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Archive for June, 2010


Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

A few weeks on from E3 and I’ve finally emerged from the shock enough to write about it. It shouldn’t be a shock. It has always been this way and it probably always will. No it’s not the wonders of the Kinect (previously known as project Natal), nor the Move, nor the douchebag from Microsoft. It was the fact that the best display we have of the most ground breaking, state-of-the-art gaming related technology was the same as it is every year. Each year I almost fall asleep while watching the press conferences, and yet each year I remain surprised at this fact. Don’t they say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviour over and over again and expecting a different result? The dreariness of E3 may have turned my nutso up to eleven.

I’m amazed that a group of professionals whose job it is to entertain people can be so incredibly characterless, insipid and mind-numbingly boring. Why do I need the head developer to tell me about the game or the new console? Their job is to make the thing, not sell it. The intros and cinematics were great, they got me all pumped up, only to be disappointed once I saw a lacklustre human start talking. Is it too much to ask to have professional public speakers or those without massive sweat patches and trembling knees give the keynote speeches? Where is the gravitas?! I want to see someone with some idea how to captivate an audience. You’re asking me to part with a fair amount of money to buy this new gadget you’ve made, give me orators! Someone to get the people on their feet. Every single speaker representing “the big 3” (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo) used the phrase “This. Will. Change. The way. We. Play. Video Games” enough abuse of the dramatic pause! In the wrong hands it looks like an awkward silence. The pause has seen too much! Can’t you just leave it alone? You cruel heartless bastards.

Microsoft unveiled a few upcoming titles, notably Gears of War 3, Halo Reach, COD: Special Ops, Fable 3, and some softer motion based titles through the Kinect such as Kinectimals and Kinect Sports. The new Xbox surprised me in terms of how little it had to offer. A bigger hard drive and built in wifi was about as exciting as it got, with a slimmer casing, and still no Bluray support (Guys what the hell… seriously…). Their focus was clearly on developing the Kinect. Lots of word stumbling. Lots of sweaty underarms. Shameless abuse of the dramatic pause.

Sony grabbed 3D by the balls and ran with it at E3 this year, with massive titles available in the new dimensional trend such as Killzone 3, Mortal Kombat, and Gran Turismo 5. They also showcased their motion based gaming peripheral, the Playstation Move, which looks like it may be a fraction cheaper than the Kinect upon release, with a single controller costing around USD$50, and a PS3/Move bundle running at about USD$399, and boasts titles such as SingStar Dance, and TV SuperStars. Still boring when a head started talking, but not actively bad, just felt more like a presentation to the board rather than one to the public. More shameless abuse of our much mistreated dramatic pause.

Nintendo won the show for me. Having had the upper hand with already having motion based devices and games in the market for over 4 years, they really had the room to completely leave the others in the dust. Logic was on their side dictating that clearly if they have had motion control for years already and the other companies are just now catching up, that they must be at least 4 years ahead of what everyone else is doing. You could be mistaken for thinking surely they must hold the key to the future of gaming. What did Nintendo show us as the future of gaming? The past. Nintendo’s big drawcard this year was revamps, and nothing gets us nostalgia-buffs panting like a good revamp. New Metroid, New Donkey Kong Country, New Zelda, New Goldeneye, and featuring everyone’s favourite mouse, Epic Mickey. They weren’t to be left out of the innovation wars however, with the Nintendo 3DS making it’s debut strapped to the torsos of a bevvy of beauties. Just to kick Sony while they were down, the 3DS doesn’t need 3D glasses, either. Ouch Nintendo! You saucy minx. Still a fairly monotonous performance in the conference, and the most painful blatant molestation of the dramatic pause in the entire expo.

As the dramatic pause packs for a well earned holiday before bracing itself for the barrage of abuse it will no doubt encounter next year, I find myself in the same position as usual. Underwhelmed with the presentation, but excited about the content. Perhaps that’s the point. To showcase the amazing work these people have done, and not let it get lost in bravado, pomp and circumstance. The more beige you make the speakers, the more vivid the videos and gameplay seem. Perhaps it’s the digital equivalent of cleansing your palate before moving on to the next tasty morsel, and it leaves me wondering what our taste-buds might be treated to next year.

The times, they are a changin’.

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Bear with me on one of my “Whoa…..” Neo-moments. You know when you think about space and you try your hardest to comprehend some of the stuff going on up there but you still end up with an open mouth and a little dribble coming out? No? … Yeah me either… o_O … Well I’m having one of those about technology and what we’re coming up with and how everyday life is changing. I’m probably the last generation that remembers a life before the internet, and even then, I wasn’t an adult when the internet first came into my life. It must be such a headfuck for people much older than me.

Last month, a South Australian court ruled that a father avoiding being served with legal documents can have his papers served via social networking site Facebook. The man had a brief relationship with a woman who later gave birth. His name was not on the birth certificate and the court would not order him pay child support payments due to lack of evidence of paternity. When the woman decided to proceed with forcing a paternity test, he was being evasive and unable to be contacted via traditional means. Magistrate Stewart Brown ruled that he could be served documents over Facebook, because he was apparently active and likely to read them. Magistrate Brown commented that the move was unique but “demonstrative of social movements and the currency of the times”. This is not the first of its kind, mind you. The world first serving of legal summons over Facebook was in 2008 in the Supreme Court in the ACT, and paved the way for a New Zealand court to do the same the following year.

I might be a little odd (OK I’m a complete nutty butty), but I find myself provoked with thought how ye olde professions are embracing technology and how they will move into the digital age. I spend far, far too long staring off in my own little world thinking about it. In fact, I tripped over today while deep in thought. Apparently my brain can’t handle mindfucks and walking at the same time. Digital medical records, computers at tables instead of needing wait staff, self-serve checkouts, it’s all starting now and will only snowball into a much bigger presence in our lives. Soon there will be computers that can scan us for cancer with an infra-red light, drugs to make our foreheads turn purple when we’re ovulating, or even in-built bullshit detectors that tell us when someone’s pulling our leg. So much is rooted in tradition, especially in law, that I find it truly fascinating to see what will change and what will stay the same. I worked (fleetingly, praise Jebus) in a law firm as an assistant and was amazed to see the stranglehold historical convention had on a modern day legal system. Documents had to be bound a certain way (and with particular coloured tape relevant to it’s content) to make it through probate or they’d be sent back, and all barrister’s briefs (the documents…. not the undies…) had to be tied with a certain ribbon in a specific way and put in a meticulous order. It seemed very foreign to me and slightly archaic. Will it be digital soon? Will we see less books while they still insist on wearing their cockamamie wigs? What determines what we hold onto, and what we let go? In-house mail directories and the masses of hard copy will soon be disappearing and making way for the digitalllll revoluuuuuution (I can’t help but say it like Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half century). Australian courts are seen to be amongst the most technology-savvy in the world. I guess its easy to not be bound by tradition too much when our entire country is comparatively still a baby. I’d love to do 2 weeks work experience at a law firm when I’m 50 just to see what has changed. I remember being amazed at the microfiche at school, imagine what we’re about to witness. Mind… blown… *dribble*…

Help! I’m in a nutshell!

Friday, June 25th, 2010


Why am I in a nutshell?! How did I get in a nutshell? Who put me in this nutshell?! I’ll tell ya who. The dullard who wrote this, on wiki.media-culture.org:

“Whilst there are some video games that appeal to women there is a greater need for games to be designed by women for women. The video game industry must recognise the growing need for more female friendly games. Most women want to play games that encourage interaction between users and help foster friendships and relationships.”

I’m sorry what?

I don’t need my games made by women for me to find them interesting and relatable. Define a “female friendly game” exactly, you condescending prick. Are we supposed to only enjoy point-and-clicks that contain an abundant amount of pink and glitter and rainbows? That sucks, I freaking hate pink.

There are some issues with equality in games, some big ones, and I’ll write about exactly what’s wrong with it in-depth one day, but you know what? I signed up for it when I started pursuing a male-dominated past time. There are things the industry could do to make it nicer for women, but I don’t think it involves pandering and changing industry policies and actively trying to make women like games. There’s no push for the sewing industry to include more men for the sake of gender equality. Why do we need to do that in games? Gamers come in all different shapes and sizes, I don’t want to be categorised as a “girl gamer”, I’m happy with just “gamer” thanks. It’s reminiscent of the Actor/Actress debate. I get annoyed when people feel the need to put people in boxes like that. Can’t I just be under the “gamer” umbrella? Why do I need special games just for me? Why do I need to be pandered to and condescended because a game might make me feel sad about my self-image. Puh-lease. Give me what everyone else is playing, if I don’t like it, I’ll put it down and try something else. I’m a big girl.

Mentoring women designers in the games industry purely because they’re women is dumb. You shouldn’t get a job purely because of the genitals you were born with. We’re not all precious, timid, unique little butterflies that need to be taken care of. If a girl wants to work in games she should work her butt off to get there, just like anyone else.

Yes, a lot of women video game characters are hypersexualised and overdone. But how many Average Joe’s do you see playing male video game characters? Does Kratos make boys skip lunch and feel bad about themselves? It’s a caricature. A larger than life depiction. It’s par for the course. You don’t see a call for male characters in video games being dulled down because it makes the men feel inadequate. Suck it up girls! We’re stronger than this. You don’t need your character to resemble you in any way in order to enjoy it. Relate to their mission, their objective.

Stop treating girl gamers as different. We’re not, we like games, just like guys. We don’t need a special “section” in development houses populated entirely by women, making games for women. What gamers look for in a game is exactly the same no matter who they are: entertainment and escapism and FUN. Stop trying to suck the fun out of it by making sure no one is offended or upset. They’ll vote with their wallets if they don’t like it.

It feels good to get that out. Breeeeathe…. Rant over. I gotta zip!

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