1.I love Guardian Heroes and have a story about it. When I was about 13 years old I got a new pair of rollerblades and my mum took me to a local rink. Whilst skating around I slipped and broke my wrist. My mum didn't believe me and made me skate around for another half hour, still refusing to believe that i had broken a bone for the rest of the day. The next morning when my wrist had swollen and i was in agony, she took me to A&E and lo and behold it was broken. Out of sheer guilt she bought me a new game, that game was Guardian Heroes.
2. I don't just listen to Jungle.
3. I'm a socialist, vegetarian, feminist pacifist. In short I am the liberal agenda made flesh.
4. I've been playing games since the age of 3. My earliest memories are of a port of Dig Dug for the IBM 186.
5. I play Starcraft at least once a year against my dad. It is my favourite game and the game we played most together when I was little.
6. I have bought and played Half Life 2 on two separate occasions and on different formats. At neither point have I enjoyed myself.
7. I once went into a used bookstore that also sold hardcore porn. I'm such a geek that rather than buying anything with a naked woman in it, i picked up a rare copy of Judge Dredd: The Pit. Judge Dredd is my favourite comic book character.
8. I have a recurring nightmare in which myself, my dad and my sister are chased through the Arndale centre in Manchester by Daleks. The nightmare always ends with us being pushed into a giant meat grinder.
9. I have a degree in Philosophy and my favourite philosophical text is 'Anti-Semite and Jew' by Jean-Paul Sartre. It explores the way that prejudice stems from a desire to simplify the world and absolves individuals of the responsibility to make judgments about the people around them.
10. Junglistgamer doesn't agree with anything you say but would defend to the death your right to say it.
Thought i'd put up a C-Blog just in case anyone isn't aware that you can donate a game to Alder Hey (The Uk's biggest children's hospital), clicking the link on http://www.childsplaycharity.org/ takes you directly to an amazon page with the children's wishlists. You can see how many copies of a game are outstanding and can buy them a new or used copy of any item where a used version is available
I figured since SingSterling/Extra Life did so well, the gaming community might like to donate to their local hospital as well, and if you didn't get round to donating to SingSterling, heres a chance to set your karma straight ;)
As someone who's gaming roots lie in PC gaming, there are any number of classic strategy franchises that i'll remember fondly for time immemorial. Star/Warcraft, C&C, Age of Empires, Total War, Civilization, all stand as titans of the genre that still receive praise and new installments to this day. For the purposes of this article, i'll be discussing perhaps a lesser known entry in the strategy pantheon - Homeworld.
For the uninitiated, Homeworld, Homeworld: Cataclysm and Homeworld 2 are a series of fully 3D, space based RTS games. You control a mothership housing the frozen bodies of your entire race and are tasked with negotiating through deep space to bring your civilisation back to it's roots on the other side of the galaxy. The game was fantastic, combining then cutting edge graphics with deep but intuitive gameplay and a slick control system which handled the fully 3D environment incredibly well. Of course, it wasn't long before the modding community saw an opportunity to re-enact any space-opera that sprung to mind. Babylon 5 was the first mod i tried but it was only when someone hit upon the glaringly obvious but nevertheless genius idea of laying the Star Wars universe on top of Homeworld's stunning gameplay and graphics engine that nerdvana was attained.
This was geek heaven, to be able to take on a Super Star-Destroyer from an Admiral's perspective, or conversely to cleanse the galaxy of those rebel scum on such a grand scale was utterly delectable. Not only could i send whole squadron's of Millennium Falcons on bombing runs against gigantic capital ships, the Homeworld engine allowed you to zoom in on a single unit, following it as it swoops and dives over the enemy. Never before or since have i seen the modding community so perfectly combine an incredibly versatile game engine with such an iconic setting.
It wasn't perfect, mods rarely are. There were glitches here and there, the unit model for super star/star destroyers were basically the same but scaled up in size and I never got to control an actual Death Star but what gripped me was the sense of a franchise being ripped away from those who would traditionally control it and placed in the hands of the people who loved it most. The lore and background of Star Wars provided the modders with endless templates to place over the Homeworld tech-tree. Harvesters became corellian frigates, corvette's became the aforementioned millennium falcons and of course the fighters on either side were transformed into X-Wings and TIE-Fighters that could duke it out in epic swarms, bobbing and weaving in formation around one another. If the story of Star Wars is a space-opera, this was a sci-fi ballet choreographed by the player's imagination.
The production values could never match those of an officially licensed game. There was no canonical story to be pored over, no big-name voice actor attached and zero contribution from big GL himself. Just the sense of a community making it's own dreams for what could be done with the franchise come true. That's what made it special, and that's why i'll remember playing Homeworld and this wonderful mod for a long, long time.
Ok so quoting an old wildhearts song doesn't necessarily imply intellectual sophistication but after reading Jim's news post about the traffic light system soon to be inflicted on British gamers i felt this definitely deserves broader comment.
I'm not entirely opposed to ratings systems, despite certain issues around Manhunt i've been happy enough with the BBFC's policy towards games, in general i feel that when i play an 18 rated game i'm witnessing something similar to what i'd see in an 18 rated film. The reason why this new traffic light system will be problematic in comparison are twofold.
First, it reduces the accuracy of age ratings. The U/PG/12/15/18 system used by films and often by games allows several distinct levels of gradation. It allows us to tell between a sexual reference and sexually explicit material or between, for example, COD4 violence and Gears of War gore. My worry is that due to concerns about games falling into the hands of those supposedly too young to play them, the definition of what counts as a 'red' game could be much broader than what constitues an 18. The BBFC operate their own standards and act as an essentially independent agency, however the traffic light system's introduction as an aid to parents could result in a much more conservative attitude to game ratings. For example, the BBFC would rate Mass Effect as a 15. It contains mild sexual content and fantasy/sci-fi violence so perhaps isn't suitable for a young teen or child, but is probably on par with what a 15 year old could see in the cinema. If the game came under the kind of outside, interest-group-led scrutiny that Mass Effect suffered it could lead to pressure on whichever body controls this rating system to explicitly label it as 'red'. Thus reducing sales and harming the industry.
The second objection that i and i imagine many other gamers would have to this system is that it further fuels the argument that games are an inherently dangerous medium. By grouping games into even broader age ratings and labelling them with a provocative red tag we are treating them almost as if they are on a par with pornography. Since many games with deep and provocative storylines, bioshock or silent hill 2 for example, also contain adult content it would further ghettoise many of the most interesting examples of the medium and possibly even drag us further back to the perception of gaming as a 'kids' medium. No one talks about whether or not the newest Saw or Hostel film should have a special rating to protect it from kids. It's a horror film and an incredibly violent one, we all know it and we all know thats why it has a high age rating. By making a rating system entirely divorced from the one used for films the industry accepts the proposition that games are not only a corrupting influence on children but that they are also intended exclusively for children.
I'm not entirely opposed to the idea that the media, in it's entirety, is a powerful influence on not just young people but everyone in our society. Games as a part of that society have to accept their ability to influence people as part of a wider pop-culture and provide sufficient information for consumers to make informed choices. What the industry doesn't have to accept is that it is something distinct from other forms of entertainment, especially when the distinction they are expected to accept infantilises, insults and demeans the industry as a whole.
The traffic light system is more than just an annoyance, by attempting to mollify that area of the media which constantly attacks gaming (heres looking at you, Daily Mail!) the industry is feeding the objections, denigrating the medium as a whole and basically just shooting itself in the foot.
As part of the gaming media's ongoing attempt to chart all of Doug Lombardi's daily movements, both bowel and otherwise, 1up has brought us the news that Valve are 're-evaluating' the PS3 and possibly even the Wii. It seems that in light of the shocking development that Sony have managed to actually sell some consoles, it might be worth their sweet time releasing Left 4 Dead on the big black box after all.
This barely counts as news but, since every cloud has a silver lining, the ensuing fanboy flamewar may just rocket me to the top of destructoid's rankings and the world of hookers and cocaine i have NO DOUBT will be waiting for me at the top.
We all know that fanboys are a hateful thing, a terrible nuisance that afflicts the internet. They spout their irrational views on any website that will let them sign up and denounce some of the greatest games of this generation whilst promoting the worst all in the name of defending their purchase. That being said, i wanted to post a bit of a personal experience, a 'coming of age' story if you will charting my own psychological transition to a more, if not mature, then at least open minded view of gaming .
Don't get me wrong, i've never said another console is worthless, at the most the occasional good humoured poke at a friend who owned the 'rival' system to mine, all in a spirit of fun. I have however noticed a definite shift in my own perspective after acquiring a second system.
The best example i can give, would be the respective online services of each console. When i was strictly an XBOX360 gamer, it came across as such a superior service. The speed and ease of setting up a game versus the widespread criticism of Sony's online service seemed obvious. I even, for my sins, chuckled when GTA4 launched and Sony's servers went haywire.
I recently picked up a PS3, mainly for MGS4 but i have a couple of other titles for it as well and suddenly, despite it's flaws, the online service became so much more appealing. My live subscription ran out a few weeks ago, an event that would normally have me stopping by Blockbuster on the way home from work to pick up another 3-month card but now that i have access to free-to-play online multiplayer, I've just not been motivated to spend that extra money. What once seemed like a tiny burden, a negligible expense now seems almost ridiculously over priced. I find myself tempted to buy the PS3 edition of a multiplayer game, rather than the 360 version simply to avoid that added expense.
In summary, for all that i've mocked the fanboys in the past. Claimed to be an even handed observer of the 'console wars' i have to admit that only posessing one system warped my viewpoint WITHOUT EVEN REALISING. That's why i wanted to post this. I'm not defending the fanboys. They are still immature children that waste my time and yours but in many ways, it's not their fault. The fanboys don't know thats what they are because when you can only afford one console, or the purchase of a second or third seems too far off to be tangible, your choice has to be rationalised. Simply saying, 'this is mine and that is yours, we can all get along' doesn't work. If you're a kid who only gets one opportunity every generation to acquire a console, or an adult who's toiled away in the rat race to pick up a system - it hurts to think that time was wasted or to know you'll have to wait 4 or 5 years to simply have a chance to correct your error. Much the same as a jilted lover will claim it was they that did the dumping, a failed console owner can feel much the same.
This post probably seems obvious to most, but i wanted to get this off my chest. Call it a fanboy equivalent of alchoholics anonymous. It's a habit i've broken, but if my 360 dies or the PS3's library doesn't pick up, i might just fall off the wagon again.
My names Junglistgamer, and i'm a fanboy. It's been 2 months now since my last irrational anti-PS3 comment, but i'm still just taking it one day at a time.