What Games have given me

Every day you read news about some psycho in some part of the planet killing people or doing despicable things and then fall back on “a game made me do it” or some other game-blaming cockamamie excuse. And every time they do it, the media and politicians and even religious leaders raise the anti-gaming torches and pitchforks. Continue reading What Games have given me

The Preorder Nightmare

Last week Ubisoft reported that Watch_Dogs had broken the record for most preorders, a week before its actual release this Tuesday. That simple statement somehow made the hype for the game even crazier, most likely leading to even more preorders. Continue reading The Preorder Nightmare

‘She is afraid of this’

On my way to work one morning last week, I came across an article in the newspaper that caught both my attention and anger. I normally only glance at the headlines because the usual superficial stories of celebrity gossip don’t hold much interest, but there was a small piece about a game available on Google Play that I made a point of reading all the way through. It existed under the heading: Liposuction game for 9yo girls ‘awful and reckless’.

Later on I did some further digging and found out that Plastic Surgery had been removed, although it was estimated that it had already been installed between 500,000 and a million times. The game’s description was advertised as the following (the bad grammar comes courtesy of the developer): “Barbara likes to eat a lot of burgers and chocolates and once she found that she looks ugly. She can’t make it up with situation any additional second. And today plastic surgeon is going to make operation on her body and face to return cute Barbara’s look. She is afraid of this.

Image 2 - 'She is afraid of this'At the same time, Plastic Surgery for Barbie was taken down from the App Store. Recommended as being suitable for children aged nine and over and free to download, it instructed young players to perform plastic surgery on the image of a woman resembling Mattel’s doll who has ‘so much weight that no diet can help her’. Both apps were pulled after Everyday Sexism launched a campaign and protests were made by four-thousand users on Twitter.

Here’s a message for anyone who has just read the above and is now starting to worry that this is going to be yet another post on women and sexism in video games: trust me, it isn’t. I said my piece on that particular topic in a lengthy article last year and I don’t particularly feel the need to explain my opinions once again. This post is about something different: it’s about body-image and self-confidence, a subject which could affect anyone regardless of their gender.

To give you some more background, here are some additional details about the apps. The games themselves are quite simple: the player taps on a surgical tool, then on the character’s body to use it. Liposuction involves local anaesthetic, a scalpel and an implement that looks like a bicycle pump, and ‘helpful’ arrows show you what to do. The poorly-programmed controls and slow animations means that it takes around ten minutes to finish, and once surgery is complete there’s an opportunity to play dress-up with a choice of new hairstyles, dresses and shoes.

Image 4 - 'She is afraid of this'It’s bad enough that modern media promotes the perception that all you need to be successful is youth, a good body and a beautiful face, but to so obviously market this message to children? I can’t explain how disappointed this makes me. Hell, if you’re old, overweight or unattractive then you may as well forget about getting anywhere in life – but if you want a quick fix, then why not go under the knife and cut all your troubles away! It’s not just apps like these or video games in general, but all forms of media that promote these ideas. Try to think of one that hasn’t used beauty, sex or a set of toned abs for promotion at least once and you’ll struggle to come up with an example.

It’s not something I like to talk about but I was a real ugly duckling as a kid. I was awkward, shy and had several problems that prevented me from being what you’d call a ‘conventionally pretty’ child (I’d really rather not go into them here). Add to that the fact I liked to play video games and preferred to hang out with the boys rather than my female counterparts, and it resulted in quite a difficult time growing up. My parents, while great, were firm believers in ‘tough love’ and felt that pulling me apart on my appearance would give me additional motivation to change it; and this, combined with being teased at school, was enough to make me feel almost worthless.

By writing this admission I’m not asking for your sympathy or looking for attention – indeed, I’m sure many people can relate to my own tale of inadequacy and have one of their own. I’m just trying to give some context about why I feel so strongly about this subject and had such a negative reaction when I read about these Plastic Surgery games. It took me many years to become comfortable in my own skin and my experiences are what have made me the person I am today; but, even though I’m now quite happy with what I see in the mirror, every once in a while those old insecurities bubble to the surface and it can be a real battle to push them back down again. I may have had a tough time and still have to deal with the effects of that occasionally, but I can only imagine how difficult it must be for the children of today.

They’re bombarded with images of the ‘ideal beauty’ from such any early age and through so many more media channels than were available when I was young. I’m not a parent myself and so maybe not the best person to comment, but when I think of my friends’ children I do worry about how this will affect them. A study by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) found that the negative effect of media on body-image appears to be greater among young adults than in children and adolescents; and this may suggest that long-term exposure during childhood lays the foundation for the insecurities in early adulthood.

Image 3 - 'She is afraid of this'There seems to be very little emphasis in today’s media on learning to love yourself or your body, and being happy with who you are. The attitude that a person can never be ‘too rich or too thin’ is all too prevalent and this makes it extremely difficult for anyone – male or female – to achieve any kind of contentment with their physical appearance. Sadly it’s not something that can be easily changed because it’s so engrained in modern society and, let’s face it: whilst sex continues to sell, the media is going to keep using these images to rake the money in.

But that’s not to say that we can each do something about it. It’s so hard to change your mind-set when everything around you says you must be conventionally beautiful to succeed, but it’s important to remember that true beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Yes, it’s cliché, but Margaret Wolf Hungerford hit the nail on the head when she first said that famous phrase. What really makes a person attractive is how they respond to the world and react to others around them, not their appearance.

This isn’t just something I’m saying for the sake of this post but advice I truly believe in. I have crushes that some others may find weird but the attraction is because of who that person is, rather than what they look like. There’s an actor whom I think is extremely attractive because of his wicked sense of humour; a TV personality who’s gorgeous because he seems like a genuinely nice guy; and a video game developer I’d love to meet because I admire him for all he’s achieved. What these people have in common is that they may not fit society’s view of what’s considered to be beautiful, but that makes them nonetheless appealing to me.

Give me Ragnar Tørnquist over Brad Pitt any day. The fact that this man has the creativity to come up with one of the most amazing stories in video game history makes him seriously sexy in my book. (If you’re reading this Ragnar, feel free to give me a call sometime.)

Image 5 - 'She is afraid of this'While I applaud Google Play and the App Store for removing the Plastic Surgery games, I can’t help feeling that more could have been done. The latter version was available for a year before it was taken down; it took four-thousand tweets before anything happened; and it seems like Apple’s decision may have been more to do with a possible trademark infringement than anything else – and that’s after a potential million children had downloaded the app. At the same time as being overzealous in its approval process (removing titles such as that by prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore after accusations of ‘ridiculing public figures’) the company lets many more like these liposuction games slip through the net.

Developers like those of Plastic Surgery make me afraid for the world and where the future of media is heading. Video games of any kind – apps or otherwise – have the potential to be a great positive medium, so why is the industry not taking advantage of that? Children shouldn’t be playing things that make them feel inadequate or that the most important thing in life is to be beautiful; and there’s no reason why games can’t potentially teach them how to overcome their body issues, or how the media distorts reality, or that it’s more important to be beautiful on the inside.

Every child deserves to feel special, regardless of their appearance, size, gender or background, and nobody should be made to feel as if they’re insignificant just because of the way they look. If we all just took the time to get to know others for who they really are rather than how they appear to be on the outside, then we may find that there are many more beautiful people in the world than we ever realised existed.

I’ll end this post with a quote by Markus Zusak, the author of one of my favourite books: “Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.”

Stuff I like

Aside from Gaming and Writing and complaining about my crappy weeks, I have other things I enjoy, and I wanted to show my support to them by talking to you all about them.

Miracle of Sound: One of my obsessions lately. Miracle of Sound is one of the many and varied and highly entertaining stuff the Escapist Magazine has to offer.

Gavin Dunne aka Miracle of Sound composes and performs (mostly) videogame inspired songs, with cool videos using gameplay, promotional or in-game cinematic footage from the source material.
Gav’s music is fantastic, from a multitude of games and movies to original songs (by which I mean not inspired by anything but his own spark of insanity), and in pretty much every genre and style you can imagine, from the strangely alluring “Khajiit Like to Sneak” from Skyrim (the first song I heard actually) to the classic rock “My Iron Skin” inspired by Iron Man 3. Gavin isn’t afraid to mix things up and take risks, such as mixing native chants in with his Assassin’s Creed 3 songs, or collaborating with other singers on his Bioshock Infinite song, to switching musical styles and tones on the fly on the same piece, the aforementioned Bioshock Infinite song being a perfect example. Continue reading Stuff I like

Happy New Year!!

Hello all, just here to wish you all an absolutely fantastic 2013.

As for me, 2012 was a very good year. Sure, it had its disappointments, its bad moments, I got angry, sad, I raged, I was frustrated, etc. But there was also quite a lot of joy, of accomplishment, of new experiences and a great deal of learning, which is always good.

Speaking of experiences, this year this blog happened, I starte one and exposed my writing and myself to public scrutiny and opinion, something I always thought I wouldn’t do, but I did it anyway and it’s fantastic. If only I could go back and smack my younger self, but I suppose everything has its timing. This last month I’ve even worked at reviewing games, something I’ve always wanted to do but never found the opportunity, now I’ve done it, even though I’m still figuring out my own style when it comes to that.

This year was also the year I advanced my world-conquest schemes, hit milestones and prepared myself to hit new ones.

If 2013 is remotely close to how 2012 was, it’ll all be fine!

How can you be sure? Easy: Every day, when you wake up, close your eyes, take a deep breath and remind and order yourelf: “Today will be a good day!” It might not sound like much, but I assure you it works.

So, once again. We wish you a fantastic new year. Who’s “we” you ask? Every tennant in my attic of course:

Roberto Peralta wishes you nothing but joy and hopes this year you face and conquer your inner demons and rid yourself of your prejudice, learning to live in peace with everyone!

Pete Ng, The Tiger hopes you have wonderful adventures this year, learn exciting new things and if possible, forgive and forget.

Lillian Carpenter & Don have argued extensively on what to wish for you, but they always argue. So far the only thing they’ve agreed on is this year you must bravely face everything that comes your way and always remember you are not alone and there is no reason for you to shoulder burdens by yourself. The people around you will help you if you call them.

The Illusionist doesn’t care one way or another. This is all a Dream after all, but if in fact you are not a Lemming but another Dreamer, he wishes you to remember you have the power to change your Dreamscape, to enforce your will on the world. Make this year a better one even if the year doesn’t want to.

The Alhur have their own thing to say, even if you have not formally met. They hope you awaken one day to find the world to be exactly the place you’ve always dreamed of.

Weston Styles, whom you’ll meet soon, wants me to tell you that this year don’t let yourself be trampled or force to change for someone elses benefit. Be yourself, be proud in who you are, and if someone doesn’t agree, tell them to bugger off!

As for me, well, I think I’ve said enough, and I can’t think of anything else but to say “Be happy!”, in the end, what matters is being happy. Live through 2013 with a smile on your face and grin your way through everything!

See you all around next time you come to visit my Mental Attic!

D3 – Diablo Disappointment Discussion



Diablo 3, a lot’s been said about it and now’s my turn.

Let’s get a few things out of the way:

  • No, it’s not Diablo 2, it’s not that game with a better engine and it was never meant to be.
  • The game was never going to fulfill the fanbase’s expectations, mostly because those expectations were unreal. A game with over ten years in development and over 5 years’ worth of teasers created Messiah-like expectations. Disappointment in one way or another was inevitable.
  • The argument of D2 being play-to-win and D3 being pay-to-win is moronic, and I’ll give you a little fact, something I know most blind haters can’t deal with. Pay-to-win was already around in D2, people sold and bought their items off each other, it was just done in forums and you risked being swindled and your accounts being compromised. Blizzard simply decided to get a piece of the action in D3, as well as provide you with a non-real-money alternative. Buy crap with gold, i.e., use make-believe-money to buy make-believe-crap. You can still buy make-believe-crap with real money, but now you commit that idiocy through secure servers.

With that out of the way, let’s get started. Continue reading D3 – Diablo Disappointment Discussion

A Visual Matter

As of 6am today, all of Venezuela, my country, is “celebrating” its Presidential Elections…just wanted to say that. And now for something completely different!

Games, specifically, Video Games.

Being a visual media, we have to accept that Visuals, the graphics are important, the question is, just how much? I think that like with many things, it depends on the case and the gamer. Some don’t even touch a game without a certain level of graphics, which more often than not means a certain level of detail and gloss in a photorealist visual style (define photorealism as realistic).

I think the best approach for this is to have a pro-con discussion, but since this is my blog, I’ll be arguing with myself, and no, I’m not crazy…not yet anyway. I’ll try to look at both sides of the argument and let you decide for yourself which one is stronger. Continue reading A Visual Matter

Genres & Gems

Second on these gaming posts.

This one’s all about genres.

No, I’m not gonna define the genres, you can check Wikipedia for those, but I am gonna talk about my favorites and mention a few games in each, little gems you might not know about.

Let’s kick it off with RPGS, my favorite. Continue reading Genres & Gems

The nature of a Classic

This week I’ve been pondering the question: What makes a game “a classic”? Classics are, by definition, those that best represent their genre, style, etc. But how is it that of two games one is a classic and the other isn’t? When both do the same things? You could say the one that releases first is the classic, but that’s not always the case. One common trait I’ve noticed in “classics” is they’re all rage-throw-controller-ulcer-producing. Don’t believe me? I’ll give you three games, all considered classics and all are so frustratingly hard or annoying or confusing they make you want to torch the maker’s home:

Politics – Back in the day…

I will say this only once. I HATE POLITICS.

It didn’t used to be like that. Once upon a time, politics, politicians, governments and such didn’t even cross my mind, the only time it did was when there was an election coming.

Now, politics are part of our everyday lives, and we listen to politicians argue and bicker at least once a day, over topics that range from the uninteresting to the absurd. Sure, it’s not unique to my country, but it is annoying.

I wish things were back to those days, where politics were a thing you thought off every four to five years. Continue reading Politics – Back in the day…