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7:31 PM on 08.13.2011

Why I can't ignore the Frag Dolls anymore (and you shouldn't, either).

A few days ago, the results of the 2011 Frag Doll Casting Call were announced. This year, two lucky young women were plucked out of the Frag Doll Cadettes Academy to join the ranks of paid corporate spokesmodels! Clearly, this would not have been newsworthy enough to drag me out of a sabbatical in the past. Hell, I don't WANT to write about the Frag Dolls--for the most part I just try to pretend that they don't exist, like the dreaded candiru or Tea Partiers. However, as time goes on and their influence and credibility spreads, it's obvious that ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away--in fact, not speaking out is only making it worse. And so, I bring you my resident Angry Female opinion on what is an increasingly alarming influence on how female gamers are perceived.

First off, what is the Frag Doll Cadettes Academy? In their words: "The Frag Doll Cadettes Academy is like an "internship" for female gamers who are interested in learning more about the video game industry and possibly going to some industry events."

Note that "internships" is in quotes because they're not actual internships. (Certainly no internship I've ever had has required me to list my height or hair color.) Basically, it's a street team for the Frag Dolls, which equals a lot of free promotion for Ubisoft. And if you're one of the lucky ladies chosen for the real team, you get...uhh...exposure? Validation for being a hot lady who plays games? A gig getting paid to be pretty and pose with a controller while a corporation signs your paychecks? So basically, an opportunity to shill for the company, but it's legitimized because hey, you did your "internship" first. Kind of like how beauty pageants prefer to be known as "scholarship competitions."

A lot of the debate surrounding these women centers on whether or not they are "real" gamers. Regardless of whatever the truth is (they play games and compete semi-professionally, which is good enough for me), this debate obscures the greater issue at hand. The problem is not that a team of attractive female gamers exists; the problem is that Ubisoft has led a frighteningly successful campaign to have this group of carefully-selected spokesmodels represent all female gamers to the outside world.


So THIS is why we're stuck with a bunch of pink peripherals.

But who says that they're representing women gamers as a group? Well, the Frag Dolls themselves, for one. From the Frag Dolls website, "The Frag Dolls are a team of professional female gamers recruited by Ubisoft to promote their video games and represent the presence of women in the game industry." I could care less about the first part; it's the second part that is dangerous. Think I'm overreacting? Every public appearance puts emphasis on the team's gender first, competitive gaming ability second. They're asked to speak at events and conventions on the subject of women in gaming; they've made appearances on mainstream TV networks. And they're not being invited to appear as representatives of Ubisoft, they're asked to speak because they are, by all appearances, the face of women in gaming--never mind that they're a corporate construct along the lines of Playboy Bunnies and the Spice Girls.

The cutesy pink website with its script font and stylized graphics broadcasts Ubisoft's message loud and clear: Women play games, and this is what they look like. (Hot and into the color pink, in case you were curious.) Is this an image that gamers of any gender are comfortable with? It would be one thing if this was simply a novelty; most teams to this effect in other industries certainly are. (Helloooo, Lingerie Football League!) But this has lasted for too many years in the relatively new field of competitive gaming to be written off as a successful novelty act. This has implications that are far more damaging and the stakes are too high to just laugh it off.

The women the Dolls supposedly speak for--that is to say, all women in gaming--never had any kind of meaningful impact on the selection of these representatives. Ubisoft picks its Dolls for certain marketable traits, and their perceived ability to move product; any speaking they do on behalf of women in gaming reflects the carefully-crafted image Ubisoft created to generate hype and further their corporate goals. As both a gamer and a woman I reject the idea that these women and this company speak for me in any capacity. However, since I lack Ubisoft's marketing budget or PR team, I will never get the opportunity to represent myself on Good Morning America or in Forbes Magazine as they have, and neither will any other regular Jane. But hey, at least Ubisoft is really making strides in advancing the female presence in the games industry, right?


...oh.   read


4:36 PM on 02.22.2011

Sterling: Pitchford tells feminist organizations to CRY MOAR over Duke

Note: This is a response to the recent front page news article, "Pitchford: Feminist organizations welcome to attack Duke" by Jim Sterling. It is not an examination of his past pieces or stances; honestly, I really don't want to draw any more attention to them. No, for the sake of this post, I am going to take this recent front-page news post and judge it on its own merits (or lack thereof). And yes, I understand how silly it seems to write about this on the very site that employs Jim Sterling--but what better place to post it, really? Now, onward, and bring on the trolls!



Recently, a front-page news article caught my attention: "Pichford: Feminist organizations welcome to attack Duke." Oh man, Randy Pitchford making a statement telling feminist organizations to bring it on for the unapologetic over-the-top chauvinism of Duke Nukem Forever? Scandalous! Juicy! I had to read it!

Imagine my surprise and disappointment to find a very limited snippet of Pitchford's quote (from an interview with Eurogamer) in what appeared to be a platform piece for the articles' author, Jim Sterling, to spout his own views on feminism and misogyny.

Most of the time, this wouldn't phase me. I'm used to many different opinions on feminism, and even if I don't agree with them, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man. So the fact that Jim Sterling has his own ideas about feminism and misogyny is not surprising; what is surprising, however, is his manipulation of Pitchford's quote to further his own agenda.

Part of the issue is grabbing on to Eurogamer's misleading headline ("Duke: Pitchford welcomes feminist anger") and expanding on it. While the original Eurogamer article doesn't insert the author's own opinion much (except for that attention-grabbing title), Jim Sterling certainly does.

Jim Sterling's affection for hyperbole is part of what makes his posts so outrageous and enjoyable to read; however, in situations such as this it can be downright harmful. By downplaying the whole "Dickwolves" fiasco in his post as "some people throwing a hissy fit" (when Gabe himself even said messages to him were from "... people being very reasonable"), he already sets the stage to put a negative spin on Pitchford's interview.



When Pitchford makes statements such as "I'll tell you what, if some feminist organization that is doing a great job advocating women's rights worldwide, which I think is really important, can get some advantage by using Duke... go for it," it's not a challenge for feminist organizations to "attack" him or the game, which is what Sterling's article seems to be suggesting; rather, Pitchford seems like he actually wants feminist organizations to use the game if it can help further the cause of equal rights. To this end he talks about the subject of inequality for several paragraphs in the Eurogamer interview:

"... the fact is there are people in this world who get s*** on for no other reason than just their identity, the color of their skin, where they were born, their gender, and that's f***ing bullshit.

"Now, because of the unfairness in the world, sometimes people get... you know, organizations grow up and they become advocates for those issues, and there's some very legitimate and worthwhile organizations that are promoting everything from women's rights to gay rights to racial equality and religious tolerance, which are all really important things for our world.

"Now, sometimes, an organization that has an agenda and is interested in promoting that, especially when they're legitimate, worthwhile agendas, they need to find ways to get attention and to help people understand the problem."

Based on this interview, at least, Pitchford seems to understand that this game can be used in a way to promote equality and bring attention to serious issues, which is why he welcomes feminist organizations to take a look at it. It doesn't have an air of "haters gon hate" like Sterling claims--or perhaps he is just hearing what he wants to hear, to justify his own misguided stance on feminism?

Sterling is right in the sense that terms like "misogynistic" can be thrown about carelessly, which may desensitize people to actual misogyny (a "boy who cried wolf" scenario). Indeed, "an insidious exploitation of emotionally-charged labels" is a poisonous and unconstructive thing. So tell me, then, why is Sterling's article titled "Pitchford: Feminist organizations welcome to attack Duke," when Pitchford himself never actually said that? The term "attack" is used to discredit feminist organizations--look, they're SO MILITANT and ANGRY!!!--and is an example of the very "exploitation of emotionally-charged labels" that Sterling denounces later in his post.

But, who knows! Maybe slapping around emotionally-charged language to garner buzz for games is somehow different than using it to get page views. Nah, that's not "making a mockery of serious hate issues" at all.   read


12:15 AM on 07.07.2010

I DID A BUNCH OF STUFF LAST MONTH BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY I HUGGED CHAD CONCELMO!!1

Since my last post got frontpaged (see: Self-Congratulatory News, below), my blog has been looking mighty empty and neglected. THIS WILL NOT DO! Especially because I’ve been doing a lot of pretty amazing things recently.


Whoa, calm down. Maybe not THAT amazing.

OK, so I’m kinda bragging here but I’m just gonna be honest: The past month has been epic. Like, Lord of the Rings “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” kind of epic, not like when you go to the mall and you hear some androgynous teenager with stupid hair say “THIS WURTZEL’S PIZZA PRETZEL IS FUCKING EPIC.”


...I stand corrected.

I went to E3 and Video Games Live, attended a ton of parties, went to Disneyland for days with the insanely talented Danny Baranowsky, recorded some podcasts, and somehow managed to squeeze in a tiny bit of work along the way. I don’t know how much I slept, but since I’m part robot it’s more or less all good.


Mr. Destructoid, in the case of 23-year-old Beverly Reynolds, you…ARE THE FATHER!

E3 week in particular was incredible. Some of my favorite moments from the show:

• Catching a fast-moving Mr. Destructoid as I went to try out the Fable III demo
• Meeting up with fellow Destructoiders naia-the-gamer, tactix and walk_your_path
• Seeing Chad in action at the Nintendo booth
• Trying out Super Meat Boy and getting tossed into a meat grinder over and over again
• Smooth-talking my way into the Bethesda appointment-only media previews (Fallout: New Vegas and Rage? YES PLEASE)
• Mafia II’ing it up with some Playboy Playmates
• Video Games Live with like 23908 amazing guest stars such as Greg Edmonson, Akira Yamamoto and Norihiko Hibino. EARGASM

There are about a billion other fantastic things that I saw at E3; however, I’m being completely honest when I say that my favorite part of going was due to the fact that I got to meet up with some of my favorite people. I’m not exaggerating when I say that out of all the people I’ve met since moving to LA a few months ago, the ones I’ve met because of Destructoid (whether directly or indirectly) are the best. I really mean it; I love you people!

One of my absolute favorite parts of the E3 festivities was going to Disneyland with a lot of Destructoiders. I got to spend the day riding teacups with the likes of Jonathan Ross, Hamza, Hollie Bennett, naia-the-gamer, Mid3vol, Knivy, as well as the GirlGamer crew. Seriously, have you ever seen a hotter group of nerds?



But you know what absolutely made that trip the best? The fact that we ran into Chad. Yes, that’s right, I got to hug Chad Concelmo at Disneyland. Tinkerbell better retire, because shit does NOT get any more magical than that.


This photo has not been altered in any way. It’s just been enriched…with LOVE.

In less-sappy news, I’ll be a guest reviewer over on Stereotoid this week, so be sure to read my (probably completely inept and bumbling) review of one of Trevkor’s favorite albums. I’ll also pop in on Stereocast, so be sure to listen…IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU.

What’s that, you say? A guest spot on Stereocast isn’t enough Bev for you? Stop your weeping: You can hear the sultry sound of my voice on the regular by listening to LAPD (Los Angeles Podcast of Destructoid). It’s a weekly podcast that features myself, Alex Barbatsis, Cadtalfryn, and the inimitable Gobun discussing our crazy adventures as gamers in Los Angeles. (SPOILER ALERT: Said “crazy adventures” tend to involve long bouts of staying inside, punctuated by disproportionately brief periods of leaving the house.) We are 100% UNOFFICIAL (as in, not endorsed by Destructoid or Dtoid LA), so if you have complaints, be sure to deliver them directly to Gobun’s face…with your fist.


Look at this magnificent bastard.

Speaking of Gobun…his birthday is coming up. If you’re in the LA area on Saturday, July 10th, be sure to stop by KyleGamgee and MamaDonna’s place for his first-ever birthday party! And even if you can’t be there, you can participate in wishing him a happy birthday…just send me a DM if you’re interested.

I have three items in late-breaking self-congratulatory news:

1. In case you missed it, my post on Nintendo’s booth babes at E3 this year somehow wound up on the front page! Reactions were generally positive, though I did have one troll call me “average looking and homely” which brought a smile to my (average-looking, possibly homely) face. Honestly, dude, it can only be one or the other; pick one, then we’ll talk. But whatever—no troll can bring me down because I get a sweet Mr. Destructoid bobblehead out of the deal! Needless to say, I am SUPER EXCITED. I’m already clearing mantle space for him, where he will proudly be displayed alongside my Academy Awards and hunting trophies.


Actual jackalope photographed with actual best friend, circa 2001.

2. I was an extra on The Guild this season, and I’m happy to announce that new episodes are coming out July 13th. I’m not allowed to talk about anything that happened on set, but I’ll be writing a post after the season begins about some of the more awesome set experiences, as well as my recent time playing WoW. (Yeah, that description sounds fucking thrilling, doesn’t it? I promise, it won’t be as boring as what you’re reading now.)

3. As mentioned earlier, I got to spend a lot of time post-E3 with face-meltingly awesome indie games composer Danny Baranowsky. He’s done about twelve gazillion amazing games including Canabalt, Meat Boy (and the upcoming Super Meat Boy) and Steambirds. I’m planning on writing a post about him next week to satiate his mighty ego; before I do, though, I wanted to see if any of you had questions for him! If so, send ‘em to me in a comment or DM and I’ll make sure he answers them.


This is…the face of brilliance. Check out Danny’s website here, and download a free track from Canabalt here. (While you’re at it, buy some soundtracks, would ya?

Well, my WoW patch has finished installing, so I’d better get out of here. You kids keep it classy when I’m gone, and be nice to the babysitter, would you?

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6:12 PM on 05.28.2010

Your marketing is stupid: Blur edition

I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this: GAMES ARE NEVER GOING TO GAIN COMPLETE MAINSTREAM CREDIBILITY UNTIL THEY STOP MARKETING THEMSELVES LIKE ENERGY DRINKS. I hate when game content is probably perfectly legitimate (and maybe even awesome!) while its marketing message attempts to manufacture controversy.

The most alarming thing is that sexism and misogyny seem to be the most rampant themes in game marketing. This is disheartening for a few reasons. As a woman, any kind of advertising that perpetuates those themes (whether it’s for games, alcohol, laundry detergent, or whatever) makes me cringe because I feel like I’m not being taken seriously as a consumer and, ultimately, a person. As a gamer in general, this kind of advertising is offensive because it perpetuates negative stereotypes about the gaming community by making gamers look like a bunch of easily-manipulated sexist douchebags (and therefore the perfect demographic; we’re all so DUMB dontchaknow!).


I dunno about you guys, but you know what I think would help sell more games? MORE TITS.

I actually don’t know much about Blur, other than that people were giving out Blur beta codes like candy over Twitter for what seemed like a million years, annoyingly clogging my feed and blocking my tweets from Winston the cat and Kevin Jonas. However, I have taken notice of their advertising (how could I not? That shit’s plastered all over the web.) It seems like Blur is just another example of how an ostensibly perfectly fine game is attempting to make itself more interesting through sexist marketing.

Let me say that in all fairness, it’s not 100% sexist. A large chunk of their marketing strategy seems to be poking fun at the Nintendo racing games. That’s perfectly acceptable, though somewhat stupid; how many millions of people LOVE Nintendo racers? Even my mom has played Mario Kart and liked it; you’d think they wouldn’t want to turn off potential consumers—the people that keep them in business, right?!

OH WAIT. Not only are they willing to turn off the gazillions of Nintendo gamers out there, they’re willing to ignore a much larger demographic–roughly 50% of the world’s population, in fact.



That’s right, guys—Blur is only for males. Who else would want to “race like a big boy”? Certainly not women and girls—they’re prevented from racing like any sort of boy at all due to the unfortunate possession of a vagina. Hate to disappoint you, ladies, but this is BIG BOY racing, you just wouldn’t get it—go back to your Cutie Kart or whatever the fuck, and make me a sandwich while you’re at it.


Look at her playing dress-up. Oh, wait, she actually races cars? My bad.

Really, it’s brave of the makers of Blur to be willing to make a stand and put racing games back where they belong, in the greasy hands of “big boys” everywhere. Of course, since the game is rated E for Everyone 10+, hopefully your idea of a “big boy” is a snot-faced middle-schooler.

It’s just plain lazy marketing. The features of the game should be awesome enough to sell the game—is it really that difficult to make the game seem interesting without isolating a huge percentage of people who game? The worst part of all this is that racing games are some of the most approachable games for women; who doesn’t enjoy driving fast, after all? Too bad the marketers are too lazy to even attempt to market to females at all.

And don’t even get me started on some of the European marketing:

[embed]174894:30183[/embed]
My favorite part is where he pushes them out of the way as though they’re actually just pieces of furniture. Never have I seen such literal objectification! Thanks to Blorp for the video (courtesy of Joystiq).

But I can rest easy knowing that these kinds of tactics are laughably unsuccessful when it comes to moving product. Other, similarly-marketed best-selling racing games like Forza 2 and Project Gotham Racing have sold less than 5.5 million copies (combined!). Good for them, those are some great sales! Erm, as long as you don’t compare them to Mario Kart Wii, which has sold 22.5 million copies. In fact, Nintendo racing games have a history of fantastically strong sales—Mario Kart Double Dash!!, Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64 all sold between 4.5 million and 9 million copies EACH—which is no surprise, because they’re AWESOMELY FUN. The added bonus is that their advertising is fun and cheeky, not completely sexist:

[embed]174894:30182[/embed]
Notice how it can playfully poke fun at stereotypes and still be unoffensive. Also, I’m pretty sure my accent while speaking French is about the same as the “French” guy’s in this commercial. C’EST TERRIBLE!

The lesson that I’m taking away from all this is that since Blur isn’t interested in marketing to me, I guess I’m just not man enough to play it. Same goes for all you other gals out there. Oh, I’m sorry, ladies, were you looking forward to a well-crafted racing game? TOO BAD, BECAUSE THIS GAME DOESN’T WANT YOU. IT’S FOR REAL MEN (aged 10 and up) ONLY. Like driving fast? SORRY MISSY, MOVE OVER AND LET THE REAL MEN (aged 10 and up) DRIVE DEM CARS. God. Next you’ll be wanting to vote and work outside the home and shit.

But seriously, note to game marketers: PLEASE STOP DOING THIS. You look stupid and make gamers look stupid by association. WE DON’T LIKE (or serve) YOUR KIND HERE.

[embed]174894:30181[/embed]   read


5:42 PM on 05.05.2010

Learning French through games: C'EST MERDE.

Because I am a cultured woman of the world and possess many leather-bound books, I am currently attempting to learn the fanciest of languages, French! I can’t say that I’m any good at it really, despite hours of practice and learning all the best swear words. I even got Rosetta Stone, and for anyone who’s ever seen a SkyMall catalog, you know THAT’S a BIG DEAL.

So yeah, I mean, I’m learning and stuff. But frankly it’s getting boring. My Rosetta Stone software is the best around, sure, but it’s a bit repetitive. I suppose it has to be—how else am I supposed to learn this fancy shit?—but when you have lesson after lesson full of the same old thing, it gets to be kinda boring, y’know?


Not pictured: Kids not running.

So I got the best idea ever: I love games and I’m trying to learn French, so why not find some FRENCH GAMES ONLINE?! Man, high-five self, good one! Let’s see what a Google search has got for me!

The first site that came up was this thing. OK, not that exciting-looking, but it’s got games, right? Games are fun!



I decided to try the word find. I think that really the words “word find” are all you need to know to understand how THAT went. I mean, look at this fucking shit:


OSTI DE CALIS YA RIEN QUI MARCHE TABARNAK WHY IS CHAUSSURE STILL IN THE LIST, I FOUND THAT MERDE ALREADY!!!!!!

Doing this word find is like playing Blue Screen of Death: The Game. (Actually, has anyone made a Blue Screen of Death game? I might pay cash money to play that.) Not to mention it kept having bugs that wouldn’t accept the words I’d find which was HELLA FRUSTRATING, though at least it gave me the opportunity to try out all the swear words I’ve recently learned.

I decided to move on to greener pastures and found a BBC site that looked fun. Oh, except for all the games were aimed at 8-year-olds. That made me feel worldly, let me tell you. I clicked around a bit and I can safely say that the games they offer are truly bizarre; I mean, I played one with a dog in space (??). Really, who sends a dog into space and then won’t let him come back to the shuttle unless he answers questions in French correctly?!



Needless to say I got bored, which is really sad, because that means that I have less of an attention span than an 8-year-old child.

For the last game I decided to try I just let Google surprise me. Aaaand...



So, back to Rosetta Stone for me. I mean putin de merde, how difficult is it to make a fun educational game online?! Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?! Next time I'll try that DS French game...surely that can't be so bad, right? Right?! If anyone's had an experience with it, let me know, because I don't really think I can handle any more shitty learning games. It would make me cry like this (including autotune):

[embed]172972:29617[/embed]

If you really feel like punishing yourself, you can play the word find here (WARNING: Only attempt if you want your eyeballs to bleed out of your face), the BBC stuff here, or the "Kiddies Games" (which I haven't tried for obvious reasons) here.   read


12:22 PM on 04.26.2010

Beat Hazard, The Sims, and why I can't write.

So you probably noticed I haven’t posted lately. (Yeah right, like anyone but my mom notices. Fickle bitches.)

It’s not really for lack of wanting; I love this site, I love you people, I love games, I love waffles, I love writing. And yet every time I go to write a new blog post, I end up quitting within minutes like some kind of quitting quitter. Seriously guys, what is it? Why can’t I put my fingers to keys and write shit down?!

I do have some ideas why. First of all, I’m playing hardly any games. Seriously. For someone and who played a Mass Effect 2 marathon for 12 hours easy and whose Oblivion save file is over 150 HOURS OF HONEST-TO-GOD REAL-LIFE TIME, this is a major occurrence (or non-occurrence, as the case may be). Is it because I’ve suddenly gained a social life, or a fantastic new job? Let me tell you: HELL NO IT ISN’T. It’s really not by choice; I just haven’t been in a position to really game recently, and it’s tearing me apart inside. :’(

The only game I’ve really played recently is Beat Hazard. I’m not a PC gamer but the lure of being able to easily access my Mp3 library was too much awesome to pass up. And, I discovered that I straight-up suck at it. Like, really suck. Meanwhile, all of my other Destructoid buddies are friggin’ champs! Guncannon, for example, is like Rain Man or something (erm, not to imply that he’s a savant. OR IS HE?!) with scores in the millions. Me, on the other hand? I still play on Easy…aka PUSSY MODE.


This image will melt the eyes right out of your skull.

Playing a PC game for the first time in forever has brought back memories of the only PC game I ever truly loved: The Sims. I had so many downloaded objects for the original Sims (I never got into the later editions) that it took like an hour to load the game, and I spent hours making really elaborate houses and characters. And I’m not alone; I was talking to Kraid yesterday and he, too, had a Sims addiction. I’m sure lots of you have similar stories. I mean, what’s not to like?! You can build your own house and decorate and put your Sims in a tiny room with only an oven and and replace the door with a wall and watch them cry and try to make food and set themselves on fire and be unable to escape and burn to death! (OK, maybe the last part only applied to me.)

But yeah; I loved The Sims. I especially loved making characters (The Addams Family! Greek gods! The crew of the Enterprise!). The Sims Deluxe version even let you paste your own face onto a 3D head, looking actually kind of creepy and like this:


ARARAAAAAA!!111 But, if you would like to buy one, head to this etsy shop. :) :) :)

I remember making Sims of me and my best friend, Brynn, so we could be roommates and do cool best friend Sims stuff all the time. Of course, the creepy avatar version couldn’t do justice to her hawt beauty and awesomeness (she’s a fabulous tattoo artist by the way; if you’re ever in the Portland, OR area hit her up at www.ladylucktattoo.net </plug>), but let me tell you, that sure didn’t stop my avatar from GETTING IT ON WITH HER AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY. Seriously, I would try to get them to interact on a friendly level by watching TV or something, leave the computer to make a sandwich, and come back and there were little hearts everywhere and they would be cooing nonsense Sim-words back and forth. REAL CUTE. I could almost write it off as an amusing anecdote, but YOU try explaining to your real-life friends how your virtual selves can’t stop groping each other and let me know how that works out for you. And you wonder why I have no friends.


She's so prettyOGODWHATHAVEIDONE

Wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, I can’t write. So, help me, will you? Give me some inspiration. A game suggestion, an amazing image, an envelope full of well-concealed cash in my mailbox, whatever. Otherwise, I’ll have to start doing something else to get my attention fix, like post only adorable animal videos. DON'T MAKE ME BUST OUT THE ADORABLE ANIMAL VIDEOS. So help a sister out, would you?

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6:45 PM on 03.09.2010

The best day of my life.

Before I get started, let me just mention that Guncannon's podcast (which I appear in) on history in video games is up. Everyone was fantastic and the whole thing is just awesome, even though I sound like some kind of overexcited chipmunk every time I open my mouth.

And now for something completely different:

As I've mentioned about a zillion times, I've moved to California to live in my childhood home. It's a pretty typical 1950's bungalow and has accumulated three generations worth of people's stuff, so things get a little crowded sometimes. My old room, for example, is full of boxes of things of my parents', as well as from my formative years. Slowly but surely I'm going through these boxes, often to awesome effect (Lisa Frank folders! Lion King stationary! Millions of My Little Ponies!). Even some totally hot photos of me in a swimsuit...!



However, everything else I've found so far totally diminishes in awesomeness in relation to today's find.



Seriously. It's just that awesome. And while what I found is by no means rare, it's pretty much the greatest thing I hope to find, EVER. It made my day. In fact, it may have made the GREATEST DAY OF ALL TIME. Sorry, nonexistant future husband, our wedding is going to suck compared to this day. Oh, and yet-to-be-born children? I don't care how cute you are, your births will forever remain disappointments to me, because I'm pretty sure this mf'ing day simply cannot be topped.

I mean, I started with a normal-enough looking box....



AND THEN THIS HAPPENED.






It makes me feel like this:



Thanks, Mom and Dad, for leaving me the BEST THING TO FIND EVER! Now, who wants to come over and play Warlords?!   read


3:49 PM on 03.05.2010

Update: I'm aliiiiiiive! and podcast-y stuff

O HAI DESTRUCTOID COMMUNITY!

Another boring, quick update from me. Yes, I made it to California without incident, although now that I live here I find myself all of a sudden having a life. Is that weird, or what? I mean, I've hardly turned on the Xbox since I've been here, and at least half of the times I have, it's been to watch Netflix with my grandpa. I am so not hardcore anymore. Next I'm going to start playing Farmville, just you wait.



Speaking of Farmville, it was one of many tangential topics discussed on Guncannon's super-cool podcast of which I happily guested! Guncannon hosted Kraid, Cadtalfryn, and myself to discuss history in games. It was a lot of fun and hopefully it will be up sometime so I can link it and you all can bask in its glory!

Also, I finally joined this century and signed up for a Google Group: The Destructoid LA Google Group, to be precise! Is it weird that I am totally down with hanging out with people I haven't met before? The answer, my friends, is NO, BECAUSE YOU ARE ALL AWESOME. So if you're in California-ish, hit me up, yo. I know all the hip places...well, I mean, I know where the nearest 7-11 is, and I think I might have passed an In-N-Out on the way here. So, OK, I don't know where all the cool stuff is because I'm just not that cool. Is that what you wanted to hear? I hope you're happy.

In fact, I am so not cool that I passed up an opportunity to party in Silver Lake. Don't know what Silver Lake is? Let me give you a hint:



It's a community full of GOOD FOR NOTHING HIPSTERS, that's what.

I just don't have the spirit of irony that being hip requires. Whenever I wear something, it's usually because I like it. (The other part of the time I wear it because it's all I have clean and I am an epic slob.) I mean, if I were to get a unicorn tattoo, it would be because I legitimately think that unicorns are God's most beautiful creatures, not because I think it is hilarious. But you know what is hilarious? THIS.



(Luckily we missed the exit and ended up seeing Crazy Heart in the unhippest of places, Century City. And I have now seen enough of Jeff Bridges half-naked and sweaty to last me a lifetime.)

Now I have web sites to maintain, but before I go I will leave you with a question: If you could recommend me only one game for either PC or Xbox 360 to pick up this month, what would it be? I've got to get back into my old gaming habits, or so help me I will start going out and socializing. God forbid.   read


8:01 PM on 02.17.2010

No, don't worry, I'm fine. Really, your concern is touching.

So I've been away from Destructoid-land recently as I've been preparing for a move of epic proportions. As such, I've had to cut back on the internet time for fear of becoming a scrappy vagabond with naught but a penny to my name but a song in my heart. (Actually, I think I prefer the term "wastrel" to "vagabond." Don't you? It sounds so much more Dickens-ian-ish.) Whatever, I am so drinking right now.

Anyway, SUP Y'ALL? How was Valentine's? Mine was pretty pimp, no lie, not least because of Bioshock 2. Is it possible to both love and hate something at the same time? Like children, or waffles? Because that's the feeling that Bioshock 2 inspires in me. The plot is absolutely nonsensical, there are no surprises, but the gameplay is like 23092830298 times better, and multiplayer!!!! is awesome. Actually, multiplayer is hella buggy and freezes the Xbox periodically, which may have made me fling my controller at my cat (I later apologized). But I still can't tear myself away. I mean, I have HEAT-SEEKING GRENADES and a MELEE ROLLING PIN. And the fact that their version of Capture the Flag involves forcibly grabbing young girls makes me happy. Ahh, implied child murder. Classic.

Anyhow, this was my reaction upon receiving Bioshock 2:


Delicious.

Oh, noticed the hastily Photoshopped-in Bender poster next to my gaping maw, have you? As you may have noticed (probably due to the handy arrow) it's the same poster as in the background behind my huge noggin. Which brings me to my next point...

I AM TOTALLY GIVING AWAY AN AWESOME BENDER POSTER.

So, I'm moving, right? And I can't take all this shit with me. I have a spare of the poster pictured that's all brand new and stuff, just taking up space like a bastard. Would you like it? Because it can be yours, my friend. All you have to do is write a Futurama-themed haiku in the comments. You shall know of your victory (or non-victory) by Sunday, which is the day I hit the road. You can enter as many times as you can haiku, and you shall be judged by an objective outside source (no, not Jesus). And, like the Highlander, THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE (winner). Because I only have one poster. Duh.

K, time for more packy packy. Here is some Billy West to tide you over until my return.

[embed]164113:27589[/embed]   read


4:36 PM on 02.06.2010

Valentine's Day gifts you should buy if you don't want to die alone.

Despite being a grown-ass woman, I still have a not-so-secret passion for cutesy things. Perhaps being raised on Sailor Moon and Fun Dip has caused saccharine sweetness to run through my veins. (That sounds like the origin story of the lamest supervillain ever. AFTER I DRESS UP MY CAT IN CUTE OUTIFTS I'M OUT FOR YOUR BLOOD, SPIDERMAN!) That being said, it should come as no surprise that I love Valentine's Day. Like, LOVE it love it. So much that I would, in fact, marry it.

I know that many of you out there don't share that sentiment. I contend that the reason you don't feel the same way is because you have been unable to find the perfect Valentine's Day gift and thus feel hopelessly insecure about your virility and sexual prowess. Well, no fear, my friends. Because I have come up with the BEST VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT GUIDE OF ALL TIME.

I'm not talking about the prepackaged Valentine's grossness that retailers thrust in our faces year after year. I'm talking awesome, adorable, geeky gifts that will have your significant other ripping your clothes off faster than a Rancor ripping into a Twi'lek dancing girl.



So, here it is. Shop with confidence knowing that I used my discriminating taste to ensure that each item on this list is full of WIN.

* Pretty much nothing is more standard a Valentine's gift than jewelry. (Well, at least as long as you disregard candy and flowers.) So why not get them some awesome game jewelry?! I'm sure that it won't get them made fun of or anything...


From L-R, clockwise: tianarutledge, spugmeistress, TheClayCollection (both sets of cufflinks), countryjedi, spugmeistress again.


* Maybe you should give them something to cuddle on those long, cold nights without you, so they don't turn to another human being instead. Keep them out of the arms of their tennis instructor with these adorable plushes!


L-R: t0fugurl, amyjoshandmade, callykarishokka, mpoust7, randomhouse, and t0fugurl again.


* Perhaps you'd like to tactfully suggest that your loved one should stay in the kitchen instead of voicing her opinion or worse, showing herself when company's over. Lovingly guide her to where she belongs with these awesome kitchen-y goods:


All kitchen-y goodness by PoppysGardenGate.


* I couldn't resist the lure of these cell phone charms, so they get their own section. They would of course be adorable on a cell phone, but there's also a spot on the Nintendo DS to hang these, so you can go EXTRA geeky!


All charms by iKtizo. Awww!


* Maybe your loved one has narcolepsy. Or perhaps you don't have a loved one, and spend your nights crying yourself to sleep. Well, what better object to smother in your tears than AN AWESOME PILLOW?!


L-R clockwise: Bellapoms, r4pwnz31, raindrops23, Bellapoms again, getyourgameon, PoppysGardenGate, LiyoLabs, raindrops23 again.


* These things were all pretty much random, so they all got grouped together on my own geeky Island of Misfit Toys. (In case you can't tell what these are, I will tell you (L-R clockwise): An iPod/iPhone case, controller ornaments/mobile, 500gb external hard drive (HOW SWEET IS THAT?!), vegan chocolates, Pokemon flash drive (!!!), and Tetis wine glass markers.)


L-R clockwise: yummypocket, useyourdigits, 8BitMemory, chocoagogo, 8BitMemory again, countryjedi.


* Lastly, regardless of whether or not you get them any other gift, you HAVE to at least get your S.O. a card. So get them one of these instead of some insipid Hallmark Precious Moments shit.


L-R clockwise: tracychong, martinivixen, RADROBOT, LandMdesignworks, candyspotting, ArgyleWhale.


Welp, that's about it. I leave you with this touching Valentine's Day message:

[embed]162785:27202[/embed]   read


4:01 PM on 02.03.2010

Dregs: Now that I've finished Mass Effect 2...

Yeah, I know you were all DYING to know what I think of Mass Effect 2 now that I've beaten it. This will be my last Mass Effect post; there's only so much I can say without getting into completely arbitrary territory (which, let's face it, I've already got one foot in). As it contains observations from the second half of my playthrough, it might be slightly spoiler-y.

Here's what I know:

* So basically we’ve mastered space travel, yet haven't figured out a way to automatically feed our space-fish?

* Mordin is probably one of the greatest characters in the whole game. I was pretty upset when I found out that he couldn’t be my space boyfriend. DREAMS CRUSHED.

* If a character is voiced by a celebrity, is it a rule that those characters must resemble the celebrities who voiced them? I spent half the game wondering why no one had busted Martin Sheen for running a galactic criminal organization and when whatsherface from Chuck had gone brunette.


I think we all know who Miranda and Illusive Man are putting on their Facebook profiles during Doppelganger Week.

* I love how much livelier the Mass Effect 2 world is compared to the original. Overhearing conversations, advertisements, space hamsters…all made the game that much more real.

* What’s up with Quarian accents? Based on Tali I figured they all sounded like either Boris or Natasha. Imagine my surprise to find out that they also come in Gruff Generic Military Guy, Bored American Mall Rat, and OMG LOGHAIN AND MORRIGAN varieties.

* Was anyone else weirded out by Liara’s new profession and outlook on life? I can’t figure out her drastic transition from sweet-natured archaeologist and historian into a vengeful bitch with no interest in any of her previous endeavors. The old Liara was obsessed with Prothean culture and technology…so how is it that now she could care less about encountering honest-to-goodness Protheans in favor of seeking revenge against the Shadow Broker…?

* I'm loving Garrus' character re-do. Who knew there was a sense of humor in there?

* On a related note...um, sex with party members is a billion percent less creepy than in Dragon Age.

[embed]162486:27129[/embed]

* For being a big bad organization, Cerberus sure does have boring-ass employees. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Miranda and Jacob. I don’t know why the developers limited Miranda’s conversation options; perhaps they couldn’t afford to pay Yvonne Strahovski for more dialogue? Whatever the reason, they could not have made a no-nonsense, shoot guys in the head-type any more boring. Not to mention that despite her “The mission is number one priority” attitude, the writers somehow get her into a high school catfight with Jack which can result in her sulking in her office for the rest of the game if you don’t play your cards right. LADIEZ, WE’RE ON A GAZILLION-DOLLAR MISSION HERE, NOT FIGHTING OVER QUIZ RESULTS IN TIGER BEAT. JOE JONAS IS NOT GOING TO DATE EITHER OF YOU. GET OVER IT.



* And Jacob? Oh, Jacob. He had potential…unfortunately, it never got past that. I thought Kaiden was bland…but Jacob is beyond bland. Sigh. He has even less to say than Miranda. I wish they had given him a personality outside of being good and doing the right thing.

* I ended up really liking Samara and Thane a lot.

* The marketing of Subject Zero was way off base—in game, I didn’t find her to be particularly psychotic, just annoying. Unfortunately the developers mistakenly believed that it wouldn’t be incredibly irritating for the player to have to coddle her throughout a damn suicide mission.

* They also screwed up by promoting the hell out of Subject Zero ahead of time. By doing so, they killed any surprise that might have occurred by discovering that the killer badass Jack was actually a woman.

* I wasn’t sold on Grunt until after I did his loyalty mission. Then he was pure fun.

* Once again, Mass Effect disappoints with its lack of gay romance options. I swear, gay gamers are the new women gamers; underrepresented and basically ignored. The first Mass Effect had completely sexist gay options; women and men could both romance Liara, whose species is supposedly dual-sex, thus allowing for a lesbian cutscene for gay lady Shepards and…a straight cutscene for gay male Shepards. Because as we all know, lesbians are hott whereas gay men are just gross, thank you. Mass Effect 2 did even worse by its gay players; there are literally zero options for same-sex lovin’. I guess BioWare just figured that it WOULDN’T BE RIGHT for a galactic hero to be gay, because as we all know, there have never been any gay leaders in the history of the world ever. (Except Hitler.) Never mind that you can have sex with a completely different species—my spaceboyfriend Garrus is essentially a sentient iguana—but same-sex human couples? ESCANDALO!



Despite my various and random complaints, BioWare did a great job with this game. That much is obvious; people all over the internetz are shouting its praises from the rooftops and I personally played it in lieu of social interaction for several days. I am SO PSYCHED for Mass Effect 3 it's ridiculous.

You stay classy, San Diego.

[embed]162486:27128[/embed]   read


6:10 PM on 01.28.2010

Talking space vag: Mass Effect 2 thus far

I’m not putting in any spoilers unless it’s something that can easily be deduced from the official promotional site; I’m not here to make anybody cry. NOT TODAY. Also, I’m holding off on analyzing the characters too much until I’m done with the game; as it stands, I’m probably not even halfway through yet and we all know that crazy shit is bound to happen.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed while playing Mass Effect 2 thus far:

* When you start a new game (without using old save data), the game assumes that if you’re playing as female Shepard, you TOTALLY saved Kaiden in the previous game, and you TOTALLY had a relationship. Um, he wasn’t THAT cute.

* Apparently the future has regressed from laser weapons to guns that use actual bullets. Yes, I know what the official explanation is; these are HEAT SINKS, NOT AMMO, OK, except for you use them like ammo, and you can’t shoot any more if you run out of “heat sinks” (which is ludicrous; logic dictates that your gun has to cool down at some point, whether or not you have heat sinks). And I don’t know about you, but I expect the future to have weapons that can KILL A MAN WITH LIGHT without needing “heat sinks” every time you take a shot. So, yeah, totally bullets.

* When trying to get to know Miranda (whom I actually really like; more on that at a later time) she says something like “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to do a mission.” It TOTALLY brought this to mind:

[embed]161889:26961[/embed]

* Jacob kind of looks a lot like Kanye (might be the haircut).



* The ship’s AI, EDI (pronounced eedee), looks like…umm…a talking vagina. Well, a talking vagina mixed with one of those electricity ball things they always used to have at Radio Shack in the mall back in the day. I wonder if the name EDI is an inside joke, because I get a case of E.D. just looking at that thing if you know what I’m sayin’...(OH YES I DID JUST GO THERE.) I can’t believe someone actually approved that design. “Hey, you know what the Normandy needs? A talking space vag!” “AGREED. Great work, Kevin!” It totally brought Monty Python to mind, but I couldn’t find the video online to link to (please post it in the comments if you find it and know what I’m talking about!).



* Archangel was a totally sweet and unexpected surprise.

* Subject Zero isn’t quite as bad as I was expecting, but I still feel like opening the airlock on her from time to time.

* I love the Professor and wish I could have his beady-eyed babies.

* All the talk about the Omega 4 relay reminds me of the Omega 13 device:

[embed]161889:26959[/embed]
I could only find it in Spanish, which somehow makes it even MORE awesome.

* Whenever I run in-game, my squadmate’s disembodied heads (the health/shields display) float perfectly on my butt. It looks pretty hilarious and awesome.

* The club Afterlife on Omega has the same ol’ asari strippers we all know and love from Chora’s Den, with a few changes. The ass cutouts are a nice touch.

* OK, I know I promised no spoilers but I know the biggest question on everybody’s minds: “Are there elevator rides?!” Well, let me tell you, my friends: FUCK YES THERE ARE. Though there’s really only one (on the ship) that I’ve seen so far, and the boring-ass animation has been replaced with a loading screen (which is all the elevator rides ever were to begin with). So, elevator ride purists will likely be disappointed.

I don’t have many complaints but the few I do have are major:

Tiny-ass font. This is almost a game killer for me. I don’t have a 40890” TV and the font is RIDICULOUSLY small. Additionally, there’s no way to change the display except to get another TV. Sooo, all of the cool backstory, conversation options (!!!) and interesting codex entries (just kidding, pretty sure nobody reads those anyway) are lost to obscurity. I’m terrified that I’m going to select a “Motion for Ashley to kill Wrex”-type conversation option by mistake, and I do NOT like living in terror, thank you. At least Mass Effect has voiceover for player characters (unlike, say Dragon Age), which is the only thing that prevents me from going all Wendy O. Williams on my TV. (Semi-relatedly, the tiny font does make for some interesting reading errors, such as misreading a quest for the ship’s chef as “The Normandy’s cocks…” Heeey-OOOO!)

[embed]161889:26960[/embed]

Mining. OK, so taking the Mako out whenever you wanted to scan a planet was kind of boring, but it was like being in a bouncy house filled with candy compared to the new scanning mechanism in Mass Effect 2. I like the idea of upgrading your weapons/armor/ship based on the materials you find, but there has got to be a better way than scrolling your cursor over a planet and launching probes (which you have to keep buying). Head, meet desk.

Infuriating cover system. This could be primarily operator error; I have no one to compare myself with, so who knows. All I know is that the cover system is killing me. I’m all for leaping behind Mass Effect 2’s many scattered crates when under fire, but maneuvering while in cover is maddening. Half the time I find myself exiting cover unintentionally; the other half is spent trying to move around and angle myself juuust right so I can actually fire at a target. HELLA FRUSTRATING.

That’s about it so far. I can’t wait to finish the game, but I also don’t want it to end. It’s pretty damn great. If you’ve been putting off playing due to the less important things in life like work, school, or offspring, STOP IMMEDIATELY and pick this game up. Your kids can feed and clothe themselves for a damn change.   read





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