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PraiseChaos's blog

4:13 PM on 03.08.2008

Not My Turning Point Gaming Rig

I present my gaming/main coding PC. I used to play Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat quite a bit, but I've had to cut back because of school. I'm going to invest in Team Fortress 2 pretty soon so I'll be able to shoot Caffeine in the face (or just get shot myself...)

This rig includes (more or less):

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
ATI x1800GT
ASUS M2R32-MVP Motherboard
1 Gig x 2 of Corsair XMS DDR
2 x Western Digital Raptors 37gb
Swifttech MCP-55 water pump w/ Swifttech Apogee GT waterblock (I think)

This is the top of my machine. You'll notice the box fan to the right. I've been too lazy to put real 120mm fans on my radiator, so I use that for the moment. It works fine, but it's a pain to take that to LANs. ;)

The big black thing is my radiator. Everything else are random stickers and things I've collected from LANs or random events over the years.

Here's the first picture of inside my PC. You'll see my waterblock and some random other things.

This picture is a picture of a rat's nest. I've failed at cable management lately.

Here's my monitor and things. I've got a gaming mouse pad, a Logitech MX500, and a wireless keyboard that I use for gaming, but they're all spread out between my living room and computer room. I didn't feel like taking the time to gathering it all back up.

Also, my dog says hai dtoid!   read

2:52 PM on 01.29.2008

Psych Prof's View On Mass Effect and Cooper Lawrence

Cooper Lawrence is pretty ignorant, and I enjoyed watching the drama unfold as gamers took it on themselves to fix her ignorance. I started to wonder how other psychologists actually feel about this woman and what she has to say. I set out to get an opinion from a psychologist. Unfortunately, the only psychologists I know are professors at my university.

This is the e-mail I sent to a local professor. I've edited his name to keep anyone from spamming him like they did to Cooper (not that anyone would.)

Dr. ****,

My name is Kel Cecil. You may remember me from your presentation about
violence in video games. I brought the game Manhunt 2 to your attention
and discussed Department of Justice statistics showing a decreasing
crime rate among youth in recent years.

Recently Fox News did an unfair segment about the video game "Mass
Effect" for the Xbox 360. Fox New's "experts" ranted about the sexual
content in the game. The truth is that the segment in question lasts
under a minute and is no more revealing than anything I see on prime
time TV. Cooper Lawrence also sites some statistics that go against
every statistic I've heard. The video game community is in a bit of an
uproar about what we feel in unfair and sensationalist reporting at the

I'm writing to ask two questions. My first question is just a reminder
for myself. The Department of Justice statistics about youth violence
and video games can be found at this site:

There is also a handy time line that shows the creation of popular game
consoles during this time. When I mentioned this data, I believe you
said that these statistics don't show anything conclusive. Why is that?

My second question is about the Fox News segment itself. Do you think
that a psychologists have the right to create and take part in stories
like this if they have not played the game? If you do think it's right,
then please explain why and how one can have a full understanding of the
game if you have not fully experienced it?

Here are some links, in case you have not seen the segment:

A brief overview with video of the actual segment:
A transcription of the segment:
The game publisher's response to the segment:

Also, here are the Entertainment Software's Association's statistics
about the average age of gamers:

Thank you for your time.


Kel Cecil

I finally received a response from him today:

Thanks for your questions.

Regarding correlational data (like DOJ or FBI statistics), it's difficult to control for other factors that influenced an apparent decline in crime. For example, you may notice that the link you provided shows a decrease in violent crime that begins sometime after the Clinton admintration took office. In that administration, 10,000 new police officers were hired to reduce crime, the economy (and unemployment) declined rapidly, and many other factors co-occured at the time of release of certain violent games.

More importantly, the DOJ data do not account for big changes in US demographics (the percentages among the age groups vary widely over time, affecting crime stats).

Regarding your second question:

As to the news show, no, I do not watch Fox news.

I note that the "expert" on the Fox news clip you linked was not in fact listed as a professor, scientist, or psychologist, but a "psychology specialist". I've never heard of that profession before. It's also worth noting that most research has studied violence in video games, not sex. Sex is so rare in U.S.-released video games that it's not a big issue. I don't know what data the Fox "expert" was referring to.

I do think she can offer an opinion about the effects of a game she hasn't played, in the same way a physician can offer an opinion about the effects of cocaine without personally using cocaine herself.
If you want to do further research on the effects of violent video games, I cannot recommend you consult game industry or similar websites. The best impartial, scientific work is this new volume on the subject.

The Professor

I can understand what he's saying about the DOJ data, but I don't think Cooper claiming that Mass Effect is full of sex is like a physician talking about the effects of cocaine at all. I'm having a very hard time understanding how the two are alike.

This professor also notes that Fox refers to her as a psychology specialist. He comments on that, but I think her education is listed on her website. As I recall, the best she has is a Masters and is perusing her Doctorate.

How do you guys feel about this? I'm pretty sure no one will agree with the analogy, but how about the Department of Justice statistics?   read

8:08 PM on 01.24.2008

Mario Star Cupcake!

Being in an apartment building occupied by video game nerds has quite a few advantages, especially when one of them is a girl who knows how to make Mario-themed cupcakes.

That's right. She gave me cream-filled, chocolate cupcakes shaped like Mario Stars. Just thought I'd share this before I ate them all.   read

10:55 PM on 01.06.2008

CES Reaction: The Future of the 360 Makes Me Angry

In my opinion, Microsoft's Xbox-related announcements at CES 2008 was absolutely craptastic. Although Microsoft promised everyone a big Xbox announcement, all I heard were things I really didn't care about. Disney and ABC shows on Xbox Live? Who cares? I can only play them on my Xbox, so what good does that do me? Xbox Live reached 10 million customers? Awesome, but I notice you didn't mention anything about the service's reliability.

The announcement that made me the most angry was the announcement that British Telecom will begin using Xbox 360s as "set-top boxes." So, THIS is your big announcement? My 360 will now operate as a cable box? Oh, boy! That's just swell! </sarcasm>

I can't help feeling that Microsoft is trying to push the 360 into something the console is not ready for. As far as I can tell, the Xbox 360 still has a ridiculously high failure rate. I don't blame Microsoft for wanting to expand the market for the console, but I feel like they should be concentrating on fixing the Xbox Live scalability issues or effectively reducing the failure rate of the console.

The failure rate of the console really makes me wonder why British Telecom would want to implement this in the first place. Personally, I'm not very fond of the idea that my cable box may red ring during Hannah Montana.

Okay, Microsoft, why should you stop at cable boxes? You clearly want to expand the market for the 360, so let's be clever and think of some other awesome uses for the 360.

Perhaps the 360 could be used as replacements for the vital machines in hospitals? Not only will your vitals be monitored by three cores of processing power, you can stay caught up on all of the hottest titles. That sounds pretty good, but I don't think I need to tell everyone how I'd feel if the doctor came back and told me my girlfriend RRoD'd during the night and won't be collecting any more achievements.

The 360 could potentially be used as a navigation computer on space shuttles. If the console red rings, simply attach it to the outside of the space shuttle and re-enter Earth's atmosphere. It's kind of like doing the towel trick, except the outside of the space shuttle doesn't quite reach the temperature of the inside of the towel.

I'm out of sarcasm, so it's time to wrap this rant up. Tell me, fellow Dtoid users, does this announcement irritate any of you, or can you think of other awesome, cutting-edge uses for the 360?   read

12:53 PM on 12.20.2007

My First Experience With Rock Band and Drunks


Rock Band is an amazing game. The game is so awesome that we were actually able to get one of our professors to try it out in our Student Union once. True story. That's the crappy YouTube video above.

From the moment I saw Rock Band, I knew that this game would be the ultimate game to play around drunks. Drunks develop magical powers when drunk, so they can do anything they put their minds to... Sort of...

This semester was particularly crappy for my friends and me, so, after the semester was over, we decided to have a NARP. We invited all of our friends who would still be in town. My best friend provided the booze. My other friend and I provided the Rock Band.

I'd like to get a few points of out of the way quickly. First of all, you will have a horrible time if you are the sober one of the group. Most people lose their ability to keep time and whatever little ability to carry a pitch they may have when drunk, so, unless you're drunk, you will leave with a headache that can only be described using a string of cursing that would make a hardened war veteran blush with shame. Also, if you are the resident Rock Band expert, don't let anyone know about it. You will play the more difficult instrument all night. Promise.

So, at the beginning of the evening, things were going okay. People weren't drunk yet, so it was usually pretty enjoyable to hear something at least try to sing and such. As more booze was passed out, the evening got worse.

People started getting crazy ideas as the drinks kept coming. People who had never touched a musical instrument in their lives started attempting to play things on the drums on Hard. These poor rejects would fail faster than a special child at Harvard. The drunks would scream things like "WHAT THE HELL? I WAS DEAD ON!"

The drunks eventually conquered the microphone. As I said before, drunks become magical when they get drunk. Everyone in the room was suddenly some bastard West Virginia version of Carrie Underwood sans talent. Each one would confidently step up to the mic, only for Rock Band to tell them to step back down.

"WHAT THE HELL? I WAS HITTING THAT PITCH EXACTLY! THIS GAME IS A PIECE OF SHIT." they would scream, while every sober musician is shaking their heads and trying to determine how drunk they had to be to believe they had really matched pitch.

Finally, the drunks decided on the greatest plan of all. The drunks decided that more vocals was better and that multiple drunks should sing at once...

It was at this time I convinced them that it needed more cowbell to try to prevent them from continuing to bastardize "Enter Sandman". No cowbells would be found on the premises, so the drunks returned to their mission.

The fact that the drunks were singing together didn't really bothered me until they started singing. The problem with drunks seems to be that, while they failed to match the pitch Rock Band wanted, they also failed to match the other's pitch. Imagine, if you will, two girls and a guy trying to sing "Highway Star." Three voices. Three different off-key pitches. All three pitches are wrong.

I began to pray for the Red Ring of Death. It would have been a blessing from Microsoft.

Finally, my sober friends had had enough. We decided to go back to my own apartment to play Rock Band where we could rock out without our ears bleeding... Unfortunately, we had to take my hard drive back with me. The drunks, with their highly developed sense of wtf?, quickly (by drunk standards) realized that my hard drive had most of the DLC and songs unlocked. The drunks then migrated to my apartment. Epic fail on my part.

Moral of the story: Don't play Rock Band with drunks unless you plan on being drunk too. This simple tip makes you all think you have musical talent and that's good for everyone's self-esteem!   read

9:42 PM on 12.01.2007

Bioshock DLC Coming This Week

According to The Cult of Rapture website, a new patch and downloadable content will be available for Bioshock on the 360 and PC this week.

The new content will be available separately from the patch that will be release simultaneously. The PC content will be bundled with the patch.

Unfortunately, we'll have to wait and see the list of DLC and bug fixes when the patch is released. :(   read

9:12 AM on 11.18.2007

Assassian's Creed - PS3 Vs. Xbox Comparison Video

I think the gaming world has been lit ablaze by Assassian's Creed. Reviewers don't seem to want to tell me if it's any good or not. Hell, my friends can't even agree on if it's worth my time and hard earned money.

One thing I've heard multiple places is that the PS3 and the Xbox 360 versions look and perform differently. So, when I found this PS3 Vs. Xbox Comparison Video, I was more than a little curious.


I'm not going to bother analyzing the video, because I'm not interested in starting a console religion war on my community blog... eh, screw it... War is fun.

In this video, the 360 version clearly wins. I noticed the PS3 version seemed somewhat jerky at times, where the 360 version didn't slow down as much. The textures were much more crisp on the 360 version. It may have just been me, but the video made the PS3 version just look washed out.

Notice how I prefixed the paragraph above with "in this video." I don't think the video was entirely fair to the PS3 version (lowering the contrast would have been a lovely start.) Perhaps this was a demo using settings out of the box? I don't know, the video information doesn't say.

My own personal opinion is that the video is a little bit biased, but there are some things that are not affected by contrast that were presented in this video (i.e. the comparison of the eyes, frame rate issues). I believe the 360 version is probably the superior version.

That's all I have to say on this subject.   read

3:24 PM on 11.16.2007

How Destructoid Gained a Room Full of Fans... By Accident...

So, I was one of the winners of the Jericho contest. That particular picture of me pretty much went all over my college campus. All of my friends KNEW I had won something because of that crazy picture. People I'd never met talked to me about it. Even a few school administrators were like "Holy crap. I've seen you... Didn't a bear eat your face or something? You healed up quickly!"

This is the story of the day I received my prize, and Destructoid gained a room full of fans.

Normally, I'll check my mail on my way to my 12 O'clock Calculus class and read it after class. However, there was a very strange package in my mailbox today. I grabbed it and went to class. Instead of waiting until after my class to investigate the mail, I pulled it out while the instructor was waiting to start the class.

I immediately start laughing when I discover this:

"OMG!" I think to myself, "Mail from the Destructoid Fortress! Perhaps it is time to mobilize the Destructoid Army!? TALLY-HO!"

My friends sitting next to me hear me laughing, and obviously want to investigate what I think is so damned funny. My friend grabs the package and asked "Dtoid Fortress? WTF? Is that for real?"

"Of course it's real... It's a castle in downtown Miami!" I say. "I bet there's something awesome in this package too!"

At that moment, some girl notices this on the package:

"Oh my gosh! That's a cute little robot!"

Obviously, none of the guys really care (about the robot...) They're interested in what's inside the package. I open it up and, to my own surprise, I find Jericho for the 360. I recall winning the PC version, but my first choice was the 360 version. Needless to say, I'm freaking excited...

... and the rest of the nerds in the room are in awe...

"Wow, that's freaking awesome!" "I love how they labeled the address... I want a fortress too!" "Isn't that robot cute?" "I heard that game sucks." "What website is this again?"

So, I wrote this ridiculously pointless post just to say one thing. Destructoid, through no fault of it's own, gained a room full of converts for just being awesome, laid-back, amusing, and giving me free stuff. Keep doing what you're doing, Destructoid, and, if you're not doing anything Saturday, maybe you'd like to go to the formal with me? You know... If you're not busy... As friends...   read

7:28 AM on 11.16.2007

MS Tech Support has no sense of humor...

So, my 360 died. No red ring of happiness and funny fart cakes or anything like that... It just started locking up when I tried to play games. After calling Microsoft Tech Support and getting disconnected twice, I finally get Microsoft to honor the warranty repair. I receive their box and ship the console to the repair shop, and, hence, the loneliness begins.

So, I call about a week later after my Xbox has been received at the shop, to ask about my Xbox because the warranty website "has problems." The lady misunderstands me and tries to get me off the phone by telling me that my warranty is in fact still valid.

Me: "No! You already have my Xbox! I'm calling to ask about it!"

Lady: "Oh! I see that now, sir. Please hold."

*wait music and happy sunshiney thoughts...*

Lady: "Sir, your Xbox has been received."

Me: "... Awesome... (No shit you received it... UPS told me that....) So, will I receive a phone call or an e-mail or smoke signals when my Xbox is shipped back to me?"

Lady: "No. I can't promise you that. Sometimes, customers receive e-mails. Sometimes they don't. I don't think we do phone calls or smoke signals at all. I recommend you keep in touch with the Max IVR to keep an eye on your repair status."

Me: "Okay... One more question..."

Lady: "Okay, go ahead sir."

Me: "Is there an address I can use to send a "Get Well" card to my Xbox?"

Lady: "... What?"

Me: "Seriously, is there an address I can use to send a "Get Well" card to my Xbox? I miss it, and I want it to know that I'm at home thinking about pushing it's buttons."

Lady: "... Hold please..."


Lady: "Sir, we don't do that."

Me: "Well, that's a shame. Thanks for your help!"   read

11:28 PM on 09.03.2007

My PC Screams "BETRAYAL" When Loading The Contest Post

In case you've been living under a rock, Destructoid has a contest running that requires you to post in the comment section using the word "BETRAYAL" in a sentence.

Well, it's getting ridiculously difficult to think up new uses for the word BETRAYAL. What's even more ridiculous is the load time that page requires... It's to the point that my copy of Firefox tends to just stop working while it loads all of the avatars and ridiculous ways the Destructoid army can butcher the word "BETRAYAL."

Well, I had a few to drink tonight and started thinking thoughts that change the world. Tonight was the night that I dared to ask the question that would change the course of my life from now until, at the very least, the time I finally stumble to bed.

That question is "How much memory is this page using when I view it?" Yeah, what a waste... I know...

The results made me giggle. Mozilla Firefox with the BETRAYAL post loaded used approximately 155 megabytes (MB) of my machine's memory. Firefox with no pages loaded used approximately 41 MB. Using some math skills that I learned after purchasing Donkey Kong Jr. Math on the Virtual Console this week, I found that the post itself uses approximately 155 MB while in memory. That number isn't exact, but it should be close.

Holy crap... That's a big ol' page...   read

8:38 PM on 09.02.2007

Upcoming Games That Will Make Me Fail Out Of College

The semester has started, and that realization upsets me. Papers are being written. Projects are being developed. That's all fine and dandy, but all I really want to do is earn achievements, earn Pro status on Wii Sports, or shoot those annoying kids on Counter-Strike:Source who won't stop crying into the mic. I want to play video games. GPA's are for n00bs.

I thought I'd take a moment and reflect on a few of the upcoming games that will serve as wonderful distractions for the upcoming semester.

Rock Band (Xbox 360,PS3)

It doesn't take a self-proclaimed master of the 5 button guitar to tell you this will be a great time with friends who have had a few too many to drink. People who say fever than 10 words a day will suddenly get the idea that they are the greatest vocalist to ever walk the Earth and demand the chance to prove it. Nothing quite beats a drunken, off-key sing-a-long!

...What? No... I'm not recording you singing with my video camera here... No... I'm not putting it on YouTube... >.>

Super Smash Bros: Brawl (Wii)

Super Smash Bros: Melee (SSB:M) was a game that holds a lot of meaning for my group of friends. That game was so overplayed in our Student Union that the game was eventually banned because students would actually start skipping classes to finish matches. So, what happens when you introduce online play into the Smash Bros world? Well, for starters, I don't have to drive 40 minutes to my friend's house to destroy his dreams of being a Smash Bros. master. The other positive note is that this game hasn't been banned from the Student Union yet... They only banned Melee... Technicalities for the win!

Left 4 Dead (PC, Xbox 360)

This game screams Saturday night LAN party. I can see it now. The room is completely dark. We know the zombies are coming. Only our bravery can save us now. We prep ourselves for the battle of our lives. I prepare myself to defend myself... I hear my friends ready their mice to fire. Suddenly... *BANG*

"Sorry!" my friend behind me says. "My finger slipped!" I fall to the ground as a victim of a TK. What a load of crap...

Seriously though... Survival is a must, because the loser has to scrape the burnt nacho cheese out of the bottom of the Crockpot.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed my list and a little bit of my sarcasm. I might do this again soon if I can find the time.   read

5:22 PM on 08.31.2007

My God of War Header: Yeah, It's Pretty Bad...

Obviously, I'm not very good with The GIMP. I threw this header together while I had time this weekend, so that I can get 30 more ballets in the PS3 drawing.

I'm pretty ashamed of it, but I decided to go ahead and post the banner just in case I get distracted by school and won't have time to work on a better banner. I'm seriously hoping to upload a better banner later this weekend, but if that doesn't happen at least I've got my crappy attempt to score with.   read

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