Ghost World and the problem with nerd culture


The minute I saw Thora Birch in Ghost World, I thought she looked familiar. Not because I remembered American Beauty, or because she resembles Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. I recognised her because I saw myself at that age – belligerently “different”, sneeringly aloof.

Later on, I realised that she was nothing like me at all – just like in Mean Girls, there isn’t much difference between the cruelty of the alternative kids and the snooty jock set, except that here almost everyone is trying desperately to please her and she throws it all back in their faces.  Continue reading

PS4 real? Making sense of the Playstation 4

PS4 image from Kotaku

The future of gaming is just around the corner, or so they say: the Playstation 4 has finally been announced. Yesterday, Twitter and the wider web was buried under an avalanche of excitement and speculation (well, the bits of it not already knee-deep in the BRIT Awards) – so much information, it was just too much to take in. Especially when the console itself was nowhere to be seen.

Luckily the commentators of the gaming world were on hand to interpret the hyperbole and give us a realistic impression of what to expect.  Continue reading

Nobody gives a crap about your stupid little project: 5 strategies for surviving the internet


It was just about the rudest comment I’d ever seen: “Give up, mate … no-one gives a s*** about your stupid label and the s*** music you release…”. It wasn’t quite true: many, including me, cared quite a bit about this brave little indie, but it is a Have Not in the digital world, and with that, I can sympathize.

It’s very difficult to gauge hierarchy because it changes so fast: one week this little blog has more readers than the biggest magazine I wrote for; the following week, almost none. White Swan Events, I call them – unpredictable storms of traffic activity, but it’s dangerous to read too much into them, either way, because

Rule 1: Visibility does not equal engagement

Continue reading

Beyond 2012: Five things to look forward to when that Mayan calendar flips again


Star Trek Into Darkness

Let’s not beat around the bush here: the last Star Trek was f***ing magic, and this returns with the same director and perfect cast. Here’s hoping for the same mixture of exhilarating action, spot-on humour and warm, fuzzy feelings we got from the last one.  Continue reading

How to write the rules of attraction

A poster on a video game forum sparked a very interesting debate. (Presumably, a) he initially complained about the lack of LGBT-focussed mods for Morrowind, which resulted in a few short list of recommendations, and he said that they weren’t really what he was looking for. I pointed out a few others, including my own, where gender simply wasn’t specified. I’m very much of the view that the player decides how the game goes, and I mentally award brownie points every time I’m allowed to follow my whims and scowl disapprovingly any time I can’t. Bethesda’s games are very much designed in that way, so it follows automatically that I should avoid restricting the player. Continue reading

Big Huge Games no more

I’ve been procrastinating on buying Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, mostly because since giving birth I just don’t really have the time to pour hundreds of hours into video games any more. I’m only halfway through Mass Effect 3, and the 200-odd hours I’ve spent with Skyrim mostly consist of the game on pause while I change another nappy. Still, I did (and still do) plan to play it through at some point, which makes me very sad to hear about the reported closure of studio Big Huge Games.  Continue reading

10 Things we want to see in Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online Game Informer cover

The internet is abuzz with the news that the world’s worst kept secret – Elder Scrolls Onlinewill finally be revealed in this month’s Game Informer. Sure, we know that the domain was bought umpteen years ago, and seen the various public recruitment ads from ZeniMax Online, but we still don’t know what they’ve been doing all this time.

The scant information published today suggests that the new game will take place a thousand years before Skyrim, back in the Second Era when Oblivion‘s antagonist Molag Bal was on the rampage. From the teaser cover, it looks as though the whole realm of Tamriel will be included, and the article indicates that three main factions will be involved – the player joins one of these for PvP battles.

Check out Game Informer‘s hub tomorrow for trailers and further news, but in the meantime, here is my personal wishlist for Elder Scrolls OnlineContinue reading

Sounds of Skyrim – Flash! Bang! Dubstep Remix

OK, so the music’s a little dubious. A lot dubious. But you have to admit it’s clever – every sound comes from within the game. A Skyrim fan has compiled and mixed sounds from the game to create a “dubstep” (sort of brosteppy-trancy thing) tune.

It’s a fun video and should raise a smile.  Continue reading

The joy of ridiculously difficult video games?

I wrote a while back about how I don’t really enjoy slow-paced games that require a lot of thinking, and never understood why people would deliberately seek out very difficult games. Much as I loved the setting and style of the original Deus Ex, I don’t think I’ll be returning any time soon, because it just feels like punishment. I gave up on Vampire TMB: Bloodlines annoyingly near the end because I just couldn’t get past that werewolf, and … it just wasn’t fun any more.

This intriguing article from The New Yorker spells out for me what I’d been missing before: it isn’t actually about having fun at all.  Continue reading