Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fear and Rejection

I have what you might call an obsessive personality.  I get very intensely into things for a brief amount of time.  How long?  It's hard to say, but it can go anywhere from a few days to a month or so before I finally calm down.  In that time, it's basically all I can think about, all I can talk about.  Sometimes it's general activities, sometimes I get fixated on specific subjects, but I get swallowed in a the tide and I can't come up for air.  It's virtually impossible to tear myself away when I'm like this.

Many people can talk about how they get easily distracted, how they might have spent an hour looking at Etsy projects instead of working.  "Oops!  Where's the time gone?"  If I could only burn an hour, that would be something.  But an hour turns into two, three, four, and before I realize it, I've wasted the whole day.  Recently, I noticed that this gets exponentially worse when it's something that means something to me.  My brain's default setting seems to be "the only way to win is not to play."

I wrote every single day for a week starting on the 10th.  On the 17th, some stuff came up that I had to do--I don't remember what.  Despite wanting to keep my streak going, as soon as I started feeling pressured, my brain rebelled.  I spent several hours looking up and adding books about the history of Islam to my Amazon wishlist.  After I'd wasted most of the day, I felt ashamed, and the more ashamed I felt, the more I wanted to put off working because I'd already failed, already screwed up.  The next day fueled that even more because now I hadn't just started late, I'd actually missed a day!  And so it snowballed.  The pride I felt for writing everyday for a week fizzled and died as I wound up not working on my fiction for a week.

I think a little of what tripped me up came from the changing nature of my project.  The week of the 10th, I wrote everyday because it was new words for a new project.  But I finished that story, put it in the "marinate" folder, and started editing another story.  Editing is a different beast.  It doesn't have the manic "head down, get it done" feeling that writing has.  It's more introspective to me.  It's reading your story, taking notes, examining the character motivation, the plot, the description, assessing the quality of all of the above, and then devising any possible adjustments that can be made to improve your story.  You might not write a single new word of actual text--it may be all reading and note taking.

I had no idea how to quantify that, and I didn't want to start going by "pages edited."  Some pages would need significant work, some wouldn't need any, and I was worried that going by "pages edited" would encourage me to rush through without being thorough.  However, without a word count to point to and say "I did this today," I felt like I wasn't accomplishing anything.  And that meant I felt like a slacker, even if I knew that I was doing work.  Even if I knew that I'd read my story and taken notes for an hour and half, my brain told me it wasn't enough, that I hadn't really written anything, so it didn't count.  Then my motivation bottomed out.

The other thing that tripped me up, if I had to guess, would be that I got several rejects all right in a row.  Normally, rejections don't really bother me.  I mean, they suck, but I've gotten used to them.  I do my absolute best, but I try not to expect anything, y'know?  Like, if I get accepted, HEY THAT'S GREAT, but if I don't, I just try to shrug and keep going.  However, I got one rejection that was personalized--my first one.  It said that the writing was good, but the story was too generic.  That one hurt me.  See, that one felt like it was saying, sure, sure, you're competent.  It's not your writing.  It's you.  You're boring.  You're unoriginal.  You have nothing to say that someone else hasn't said better.

I was reading Chuck Wendig's The Blue Blazes at the time, and reading it was a sort of delicious masochism.  I mean, the book is amazing guys. I didn't like it quite as much as I liked his Miriam Black novels, but it was a damn fine book.  It was inventive, funny, poignant, grim...just super cool and fun.  That was sort of the problem.  Wendig is so damn creative, so damn colorful with his language--and I don't mean the swearing.  He has a very unique way of viewing things.  As I read, and definitely as I sat down to try to write, in the back of my mind, I'd think, How can I possibly compete with that?

Yesterday was Monday the 24th.  I actually worked on my fiction. It was editing--not the rejected story, a different story from the "marinate" folder.  I haven't worked on the rejected story since I got the rejection. When I sat down to try to rework it in some way, my brain reeled away.  Go outside. Mow the yard. Go check the mail.  Take the dog for a walk.  Do the dishes.  You have so many things you need to do that aren't this.  This can wait.

Ever since I got that rejection, I've had a hard time writing.  I'm scared.  I'm scared that my stories aren't good enough, that they're too generic.  If that's the case, it doesn't matter if my writing is worth a shit or not.  It's a non-starter.  If I'm too generic, too boring, too unoriginal, how do you improve that?  Every idea that comes to my mind gets pretty much auto rejected.  Seen it, heard it, that's been done before.

As an experiment to try to shut my internal editor down for a bit, I went out on a limb, picked some ridiculous topic to have a little bit of fun.  Instead, I started worrying about my writing, worrying about making the words perfect.

Don't get me wrong.  I know that if I'm going to be a writer, I'm going to face rejection from publishers, from agents, from readers.  I get it.  And I thought I was okay with it.  But I've got the yips bad, y'all.  And every time I sit down to write, I imagine that editor standing over my shoulder.  Too generic.  Not good enough.  Not original.  You have nothing to say.  Why bother?

Oh well.  The only way out is through, as they say.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kickstarter Apologizes

I posted yesterday about Kickstarter's decision to allow funding on what was essentially a rape manual.  This was a horrible, horrible thing, and Kickstarter said that they were disgusted by it, too, but that the chose to allow it to go through because they tend to skew their decisions in favor of content creators.

To an extent, I get that.  The project, at first glance, appears douchey but harmless.  The harmful, disgusting stuff was posted offsite, and they didn't get alerted until 2 hours until the funding was complete.

That said, their decision to allow the project was wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.  Not because the project fell under the douchey and misogynistic "Game" thing that so many pick-up artists follow, but because the project actively encouraged sexual assault and was a handbook on how to effectively rape women.

A lot of the outrage grew and became more intense because what little we knew about Kickstarter was sent privately to individual blogs and then posted by the blog hosts as updates were made available.  They did not release a public statement, and they started deleting negative comments off of Facebook.  People were swearing off of the service, not just deciding not to use it to fund their own projects, but deciding not to back any projects on Kickstarter because they take a certain amount of the profits.

HOWEVER, Kickstarter has finally released a public statement on their blog, aptly titled "We Were Wrong."

What's nice about this apology is that they don't hide behind their policies, and they don't try to sneak in a half-apology like "I'm sorry you go offended."  It appears to be an earnest apology about how they fucked up.

While they said that they can't defund the project because the money is a direct transfer straight from the backers to the project creators, they do have plans for what they will do.  These plans include:

  1. Removing the project (but keeping a cache for transparency's sake) from their website to indicate that it does not reflect their view or values.
  2. Banning seductions guides entirely given the greatly problematic nature of the concept.
  3. Donating $25,000 to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network).
I am incredibly pleased with their decision.  They've admitted that they were wrong, they didn't just say that they'd "take step" to update their guidelines--they actually updated them, and they donated a lot of money to an organization that works to combat rape, rape culture, and sexual violence of all kinds.  So, yes, I am pleased with this decision.  Good on them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seduction Artists (Possible Trigger Warnings)

(WARNING: The following post will contain strong, graphic content.  It will quote passages from the above book.  Many of these passages are graphic and at best, extremely problematic.  Potential rape, sexual assault, and physical violence triggers.)\

(This is not the blog post I intended to write for today.  I have other things I want to talk about.  And I largely missed the train on backlash and outrage because it all happened yesterday. But I want to vent my spleen.  Because of that, interspersed through the post are hopefully funny and positive messages to try to make you feel not as hopeless by the end of the post, although God knows no one would blame you if that's how you did feel.)

*headdesk headdesk headdesk headdesk headdesk *

I am at a loss for words, guys.  How in the ever-loving fuck did the above project get funded--not just get funded, mind you, but get MORE THAN 8 TIMES IT'S GOAL!?

You may not know what I'm talking about.  Let me explain.

Have you ever heard of Nice Guys?  Not nice guys, as in, good people who happen to be men that are genuinely decent and honest and awesome.  Those guys are...well...nice.  No, I'm talking about Nice Guys.  These are the guys that complain about the Friend Zone, about how they can't meet women, about how they can't get girlfriends.  The reason they've become known as Nice Guys is because one of the most common things you'll hear them say is some variant of "Why does [female friend] not want to date me instead of that asshole she's dating?  I'm a nice guy!"

The above project (brought to my and the world's attention by Casey Malone) is a big bag of pulsating ass cankers because it continues to perpetuate a very dangerous and disgusting subculture in America, and that's the world of the pick-up artist.  It's the world in which guys figure out "tricks" to meet women and get them to start dating or (more usually) to have sex.  These guys have all kinds of technical terms for various tools of the trade, one of the most common of which is negging--that is, throwing out a double-edged "compliment" that insults at the same time that it "compliments."

The idea is to lower women's self-esteem imperceptibly to slowly make them more and more willing to engage in sex.  You lower their standards enough that they eventually think they can't do any better than you, in other words, and should be grateful for the attention of deemed to give them.

You see the problem right?  The icky shit that is present right from the get-go?

The above project backed on Kickstarter, if you watch the video, sounds innocent enough.  It sounds like it's just a how-to guide for meeting people.  However, it is a handbook that is intended to reveal tricks like the aforementioned negging to convince women to sleep with the guys practicing the tricks.

To echo Seanan McGuire from Twitter, women are not video games.  You can't just enter a cheat code to unlock the secret pussy level.  They are human beings.

This whole subculture reeks of misogyny because the basic premise is not on meeting people and making genuine connections, but on figuring out ways to trick people into sleeping with you.  It makes me sound anti-sex, which I'm not.  I am, however, anti-douchebag, and anti-treating-fellow-human-beings-as-if-they-are-objects-that-only-exist-for-my-pleasure.

Because this book teaches incredibly dangerous lessons.  It doesn't just put the wind in the sails of a few lonely guys looking for encouragement, it encourages the already overly dominant rape culture.

What do I mean?  The following quotes are all taken from the passage "Physical Escalation and Sex," which has since been removed from the Reddit he originally posted it on...probably because of all the shit he is deservedly getting.  Thankfully, it was Google cached so you can see the joy for yourself.
"Obviously everyone's beliefs and situations are different, but I am writing this section with sex as the goal. Adjust appropriately if you are more interested in slowing things down. Just keep in mind that it's MUCH easier to enter into a fruitful relationship with a woman AFTER you've made her cum a half-dozen times. And that's true whether you're looking for a wife, girlfriend, friend-with-benefits, or anything in between." (emphasis mine)
 On Nice Guys:
Man #2: The Non-sexual Nice Guy 
The Non-sexual Nice Guy is, by all accounts, a friendly person. He tries to be kind. He hopes that, by being nice and cordial, he will win the girl. He holds doors, doesn't complain much, and gets lots of compliments from women. He shirks away from public displays of affection. He's deathly afraid to offend others. He "likes" girls' Facebook comments often. He too, goes for the kiss at the end of the night, and more often than not, is rebuffed. He has had the "Let's just be friends" conversation more times than he's proud of.
There are a few problems with the above section.  1) It assumes that people that act decently toward other human beings are non-sexual because...they're...nice?  2) The person being described is clearly a Straw Man meant to represent the ideal weakling. He shirks away from public displays of affection?  What, when other people do it? What business is it of his?  Or when someone does it to him? Because if you're shirking advances, that's why you're not getting laid, dude. 3) The stuff being described that the Nice Guy is doing is treating someone like a human being, but only for the end goal of getting sex.  So, he doesn't deserve sex, or any physical or emotional intimacy from anyone because he is using being nice as a disarming tool to trick people, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is being a dick.

But it gets worse:
This scenario happens all the time. A man is on a date with a woman. The man fails to touch the girl and only goes in for the kiss at the end of the night. He goes home alone. His internal dialogue says, "WTF why won't girls hook up with me? I guess I'm in the friend-zone again." 
Meanwhile, the woman goes home, confused, wondering if the guy likes her. Her internal dialogue says, "I thought that was a date. I guess he just wants to be friends?"
This is another confused moment in this guide book.  See, he portrays the Friend Zone as a place that women put men in earlier because they have no interest in the guy for whatever reason.  But here it's just a silly misunderstanding between the two of them, ha ha ha!  But why on Earth would they end the date thinking the other only wanted to be friends when they end the night with a kiss?  I mean, I guess it depends on the kiss, but since the words "goes in for" are used, I'm assuming it was romantic in nature.  Like, it wasn't a polite peck on the cheek?  Clearly he made the first move?

Now, misunderstandings happen in relationships all of the time, and this is a situation that could have been avoided through more communication between the two of them.  But does the author advocate more communication?  Does he advocate talking to your partner and figuring out their likes and dislikes?  Perhaps asking, "Hey, could I see you again?  Could I kiss you?  Would you like to continue the great time we've been having at my place or yours?"  Nope.  His solution is physical intimidation.  No really:
ALWAYS BE ESCALATING! That entire miscommunication could have been avoided if the man had just escalated physically. Don't fall into that trap!
All the greatest seducers in history could not keep their hands off of women. They aggressively escalated physically with every woman they were flirting with. They began touching them immediately, kept great body language and eye contact, and were shameless in their physicality. Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That's hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically. (emphasis mine)
Like, you see the problem with this, right?  At the end of the night, instead of asking his date, "I really like you.  Do you mind if I kiss you?" the man should have been pushy and aggressive?  Because nothing says sexy like a guy that doesn't know when to quit, amirite ladies?

This also continues to reinforce the "she was asking for it" ideas of rape culture.  When women are raped, you often hear things like "she secretly wanted it," "she secretly liked it," "she was asking for it."  It took forever to get the concept of "no means no" in the popular consciousness, and it did a little bit to dispel the whole "she secretly wanted it" thing.  Not 100%, but better.

However, "no means no" is a flawed concept because it relies on the woman having to say "no," otherwise that implicitly means the greenlight, which is bullshit.  This encourages men to physically dominate women and force them into sex.  Even if they reject you, they secretly like it.  Just keep at it.  Eventually you'll wear 'em down.  Because nothing is sexier than whining until someone throws you a pity fuck and/or is too scared of you and what you might do to say no.
The concept of "waiting for signs" or "Indicators of Interest" was commonplace in older pickup theory. It is 100% garbage and needs to be erased from the face of the planet.
Never, ever, ever, wait for a SIGN before you escalate! You will miss out on the vast majority of chances if you sit around waiting for SIGNS. Men are notoriously bad at reading women's minds and body language. Don't think that you're any different. From now on you must ASSUME that she is attracted to you and wants to be ravished. It's a difference in mindset that makes champs champs and chumps chumps. (bold emphasis his, underlined emphasis mine)
Is that how you deal with human beings?  Like, if you're eating at work, do you just walk up and take your coworker's dessert because you wanted it and you just assumed they'd be willing to let you have it?  It doesn't work for regular old material things, so why in the fuck would you treat a human being this way with their body?
Decide that you're going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don't ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances. (bold emphasis his, underlined mine)
Now that you have made your intentions abundantly clear to the girl with your body language, touch, and words, you will find yourself in situations where women are very receptive to your advances. Now is the time to ramp up the physical escalation. Hopefully you've managed your logistics and can get her into a private, intimate setting for what follows...
Isn't it interesting that in this section, the author talks about how body language can be hard to read (for men), and that therefore you should just operate under the assumption that they're attracted to you, and then, IN THE SAME SECTION, goes on to say that your action are justified because you were signaling them to your prey (no better term for it) with body language??

image from: the new school.com
It's much more effective to sneak a kiss in during the date, at the first opportune moment. It diffuses the awkwardness of sexual tension. Grab her and kiss her. Sneak it in when she least expects it. 
I would like to point out that sexual tension is not awkward...or it shouldn't be.  Sexual tension is hot.  It's not just the act of sex, that build up to the moment, that is so incredibly sexy.  Why would you want to diffuse that?  Also, grabbing someone and kissing them is sexual assault.  The best way to gauge this is to imagine someone that you're not attracted to grabbing you and kissing you with no warning and without asking.  You like it?  No?  Then don't do it to someone else.  It's rude.

And then we get back to horrifically problematic advice:
Likewise, when you get a girl home. I highly advise to go for the makeout as soon as possible (In the back of the cab, in the elevator, as you're opening your front door, etc.) This sets a sexual tone and diffuses awkwardness that can lead to additional resistance. 
While you're doing this, grab her by the hips and pull her into you. Press your groin right into hers. Make her feel your erection. Trust me, this turns women on incredibly. 
Let your hands roam free. Squeeze her ass. Rub the side of her breasts. Rub your hands up and down her legs. Make her push your hand away as you get closer to her vagina. Fucking ravish her. 
Grab her hair on the back of her head, by the base of her neck, and pull it back aggressively. Pause and stare her in the eye before going back in.
These aren't just awkwardly worded phrases.  These demonstrate that a serious sociopathic lack of empathy and understanding of fellow human beings.  Every single description is not just tips for how to make her happy, it's about how to be as aggressive as possible to squash any objections she may have.  You're wearing her down and eventually forcing her to have sex.  That is fucked up.
Grunt, moan, tell her how fucking hot she is. Tell her you love her tits. Tell her how fucking hot her pussy is. This is not the time to be shy!
*snicker*  This part just made me laugh.  I mean, I'm trying to imagine saying this to my wife, or having my wife say something similar to me.  It just sounds goofy and awkward.  Maybe it's the emphasis he has on fucking hot, but it sounds like something someone parodying college bros would write.

It should be noted that this next passage is in the "Sex" section.  However, based on the way it's written, I believe this is supposed to be used after making out and...er...fondling.  So, you've been making out, touching each other a little, and then...
Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don't ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.
Tell her to suck your dick. Be dominant. Tell her how fucking hot she looks with your dick in her mouth.
Be passionate! Passionate sex equals good sex! This is NOT the time to be shy.Slip on a condom and fuck her like a champion. Pull her hair, slap her ass, move her around. Fuck her from the back, let her ride you. Experiment with each other! Ask her what her favorite positions are. Touch her everywhere, including her arms, legs, throat, face, and breasts. Make her cum with the force of the hammer of Thor. Rock her fucking world.
All emphasis above is his.  I mean, forcing someone's hand on your dick without permission, forcing someone to suck your dick, pulling someone's hair, slapping them...this all sounds fucked up.  And remember this isn't isolated.  If someone is into spanking during sex, hell, more power to them.  But people into kinky sex have safe words, they have safeties set up to ensure that things don't go awry.  This guy is encouraging all of this dominance to ensure that the prospective woman doesn't object, that she doesn't fight back.  This is rape in every sense of the word.

It's interesting that after all of that.  After all of the encouragement to do with the woman as you please, don't wait, kiss her, grab her, pull her into your lap, kiss her without asking, make out with her, grind your crotch into her, force her hand on your cock, force her to suck your dick, THEN you can ask her about what positions she's into and how she likes to have sex.

I just...I don't even.  The fact that this book was published exposes a deep sickness in this culture that needs to be dealt with.  And soon.


Kickstarter responded to the outrage that the project caused thusly:
"This morning, material that a project creator posted on Reddit earlier this year was brought to our and the public’s attention just hours before the project’s deadline. Some of this material is abhorrent and inconsistent with our values as people and as an organization. Based on our current guidelines, however, the material on Reddit did not warrant the irreversible action of canceling the project. 
As stewards of Kickstarter we sometimes have to make difficult decisions. We followed the discussion around the web today very closely. It led to a lot of internal discussion and will lead to a further review of our policies."
For much better words on why this is absolute shit and terrible, go read Casey Malone's follow-up post.


Kickstarter apologized.  See here for the actual apology.  See here for my thoughts.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Last time I posted, I talked about my reactions to E3 specifically regarding the console wars (PS4 or XBox One?).  This time, I thought I'd list some of the games that caught my eye.

Not all of these games will be PS4 exclusive or anything, so don't go freaking about that.  These are just the games that I'm considering getting.

One problem that I noticed both the XBox One and the PS4 have in common is a ridiculous over reliance on shooter games.  There are so many first person shooters, and they seem to come in two varieties--gritty modern war games, or gritty sci-fi games.  This results in every game looking basically exactly the same.  There are so many versions of Call of Duty that I can't keep track of what games are what anymore.

Another weird trend that I think I saw first pointed out by Saladin Ahmed was the bizarre trend of angsty heroes in hoods.  There are a lot of them.  And not only the Assassin's Creed games fall into them.  I think this is a character design that we should start moving away from.

And another thing:  I will never ever ever ever in a thousand years give a shit about a driving game.  I don't understand the appeal at all.  It looks incredibly boring.  It's driving.  Unless it's Little Big Planet Karting or Mario Kart, I really don't give a shit.

So, with that said, let's look at the games that looked cool to me.  As Chuck Wendig likes to say IMHO, YMMV, and all that.

KNACK - image from PlayStation.com
This little game, at first glance, just looked like something fluffy and cute to play--not everything has to be burly grizzled men with big guns.  But watching the trailer revealed a surprisingly compelling storyline about a little robot that can disassemble and reconfigure himself using various parts.  Basically, he can go from the tiny little fellow pictured above to a big-ass motherfucking monster in no time.  I believe this game is a platformer and puzzle game.  I love those types of games.  I was already considering this just based on the looks, but the trailer with the storyline made me want to buy it all the more.

Storyline is the most important part of a game for me.  I can forgive some pretty bad gameplay if I'm invested in the story.  I've had fun with games that have great game mechanics--Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands had fantastic gameplay--but if the storyline is boring, I'll usually not give a crap.  It's why I prefer Brutal Legends over the aforementioned Prince of Persia game.  The story for Forgotten Sands was incredibly bland and boring.

image from PlayStation.com
I loved the first inFamous.  The story was a little thin, but it picked up and featured a very memorable conclusion.  I haven't had the chance to pick up inFamous 2 yet, but since it continues Cole's storyline, I'm definitely stoked to get it.

inFamous: Second Son features the introduction of a new protagonist.  I'm not sure if or how this protagonist fits into the original game's story, but I'm definitely intrigued.  I loved the trailer for this one.  The character design is a nice change from the bald and gruff Cole character.  The one is a bit of a wise-ass, and the soundtrack certainly sounds pretty bad ass.  I'm stoked to find out more, and the gameplay looks like it's gotten even better.

image from:  BioGamerGirl.com
There are entirely too few games out there that feature female protagonists, especially realistically written, strong protagonists.  By the way, strong protagonists doesn't mean that the female character has to be able to crush a hunk of metal with her bare hands, just that she makes her own choices and isn't constantly driven by the men in her life.  This game was a godsend.  In an E3 that featured tons more games about big dudes with big guns, this was a breath of fresh air.  The story line was intriguing, and it was pretty odd and interesting for Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe to not only provide the voices for the game, but their likenesses--probably mocap.  Really looking forward to this one.

image from:  PinkSquadron.com
Once again, all you had to do to get me excited was to show me a game with a female protagonist.  Selling point number two would be the bright colors and super cool art style.  Once again, not every game has to be all grim and gritty and grayed out.  Some games can have color, it's okay, honest.

The one thing that worries me about this game is that it's partially a turn based strategy game, and I'm not a fan of those.  XCOM has a great rating on Amazon, but it left me largely bored and uninspired--but the storyline was the most compelling one either.  So, I'm hoping this one pulls it off, because it looks super cool.

The main character, aptly named Red, has fallen into possession of the gigantic magical sword you see above--called Transistor.  The game features a cool sci-fi storyline involving voices stored in a nationwide cloud database.  Color me intrigued, okay?
image from: gamentrain.com

image from: steampowered.com
image from:  thefourohfive.com

I put these three titles together because this post is starting to get kind of long and to be honest, I don't really know enough about these games to say why I'm interested in them beyond that 1) they're indie games, and I'm all for supporting the indies, and 2) I love the distinct and interesting art style of each one of them.  Each one has a look that has me very excited to give them a try.

Lego Marvel Superheros - image from: idlehands.blogspot.com
I mean...c'mon y'all.  What's not to love?  It's essentially Lego Avengers.  We love the Lego games in my house.  We don't even have kids.  They're just genuinely well done, fun games to play.  My wife has played them all (except Lego Pirates of the Caribbean because it makes her seasick...seriously) to death.  She's unlocked basically everything.

This looks adorable.  And how can I not get excited for a game in which Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Deadpool all show up.

image from:  wired.com
A rogue puppet takes control of his own destiny by stealing some pretty powerful scissors.

You guys know why I chose this, right?  I love platformers--even sidescrolling ones--I love innovative and interesting character design, and I love cartoons, stories, etc. that take a slightly twisted look at childhood things.  It's why Coraline and Paranorman are some of my favorite children's movies.

This game looks cool, twisted, spooky, fun, cute, and so many other things.  Yup.  Stoked.

image from: segmentnext.com
With the NSA PRISM scandal breaking wide open and people realizing that we're actually living in a 1984-esque scenario, this game is certainly topical and timely.  You play a vigilante character that has decided to take justice into his own hands.  Using his cellphone, he can hack into basically any electronic device around him.  He can shut down an entire city's lights, play foul with traffic light schedules, security systems, and look up personal data on literally anyone he sees.

This game is probably going to be a sort of open-ended sandboxy type game like inFamous, with lots of options to interact with civilians.  Since I LOVED that in inFamous, I'm gonna love it in this game, too.

There's some very unique gameplay mechanics at work here, and I'm looking forward to a game in which sneaking is encouraged instead of just barreling up the middle, guns blazing. Although there will probably be some shooting, too, 'cause...y'know.

The Order: 1886 - image from: polygon.com
Speaking of shooting, this game is on my list despite being a washed-out, gritty-gritty-bang-bang game with big dudes and big guns and ZOMBIES (for the love of Christ, y'all, can we let this zombie trend die?).

Why is this on my list if it has all those points that aren't...necessarily bad things but are way over done?

Because 1) it's a steampunk game, and I haven't actually seen many of those.  So the premise has me intrigued.  2) that female character was featured somewhat prominently in the trailer, so I'm hoping she'll be a playable character.  And 3) zombie steampunk story.  Yeah...that's interesting.

Also, the trailer left things very vague.  So it's like a mystery.

Mirror's Edge 2 - image from:  PCGamer.com
You get the drift, right guys?  Strong female protagonist that can handle her shit?  Interesting storyline about runners that have to traffic messages by literally running because the government has such a tight grip on the digital trafficking of information?  Topical, interesting, and it features gameplay mechanics that don't center on shooting things.

I'll admit I haven't played the first game yet.  I want to very much, I just haven't had the chance.  That being said, I highly respect Anita Sarkeesian's opinions about games, and she expressed both excitement for a sequel and love for the first.  So I'm definitely picking the first one up, and I'm already stoked for the second.

There were other games that looked interesting, but these were my top tier interests.



These are quite literally my favorite games.  My favorite. I love the storylines, the characters, the fact that it flip flops between being a shooting game and a platformer, and the thrilling treasure-hunting aspect.  I love these games, and each one has gotten better and better.  They are like playing a movie, and I want more.

C'mon Naughty Dog, I know you're trying to keep interest on The Last of Us, but we want to see some more Nathan Drake and Elena.  (Maybe let Elena be a playable character this time around--OOH THAT WOULD BE COOL!)

image from: PS4-Inside.de

I know you've been working on this game Ubisoft.  I know you have.  I've seen the trailers, the leaked gameplay footage.  I want a Beyond Good and Evil 2.  The first one was my favorite game for the GameCube, and I'm totally gonna buy it on the PSN as soon as I get some money.

Seriously, this was a game that didn't feature guns, had a strong female protagonist, an interesting sci-fi/fantasy world, and one of the most compelling and interesting gameplay mechanics ever.  You had to take pictures to uncover a giant conspiracy.  THAT IS SO BAD ASS LET'S GO ANOTHER PLEASE YES I WANT MORE TAKE ALL MY MONEY JUST GIVE ME THE GAME!!!

Ahem...yes...well...that's all I've got for now.  What games did you find interesting?  Are there any here that you agree or disagree with?  Fire off in the comments.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thoughts on E3: PS4 or Xbox One?

Image from: Kotaku.com
So, I've been watching E3 coverage pretty closely.  I'm not the biggest gamer there is, but I do like them, and I will be purchasing a next gen console...because I always do.  But which one?  That's the big question.

(Incidentally, it's crazy to me is that the PlayStation 3 came out 7 years ago.  For perspective on that, I was a senior in high school when it came out.  I've been out of college for two years now.  Yikes!)

When the last gen of consoles came out, I, like all of my friends, debated about which consoles looked best. I remember writing the Wii console off as a big dumb gimmick.  To me, the motion controller looked like it would be fun for about 30 minutes, and then get boring.  I finally got a Wii because my wife (then girlfriend) wanted one very badly.  Turns out, it was a REALLY GREAT...gimmick.  The funnest game for the Wii was the Wii Sports game that came with all of them.  There were a few games that lent themselves to the Wii controller better...but there was really no difference once the new and shiny wore off.

To me, it was between the Xbox 360 and the PS3.  They basically had the same games with a few exceptions (Xbox had Halo and PS3 had Uncharted), so it came down to features.  Both had high-def graphics, offered online things (including the ability to buy games online and download them).

However, while the PS3 had a Blu Ray drive built in, which meant it was the cheapest and best quality Blu-Ray player at the time, the Xbox could only play DVDs unless you bought their HDDVD drive extra.  HDDVD...yeah, remember those?  Like BetaMax or Laserdisc.  They're just...gone man.

So, yeah, PS3.  Not a Sony loyalist by any means.  Just the better purchase, IMHO.

Which one looks best this time?  Let's look at the specs.

·         Xbox One·         Playstation 4
·         499·         399
·         No backward compatibility·         No backward compatibility—but some sort of online service might allow you to access your PS3 games (and possibly much of the PSOne and PS2 library) online.
·         Must check into X-Box Live every 24 hours your you’ll be locked out of your games (meaning X-Box Live membership is required to play games)·         Games will come on Blu-Ray disc.
·         Game will come on Blu-Ray discs, but will be installed on your system like software—the discs are worthless afterward.·         Games do not require you to log in online to play the game.
·         Games can be traded to a friend one time only, and that friend must have been a friend on your X-Box Live account for 30 days prior.·         Game discs and be traded and sold as they have always been.
·         The X-Box Kinect device is always on, and it listens to you and monitors you. Technically, it’s supposedly only listening for the “X-Box on” command to turn it on.·         Region free games – you can buy and play your games from anywhere in the world.
·         The camera will remember your face, recognize you personally, and log into your X-Box account.·         Playstation Plus membership required to play the online aspects of games.
·         You have the option to trade your “used” games into a retailer…somehow…but presumably only an online retailer.·         Playstation will give 2 free games a month to Plus members.

I have lots of thoughts about the Xbox One's Kinect feature.  Like basically everyone else on the internet, I find it creepy.  See, I'm sure they're not actually monitoring you.  I'm sure they're telling the truth that they aren't gathering data, that they're not actually recording the data.  But the fact that the camera and microphone are always on leaves a ton of issues with hackers getting access to your cameras.  If you don't believe me, Google hackers accessing webcams and cellphones and you'll see the problem.  You can turn any internet connected camera or microphone into a spy device if you want, and the Xbox opens you up to that easily.

Image from:  Neoseeker.com
In addition, the DRM aspect of Xbox is a pile of shit.  You don't really own your games anymore.  And Xbox is hardcore double-dipping with the price.  A minimum of $60 per game (probably $10 more), and then you have to pay for the Xbox Live membership to be able to play them.

With that said, I don't know much about the PS4's EyeToy either.  It will most definitely not be always on, the games don't require internet access to play, they're region free, they're DRM free, and the used games resale industry isn't going to tank--which means gamers that are hard up for cash won't have to worry about not being able to find games.

The controllers for the two consoles are largely unchanged.  I've always disliked the Xbox controller--too bulky.  Despite the layout being like the GameCube's (the greatest controller design EVER), it's always felt too beefy.

The PS4's controller is largely the same as well, which, unfortunately, means the left joystick is still down at the bottom where it doesn't belong.  However, the controllers have always been relatively small and light, so no big.

Sony did announce that they'll require a PlayStation Plus membership to play games online.  However, personally, I have only played games online 3 times since I've owned my PS3.  Attempted twice on Brutal Legends--it was buggy and my internet was too slow.  And I played the beta of the Uncharted 3 online release once.  It was a lot of fun. I played for, like, three hours.  I own Uncharted 3 now.  Never play online.  I just don't care.

That being said, I may look into a PS Plus membership anyway, since the benefits you get are pretty cool, including access to cloud storage saving, and a couple of free games each month.  That's pretty bad ass.  For $50 a year--the cost of a single discounted game from Walmart--I can get 24 games, and some of those games have been pretty high tier games.

There is, however, one more beef I have with Microsoft and Xbox.

That, in case you were wondering, was part of a demonstration at Microsoft's E3 event.

What that video shows is two people playing a fighting game--a man and a woman.  Basically, Xbox chose two people to play video games.  A guy--almost certainly one of the developers of the game, and a woman--who had clearly never played the game before.  See, then you get the "ha ha ha, girls can't play video games" cliche enforced...yay...

But as if that wasn't bad enough, the guy goes on to say, "Just hold still, it'll be over soon."

That, my friends, is a veiled rape joke.  Holy shit...are you kidding me?

On top of that, Microsoft didn't highlight any indie games, and none of the games featured at their panel featured female protagonists.  So...yeah...basically, I'm probably going PS4 this route.  Not because I'm a Sony fan boy (hardly) but the price is nice, there are a ton of awesome features and advantages for choosing their console, and most importantly, they demonstrated that they respect gamers of all types.  They featured a ton of indie games, a game with a female protagonist, AND they've let us keep the games as ours, in addition to the social media aspects that both companies are trying very hard to push.  While both systems are trying to become a bit more than just a gaming console, Sony kept the focus on the games, and on the gaming audience.

Sony, take all my monies.  All of them.

Next time, I'll talk about games that have caught my eye lately that I'm excited for (both on the PS3 and the PS4).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Misogyny in the Law

"I am...THE LAW!"

You know how there are still people that claim that sexism is dead, that women aren't treated unfairly, that everything is NICE AND EQUAL? Well...I've seen some things lately that they may want to look at.

A South Texas man has been acquitted in the shooting death of a woman he met on Craigslist as a possible escort. 
Attorneys for Gilbert say he paid the woman $150 to have sex - then she refused, balked at returning the money and said she had to give the cash to her driver. The defense said Gilbert's actions were justified because he was trying to retrieve stolen property and the driver was part of the theft scheme.

So, this guy tries to buy a prostitute, and when she won't have sex with him, he shoots her.  That's a tragic, but probably all too common story for law enforcement.  What makes that bit particularly newsworthy is that he was ACQUITTED.  Are you fucking kidding me?  What kind of fucked up law system do you have to have to acquit someone like that?

Well...he was just defending himself.  After all, she was trying to rob him right?  It's not like if a woman were trying to fend off her attacker, she'd be sentenced to prison for it.

Last Friday, Jacksonville mother Marissa Alexander was sentenced by a Florida judge to 20 years in prison for firing what she says was a "warning shot" into the wall after a physical altercation with her husband, Rico Gray.

20 fucking years??  For what??

Now, this isn't quite a fair comparison.  The first story is in Texas, which Ron White famously said is trying to put in an "express lane" for the death penalty.  The second story takes place in Florida.  Are there any famous gun-violence cases we could look at to compare?
How, [critics, including Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), ask] could a 31-year-old woman in a relationship with a man who had a history of domestic violence, and whose actions did not result in any physical injury, be sentenced to two decades in prison while George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Martin, is out on bail?
You know what?  That is a good goddamned question.  It's almost like law enforcers in these states don't want uppity wiminz thinking they can go and think they're better than the men folk or something.

Jesus Christ, people.  What the hell is wrong with this picture?

Credit to Chuck Wendig and Stephen Blackmoore for the links.

Rich Vs. Poor - A World of Difference

I hear people argue about the advantages that rich people get all the time.  The affluent are always quick to brush off poor people.  "If they'd just worked harder, they'd have been more successful."  Anyone who's ever worked in fast food knows that largely bullshit, but I don't think people realize that huge divide between the way the rich people and the poor people experience the world.

Molly Crabapple wrote an awesome column debunking the myth that successful artists are sell-outs, but it also focuses on the bizarre disconnect between the two worlds.
Some months ago, I got to fly first-class from London. Until then, I'd never realized it wasn't just a recliner in the plane and some cheap bubbly, but rather a separate sphere of being. In first-class, you weren't groped or barked at or treated like a combination of a terrorist and a cow. Instead, paid servants pretended your presence was a gift. 
After years of work trips crammed in coach, being forced to show my underwear to the TSA, I felt like a guttersnipe in a palace. I loved it, but it was also deeply strange. "These people don't really like me," I thought, no matter how skillfully they acted like they did.

It's interesting.  If you ever want to see the difference between the way the rich and the poor live--besides the cliched and stereotypical country clubs and what not--try to take a trip through first class.

Also, can we have a conversation about how poor people are accosted by the TSA for "safety"--because you never know, they might be a terrorist--but the rich are ushered through with as little fuss as possible.  As if terrorists couldn't get the money to afford first class tickets as well?  That's some classist bullshit, right there.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Awesome New Show

The concept behind this new show is awesome. I love the idea. I'll have to look into trying to watch some episodes to see how it pans out, but it's a super intriguing new show that I hope does well.