercise which takes up AT LEAST 5 (definitely more on a good week), driving which takes up at least 4, meals which take 4, and so on and so forth. I am maybe able to work on anything remotely related to video editing for maybe five hours a week if I find time to do so on the weekends. It is not necessarily part of my routine, and is instead something I must choose to do. Something I must make time to do for myself. But I accept that this is the reality of my life, and I am thankful for the time I get to work on the video as it means I’m spending time working on something creative, and practicing both mindfulness and humor on a project that means something to me. I am not trying to make a living by producing this video, I am simply trying to find a way to express myself.

I just have to make sure that I get it out of the creative pipeline before this month wraps up. And if the work I’m planning on doing over the weekend is any indication, I should hopefully have the video done before Valentine’s Day. I hope that when it comes out you’ll watch it (or at least have it on in the background as you do something else).

Neocities Maintenance

I’m writing more stuff for my neocities website! I suppose this is probably obvious given that you’re here, reading this. I won’t lie, I’m not an expert in html and web design, but I DO understand how to use Pandoc, and how to convert markdown textfiles to HTML, so I’ve got that going for me.

I’m trying to use this website to express myself on the internet more. I like making videos, yes, but as I discussed previously, they take longer to produce and can be mentally fatiguing. Writing is something I’ve always been doing, though it took me until this month to really recognize that. While I won’t develop this idea in this little update, I do want to express how validating it was to look back on my internet presence in the mid 2010s and observe just much of it was dedicated to writing, whether it was dedicated to posting on forums, playing in Online Reality Games (which was just roleplay with extra steps and contained gaslighting), or writing personal memoir-like pieces. While I don’t necessarily stand by some of my actions or opinions I wrote about at age 16, I cannot deny that I wrote these pieces from an authentic, teenage perspective. I have no intention to share a large fraction of those pieces here on this website, but instead I can use them to retell these experiences with the power and benefit of bias and hindsight. I want to tell the story of myself, and hopefully I can do it through text and writing via this website in some capacity. This is my operating ethos.

Other Matters

Looking Forward - Why do I create?

This past month A number of “internet content creators” have “retired” from making videos for one reason or another. Some of these announcements have made me considerably happy for those announcing their transition into bigger and better things as they leave behind a legacy of significant impact and contributions. Other announcements left me shocked, disappointed, angry, and/or depressed in the wake of recontextualized memories (there’s a paragraph in “On Making on the Internet” that has definitely aged in a way I certainly didn’t expect when I initially wrote it). All of these announcements have left me asking myself: “Why do I create on the internet?”.

I have never been what I would consider to be an “artsy” person. I don’t dress to express myself. I do not modify my physical appearance to confirm to a presentation that goes against societal expectations. I am not punk (or at the very least what narcs would call “punk”. God I don’t want to do this stolen valor thing on whatever punk is, I just want to be authentically me and not some personification of what what the world expects “my brand” to be, ok tangent done back to the piece.). But this has left me now, closer to 26 than 24, asking myself “how do I express myself?”.

I find that all of these things I experienced, consumed, and engaged with in this first month of 2024 allow me to answer this question. I want to continuously broaden my horizons while still sharing my experiences in a way that feels natural to me. This is, again, why it was so validating to recognize that I’ve always been a regular writer, and that developing a written voice is something that comes more easily to me than, say, drawing or creating music. I’m obviously not going to limit myself in terms of creative expression, but I figure if I’m going to lean into my desire to express myself now I should start somewhere familiar but with the potential to still have some challenge. So consider this “listicle-like” to be the first of hopefully many more opportunities to practice types of expression through language. It sure helps that I can hear the sound of my own voice as I type out every single letter on my clickety-clackety keyboard.

In any case, I will continue to practice writing in some capacity. Whether it be for an audience of only so many people like here on neocities, as a second writer on some video scripts for some Youtube friends of mine, or for an audience of just myself, I’m excited to practice this practice more and more. It’s something I can (and hopefully will) do my entire life, and I intend to carry it through here into February and beyond.