I (Still) Aten’t Dead

…but Razorblade Sammich is.

This isn’t a bad thing! Actually, it’s a very good thing. I’ve partnered up with my best friend and platonic life-mate Amelia June to create a new website, www.cant-talk.com. All of my game reviews and rants will be there, and we’re starting a bunch of fun projects that we’re super excited to share with you guys!

The best part is that I will be writing on a weekly basis because if I don’t Amelia will kick my ass.

I really appreciate all the encouragement and support I’ve gotten from you guys over the past few years. You’ve been fabulous, and I hope that you all come check out our new site!

Why I Didn’t Stay Silent

Twitter is kind of a mixed blessing. It’s a wonderful place to meet people that share you beliefs and interests. It offers a way for fans to interact on a more personal level with their idols than they’d been able to before (did I ever tell you guys that Steve Valentine tweeted at me once? Because it was awesome.) Whatever your particular pleasure, you can indulge it on Twitter. Yes, even the weird stuff.

At its heart, Twitter isn’t really a website. It’s a community. Imagine that Twitter is a high school. Just like every high school, Twitter has cliques. You have the science kids, the video game nerds (what up, my people), the jocks, and the bullies.

This high school was custom made for the bullies.

The internet is like bully heaven, after all. It’s a near consequence free environment where they can assume their ultimate bully form (like if Voltron was a total asshole), focus in on someone that has somehow erred (the error can be real, or as is most likely the case, almost entirely manufactured) and make their lives a hell on earth.

Internet bullies seem to consider themselves the Knights Templar of the internet age, seeking out injustice wherever it dwells and wiping it out with the keyboard of justice. They go on abusive crusades against people that have usually done nothing wrong. Often the people in the bully mobs don’t even care about whatever transgression their victim is supposed to have committed. They just get off on the twisted sense of community that comes from teaming up with a large group against a smaller, easily vanquished opponent.

A lot of the time, it seems that the victims of online bully mobs are women who made the mistake of being women and being visible. Anita Sarkeesian was attacking viciously because she wanted to discuss how women are presented in video games. Jennifer Hepler was driven off of Twitter entirely because she writes for video games, and cares more about those stories than she does about combat (which, quite frankly, I rather appreciate in someone who is writing stories for games.) Sex positive activist and educator Laci Green was targeted when an old video surfaced in which she made a joke about transvestites. She apologized, explaining that the video was several years old and that she was less ignorant now (and ashamed of what she said), and deleted the video. She was still brutally harassed to the point where she, too, left the internet for a time.

Recently journalist Caroline Criado-Perez successfully campaigned to have a non-royal woman appear on British banknotes. Sane people would either think, “Hey, that’s pretty cool” or “Meh.” Misogynistic internet bullies, however, lost their shit. Mary Beard and Stella Creasy, both of whom were involved in Ms. Criado-Perez’s campaign, joined her at the center of an online hate campaign that included rape and death threats which at one point were arriving at the rate of fifty every hour.

Twitter did nothing to protect these women, in some cases insisting that the threats of violence weren’t violating their Terms of Service. Mark Luckie, who is a manager at Twitter, eventually locked his account and blocked Ms. Craido-Perez  because she repeatedly tweeted at him, asking for his help.

Enraged by this, columnist Caitlin Moran proposed a one-day boycott of Twitter. This movement was called both #trolliday and #twittersilence, and she suggested that the silence of so many would make the point to Twitter that their inaction was unacceptable.

In other words, she felt like the best response to internet bullying and the lack of intervention on the part of the people in power was… to shut up.

I don’t think it worked the way she intended.

The goal of internet bullies is to silence their victims. To drive them away from the public forum, to make them invisible, to have them be forgotten. Why on earth would they be perturbed by a day of silence on the part of vocal feminists? They’re thrilled. To quote Damian Thompson, “Oh, the blessed relief. Today someone turned down the volume of self-righteous feminist sermonizing on Twitter and the network enjoyed a brief interlude of (relative) civility.”

A day of silence isn’t going to be much of a thorn in Twitter’s side, either. They know that in the long term, they’ll lose very few users over this entire debacle and that the people who were silent today will be back tomorrow. They’re also getting a small break from dealing with the people who were vocal in their displeasure regarding Twitters actions and lack thereof.

I can think of very few situations where silence is effective as a form of protest. I’ve always felt that if you want to create change, first you have to be noticed. You have to make noise, draw attention, even be a thorn in someone’s side. You have to make the status quo so uncomfortable that change is the lesser of two evils. Silence very rarely does that.

That’s why I wasn’t silent today. Sure, all I tweeted about was Doctor Who, silly costumes and sewing stuff, but I was present and I was visible. I was not silent, and I will not be silent.

Reviewing Epic Fail Mickey: The Power of Two

epic-mickey-2-walkthrough

 

A few months ago I went on a bit of a demo spree. It’s like a shopping spree, only you can do it in your living room in your underwear, and it’s free.

Actually, it’s not anything like a shopping spree at all.

I downloaded a bunch of different demos from the Xbox Live Marketplace, both for games that I was interested in playing and games that I was dubious about. Most of them earned a “meh” rating from me; I’d seen enough to know that I really didn’t want to waste time or money playing them.

Epic Mickey: The Power of Two was one that caught my attention- and that of my two children- immediately. By the time I’d gotten ten minutes into the demo both kids were hovering over me, waiting for my hands to relax enough that they could snatch the controller. They were like hungry wolves. That eat video games. So really more like Pac-Man, if the little white dots were games, and I guess the ghosts were chores or homework or something.

I am not on my analogy game today. I apologize.

The demo impressed me. I was excited that I’d found this gorgeous game with characters that my kids know and love, and that they would not only be able to master it easily- they could play cooperatively.

I probably should have realized I was walking into a web of lies the exact moment “my kids” and “playing cooperatively” appeared in the same sentence.

The demo covered the first few levels of the game, so once we received the full version we blew through that section pretty quickly. The beginning of the game is both creative and beautiful, following Mickey as he retrieves a magic paintbrush from the Sorcerer’s workshop and travels with it into the alternate reality that is Wasteland.

That was when we started getting stuck. Wasteland is the hub of the game, and you have to complete different tasks and puzzles to open up different platforming levels. Unfortunately, you’re only told what to do once. If you happen to miss the instructions for a task because, say, your kids are having a screaming tantrum, you’re screwed; the instructions aren’t listed anywhere else that I could find.

We got stuck about a third of the way into the game, didn’t know what to do next, and were unable to progress any further, even though we spent hours experimenting.

It’s possible there was a game-breaking glitch and we just got screwed. It’s equally possible that I am an idiot, missed something incredibly obvious, and should be deeply ashamed of myself. Even if the second one is true, the fact remains that this game was made for children. I am a grown woman and an experienced gamer and I couldn’t finish this game.

My children gave up in frustration long before I did.

Epic Mickey: The Power of Two is based on sound characters and an adorable idea. The platforming levels are fun and creative, promoting cooperation and teamwork between players. If we’d been able to finish this game, I probably would have heartily endorsed it. Since we got hopelessly stuck and weren’t able to find any in-game indication of how to proceed, I am going to label this game “Stay Away”.

Reviewing Deadpool. Also, Ryan Reynolds’ abs.

m_deadpool_antihero

If you’re anything like me, hearing the name “Deadpool” makes you think of Ryan Reynolds’ abs. Then, you probably think about how under-rated Xmen Origins: Wolverine was. After all, it featured both Ryan Reynolds’ abs AND Hugh Jackman’s naked ass. It probably should have gotten a Nobel prize for that.

You might, if you’re like me, continue on to reminisce over the very underrated XMen Origins: Wolverine game and feel sad that you’re the only person you know who actually enjoyed it. (It’s on my top-ten list. I really loved that game.)

However, we’re not talking about XMen Origins: Wolverine. We’re talking about Deadpool, and that rambling introduction was my clumsy way of saying…

Screen-shot-2011-06-16-at-2.42.23-PM

…What was I saying?

Oh, right. Deadpool.

This is normally the part of the review where I explain the plot of the game, but this time it’s a little difficult. The game starts with Deadpool using explosives and death threats to gently persuade High Moon Studios to create a game for him, and when they send him a script, he doesn’t read it. There are some flimsy scraps of that script that float around, but rather than creating a compelling or immersive story, those plot fragments serve only to justify level transitions and boss battles.

When you play a game with a great story, it’s like being pulled into an epic adventure. Playing Deadpool was more like accidentally taking an exceptionally violent five-hour bus trip with that guy from high school that took too many shrooms that one time and was never really okay again. Plus he’s high. Also, you can somehow see all the shit he’s hallucinating AND hear the voices in his head, even though you’re totally sober.

In real life, that would be the worst road trip of all time. In the game, it’s incredibly fun. Deadpool has three distinct voices in his head, and they provide a hilarious running commentary as you play through the game.  They even create some of the more fantastically senseless experiences in the game; sudden and inexplicable slow motion sequence? Sure! Talking tacos? Absolutely! Crossing a literal river of shit on comic-book style dialogue bubbles? Why the hell not! None of it makes any sense, and it’s fantastic.

Deadpool doesn’t just talk to himself in the game. At the beginning of the game, the player has the option of phoning Nolan North, the voice actor that provides all three of Deadpool’s voices. (Which I guess is technically talking to himself. He also occasionally talks to the executives at High Moon, usually to force them to fix things he doesn’t like in the game (like a level that’s in 8-bit) and he frequently talks to the player. I don’t know how he treats people who are good at this game, but he was not terribly impressed with my skills and occasionally asked things like, “Could you try sucking less?”

I did try to suck less, but that was a bit of a problem. Gameplay is not the best part of “Deadpool”. The weapon system is decent, allowing you to switch between weapons without opening a menu and giving you the opportunity to upgrade the things you use most, but combat is clumsy and frustrating. The final boss battle with Mr. Sinister was probably the closest I’ve ever come to putting my controller through my television screen. The way I finally beat it was by running around in circles waiting for Deadpool’s health to regenerate while shooting blindly, hoping I would hit something enough times that it would die. 

This was even less fun than it sounds. I almost cried. (I shouted obscenities at my television instead. I have some pride, after all.)

Deadpool was not a great game, but the random, wacky humor made it a lot of fun.  While I enjoyed playing it, I would recommend that you avoid paying full price for it. The game isn’t very long, and that combined with the mediocre combat makes this a “rent-or-used” type game for me, rather than a day one purchase.

(Probably) Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together (With XBox One)

Dear Xbox,

We need to have a talk.

Do you remember when we first met? I’d been in an exclusive relationship with PlayStation for a long time. I thought I was happy, and I know PlayStation was- and then I met you. You had exclusives I just couldn’t bear to be without. You showed me worlds that PlayStation couldn’t touch.

Before I knew it, I’d left PlayStation completely and was spending all my time with you. I was so happy, Xbox. I thought we’d be together forever. You had everything I needed; you seemed to go out of your way to make my life easier. Eventually it seemed that all I had to do was say the word and you’d do your best to give me what I wanted.

We had amazing adventures together. Remember that time we saved the galaxy from the Reaper threat? And the zombies- remember the zombies?

No. Not those zombies, the other- no, not those either. The OTHER other zombies. YES. THOSE ONES.

We made wonderful friends together, too. Amazing friends that I wouldn’t have met without you.

I’m keeping the friends, Xbox, but… I’m leaving you.

You’ve changed. You’ve forgotten that you’re a guest in my home and you’ve started making rules for me to follow. You want me to go through you to watch television, listen to music, talk to friends- you even want to know all the details of my fantasy sports teams. (If I had them, which I don’t.) You used to respect my privacy, but now you want to watch me all the time. You want to listen to me all the time- you say you won’t work with me at all if you can’t have your camera and microphones on.

All of the sudden you want to check in with your mother every single day to let her know what I’ve been doing. You won’t even give me a choice, you say; if I don’t let you report to your mother, you won’t let me play my games.

You won’t let me do a lot of things with my games anymore. Now you want to control who I share them with and how- you’re even talking about charging me a fee to share games. Eventually, you’ll destroy those games when the servers go offline; you know it and so do I, and I won’t be able to do anything to stop you.

You’re becoming unbearably controlling. You say you’re doing these things to make my life easier- does this sound easier to you? I don’t think this has anything to do with me, Xbox. You think I love you too much, after all we’ve been through, to just walk away.

You’re wrong. I can walk away. What I can’t do is live the way you want me to. I can’t stay with you when you want me to change my life to meet your demands.

There are other fish in the sea, Xbox, and there are other platforms on the market.

You should know I’ve been talking to PlayStation lately. I don’t know if we’re getting back together; there’s a whole new side to PlayStation that I haven’t seen, and I’m not making any commitments just yet, but… it seems likely. Even if I don’t reunite with PlayStation, I’ve become acquainted with PC Gaming over the last couple years, and he’s powerful, Xbox. He’s flexible. He may be slightly less comfortable, but he makes up for it by giving me more choices than you ever did.

Even if PlayStation and PC weren’t vying for my attention, you know what? I would rather stop gaming entirely than play games the way you want me to. If it was you or nothing, I’d pick nothing.

It doesn’t have to be this way, Xbox. There’s still time. We can go back to the way we were before, where you respected my boundaries and I respected your Terms of Service.

If not, however- I’ll miss the way we were.

Regretfully,

Me.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 487 other followers