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Working for the Government of Canada, DJing and writing about video games in my spare time. Finally decided to create a Dtoid account and start doing this seriously!

I also work for Gamework Canada (www.gamework.ca), bringing competitive gaming tournaments to Canada!

This blog will be doing a bit of everything, but the main feature will be thoughtful analytic pieces on important themes in gaming. That and whatever concoctions my research-addled mind thinks of sharing.

Let me know any games you would like to see in the spotlight!

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Hey Dtoiders!

TSG here to discuss a new project that myself and a couple others have been talking about recently!  The main point of this blog is to receive your input!

After posting some "real" news last week, I was approached with the recommendation to start up a weekly news round-up that focused on major stories that were occurring around the world.  Let's be honest: many of us do not pay near as much attention to the news because of our tendencies to focus on the (usually) less depressing world of video game news.  

Nothing wrong with that at all, but it wouldn't hurt to plug into some reality every once in a while in the form of a C-blog written by myself and other contributors.  This blog is going to occur weekly, and will amalgamate stories from around the world to give you a snapshot of our world at a glance.  There will be plenty of opportunities to draw comparisons to gaming though, and we will encourage that sort of analysis. 

So here is what we want from you:

1. We are still deciding on a name!  Current ideas are: IRL News, "Real" News Roundup Blog, What Happened While I Was OOC This Week, AFK News.  Feel free to suggest a better one! 

2.  We'd like your general thoughts on this idea! We thought it was an important thing to do, but we want to know what the community thinks!

3.  Do you want to contribute?  If you feel like you want to join us in this endeavor, or if you have something to contribute to this project, comment below or shoot me a message!  Anyone can submit either a press clipping or their own write-up of a news story, but we reserve the right to choose what will make the weekly edition. 

I should point out as well, that these will not all be serious stories.  We are just looking to do media monitoring with a weekly blog-post, which can include any news from around the world!  In fact, I personally hope the world can figure it's shit out so we can write about rescuing koala bears with snuggles. 

Normally I hate that C-blogs won't resize my pictures. This one needed to be huge.

And the World We Want.

This isn't going to be one of my regular blog posts, or even that extensive of one, but I just wanted to briefly touch base on a couple things.  As you may know, I am a historian/political scientist, and I like to stay on top of media monitoring and looking at the responses to crises in the world.

As many of you will also know, much of the world has been focused on the events in Ukraine in the past few months, as Pro-Russian separatists have been fighting Ukrainians to secede from the country and form an independent state.  I won't go into to specifics here, suffice it to say that the entire situation has been exceptionally complex and rife with violence and propaganda from all sides.  While it appears that Russia has been supporting the separatists and behind the secession vote, there are many complexities to the situation which stop it from being purely black and white.

Quiet voices sing against the choir; The majority is almost never wrong. (Ukraine, The Maiden)

As of a couple hour ago, this situation has become even more complicated, and I'd just like to ask Dtoid members to take a few minutes away from our love of gaming to look at the world around us.  I'm not saying that people on this site are not following real world events, of course not.  I just know that it's a lot easier, and more fun, to monitor the Destructoid news feed than it is to look at the atrocities going on in our world.  Many of the themes that we find ourselves immersed in while we game have real world connotations, and have come from dramatic and terrible events as recent as the War on Terror in the Middle-East.  

A short 2 hours ago, at approximately 11:20 EST, Malaysian Flight MH17 was reportedly shot down over Ukraine by a Blume Buk missile system, while on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  It was flying at 33,000 feet and crashed just 20 miles outside of Russia in the Donetsk region.  All 280 passengers and 15 crew members were killed.  It is still unknown if or who shot the anti-air missile at the passenger liner, but there have been speculations.

A Buk M1-2-SAM System; NOT meant for civilians.

Some have argued that it was Russians/pro-Russian separatists who shot down the Boeing 777, as there had been instances of the pro-Russian separatists shooting down smaller Ukrainian aircraft (a Sukhoi-25  and a MiG) in the past several days.  Others have speculated that it was the Ukrainian military responding to the recent attacks by staging one of their own.  Regardless of who it was, the general agreement is that it was most likely an accidental targeting that occurred because of heightened tensions, or technological failings. 

But the bottom line is that 295 non-combatants who had absolutely nothing to do with the conflict in Ukraine were killed today, possibly because someone made a mistake.  In the midst of heightened tensions, someone pulled the trigger and the entire game changed.  The situation changed.  The international community will respond, blame may be placed, but the intrinsic problem will never be solved.  No answer will ever suffice, because there was no reason this needed to happen. 

The wreckage of Flight MH17, in Donetsk.

My point of this article is that the world around us is a scary place.  In every way, it's so much scarier than any horror game or realistic first person shooter could ever be.  Where do you think all of those ideas came from?  We're pretty twisted.  

All of those girls are still missing in Nigeria.  There are still thousands imprisoned in Tora Prison in Egypt, including two Canadians that deserve to come home.  Uganda is rampantly persecuting homosexuals, and West Bank/Gaza has once again failed peace talks as children die daily.  Coups and threats in Thailand, Argentina. Ethnic cleansing in sub-Saharan Africa; and racism, homophobia, sexism, and general hate is rampant everywhere.  And that's not even the half of it. 

Fairly certain several countries in the world are using this as a placemat.

That is all, and sorry if this article has been a bummer.  I've been really bothered lately by the amount of new crises springing up, as we in the international community fail to solve the ones we are already entangled in, and I wanted to write a few words on it.  I don't know if the Dtoid community cares at all about these topics, but I urge you all to stay on top of world news as well as gaming news.  It's only through understanding the problems that we are facing currently that we can hope to avert them in the future.  

Next time you go to speak out against EA's DRM policies, Nintendo shareholders lack of knowledge on video games, or Ubisoft's SJW fights, consider taking an extra ten minutes to speak out against violence, wrongful imprisonment, human trafficking, racism, or whatever hits home with you.  Maybe not here.  Maybe not on Facebook.  Maybe just talk to a friend about it.  If we all took a few minutes to learn and teach, we could change the world. 

I'd like to close with a few lines written by Protest the Hero in a song called Underbite.  Their most recent album, Volition, speaks volumes to the issues we deal with today. 

It's bullshit, be honest, this can't be what you wanted,
if what you write about means anything to you.
Rather than pure vanity, people might connect with sincerity,
Don't just pray the next generation learns from our mistakes.

I know that it might be quite cliche,
but if all the world is in fact a stage,
than this stage-this here, god damned stage-
Might just be all the world.


...And probably more you didn't need to know.

This guy doesn't look so scholarly.

So I plan on becoming some sort of staple around here, or at least someone for all of you to vehemently argue against, so I figured I would give you an inside look on what makes the Scholarly Gamer so...scholarly? Aha, right. But seriously, let's take a look at my life.

It's really hard to figure out where to start with this, it's been a long haul.  My name is Matt, and I am currently finishing up my thesis at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.  My research focus is on Kyrgyzstan's foreign policy and international relations, and the geopolitical great game that is occurring on their soil as they try and balance relations between Russia, China, and the U.S.  To accurately write my thesis, I am also becoming fluent in Russian to read policy documents. I know, I know, super fascinating, right?  I bet the only time half of you have heard of Kyrgyzstan, it was preceded by the word "Standoff".  

Not quite accurate, but good effort CoD.

When I'm not researching to write my thesis, I work for the Government of Canada in development policy.  Not going to tell you much about this, but if you heard about the $3.5 billion dollars Canada recently pledged towards maternal and child health, that's my focus.  I also DJ electro, house, and hip-hop in my spare time, which I do not have much of, and I was nominated by The Wire Magazine in 2012 as one of the top DJs in my region.  I've opened for a few notable artists, like Sheek Louch and Styles P, D-block represent!  You can call me DJ Heretik. 

Let''s get Heretikal.

So in a nutshell, that is me.  When I was told at a young age to find a focus and stick to it, I decided instead to become a "Matt-of-all-trades", as it were.  On top of the things above, I have sang in metal bands, played the original score from The Phantom of the Opera on piano, cooked in kitchens seriously for over 10 years, managed promotions at the biggest club in my city, worked with politicians, and had my head almost caved in with a metal pipe once.  Also, I've already been internet famous once, thanks to Myspace.  Remember Tila Tequila? Yeah, well she added me.  So, in my short 26 years, I've done some living. 

I can't forget to mention the person that has made all of this possible and much easier for the past 5 years, and that is my lovely fiancee Ashleigh.  She supports all of my plans, even when I want to decorate the entire house with video game statues and paraphernalia.  We're accompanied by a ferret and two cats as well, and the five of us make up one loud, messy, and smelly apartment.  Also, my cat's mustache is better than yours. 

The happy family. 

But now, onto the serious stuff.  How did I find my way here?  What has gaming meant for me in my 26 years?  To start, I have to thank my parents for my introduction to gaming.  While neither of them were serious gamers, my mother was verging on an addiction to Super Mario 3 for NES when I was born and was quick to get a controller into my hands so I could play with her.  I still remember the 3-400 page print out she had that put 21st century walkthroughs to shame. My dad on the other hand, was a big fan of Mike Tyson's Punchout as well as the original Zelda for NES, which I spent countless hours playing.  And countless more being stuck in the first ever Lost Woods.  They were still the type of parents who would rather I was outside playing, but I have to thank them for my introduction to gaming nonetheless. 

 As I got older though, the NES was the only console that was in the house, and I had to fight tooth and nail to get a Sega (used and years after it came out) but when it died I was not allowed another.  The same thing happened with the N64, I was allowed to buy it if I saved all my money up (again, only years after it was already out) and finally got to experience Mario Kart, Smash Bros, 007 Goldeneye,  Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Pokemon Snap, and Perfect Dark, to name some of my favourites.  I still own that console, and I will probably be buried with it.  This was the trend of my gaming, I think I finally got my original Xbox in like, 2005 or 6?  Until I was 19 and moved out to go to university, this was how it went.  I got to play new games and consoles at my friend's houses (I can still remember my buddy bringing Gears of War 1 over with his new Xbox 360), but my parents didn't agree with my spending that kind of money on them when they came out.

Skipping ahead a bunch, I bought a ridiculous amount of original Xbox games, bought a PS2 and PS1 off a friend, but still had to wait until late 2009 to get my Xbox 360 when I was able to save the money up.  And honestly, that is where I can trace the beginning of my end.  Or the start of something new, if I'm to believe Mr. Churchill.

As soon as the 360 was in my hands, I started buying up every game that I had missed over the past few years, spending days on end catching up to the gamer scores my friends had set.  This trend continued, and from that point on, almost all of my disposable income went towards new games and consoles, and now I was buying them on Day 1.  I don't care what anyone else says, give me all your pre-order bonuses, posters, keychains, special edition statues, I want it all.  

Collector or Hoarder?  This isn't even all of it!

But I can trace the amalgamation of my intellectual pursuits and gaming to one game in particular, Assassin's Creed 2.  I had recently taken a Renaissance history course at university, and written a paper on the Medici family and the Pazzi conspiracy.  So when I played the game and realized the absolute historical accuracy that Ubisoft had stuck to (they hired historians to work on the game with developers), even the detail on every single painting and cathedral, I knew that I wanted to combine my historical knowledge with my passion for gaming.  (Side note: I actually placed 30th in the world in the Assassin's Creed Brotherhood tournament by Virgin Mobile, while studying for exams).

But I was always focusing on my studies and work first, with gaming as my hobby and passion that filled all the extra time up while I wasn't spinning at clubs or researching.  When I moved to Ottawa, I joined up with a gaming company called GO Gaming to start putting on tournaments and hosting viewing events for League of Legends Championships at local pubs.  I took the time away from everything to do some really great work for them as Head of Ottawa Operations, but when I had to travel to Kyrgyzstan last summer to do research for my thesis, they decided to "let me go."  

Screw 'em, I was lounging in the Badlands anyways.

Obviously, I was pissed.  I put a year of work in for them, being paid barely peanuts, and they let me go because the owner thought some other guy would do it better.  Needless to say, when I returned to Canada in September, GO was not the presence that I had seen or helped to cultivate previously.  Currently, I'm fairly certain GO is on hiatus, because I haven't seen anything from them in a while.  Not saying this happened because they let me go, but I tend to know what I'm doing with Gaming events.

I started my own company up following this debacle, and continued to run my events, and recently I have merged with Gamework Canada.  We are focusing on Canadian tournaments now, trying to being a real MLG circuit to Canada, because we are hurting up here for competitive LAN play.  We've focused on CoD right now because it draws people in, but the plan is to expand to have tons of games featured, including lesser known games, or ones that don't get much tournament play.  

As you can see, our first tournament went very well.

So this brings me to the here and now.  I eventually want to start doing serious analytic papers on gaming, looking at video games in a similar way that universities do film/media studies.  I will address themes of narrative in gaming, such as gender or race, but I also want to explore how gamers interact with their games and what they take away from them.   

I am sure I have missed a ton here, but this is the life of the Scholarly Gamer in a nutshell, and some insight as to why I gave myself this moniker.  I am really excited to be part of the Destructoid community now, and I plan to use it to expand and hone my analytic and writing skills related to gaming, and hopefully to provide all of you with some thoughtful arguments on gaming.  

If you actually made it down to the bottom of this, thanks for reading a little about me and I hope to see you around my blogosphere in the future! I'll leave you with this picture, so that whenever you think of me from here on out, this will be ingrained into your head. 

University is fun, children.

The Scholarly Gamer

Edit:  Sorry about wonky image sizes, the image uploader won't let me resize.

Because apparently they aren't going to do it. 

There has been a lot of Ubisoft hate going around the internet lately, related to their choice of protagonist in Far Cry 4, as well as the lack of inclusion of a female assassin in the new Assassin's Creed: Unity.  To quickly rehash these issues for anyone that has not heard yet:

1. The Far Cry 4 protagonist was thought to follow the same "angry, white male" archetype that is oh-so-common in AAA games nowadays.  Ubisoft has since released a sketch of the protagonist, who is of Asian descent; the Himalayas, to be precise.  

2. There will be no female assassin for players to be in the new AC: Unity, which was made worse by creative director Alex Amancio's response to media that it was too hard to create female character models, since it was "a lot of extra production work," "the only logical option...was to cut the female avatar."  Really, not the best response he could have came up with.

A Himalayan and French guys? SJWs, UNITE!

So in summary, Ubisoft has taken a lot of heat lately for the lack of diversity in their protagonists.  I am going to stop being unbiased here, and take the side of Ubisoft now.  You may want to criticize me for siding with a major developer that is under the attack of internet SJWs, but I don't believe Ubisoft deserves the attacks.  If anything, Mr. Amancio should just learn to choose his words more carefully.  Allow me to do it for him, instead. 

Far Cry

Starting with a callback to Far Cry 3 briefly, it should be noted that while the castaways were mostly white Americans, the game was by no means friendly to them.  The lead character, as well as the supporting NPCs were constantly reminded that they were somewhere that they shouldn't be, a sentiment that is very reminiscent of history.  Ubisoft did a great job setting up an environment that would make white people feel like they did not belong there.  If anything, a white person playing the game should feel more uncomfortable about the situation, because its being directed right at you, eh gringo?

You Be Soft, this is what happens, eh white boy?

Assassin's Creed

Now on to Assassin's Creed.  I won't get into a lengthy debate about Ubisoft's historical accuracy, suffice it to say that they are on point.  My initial realization of wanting to write video game analysis came from Assassin's Creed 2.  I had an intricate knowledge of the Medici family and Pazzi conspiracy, as well as of Mr. Machiavelli, before playing AC:2 because of my degree in history.  I was beside myself at how historically accurate the game was, from exactly how events played out to the fresco paintings inside buildings.  Assassin's Creed gets it right. 

Now onto the question at hand.  How inclusive is Assassin's Creed?  Well, as protagonists, you have played as a Syrian (PS. Altair was Syrian for anyone that didn't know), an Italian, a native-American, a Welshman, and soon a Frenchman.  Edward is really the closest thing you get to a typical "white-man", but anyone that knows history knows the Welsh weren't always in high regard at this time.  Let's also not forget the female lead from AC: Liberation that was French/African, as well as the DLC for Black Flag, which allowed us the play as ex-slave Adewale.  The last example may be my favorite, because you actually got to fight the Crown and free slaves throughout, which I appreciated the addition of.  

Yeah, because this is a lot worse than:

Bunch of honkies. Even with the face paint, we know you're white.

So, I think from here we can conclude that the lead protagonists, while still mostly male, have never once fit into any typical archetypes of gaming.  While speaking of inclusiveness, it is also important to mention how accessible Ubisoft makes it games.  For example, Assassin's Creed: Black Flag is playable in different languages, as well as 17 subtitles, including some like Arabic, Czech and Norwegian, which you won't find in many games.  For myself, I enjoy playing in Russian with English subtitles so that I am learning while playing. 

Concluding Thoughts

Ubisoft isn't so bad when it comes to diversity in its casting, or even with it's audience.  They are more concerned about presenting an accurate depiction of a time period or of a situation, than of fighting SJW battles that have no relevance on their titles.  Yeah, I would have liked to see a female lead join the multiplayer in AC: Unity, but when I look at what Ubisoft has done compared to other companies that still put out "angry white men", I am truly thankful that such a company exists.  I only hope that others can take a page from Ubisoft's books to include different races, genders, creeds, and sexualities when creating new titles.  

Edit: After some discussion, I feel it should be noted that this is not an attack on people who truly fight for social justice.  More so, it is a criticism of internet SJWs who hear one thing and then decide to wholly defend it without knowing all of the facts themselves.  If you truly fight for equity and human rights, the world needs more of you. 

The Scholarly Gamer

I am not entirely sure where to start this.  It's been fun writing in a community instead of just for my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but I have found there to be several issues, at least for me, and I wanted to take the chance to reach out to the community on this. 

The blogging recommendations say to write analytically, add substance, and to provide general insight to provoke thoughtful discussion.  It saddens me that I only see this discourse every once in a while (shout out to bloggers like Elsa who generate amazing discussion) and that more often than not, articles that seem to be getting attention are 2 line failblogs.  

Not complaining by any means, because this has been a great week of writing for me, but it causes me to wonder how/why some troll who intentionally copied the DO NOT BLOG LIKE THIS text as his first post, has received more attention that any of the analytic pieces that I have written.  

I figured I'd try a plethora of different styles too, see what engaged.  Review?  Not too bad, but Dtoid doesn't want reviews from us, they have that covered.  Ok then, short opinion piece posing questions to the community?  Nope, nothing, even with a controversial subject.  Alright, let's go with academic-style analytic paper  to provoke discussion then. Still nothing, and probably the least popular of all of them.

And this isn't just talking about my blog either, I have read others that are generally thought-provoking and very well written, that receive 1 or 2 hearts, and a couple comments.  And then there are others that are extremely poorly written, don't provide any insight or personal reflection, and manage to start "Rising". 

So then my questions are:

1. Are people reading our blogs and just not bothering to comment or like us?
2. How many people are actually checking out the community blogs?  I seem to see the same few names quite often. 
3. What does the community actually want from us to read?  
4. And lastly, will someone please e-punch all these one-line blog trolls in the mouth?

Thanks for reading, just was feeling frustrated and wanted to get my thoughts out to the community on this, maybe get some insight.  This is in no way an attack on other bloggers (except you trolling douchebags) or Dtoid, but general curiosity. 


Edit: Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses.  It is very encouraging to see that kind of response and all of your recommendations and insight.  I look forward to blogging with you all. :)

Just finished playing Wolfenstein: The New Order recently, and was nothing but fully impressed with the game.  It was an amazing revamp of the series, and a great combination of action, stealth, and Nazi-killing goodness.  

At no point during the game did I hesitate before knifing, shooting, burning, or just generally maiming the various Nazis.  It's an interesting thing, isn't it?  Nazis have arisen again as the major antagonist in a video game, more than 60 years after the fall of the Third Reich, and we still love to kill them in every way possible.  Do you ever hesitate before shooting a Nazi, and wonder if he is just following orders? Probably not. 

How do you feel about killing Nazis some more? Besides zombies, Nazis are the tried and tested villains of the last decade in gaming and are some of the only (human) enemies you can go up against and not feel bad about killing, no matter how brutal it is. (We all know how much fun it is to combine the 2 though, thanks Black Ops!) Can you think of any other enemies that compare?

Repetitive enemies or not, I have to say that it was pretty entertaining to send the Nazis goose-stepping back to the history books in Wolfenstein, maybe the best use of the Nazis in a game in a long time.  What is your favourite game with Nazis? 

The Scholarly Gamer