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A qualified Environmental Chemist who happens to live in a fairly dense city with no real environment or chemistry industry.

I review indie games on another blog and you'll see them pop up here if I think the review is a good or interesting one (along with a shameless bit of self promotion)

I also operate another blog reviewing films and I mean t pick that back up when I can.

I've been gaming since the SNES days. I've been in the pro scene before for tribes 2 but hate the present pro scenes and have no interest in going back into it.

I tend to get into quite a few Betas and love ones without NDA as it means I can write about them. I have even beta tested an xbox 360 game in my time (and no not a normal public Beta one )

In gaming I'm normally the guy looking at the shelf below the AAA titles first to see if there are any great hidden gems.

My gaming drug of choice: Timesplitters in any flavour (Why won't you make Timesplitters 4 Crytek, why ????? I need my fix of insanity )

So a lot of people have probably been rather pissed off at one of my recent blogs so consider this in part a clarification.

I do not think Anita Sarkeesian should be silenced.

I do think she has every right to give her opinion.

Is that clear enough ?

What I’m saying is the style, presentation and content itself and views of the person in question are things I take objection to.

Do you wish to have me silenced for not lurching in step and saying that it seems to me Anita's Opinnion is of little value as she doesn't seemingly understand some of what she's talking about ?

Do you let your next door neigbours teenage son fix yor car or do you go to a mechanic ?
There's a reason knowledge is important in a subject and if you don't know it getting help is a good move.

I’m entirely open to discussion. What I’m not open to is people throwing up their arms and being insulting or accusatory because I don’t accept their view immediately.

If Polygon wants to claim to be a “progressive” review site then so be it.

Here’s the kicker though. Nintendo doesn’t send Jack Thompson review copies. If a company doesn’t seem to be reflective of the audience for a product then there is no right for them to be provided a free review copy. This is a courtesy done by the developers and publishers to give writer time to play and review a game. This matters only because of the eagerness of some in the gaming community to get information. Being first out with a review carries weight because it helps with search ranking and early clicks. If a company doesn’t feel that a reviewer or organisation is going to represent their product fairly they are under no obligation to give them the game early and for free. That doesn’t mean they can’t review it, this isn’t as some have been claiming “a push to censor reviews”. People can still give their review. I do this almost all the time, most of my reviews on my site are of games that have been out a while. All getting a game later does is mean your audience is just those interested in the opinion of you or your site. Does Yahtzee have no audience because most of his reviews are up to a week after release ?

So why would I get worked up, why would I get annoyed, why would I have blogs objecting to an opinion ?

Well because people holding that opinion are rallying for a change. They’re asking for people to take their opinion over that of any another. I have no objection to people being fans of Downton Abbey. Would I object to a Downton Abbey fan calling for changes to The Blacklist because by making it a period piece with no violence it would be so much more beneficial and educational to people ? Damn right I’d object because it’s clear they are in no way a fan of said work. Gaming is huge at present, it’s vast and watching people argue that it needs to change is baffling to me. You want to see a selection of games 90% of which have a female protagonist because their primary audience has been seen to be women ? 90%+ female leads.

I have no objection to seeing female lead characters but I’d prefer a good game with well written characters over some token placement. I said I’d have loved to have seen watchdogs have a female lead as it was rumoured to meant to have. What I do object to is “Why isn’t Doctor Who female ?” you’ve probably never heard this cry but it happens quite often as an undercurrent and even by certain pop culture critics.

(For those who don't know this is Jonathan McIntosh the script writer for Feminist Frequency)

It’s like asking “why don’t you replace relic hunter with a man ?” There’s a reason those series have gained the following they have. People are asking for a series to change what’s been a mainstay of the series for a long while. It makes no sense Doctor Who has managed to have many companion who were strong female characters. From Ace who famously beat up a Darlek using a baseball bat to Rose Tyler and many others but for whatever reason that doesn’t matter apparently.


Don’t get me started on this......... seriously why have it as the Master ? There’s an evil female timelord called The Rani who would have been far far better.
It just irritates me to watch someone who isn’t a fan of said genre or game start asking for major changes. Especially using some mask of protecting people.



We live in a world where mentally ill people can do horrific things if left untreated and watching people try to connect their actions to things in reality is watching an act of futility. We call them mad because they don’t think like other people. I mean we could always start teaching people not to Kill that would surely solve the problem right ?


Yeh trying to understand the logic of a madman isn’t some simple thing of connecting two dots together. It’s far more comforting to believe you can understand, predict and stop this happening than accept the reality that there’s no simple solution to stop it.

Gaming is big, very big. Even if you call yourself a gamer you can be a fan of so many different areas. Very similar to how some people are fans of more specific genres of film. I’m not a huge fan of the splatterhouse film genre (lots of blood gore filled horror films) I’ve seen all the Saw films and out of all of them the only one I’d ever recommend anyone bother with is Saw V I can state my reasoning for this and who knows maybe some people would like it. I won’t however be calling for the eradication of that whole genre of films simply because I prefer horror films with more tension than simply shock blood.

So if I ever have zombies showing up at my door telling me how it’s far better to let them bite me and join the horde trust them I’d have to ask shouldn’t I have a say in this ? It’s only your view that being a zombie is better don’t tell me it should be mine and I have no say. Otherwise I tend to get a little annoyed. It’s the same reason the Jehovah’s won’t go near the house anymore (If only eh).


Here’s the thing maybe I think listening to just one persons voice and being told this is perfect isn’t what I see as helpful to an industry.

Since when has listening to only one or two voices helped promote a diversity of views ?
Since when has listening to highly flawed information helped anyone become better informed ?
Sure you can listen to the highly flawed information but I’m watching such animosity merely for saying “Hey you know maybe this stuff isn’t great and you need to listen to other people too ?”

Did you know the seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth and not simply it’s position in orbit ?
Told you I’d slip that one into a blog at some point.

Diverse views are important and listening to views that disagree is also important. But if someone is going to present their side I’d appreciate some attempt at honesty and not a situation where evidence is made to fit the conclusion so often.

I can object to a person or their take on an ideology without it being a hatred of the ideology.
I’m sure plenty of people here have an issue with I.S.I.S. (or I.S. to give them their correct name). Do you all have an objection to the religion of Islam then ? or do you understand most people who worship Islam hate I.S.I.S. and their interpretation too.
It’s foolish to suggest simply doing something for what’s seen as a positive ideology makes people immune to criticism.

Scientists are working for the good of mankind and you know what that doesn’t mean I can’t object to the highly controversial and potentially dangerous GM food trials or the harm Bovine Somatotropin does to livestock. Those are seen by many as progressive things. I’d encourage you to learn about them at least a little so you can understand the debate. I’d encourage you not to believe everything being told to you simple because a scientist says they have authority and this is progress. The Atom bomb the most destructive force on the planet outside of nature itself was made by people after progress. Learn for yourself and challenge people of course they'll dismiss your view if you prove time and time again you know little on it. However challenge them and make people think. It's a two way street. If they want to make you think and examine things they should be open to the same. If not why should anyone listen to them ? 

Gaming is a big house and all are welcome in it, you’re perfectly welcome to your socially progressive place. However when you start telling me and others are area should be yours too. Or our area needs to change for you. Then you have a problem. If you have no real interest in the space then you’re simply doing it to be a dick. The world doesn’t need to conform to your Orwellian society view of single mindedness and nor should it. If it did then who tells the train leading to our damnation to stop ? Who says “Um guys maybe this is a bad idea ?” before something goes wrong and people end up living to regret it ?


I see it a pure egocentricism to think you are required to protect the poor dumb human race from the nasty things you have no actual proof of. Your feelings do not give you any right to control me. Because you feel something doesn’t make it true. Rallying people up to push for only your view to be allowed is asking for trouble and that’s what you’re seeing now. When you go beyond merely asking for a space into wanting all the space that’s when we have a problem. The world is not your personal stage just for you. You know what, I’d like to be allowed my bit of stage thank you and not told it's for the greater good I give it to you, especially if you have no proof behind any claim beyond mistaking correlation and causation. Though so far there's been very little even correlation.


Have your view.

Just don't tell me to accept it for the greater good.



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Disclosure: I’m a big fan of Science and having people get into science so this will factor into this review so be aware of that this is me and one of my biases

I got this game free as part of Amazon’s App of the day promotion earlier this year.


Name: Toca Lab


Amazon: $2.99 / £1.80

Google play: £1.99

Itunes store  $2.99


Reviewed on: Kindle Fire HD


Review bit: I’m technically a scientist, that’s what I’m trained in, that’s what I’m qualified in and yet here I am playing a kids educational game about Chemistry and the periodic table. Why ? Because it’s damn well done that’s why.

I’ve almost always scoffed at Edutainment games but in this case what I’m seeing is one of the most amazing well made entries into the genre which contains so much information without any real need for kids to be forced to read.

The aim of Toca lab is simple take one element, and from there do science on it and try to fill out the full periodic table.

It sounds initially fairly dull until you realise each of the elements is portrayed as a cute like character with various characteristics.

The amazing trick in this game is all the characteristics have a meaning to some extent. Some of the characters float in the air which is meant to signify them as gaseous elements. The Various solidity / hardness of different elements is displays as some bounce about while others are more solid blocky characters. Radioactive elements give off a strange green glow and are marked with a special symbol on the periodic table. All this information is displayed to the player visually.


To make different elements you have to use interpretations of scientific equipment with fairly basic interactions. The equipment on offer includes:  chemical reaction kit, Bunsen burners, electric induction  set ups, a centrifuge and liquid nitrogen.  As I said the interactions with the equipment items themselves is pretty basic so you can turning up or down the electric induction and Bunsen burner; you can pick what order to add the chemicals in to react them; you press the liquid nitrogen to spray it and you spin the centrifuge then press to stop it again.  However if the reaction doesn’t occur you can have some pretty fun results: the Bunsen burner causes elements to give off smoke; the electric inducer causes some to become charged with electricity; the chemical reaction causes an explosion scattering the element into pieces and the liquid nitrogen freezes it solid meaning you have to chip the element out of an ice block. Also in the lab is a box of extra bits and pieces to mess with such as a football or a metal rimmed magnifying glass or a bulb or even just some random nuts and bolts. 


These extra items also play into the learning as magnetic elements will attract metallic objects.

In terms of progression the game begins by telling you the different ways to progress to make different elements for the first few until you reach a point where the game gives you an unknown method. At this point it’s up to you to experiment to try to find what method will allow you to create the element in that specific direction. So it eases people in then gives them a bit of a challenge. Later parts of the game also see different combinations of chemicals required to cause the reactions using the chemical reaction kit.

Ok I’ve said about the game and talked it up enough time for the complaints.

The game does have a couple of issues firstly it’s not really built for long sessions. It is a tablet game after all but it does have plenty of play time in it, so while your sessions with the game won’t be longer than say 15 minutes or so it’ll last you plenty of sessions on it. The game doesn’t support screen rotation of any kind so the screen is locked to playing it in only the portrait orientation on a tablet. Ok that’s kind of all the bad I got.


With cute characters and plenty of content Toca Lab is an amazing little app for the budding future scientists allowing the freedom to explore, learn and discover about the periodic table and the elements. Featuring cute characters and a “collect them all” style system to it I have no doubt kids will love it. Heck I’m a Scientist with my name on a research paper and I love it. If that doesn’t tell you something about the quality of this game I don’t know what will. It even comes with a handy little section for parents to let them talk with their children about the game. 




5 out of 6


Note: Would you look at that. I managed to do a review of a science based app without blaming a persons shirt for keeping people out of it or claiming the use of the colours green and purple are offensive when used together because some insane context only valid and known to a very small number of people.


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I rarely do this here at destructoid, I dislike turning a blog into some personal soapbox piece with little to nothing to do with video games or anything in geek / nerd culture. This is unfortunately going to be one of those exceptions because I got called out in a big way recently.

Incase you didn’t notice I got called out on stage at XOXO by Anita Sarkeesian.

For those who want to view the whole video



So yes thanks for that one Anita it’s not like I don’t have this email for public contact. Or an inbox here, or even a Twitter so Funny thing I’m pretty open to discussion. I may not go easy but then I expect the same back. But no you decided the best place to bring up this discussion was infront of an estimated 2,000 people all because of This article 

Hell it was only a few weeks back I even did a blog addressing problems that users called out, users, not even the subject of the article.

So how did I react to these accusations?Well I decided to do something I don’t think anyone reading this would expect . I decided as Anita hadn’t bothered to reach out to me, I’d reach out to her. I identified myself as the writer of the blog called out at XOXO fest. I pointed out that while she had accused me of libel and slander that as it was clear she had an objection to my writing I wanted to hear her side. Her version of what happened at EA Sweden. No funny business I would write what she claimed happened with no editorialising done to the comments themselves. I was very polite and didn't rant or throw names or insults. I merely asked for her statement if she wanted to give one.

So here for you dear reader is an entirely unedited version of the response I received from Anita in her own words.


Hhhhhmmmm that’s right for whatever reason despite this offer being open for at this point over a month I have not received any kind of statement. Anita seemingly doesn’t care to “set the record straight” as she seemingly claimed to want to. It’s strange a tiny little garms jurnalizt like me somehow cause her such annoyance she felt the need to call me out in front of an estimated 2,000 people, yet didn’t care enough to give even a reply to when I approached her to discuss it.

So you know what, making legal threats of libel and slander means it’s time I take the kid gloves off. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and I don’t go super critical on anyone unless they actually act as a colossal dick to me or people I know as one male developer saw in the past.

I feel it only right to address the XOXO fest speech itself. The article she called out was my article The Sarkeesian The Dice and the Mirror and accused it of libel and slander. Let me be clear on this, you mean libel. Libel is written slander is spoken generally. So how does the accusation against my piece as being libel hold up ?

In many legal systems, adverse public statements about legal citizens presented as fact must be proven false to be defamatory or slanderous/libellous.
Funny that isn’t it. I see no proof being put forward that what I wrote was false. I hear claims by Anita but then again we know how Anita does like to change her mind a bit.


Now let’s get more specific on my defence here. Libel is not applicable if a reasonable person could have believed it or they were fair reports of allegations in the public interest, which as one of the oddly most popular articles I’ve written it shows clear public interest. To be clear what is meant by a fair report it is a report where there is believed to have been sufficient evidence. Other people have contacted me from other locations and pointed out evidence does still exist in various places. Now as I have contacted Anita and asked for her side it therefore means as she has seemingly refused to give her side of the story the only side present are the allegations.

You know something though, Slander is the act of deliberately or maliciously misrepresenting someone via speech. I think you deserve some extracts from the piece in question here.


Strange that those exact words are contained in that article isn’t it, I haven’t edited it you can go back and check. The article itself was a lot more about EA seemingly hiring someone with little knowledge of games mechanics to tell people who to do their job. Anita's own area of positive character wouldn't have likely made me bat an eyelid about here pressence.

So let me put this on the table, the reason I have been approached by only two people about this article is because some people checked it out and found Anita had cropped it and only given her version of what was said in the article or simply took her word for it. Now part of the rather insidious trick here is that Anita was seen to be speaking from a position of authority and hey “Listen and believe” right, trust her. Except in this case that trust is misplaced.

Now one of the people who did contact me asked for proof Anita had gone to EA DICE as I claimed.
Turns out this was easy to prove as it was written on her Twitter.

Infact those of you who want to look into it more and have a way to scroll back to specific periods in some-ones timeline there (if you do please tell me what it is I could do with such a thing) you can check around the time of these tweets and it will give you an idea that this wasn’t a single one day excursion round trip this was a far longer time than you’d expect for just a couple of speeches.

So Anita never contacted me to object to the articles. I wonder, did she contact anyone at Destructoid at all about the articles ?
I mean you know my blog is posted here so surely if she had such a strong objection she’d have contacted Destructoid itself right ?
Who knows maybe someone will be able to confirm or deny this piece of information but it seems very odd to suddenly bring it up on stage without addressing anyone.

So consider this me declaring the kid gloves coming off and the harder criticism coming in now.
I have been Slandered in the court of public opinion and now I and here with my rebuttal in that same court of opinion.

If any DICE developer does wish to contact me to give a statement my email address is at the top (not that I’d expect any Dice developers would be reading a tiny little blog like this)

You know what’s far funnier. Recently EA announced their desire to push Mirrors Edge 2 to a wider audience and to revamp the games controls because they were seen as too fiddly.

I have no objection to honest criticism but what I’ve been seeing is not criticism. You know why I object to Anita ?

Thank you for reading this and sorry this couldn't have been one of the nice happy blogs celebrating strange unheard of indie games or news people hadn't heard of.

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So I was planning on writing this one at some point and bringing together points from my article about violence in games and military indoctrination. So when Polygon’s lead editor Ben Kuchera decided to release this article I decided it was time to move this one up the queue of articles I’ve been planning.

Let me first preface this by saying I am no expert on some of the concepts I’m going to be bringing up. I’m going to do what very few people in other science fields will do and attempt to talk psychology. My limited experience of psychology is a book, two flatmates at university and a basic overview of educational and developmental psychology during teacher training. As such much of this work may have been expanded upon or be void, however I’m working with what is meant to be the building blocks of educational theory in the form of Piaget’s educational theories.


In-case you need it here’s a quick run down of Piaget’s educational theories state that there are 4 stages development.

These are less important, the more important part is about Schema.
Sensorimotor during which we learn about the world primarily through out sense this lasts approximately through ages 0-2 years and consists of touching and chewing things to learn about them. This is why babies do dumb things like stick fingers in plug sockets or try to touch fire. They’re trying to learn. During Sensorimotor children develop Object permanence, which in simple terms is the understanding that things exist and happen outside of their sensory perception. Or in easier terms if you place a toy under a blanket the child will know the toy is under the blanket and hasn’t disappeared and playing peek a bo no longer has such an impact as the child now knows you’re no longer vanishing into thin air.
Next between the ages of 2 and 7 is the pre-operational stage where children begin create mental representations of events and objects. This is when much of playing pretend comes in. Be it sword fighting, army men, playing doctor, playing shop etc etc. At this stage however children’s world view is still very egocentric (they have trouble seeing anyone else’s point of view) e.g. I like the Tweenies so everyone else likes it too. Also during this stage Animism is displayed where they’ll attribute human feelings and intentions to inanimate objects such as Teddy Bears.During this stage children also begin to ask a lot of question to acquire knowledge.


Next between the ages of 7 and 11 is  concrete operational stage. This is when logic and reasoning first develops and the start of abstract thinking. The best test to show this development is posing the question “If A is greater than B and B is greater than C is A greater than C ?” At this stage children begin to: recognise their thoughts are different to the thoughts of others; be able to classify objects on more parameters beyond their colour and shape (e.g. Number of objects, the weight or mass of the object etc)); think logically about events; become more proficient at mathematical problems such as addition and subtraction. It’s also during this stage Children learn about being able to manipulate or change objects such as a deflated ball still being that ball.

The last stage in development is the formal operational which lasts roughly from the age 11 and can go till 15 -20 years old. This is when skills in prediction, creative thinking and systematic approaches to problems develop. It’s during this time abstract ideas and concepts can be introduced to children more as they begin to develop the ability to think in the abstract. It’s also during this stage children are able to analyse their own thought processes and try to analyse other peoples.
This is probably very simplified and not representative of all development that occurs as I’m sure we’re all fairly different people to when we were 18 and I don’t simply mean drinking far more.

The final bit you need to know about Piaget’s theories is the idea of schema. Essentially mental grouping rules which are used and applied while thinking and develop throughout the developmental stages becoming more complex and sophisticated sets of rules. When a Schema (set of mentally constructed rules) are challenged and seen not to be correct then they are adapted and if required create a new schema. This sounds very complicated (to me at least) but the simple way to explain it in an easily understandable way is if you’ve ever seen a kid in town pointing at a man and going “Dadda” only for the mother to go “No that’s not Dadda”. This is a apparently a very common occurrence in children and this is due to the development of schema and the complexity of those schema. A child doesn’t think that every man is their Dad but in reality that’s what you call people with said attributes. Children can’t tell the difference hugely between nuisances so if their dad has a beard every bearded man to them should be called Dad. Now children grow out of this fairly quick because their parents correct them by telling them no that’s not Daddy and in time their Schema assimilates new information as is able to recognise that the features of being male and having a beard alone doesn’t make them Dad.

So why the hell did I have to give you that short (and trust me this is the short version) run down of Piaget’s theories and how is any of that relevant or important ?

On to the article

Well it oddly it has absolutely everything to do with the issues at hand and oddly even relates to things Jack Thompson has recently said in an interview.
The core concept of the claims is that people could unintentionally internalise harmful messages and ideas from the media they consume. In the most technical sense this is absolutely TRUE.


Ok put down the flaming torches I said in the most technical sense it’s true, In theory. In Theory plenty of things are true. Now where this idea comes from is the concept that people won’t have a pre-existing schema and as such will use what’s being told to them in games as the basis for creating a schema, initially placing misconceptions a problems in. Now misconceptions often require challenging otherwise they will continue and it can often require slightly more work to challenge a misconception than to initially create one and allow said misconception to become part of a person’s though processes (Schema). To give you a very easy example I know of that is a huge misconception often taught in science in early years let me put a question to you. Answer in the comments if you want but I want you to do this without using google if you answer in the comments.

What causes the seasons to occur ?


I’ll put the actual answer in my next blog as an end piece but for those of you who have googled it I wonder how many of you might have had your ideas challenged. I know this misconception because it’s one I had going into highschool and it’s one of the most poorly taught things in science in early years.

The idea of the ESRB has two functions, the first is to inform and protect consumers by preventing people getting hold of games before they have developed enough to be able to complexly analyse them and they will have already created schema for the situations and events shown. The second and more important function is to protect the industry itself from claims of trying to corrupt people and harmful messages. Yes you know that age rating ? It means something. Now the reason for the ratings is at each level it’s suggested children will have schema’s already and be able to handle the content. The rating is often closer to the top end of the developmental stages rather than the lower end. Hence an M is 17+ or 18 in the PEGI system near the top end of psychological development .

So could someone internalise the idea of violence being seen as acceptable ? Well only if they were introduced to these ideas early in development probably in the concrete operational stage AND at the same time these ideas weren’t challenged by parents or society and or were reinforced by society or parents for a long time. This idea forms the basis of the concept of the cycle of abuse, where an abused child goes on to become a parent who abuses, if they do not get help to come to terms with the violent acts done to them. The key part is challenging the ideas and causing a person’s schema to have to adapt to new information.

It is entirely possible to introduce children to media "beyond their level" and there will be no effect because parent’s and society challenge the beliefs (schema) if they do form and cause them to adapt. What the ESRB ratings do is prevent children being exposed to ideas that could be seen as positive due to the use of skinner box style reward techniques which could give the wrong idea. The ESRB is making sure children don’t get exposed to the ideas in adult entertainment as the first exposure to said ideas. It’s why for example I was praised for teaching a group of 13-14 year olds at one point about chlorine gas being used in World War I and why it was harmful (don’t worry there was a greater context to this involving teaching about group 7 elements and their uses and it as culturally relevant). It sounds very bizarre but me teaching them about a small part of the horrors of war, combined with the media talking about it, their History teachers telling them about the events and of course English teachers studying the war poems with them. All this helps create the schema that real war is hell and a terrible thing. Jonathan Holmes himself wrote about the ESRB previously and his article it contains a brilliant example of a schema being challenged and then adapted, in the form of him pulling a chair out from under someone and seeing a result different to the expected one. This show just how easy a misconception can be corrected and this happens all the time chances are you barely notice it most of the time.

Kids shows and teaching of kids is designed to create positive / societal beneficial schema be it from the messages in kids show to the more blatant GI Joe PSAs or be it many books aimed at children.


The bizarre issues that seems to be brought up as the reason for changing games etc is the idea of people not being able to tell between fantasy and reality.

                              There’s actually a psychological principal called Illusory superiority where people tend to over-estimate their own abilities and understanding or under-estimate everyone else’s. The idea that they alone can see and are shining a light on the truth to protect you from some great evil. That they alone are able to do this and see the truth. The idea that they must do something to protect people and society as a whole from harm.


Now you might think that the above quote is pretty accurate and I’d have to say to an extent it can be. However another psychologist called Vygotsky proposed the theory of the zone of proximal development. this is based on Socrates demonstrating that with guidance an uneducated slave was capable of learning and working on a complicated geometry puzzle and taught said slave the concept of area changing depending on the size of a shape. People aren’t dumb they just need people to help them understand and to get them initially to stop and listen before they do something dumb. Also before anyone makes an assumption here I’m “dumb” as hell and I’ll admit it just to be clear. People as a collective don’t need protecting they need teaching and to be allowed to develop understandings with assistance themselves. It’s part of the reason why modern teaching is steering away from lecture / teacher led activities and more towards self directed learning for the children and peer based learning where pupils learn from one another. If one person doesn’t get an idea but their friend does then allowing the friend to explain the idea can allow a different approach to be tried and an explanation by someone with a greater understanding of the other persons thought process. As much as teachers might try to understand others they are no longer children / teenagers and while most can remember back, things do change and as such their teenage friend might well be able to explain a concept they understand to a friend in a better easier way than a the teacher trying to think of new ways to explain it.

The idea that video games can implant harmful idea is a misconception at least when discussing adult humans as most of us already have a Schema developed and no matter how realistic can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. You can see the distinction as LARPing events don’t turn into huge bloodbaths and most injuries probably occur by accident rather than intentionally inflicted.


So how does any of this relate to Ben Kuchera ballsack ? Well it’s pretty evident in his more recent piece that he’s talking bollocks or more correctly leaving bollcoks out there for all to see. Hence this article. The comparison made in the title to They Live doesn’t relate to entertainment media so much as it does to adverts. While inadverted use of Skinner box techniques might influence thinking over time they’re by no means effective when compared to advertising techniques which rely on the creation of a new schema. In many cases using primarily fear in some form to cloud logical judgement and thinking.This allows implanting suggestions and ideas using human survival instincts, be it as an individual or as a species to allow the idea in. While it’s good to examine the underlying ideas and themes in a piece of media it’s a misconception to feel the need to do it for fear for the public or society or dare I say

      because someone already is and it’s called the ESRB. I’ll go more into advertising theory another day I hope you don’t mind as this article is getting long.

I may not think the ESRB is perfect and I do think it is still a little over protective compared to other ratings boards but I can understand what it’s function is. As without it the alternative would be going the route of the Hays code or the Comics Code Authority. As public perception of games evolves and people start to question the line asking if adults really can’t tell fantasy from reality (note most sane people can do this even with films with real life actors) then chances are the restrictions will ease up to be more in line with other industries.

I think the best way I can end this is by saying this. Debate and exposure to differing ideas is important and if you try to deny them a place they can be expressed they will find alternative platforms. Remember that in future Ben Kuchera.

Supporting the ESRB doing their job is why I’m adding in this final part to congratulate a few companies for their actions at Gadget show live 2014 and 2013. You see it’s a public technology show and on multiple stands as you’d expect were games aimed at older audiences. At almost all the stands I went to, and booths I went to, with an adult game on show they asked to see ID before I was allowed inside to play the game. So well done EA, 2K interactive, Trion Worlds and Nintendo you guys were actually doing something good and what should be done. Shame you didn’t manage that Capcom as I played Dragon age unchallenged as did the 8 year old who went to play it after me.

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Did you know Tomb Raider is almost entirely based upon a trope heavily based in racism ?
Here’s the thing Tomb Raider very regularly uses the “lost civilisation” trope. The trope itself is simple, the idea that you’re uncovering a lost unknown tomb or ancient city.

The trope itself originates actually from stories such as the original Tarzan, King Soloman’s mines and She. This comes from colonial exploration of Africa during which the explorers were shocked to find ruins and ruined cities which they came up with a lot of crazy theories about lost civilisations. This was because at the time due to their own biases including racism people couldn’t or wouldn’t believe that what they saw as a “primitive” civilisation could have been the descendents of civilisations that build these vast sprawling cities. The theory became that it was some civilisation or group of long lost people in the past and not simple the ancestors of the very people already in the country.

So here’s the thing. Does this mean Tomb Raider is racist ?

Did I put an overly sensationalist and in reality rather inaccurate title on this blog ?
Yes because a title like “Did you know people in the past were racist ?” would get the response “Well no shit Sherlock you don’t say ?”

The reason I decided to do this article is because I found this idea being presented as an interesting way to put present cultural examinations into serious question about methodology and the presentation used . This should hopefully make people realise that a trope in itself is not bad. It may have been based on prejudices of the past but the important thing is to understand the past and origin of said tropes as a reminder of the past and to make sure the prejudices of the past don’t continue to day.

Burying this trope or claiming it shouldn’t be part of video games because it’s oppressive is entirely negating the evolution of the trope and society itself such that chances are very few people are aware of the origin of the trope itself and the trope has grown beyond it's problematic origins. It has disconnected from it's original origins if you will.

The past exists for us to learn from, not for us to bury and you know what would be a far more interesting take on tropes in video gaming ? A good academic analysis of the origin of tropes rather than claiming the trope itself is some retrogressive relic that should be buried in the past and thrown out. I’m sure people would rather learn about and understand the past of tropes than be told because they come with the baggage of the past they are bad in the present.
The past is another country. They do things differently there

And if a lot of this sounded strangely Familiar that’s because I totally ripped of an episode of The Big Picture to make this one.


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So news has come from Sweden that there is a suggestion into rating video games with not only an age rating but an equality rating.
You know at some point I’ll be allowed to get off this topic and talk about obscure little indie games again............
Here we go again though.

I support this absolutely useless rating being added because it will be the funniest thing to ever happen. I’m not joking because think of it in context for a moment this will be a rating system trying to rate games on all possible categories of diversity so let me put forward what this system might end up looking like.


So lets do some sample cases (ones I've put together) of how this would be absolutely hilarious to see in action because no-one would most likely expect what would be shown up by such ratings.


Killer 7 being rated as fair.
The game contains depictions of people of a range of ethnicities.
Contains depictions of people and even playable characters with mental and physical disabilities including: being wheelchair bound, being mute and self harming.
Contains a prominent playable female lead.
The game fails to reach egalitarian rating for not containing any females playable characters of ethnic origins.
No comment is made upon sexuality of characters so this isn’t factored into the rating for this game.


The Sims 4 getting a Tolerant rating.
Has made and female playable characters.
Allows male and female characters of a range of ethnicities to be made.
Allows a range of sexualities to be displayed.
Fails to respect or include otherkin despite the games context allowing it.
Fails to depict any disabled people be it with mental or physical handicaps
Fails to allow expression of ethnic origins of characters / respect ethnic origin meaning all characters are just white people and doesn’t show any cultural traits or differences in characters.


Gears of War 3 as tolerant
Has a playable female character and multiple options in multiplayer.
Has a playable characters of different ethnic origins.
Does attempt to display characters with some level of mental handicap in the form of depression
Doesn’t display sexuality of characters at all really and as such is not factored into this rating.



Gone Home as Problematic.
Features only a single playable female lead.
Features no characters of ethnic origins at all.
Features no characters with mental or physical disabilities at all.
Problematic presentation of the concept of the struggling semi-incompetent male lead.
Contains highly stereotyped depictions of lesbians as having dyed hair or short hair and a penchant for being involved in the military when in truth said attraction to the military is the same regardless of sexual orientation.
Contains problematic retrogressive message about sexuality suggesting that it is better to run away than seek acceptance and possible rejection.

Now before anyone gets all on edge about this I was informed by some Swedish people that the article in fact merely suggests research into the viability and popularity of such a rating system be investigated and researched. Though they did say be concerned as it was suggesting a Bechdel test style model.

I did myself run a very small scale straw poll on the Escapist forums with the following question and options.

So Equality ratings on games alongside age ?
Yen (I’m being PC by not giving binary options)
Noy (The PC alternative answer)
I want Bacon....... hhhhhmmmmm Bacon
Mines the veggie bacon

Here are the present results of that poll.


So yeh more people want bacon than equality ratings on games.
With all this fuss about a new potential rating tag being added to games it almost feels as though the people who would push for this might need a refresher on the present content information on games.

So what do you think ?

Will it help people make more informed consumer choices and avoid potentially having their sensibilities offended ?


Will it be a huge waste of time and effort in the industry to add another tag that people will simply ignore anyway at best or at worst will harm diversity by adding token characters in to simply fill a tick box esc quota ?

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