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It all started with a break and enter…

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

There was no such thing as “pc graphics”. The computer was a black screen and you could input text. It was a wonderful invention that made my work day so much easier. No longer did I have to use carbon paper to make a copy of a document while typing it, and I didn’t have to use “whiteout” – a product where you painstakingly painted out a typo, then inhaled those wonderful fumes and got high before you had to realign the letter in the typewriter to make your correction (which was therefore always crooked). Computers let us make all the revisions or corrections we wanted before simply pressing print and watching it slowly come out of the printer, then ripping off the tracks on the sides and having a perfect letter! Then, something even more truly incredible and amazing happened. You put in a big ole floppy disk and this appeared:

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Ugotkilledbyachick got killed by … a chick.

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment
While playing MAG last week, I took note of two gamertags… ugotkilledbyachick and agirlkilledu. Their gamertags irritated me. In fact, “irritated” is probably too mild a word as I think I said something to the effect of “I just got killed by “ugotkilledbyachick” – I f’ing hate stupid gamertags like that… sounds like some 13 year old frag girl wannabe”. Later in the game I took actual pleasure in sniping her in the forehead.
Later on, I thought over that incident and thought about how hypocritical I was. I’m the one that often says that women shouldn’t be afraid to be visible in gaming. Women are there in the games, but so often are invisible because they use gender neutral nicks and often don’t use a mic. If men realized how many women are there, gaming alongside of them, we would cease to be as much of a novelty. As the novelty aspect disappears, so too does much of the harassment. So I guess it was somewhat hypocritical to be irritated by gamertags of very obvious female players who actually used their mics (I could hear them on prox chat).Being hypocritical doesn’t sit well and those nicks still irritate the shit out of me, so rationalization has begun to set in. It’s not the “chick” or “girl” parts of the gamertags that bother me… I’ve seen “gungirl” and “chickwithagun” and neither of those names make me feel bile raise in the back of my throat. It’s not the “killedu” part of the nick… “grandmakilledu” is an awesome nick (and an awesome lady). “killedbyElmerFudd” was a nick that actually made me laugh (great visual there!), so it’s also not the “killedby” part of the nick. I’m not even sure why those nicks bother me until I remember “blakguykilledu” and realized that this gamertag irritated me too. I think it might be the inherent racism or sexism combined with the arrogance of assuming the kill that bothers me.

The arrogance is the easy part… “gonnateabagzu” is irritating simply because it assumes superiority, like “elitesniperz” and all those gamertags with “pro” anywhere in them. That kind of arrogance is usually annoying, especially when they actually are good and keep killing you! (though it should be noted that not all pro and elite gamertags are bad… “protargetdummy” did make me giggle!) The sexism/racism is more difficult. GayParade was the nick of a guy in the Warhawk tourney and he was awesome.. but a gamertag like “gayguy” has a generic quality that I do find irritating, like somehow he’s the only gay gamer out there or represents all gay gamers or something. I think that’s part of my annoyance with those two ladies… “ugotkilledbyachick” and “agirlkilledu” have a generic quality that implies sexism combined with the arrogance. Those nicks just seem juvenile and aimed at irritating people, but I guess that’s part of what gaming is about. If a gamertag is irritating, then you do notice it, remember it…. and within the game you may even be more inclined to skip the easy kill and instead shoot that irritating gamer tag right in the ass while they’re busy teabagging one of your teammates. In the end, I guess it’s even more juvenile to be irritated by gamertags like these. Getting killed by “ugotkilledbyachick” shouldn’t really be any more annoying than getting killed by “Elsa” or “nobody” or “plonkplonk”. Maybe I just have to grow up a bit.

Though some gamertags do require banning and I’ve only once ever reported a gamer to Sony… and that was a guy named “aidsisgodsvengence”, because that gamertag was simply wrong on any level.

Still, I do love noticing interesting gamertags… though it’s interesting the opinions I formed based on nothing more than words…

Anything with “weed”, “grass”, “dope” or “stoner” in the tag:
They think “weed is cool, and therefore so am I”. I think “aw crap, another stoner who plays his music too loud and won’t shut up about how stoned he is… at least he’s easy to kill because he’s just standing there like a tool”.

Anything with “sniper” or “sniperz” in the tag:
They’re probably thinking “I’m that cool lone wolf guy”. I’m thinking “crap, another idiot that’s going to sit at the spawn and snipe and not bother taking the objective”.

Anything with urMom or urSister in it… usually of the “doinurmom” type tags:
Yeah, “doingurmom” was in the same game as the aforementioned ladies…. and while he’s probably thinking “I’m such a clever troll”, I’m thinking “your doing my 70 year old mom??”. The “doingyoursister” tag is even funnier to me, because my sister is bossy. She’s much, much, much bossier than I am… and any guy doing her is likely being told he’s doing it wrong and how to do it properly. I laugh to myself because I figure this guy is pretty brave… and stupid!

Anything with random letters and numbers that make no sense:
They think … no wait, I don’t think they were thinking, because when a gamer tag isn’t pronounceable, then they invariably get called “hey Dickhead”.

There are great gamer tags though… I do love ones that make me laugh. I’ve been killed by “atoiletseat”, “nobody”, “daffyduck”, “27ninjas” and other nicks that did make me pause and chuckle for a moment. To those that pick annoying gamertags… ok, you win. I was annoyed. In future, I guess the only way for me to win the game is to not get annoyed and to ignore the gamertag.

… dammit, that’s hard though… so many annoying people out there. Maybe I’ll just give up and change my gamertag to “StonedEliteGrlSniperKilledUwhileDoinUrDaddy”.

 

[originally published 02/11/2012 on my Destructoid.com blog]

The possibilities for the PS3… a look back at UT3.

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

UT3 seems to be an overlooked game in the PS3 library, yet it’s a game that showed many of the true possibilities of the PS3 system. Just a few of the things they managed to incorporate were:

Keyboard and mouse support! You could play this game with either the controller or you could use a keyboard and mouse. Why is it that no other game has offered this option? It seems that this would be ideal for single player RPG or RTS type games that often originate on the PC, and the option of keyboard/mouse control might attract more PC gamers to the PS3. While the new Move controller system might attract those that are unused to a console controller, there is still a very large number of PC gamers that simply prefer the mouse/keyboard combo input. It seems that other games could use this input as an alternate control scheme, yet no other PS3 game that I’m aware of has done so. Rather than attracting new gamers, it seems that this might be a way of attracting existing gamers.

Mods! UT3 offered PS3 users the ability to freely download user-created mods, mutators and maps from various web sites and seamlessly load them into the game. There was even a later patch that provided web browser integration and mods could be downloaded directly to the game through the web. Unlike games like LittleBigPlanet, there is no moderation or restrictions. Destructoid recently ran a story regarding The Ball, which is to be released on October 18th on Steam. It’s a UT3 mod that is actually freely available to play for those that already own UT3 on the PC or the PS3. There are many sites that offer downloadable user-created mods for the PS3, and but two of the better sites are: Read more…

The Business of Charity

July 21, 2011 Leave a comment
On Facebook I noticed that one of my friends was looking for sponsor’s for an Extra Life charity event where she will be playing games to raise money for charity. I sometimes donate to these causes, but a recent report last night on my local news gave me pause for thought. Apparently only 20 cents of every dollar donated to the Canadian Cancer Society actually goes to research. The rest goes to fundraising costs and administrative costs. On looking at Extra Life I noticed something similar. First off, the Extra Life charity takes nothing, however the funds raised are given to the Child’s Miracle Network which then distributes it to a more local Hospital Charity. In my case my dollar would go through this:

Extra Life – $1.00 (no deductions)
Funds then go to:
Children’s Miracle Network – 88% of my dollar goes to actual programs… so my $1.00 is now .88 cents.
Funds are then distributed to my local Hospital foundation, which in my case is the BC Children’s Hospital foundation, where 71% of my dollar goes to actual programs. My .88 cents is now down to .62 cents.
Even at this point my .62 cents does not necessarily go directly to programs, but may in fact go to administrative costs for other programs (such as the Sunny Hill Health Center for Children which is funded by the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation). Read more…

Games that tickle the brain

For many who played Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, the above quote may have simply seemed like a throw away line… but for others, it was a direct reference to Machiavelli’s book “The Prince”. My degree is in Political Science and that line was a cute poke at Machiavelli’s most famous piece of literature being a fairly short book in length. It also reinforced the entire theme of the Assassin’s Creed game which is largely influenced by Machiavelli’s philosophies. Machiavelli was one of the first political philosophers that emphasized the realities of politics as opposed to the ideals, and the game certainly shows many of the realities of the time period with the governmental instabilities and unscrupulous vying for power by various forces.

Machiavelli believed that a citizen-led militia was more powerful than externally hired armies because they had more to lose and would fight harder… and to a large degree, this has proven accurate but was fairly revolutionary to speak of during his lifetime. During the game we see this theory take on life as the various factions are united under our main protagonist, Ezio. Machiavelli, however, is best remembered for his theories that political expediency (gains) were above morality, and that deception, manipulation and unscrupulous behavior were often needed to acquire and retain stable power. The actual creed of the Assassin’s guild is “nothing is true, everything is permitted“. This saying is almost a distillation of Machiavellan political theory. Read more…

Nice Puppy… Stay!

June 16, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s not unusual to kill stuff in video games.  Many an RPG starts with the ubiquitous killing of rats in a sewer or cellar, then we progress to killing trolls, goblins and other assorted critters.  We kill humans, we kill monsters, many of us even killed little girls in Bioshock… and I can gleefully kill all that stuff… but somehow it bothers me when I have to kill dogs.  It makes me… uncomfortable.

I’ve always had pets (at one point we had 3 dogs and 5 cats) and I admit that even in the early Tomb Raider games, I used to try and climb up high and avoid the dogs rather than killing them if I could.  In COD4, killing those dogs with a knife was brutal.  Yes, they were german shepherds with big teeth lunging for my neck… and the natural reaction is to kill them, but still, that yelp that they made when dying made me feel a bit sad.  The multiplayer of Call of Duty was even worse with the killstreak perk of “attack dogs” where a pack of dogs is suddenly howling and trying to rip your ass off… though I often did manage to get up high and avoid them – but killing them just seemed much worse than killing a human for some reason. Read more…

Unexpected… like Pink Flamingos

June 16, 2011 Leave a comment

So what happens when you use “Dark Blonde” hair dye on medium brown hair with a liberal sprinkling of gray?  Well, apparently I’m now a redhead with dark auburn hair.  It looks ok.. though a little darker than what I wanted, so I guess next time I’ll spin the roulette wheel again and try a lighter blonde to see what I get!  In general, I like little surprises… like my pink flamingos.  Yes… pink flamingos.  Those tacky plastic birds that sit on front lawns.  I actually have some – the two shown above to be exact.  I’m an avid gardener and have a lovely garden of shrubs, annuals and perennials.  I don’t know if I reached a certain age, or what happened… but suddenly I decided that my garden was too “serious”.  I just couldn’t bring myself to buy garden gnomes (I personally find them a little creepy), but I thought that two pink flamingos nestled deep in the shrubbery and poking their noses out would give me a quiet smile when looking out at my garden.  I looked all over and finally found some… and they’ve quietly made me smile for several years now.

In gaming I also like “pink flamingos”… those incongruous, tacky, and stupid little things you see in a game that bring a smile to your face.  I’m not referring to Easter Eggs… the funny things that devs put into game that anyone can find, nor am I referring to those moments where I’m sure the dev intended one thing, but was just unintentionally funny… like in this COD screenshot below.  Anyone who played Modern Warfare likely remembers this… and I’m quite sure we all giggled just a little bit. Read more…

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