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2:35 AM on 05.03.2014

There's nothing I can say.

You had one of the first social/interactive/chill streaming channels that jumped from to at its formation, and was a cornerstone to Twitch's early development aside from esports content.

You had one of the widest variety spreads of programming on a collaborative Twitch channel, until you scattered your hosts to the winds. You had a secondary channel to encourage and foster community involvement, something Dtoid was supposedly all about, until you threw it in the shitter.

You had one of the oldest heads in the streaming game at the helm of your channel after the trailblazing original hosts you didn't want around either left, until he went back to his own thing.

You had one of the most tantalizing looks into the development world for those outside of game-making, until you cancelled it, forcing them into a successful Kickstarter to continue the show without you.

You had a duo that weathered all of this and were the last bastion of quality content on your channel until you shit-canned them just before their last show like cowards. may not have had the best view/follow ratio, but it still had a following. It had an audience. It had a history. And in a time where streaming is more prevalent than ever, with its inclusion on the new consoles and a growing number of PC games causing a boom in Twitch use and exposure, you're just throwing it all away.

(Skip to 1:37; apparently cblogs aren't equipped to handle start points on videos.)


2:05 AM on 03.01.2014


You heard that we were great
But now you think we're lame
Since you saw the show last night

You hoped that we would rock
And knock it up a notch
Rockin' was nowhere in sight

And it's never good when it goes bad
No one likes to feel like they've been had
And it may be okay
But you won't wear our t-shirts now 
Not anymore

First the band looked wired
Then the band looked tired
Sluggish and a little slow

He's walking through the set
As drunk as he could get
And what the hell was wrong with Joe?

And you could tell the crowd was fading fast
Every song we played looser than the last
And it may be okay
But you won't wear our t-shirts now

All the kids, they hold a grudge
Their minds are logged on to the net and
All the kids, they hold a grudge
You fail them and they won't forget it
All the kids are tired and turn away
They saw what you did
You're all wrong and all the kids are right

You heard that we were great
But now you know we're lame
Since you saw the show last night

You hoped that we would rock
And wished that we'd just stop
And finally we said goodnight

When we had returned for the encore
You and half the room had headed for the door
No one wanted more

All the kids, they hold a grudge
Their minds are logged on to the net and
All the kids, they hold a grudge
You fail them and they won't forget it
All the kids, they're tired and turn away

All the kids they hold a grudge
Their minds are logged on to the net and
All the kids they hold a grudge
You fail them and they won't forget it

All your cred won't save you from the kids
They saw what you did
You're all wrong and all the kids are right

(Click the tombstones for highlights. It was good while it lasted.)


11:54 AM on 01.17.2013

Byte-Sized Boo-galoo: more indie horror for even less money

Some of you may recall my foray from last month into the realm of free, horror-themed downloadable games. If not, you can read it here. I've been working my way through some more, and here's what I think of the latest batch I've played.

I mentioned The Theater at the tail end of my previous article, as I had played the worse of two versions of the game. Now that I've played both, I can confidently say I'm only slightly less disappointed. Based on a piece of creepypasta by the same name, The Theater is supposed to be a forgotten title from 1993, even though at least one of the two versions floating around was clever enough to model the posters in the lobby after those for films released in the past three or four years. Basically just a repeating loop that will, at some point between trip 2 and trip 400, start getting weird, this is such a waste of time that I'm not going to bother linking either take on it. A quick scrounge of YouTube will cough up several playthroughs should you truly be interested, many of which have links to the games so you can check them out yourself.

The Briefcase follows in the footsteps of other Slender-esques, in that it involves collecting items in an unfamiliar place, with something roaming the area that doesn't want you collecting them. In this case*, however, there's only one item to collect (the titular briefcase), and it's more about the escape than the acquisition. This game is, much like the satchel you're after, very brief, but it changes up the "find crap and run" formula enough to be worth investigation. Those prone to poking around areas to make sure they haven't missed anything may find their first playthrough being The Run, as the game's solution lies in the environment, but it's nice to see some variety of thought when it comes to this influx of first-person horror indies.

Flash game Cellar Door plays like a fairly traditional point-and-click adventure, set in a dilapidated building riddled with jump scares. Your objective is to collect several marbles before meeting a hidden time limit, at which point you will, appropriately, lose your mind. While not the greatest scare-fest, Cellar Door proves frustratingly clever when it comes to hiding the marbles you seek, and that, if nothing else, will keep you coming back to try and clear the game. Its creators, Progressive Games teased a follow-up after the game's ending, entitled Cellar Door Purgatory, but have run into some delays finishing it. Rest assured that I'll be giving Purgatory a shot as well, once it's ready.

Inside is less of a game than an interactive experience, and while it suffers from some rather low-grade in-game modeling, playing Inside offers some surprisingly decent jolts. Trapped in some sort of mansion or castle, your quest is to find your way out, a task that becomes more and more pressing as you bear witness to atrocities that seem to have occurred around you, and encounter some peculiar goings-on yourself. It's not amazing, but I give this game kudos for spooking even my ridiculously jaded self once or twice, so I'm going to say you should give it a try.

My most recent play on this list, Magnesium Ninja's Ascension, ditches the first-person trend to join games such as Lone Survivor and Home in the realm of 2-D, sidescrolling horror. As Atticus, a maintenance man for a mysterious, partially subterranean facility, you're forced to search for your daughter and your friend who was watching her after the power cuts out and things start going terribly wrong. With a well-detailed pixel art style intercut with hand-drawn story sequences, Ascension is a throwback to more classic survival horror, where powerlessness was the name of the game and combat was a last-ditch option. Even your flashlight use is something to worry about, and not solely due to battery consumption. It's not a very long play, given I managed to finish in one two hour session despite having quite a bit of trouble finding some items mid-game; that's my only complaint about Ascension, really, in that some of the key items you need to proceed are barely visible against the environment and are in no way highlighted, so a fair amount of mouse wiggling may be required to complete things.

While I'm here, it's worth mentioning that both Ascension and Imscared (which was featured in the first article) are highlighted in The Free Bundle, a new bundle (of sorts) that's trying to highlight free titles that people may've overlooked. All the games are downloadable individually, right from the main page, and there are also links to the games' homepages should you feel like donating a bit to their creators.

Also on the topic of horror, the crew behind Slender Man's Shadow, Dark Pathogen, have finally gotten around to releasing the "secret project" they announced in the middle of last year. All of the Slender Man's Shadow stages have been re-created using the Unity engine and gathered into a single executable, thereby bringing the entire, Eight Pages inspired collection to Mac and Linux users, where the original levels were PC-only. In addition, the new version adds a couple of extra levels: the long-teased Carnival stage, and a festive, albeit belated, Christmas Special level.

The bad news, if there is any to be had, is that this package is not free, but it'll only run you $6.99 for the combo platter. It's on Steam Green Light as well, so if you've already enjoyed some of the earlier levels (which are still free to download for PC at their homepage) or want to snag the free demo (which features Sanatorium, the original SMS stage, and the Christmas Special) and like that, feel free to give it some upvotes. If you'd like a bit more information on these Slender spin-offs, I already covered them in this article and this other article a couple of months ago.

Well, that's all I have for this round, but rest assured, there are more cheap scares to come. After all, I play (supposedly) spooky things every night on my channel, though the series may be making a move elsewhere in the near future... Keep an eye out for an announcement to that effect, as well as on this cblog for more frugal frights.

* - That "case" pun was absolutely unintentional, but you best believe I left it in there on purpose once I noticed it.   read

8:07 AM on 01.13.2013

What the heck is a Streamtoid, anyway?

You've seen the daily posts for Mash Tactics. You've seen the weekend schedule each week for the heaps of shows we have on over the weekend. You've caught Jonathan Holmes' 'Sup Holmes Interviews, or explored the Dafoeverse vicariously with Conrad, Katrina, and Jordan, or been thoroughly confused as Johnny Luchador breaks games and your mind on Totally Rad Show. But have you heard about Streamtoid?

Streamtoid is Destructoid's community-focused sister stream channel on, with a looser broadcasting schedule and an aim to bring Destructoid users into the fold, introducing them to streaming and giving them a place to flex their broadcasting wings. Given the somewhat scattershot nature of their programming, though it is getting a bit more regular and focused as of late, it's hard to pin down a precise schedule, but several broadcasters have regular shows there throughout the week, and our very own Team Fortress 2sdays are broadcast live on Streamtoid each week. More often than not, Streamtoid content fills the gaps between shows on proper, offering a near-seamless feed of video content over the course of the week.

Following Streamtoid on Twitch as well as is one great way to keep tabs on who's on and when, but regular viewer and friend of the streams Noxious has also created a handy extension for users of Google Chrome that lists who's on whenever Destructoid or Streamtoid are live, as well as keeping track of the personal channels of broadcasters from both, should you want to support them individually and independently of their Destructoid content. It's a great way to have gaming content at your fingertips at pretty much all times.

The other side of the community focus of Streamtoid, as I mentioned, is the desire to bring some of you, the proud, the Dtoidians into our streaming fold. But how does one go about getting into streaming video games? Here's a primer on some of the basics you'll need to get started, be it on your own channel or with a pitch for Streamtoid.

Obviously, at the core of things, you're going to need a computer. Streaming content tends to be relatively demanding on a processor, so your system's going to have to be relatively current to be able to handle the load inherent in broadcasting super pretty, HD-quality content. However, you can still get by at lower resolutions; only a small handful of Dtoid broadcasters actually produce shows at 720p, and back in the days of Jon Carnage and Pico Mause, Mash Tactics topped out at a whopping 432p and was still a great time. Other recommended hardware would be a microphone, and possibly a webcam, as interaction with stream chat tends to be the primary focus at and Streamtoid. It's also what keeps viewers coming back, as being acknowledged in chat makes you feel like part of the experience, and can lead to some great discussion and/or interesting antics on your show.

Secondly, you're going to need some software. There are several alternatives out there, but there are four primary options you'll run into: OBS, Xsplit, FME, and Wirecast.

OBS, or Open Broadcaster Software, is rapidly growing in popularity, as it demands less processor power than some of its brethren while still retaining much of the functionality of what's arguably the biggest fish in the streaming software sea, Xsplit. It doesn't hurt that it's free to download, either. OBS may take a bit of getting used to in regards to its interface, however, and requires some extra steps to set up as it relies on your stream key rather than just your login. Additionally, it's not particularly well suited to capturing from hardware devices, which makes OBS best suited to PC streaming for the time being, and less so for console streaming (which we'll get further into later).

Xsplit, on the other hand, exchanges a bit more user friendliness and intuitiveness for processor load, but is one of the most widely-used programs by streamers today. Easy to set up, configurable for up to twelve, pre-set layouts at a time, and fairly flexible in regards to settings tweaks and input sources, Xsplit can be a powerful tool once you get into it. Unfortunately, access to many of Xsplit's features also requires you to pay for a license, which may not be in everyone's budget, especially not a streamer just starting out. Licensing options have, thankfully, seen a recent increase in choices, with a three month package now available for the fairly reasonable price of $14.95, so it's not too terrible on the wallet to see if the full access to Xsplit is right for you.

Adobe's Flash Media Live Encoder, formerly and still somewhat popularly known as just Flash Media Encoder, was the go-to, free choice for many starting streamers prior to Xsplit's beta period, and is decent for a free piece of software. It can be a bit clumsy at times and isn't the best out there, but is a decent choice for those looking for a fairly easy, quick way to get set up and give streaming a try. To be fair, though, OBS has pretty much eclipsed FMLE in popularity and usefulness, and nowadays, you're more likely to find people willing and able to help you get started with the former rather than the latter.

And finally, there's Wirecast, the big daddy of streaming software. Geared toward professional production, Wirecast encompasses several encoding formats, all sorts of hardware and input options, and gives you access to production tools on the fly. However, all this power comes at a price, with the base version ringing in at $495.00, and the full, Pro edition tacking another $500 onto that. If you're made of money, feel free to check out the free trial offered on their site to see if Wirecast is for you, but consider yourself warned.

Now that you've got streaming software, how to you put your face and your games on the interbutts? Well, signing up for an account at would be a good first step, though if you're already watching enough streamed content to be interested in streaming, you've probably done so already. From there, it's just a matter of capturing content and slapping your webcam over or next to it with whatever software you're using, for which there are plenty of tutorials, some of which are provided by the software outlets themselves. Alternatively, you can search for "how to set up <streaming software here>" and find a wealth of tutorials covering everything you may need to know. It doesn't hurt to try a few test streams before going "officially" live with your channel, to work out any technological kinks and make sure everything looks and sounds to your liking.

When it comes to streaming PC games, streaming software is pretty accomodating. Many games are supported by in-program "game source" capturing, which pulls the video straight from the game to your stream. Failing that, you can just set a screen region encompassing the area covered by the game's window, or your desktop if you're playing full-screen. Please note that it's a bit easier on your hardware to play games in windowed mode, and you may have to tweak the game's video settings down a bit for optimal performance with streaming software running. Playing in windowed mode also makes it easier to manage your streaming window and anything else you may be juggling while live, especially if you're limited to one monitor's worth of space. A dual monitor setup is probably optimal, as the secondary monitor can provide a convenient home for your stream window, as well as for a window bearing the stream chat, making interaction that much easier. If you have a laptop or tablet, that will make chat interaction even easier, as you can keep your dashboard open on that for interaction purposes, leaving your main computer responsible for streaming alone.

As for the issue of console games, things get a bit trickier. To capture video from a console, you're going to need some extra hardware, either external or internal. The lowest tier of capture equipment comes in the form of USB dongles, which are often limited to standard definition input. These are a great way to get started at a reasonable price point, especially if you're aiming to broadcast gameplay from retro consoles, but are often not the greatest to keep using after some time, and, in an age of high definition televisions and consoles, are rapidly falling by the wayside. The most popular options after that come in the form of HD PVRs and capture cards.

PVRs are, by nature, external devices, and as their name would imply, capture cards are installed inside your streaming computer of choice. There's a fair amount of debate as to what the best option is, but I've seen comparable results from both camps, and it's best to just find something that meets a reasonable price point for you. Personally, I do my own streaming on a Hauppauge HD PVR, Gaming edition, and it hasn't done me wrong, for the most part. BlackMagic Intensity is another name that gets thrown around quite a bit, on the card front, but again, I'd recommend doing your own research as to what fits your hardware and your needs. Both sources can either be pulled from directly by streaming software (save for with OBS, which seems to have trouble with that at this point) or may rely on capture software, which comes included in with the Hauppauge, which can subsequently be screen-regioned, and is adjustable for varying levels of capture quality.

And that's pretty much it. There are plenty of other things to read up on, such as tailoring your broadcast to your internet capabilities, optimizing your settings, and introducing additional hardware like audio mixers and multiple cameras, but YouTube, Twitch's support forums, and a few web searches all make it fairly easy to find the information you need. My one suggestion on that front is to check the posting date of any given tutorial, as the streaming scene has evolved very quickly over the past several years, and information as fresh as a year old may very well be outdated by now. If needs be, feel free to ask questions over on the Facebook group, as most of our broadcasters frequent there and are more than willing to help expand the fold.

Now that you've gotten started, played on your own channel a bit, and feel like you've something to contribute to Streamtoid, how do you go about that? Easily enough. Destructoid's own Spencer Hayes is in charge of the Streamtoid channel, and while I'm not in any position to disseminate his email address, I can at least point you to his profile, from which you can message him with your ideas, inquiries, and whatnot about getting on the schedule. It may not hurt to hang around Streamtoid for a bit and get a feel for what's already going on there, so you can bring something new and unique to the party, but at the same time, don't feel like you need to compromise your personality or your play preferences just to fill a gap. If nothing else, successful streaming relies a great deal on staying true to oneself and playing games one genuinely enjoys, so you have more to talk about while you play and can keep viewers engaged.

Really, whether you're streaming for yourself or, eventually, for Streamtoid, that's the key thing. Much as with any of the other community-oriented outlets here at Destructoid, be yourself, or at least, be your own gimmick. Playing big-draw games like League Of Legends, competitive first-person shooters, or struggling to keep up with the latest and greatest titles may bring in the viewers initially, but if you're not enjoying them, not getting into them, or just doing it for the numbers, it's going to show, and those viewers are going to turn right around without following, and won't come back. Play games you love, be they new or dated, and share that love with your audience, and that audience will hit that Follow button and keep coming back for more. Even if you're not on Streamtoid, but enjoy our programming, feel free to spread the word to your own viewers and send them to raid either 'toid channel when you're done for the day; chances are, the favor'll be repaid in kind, with a deluge of fresh faces checking you out thanks to a Dtoid raid one day, as the cycle of raiding is essentially the Twitch version of karma. Don't be afraid to ask for help, be it on the tech side or for moderation's sake, should you start bringing in more people than you can handle solo, as many of our broadcasters and mods have that little lightning bolt icon on other channels, and will be glad to give you a hand once you've wormed your way into our peculiar, incestuous little family.

Hope to see some of you Twitch-side soon, be it on the broadcasting end or just as new viewers, and with luck, this'll prove a decent starting point for those looking to expand into the Twitch and Dtoid community.   read

3:44 PM on 01.08.2013

A Humble Bundundrum: are indie bundles losing their way?

Back when it debuted in May of 2010, the first Humble Bundle presented something new and interesting, especially to those gamers out there on a budget. Serving up a fistful of indie games that were already receiving varying levels of buzz, potential customers were given the option to pay what they wanted for the bundle, and further customize their contribution by setting how much of their payment was to go to each game's developer, and how much would go to charity. Despite being mostly unprecedented (outside of the Steam-sale bundles that inspired it), news of the deal that was the Humble Bundle spread via social networking and discussion websites, and the bundle broke $1 million in sales before its end.

Since that first outing, the bundle scene has exploded. With the Humble Bundle itself now twenty-one bundles deep, with exploration into non-game realms such as music and books, and other discount game compilations cropping up all over the place, it seems as if the bundle model should be providing indie developers with a new way to get their games into players' hands and build support for potential future titles, as well as combating piracy to some extent and renewing faith in the generosity of gamers in general. To some extent, this has been the case, but certain trends seem to be developing that may or may not be warning signs regarding the state of the bundle scene.

One of the most recent examples, having occurred as November slid into December of 2012, was Humble's THQ Bundle. Sure, the Humble guys were known for doing developer-centric bundles before, offering batches of games from Frozenbyte, Lexaloffe, and other developers, as well as teaming up with outfits such as Mojang and Double Fine to provide games from their Mojam and Amnesia Fortnight jams, respectively, but this was the first time a Humble Bundle had been tied to a big-name, albeit flailing, publisher. Sure, it beat $5 million in sales and got some great games into the hands of players who may not have been able to grab them previously, but, as recent news has shown, it certainly didn't save THQ's bacon, and it was a departure from a history of helping out self-publishers who probably needed the money more to eat than to keep a sinking ship afloat. It may not signal the end of an era, but it's a bit worrisome to think the Humble Bundle may be able to squeak by on their history and name after the stink raised when EA compiled their own "indie" bundle on Steam back at the beginning of the year.

A more widespread, but less noticable issue in the bundle scene, is the dubious quality of some of the offerings out there, with old, dust-collecting titles being thrown together more in the interest of garnering a quick buck off ill-informed bargain hunters than in helping out any developers who could use a hand. While having started out well enough, with relatively current titles such as Hacker Evolution, inMomentum, and Your Doodles Are Bugged in its very first outing, Indie Gala is arguably the most prominent of the bundle sites experiencing this sort of drift. As they've worked their way through fourteen bundles to date, the initial three to four year timespan for release dates in Indie Gala contents has expanded to include more and more games that are half a decade or more out of date, the most egregious example having been the original Worms, featured in Indie Gala 9 despite having come out in 1995. To be fair, Worms still holds up, but it and the other dated Worms titles in IG9 seem like filler, if anything, as well as being guilty to some extent of Humble's THQ maneuver, as Team17 and the Worms franchise appear to be doing well enough without any bundle's aid. Sure, this lack of temporal focus has uncovered some delightful gems, with the same Indie Gala 9 also offered the first three Broken Sword games, but there are just as many titles from this and other bundles that may have well stayed forgotten.

Even when more current games are being featured, there often leaves something to be desired in terms of quality control of the games that do make it in. While I hate to harsh on anything into which a team has put a decent amount of time and effort, more and more bundle offerings seem like barrel-scrapings that the bundle builders were able to get their hands on more easily. Again, Indie Gala gets a nod, as there's been increasingly more mediocrity in the past few offerings, though that could, again, be in part due to the increasing ages of the games they choose to bundle. Other bundles, however, are not as innocent. Both magic pony raising simulator and snooze-fest Secret Of The Magic Crystals and general disaster Revelations 2012 have been on offer in different batches provided by the bundle site Groupees in recent months. While the former was in a Build-A-Bundle, which allows buyers to pick and choose which games they want, Revelations 2012 was the headliner in the Be Mine 4 bundle, which featured generally respected games like Guns Of Icarus, Dwarfs!?, and Metal Drift. One could argue it's a great, low-cost way to witness a trainwreck one wouldn't have otherwise paid to partake in, but it still raises concern when rubbish seems to be interloping its way into things.

The worst offender thus far, on both counts of garbage and aged goods, along with a side of shady practices, would have to be Indie Face Kick. Their most recent bundle offered up several steaming piles, including 2006's on-rails get-shot-fest, Desert Gunner; the same year's clumsy, half-baked post-apocalyptic mess, Hard Truck: Apocalypse; and my personal favorite, Operation Matriarchy, a generic first-person shooter from 2005 that shipped with corrupted audio files that were never fixed, outside of fan-made mods that may not even work properly for some. Recently, the crew at Indie Face Kick have been in a legal tangle with Biart, the developers of mediocre-but-playable Depth Hunter and the widely panned Deep Black, over the inclusion of the latter as a bonus in their second bundle, though Biart have been firing back over Indie Face Kick's lack of payment for sales of Depth Hunter in that same bundle. Hopefully, it's an isolated incident, but it shows that some bundlers may be cropping up to help themselves more than anyone else.

So, what bundles are worth it? Well, despite being somewhat questionable with the THQ Bundle, and their standard policy of offering a single Steam code for an entire bundle rather than codes for each game (which would allow those buyers who already have some of the bundled games to pass the extras along), The Humble Bundle have proven themselves time and again to be trustworthy, and have the clout necessary to gather some of the finest indie games out there. Hot on their heels are Indie Royale, who crank out bundles on a regular basis, tie your purchase history to some extra bonus rewards, and centralize your bundles on one page tied to your account, should you ever need to re-download anything. Additionally, Indie Royale is partnered with Desura, so your new purchases will appear immediately on your Desura account, whether or not you choose to redeem the Steam codes, which is fairly convenient. And, despite a couple of slips in the quality control department, Groupees is a great site for bundles of all kinds, be they bundles of games, music, or even e-books and digital comics. Their game bundles, branded under the Be Mine name, tend to offer some fairly interesting selections and piles of bonus material, and their Build-A-Bundles, as mentioned earlier, give you the freedom to pick which offerings you want, and provides base and suggested prices once you've made your selections. For those curious about the many titles being thrown up for voting on Steam Green Light, The Green Light Bundle compiles several candidates now and then in low-priced bundles for your perusal to try and get some votes going, and offers Steam codes for those games that make the cut once they're officially on Steam. Finally, while their bundles are fewer and far-er between-er, Bundle In A Box is one of the more recent entries to the bundle realm, and consistently offer a great selection of mostly-unknown titles, usually centered around some sort of theme.

Also worth keeping an eye on are the markets that seem to be spinning off the bundle system as we know it. A few months ago, Indie Gala launched their Gala Store, which offers deals on a wide variety of games, both from previous bundles and stand-alone, which usually come at a discount and can see further price lowering using the Gala Points earned from buying Indie Gala bundles. Additionally, they have mini-bundle deals going on pretty much constantly, usually featuring two or three games at a super-low price for as many days. Another site offering similar, small-bundle deals is, which evolved from the short-lived Indie Underdog Pack and offers three-game bundles of mostly unknown games for five dollars a pop. Given the quality of the obscure goods they served up in the IUP bundles, I'd say they're worth investigating. Thirdly, Indie Game Stand has taken the pay-what-you-want model of bundles and applied it to individual games, doling out a new game for whatever you can pay every four days, but offering bonus content to anyone who beats the suggested price, which is usually ten dollars.

In a world where Steam sales seem to dominate gamers' wallets, and grow to be a more and more regular occasion each year, it's nice to see an alternative in these bundles giving non-Steam titles a push and a chance at expanding their audiences. Even with some bumps in the road and the possible beginnings of drift from their original, altruistic intent, the bundle ecosystem is still a healthy and growing alternative to established means of distribution, and we can only hope it continues to thrive. If anything, with increased popularity and further patronage will come greater scrutiny, helping to quell less honest bundles and keep the good ones thriving.   read

4:38 AM on 12.28.2012

I still maintain I was named for a Styx's "Christopher, Mr. Christopher."

Decided to hop in on this name game thing, and punching my moniker into Urban Dictionary yielded some, um, interesting results. By "interesting," I mean something along the lines of "probably written by foreveralone cryhards who feel like they're forever trapped in the friend zone." Which means I may have gotten drunk and written one of these entries myself in darker times, but whatever. There are some cute ones, though I made it a point to hunt for the weird.

Going by my full first name, you get some beastly, long-winded nonsense right off the bat. Oddly appropriate, given my specialization here in tl;dr material.

1. Christopher 196 up, 32 down
The most amazing guy out there. Very deep and talented, Christophers make for the best conversationalists. Although sometimes they can be very mean without realizing it, they don't mean it. They don't have the best sense of humor, but some people (specifically the crazy type) can understand the jokes. They're not very emotional, and they won't change that about themselves. They worry about others much more than themselves, and hate knowing that they hurt someone else. They are very calm and laid back, and if you make them mad they cool off by the next day.

Hey, you know Christopher?
yeah, what about him?
I'm gonna marry him someday (:

2. Christopher 4579 up, 1250 down
Maybe when you first meet a Christopher they'll seem like a jerk, and hurt you emotionally multiple times, or possible make the lamest jokes but one day he'll make up for it all, the best he can. Christophers will eventually realize the love that they've stored in a safe place for you. Christophers usually have the most gorgeous smile out there, and the most seductive voice. They're someone you wouldn't mind spending the rest of your entire life with. They have a tendancy to spend more time thinking of what to do for someone else than themselves. Christophers love adventure, new things, something to get their blood rushing and heart pounding.

I love my Christopher, forever and always.
That soldier, he keeps me sane.

Take a deeper look at your Christopher before you let go, he might be the best thing that will ever happen to you.

3. Christopher 293 up, 82 down

1. Perhaps at first glance one might think a Christopher is a misfit, but this is merely his camouflage. Christophers are honest men whom go hard; work hard, play hard, and love hard. To most, Christophers seem wild, untamable forces of nature whom are destructive… but don’t mistake these terms “wild”, “untamable”, and “force of nature” as negative attributes, for it is part of a Christopher’s splendor. You call him wild because he goes all out; I call him passionate, adventurous, energetic, and determined. You call him untamable because you want to control him, I say let him be free-spirited because he will achieve great things and he is most beautiful when not cadged. And as for force of nature, he is a force to be reckoned with for sure, but he is not destructive, he is protective and strong (in every sense of the word). A Christopher may be able to lift heavy objects, bend blue steel, or take on sebn’ black panthers, but with those same hands he can hold a child’s hand without crushing it, caress a woman gently, and make people feel safe. Christophers are known charmers who will make you smile and laugh anytime given time. Upon hearing a Christopher’s deep, calming and seductive voice, one can’t help but smile and feel at ease. Do not underestimate a Christopher, for he is a man in the purest sense; honest, steadfast, and knows how to provide.

2. A grown ass man.

He's a real Christopher, he had me smiling for days.

4. Christopher 350 up, 139 down
Christopher name meaning bearer of christ. Christophers are usually handsome, caring, generous, and funny guys. They are very loving and compassionate. They will sit there and hold you till the sun comes up. They will make you soup when your sick and stand by your side when your going through a tough time. They aren't afraid to beat anyone up that hurts a loved one or friend. They are very marture. They love fast cars and motorcycles. They hate taking many pictures and hate to smile. They aren't looking just to have a fling, they want to fall in love. They make many girls fall in love with them, just by the thoughtful words they say. They aren't really into Valentines Day, only because they show their love for someone all year long. They love to be adventerous and daring. They can help anyone in any situation and give some of the best advice. They also make good looking babies. They are just the best type of guys to fall in love with.

I just got some of the best advice ever.
You must of got it from a CHRISTOPHER.

Get to page two, however, and things start getting weird:

10. Christopher 44 up, 15 down

The latin being Christos-Philo. Christos=annointed and Philo= lover of. Lover of the annointed or Annointed lover. Either way Christophers deep down strive to live up to the moniker. Usually going by Chris when young and reclaiming the whole name with maturity to honor their mothers who chose the full regal version at birth. A bolt of lightning combined with the cool of the ocean breeze. Christophers can knock your socks off in the bedroom and out party the most die hard of ragers be it bong or booze. His lampshade gets bigger the longer the party goes yet can hold his own going fist to fist. A lover's lover and a fighter's fighter. Weaknesses include vagina, marijuana and a cold beer. If he has a thousand dollars on a Friday morning it will become $2.78 by Monday night.

That Christopher guy from the bonfire last night had the dankest herb and he left in that van full of girls to go to a private afterhours.

Cutting things down to Chris, things don't waste any time moving toward the ridiculous:

1. Chris 499 up, 63 down
You don't get on a Chris' bad side.
You don't fuck with a Chris
You don't even attempt to show a Chris up.
Always remember a Chris can see through lies and your bullshit.
A Chris never starts a fight but always finishes them making sure to talk shit and kick ass.
A strait up bad-ass.
A Chris is the guy to find when you
1: Need someones mouth shut for good.
2: You have any problem social, academic, mental, or moral.
A Chris can take a bullet to the chest and laugh it off.
A Chris has an answer to every problem.
A Chris is a doctor with out a degree he can mend a wound using only the clothes on his back.
A Chris rocks a 5.0/4.0 GPA because of his AP classes.
A Chris knows everyone.
A Chris can talk his way out of a detention to an expulsion.
A Chris drives any car smoothly and swiftly giving any racer a run for their money.
A Chris is a natural born sex god with a huge cock and the ability to satisfy any girl.
A Chris has hawk eyes as blue as a lagoon that can see at a 180 degree angle.
A Chris has chill brown hair that shines even in the dark.
A Chris is cut up with muscles.
A Chris smells seductive and mysterious.
A Chris never gets boring.
A Chris can master any expertise.
A Chris' teeth makes snow look yellow.
When a Chris has a girlfriend he makes everyone jealous.
A Chris can figure out how to fly a jet using only cool, calm, and collected personality.

Have Chris talk to him.

(By the way, these tags on that first one are the best: cock, skill, bad-ass, eyes, cut up, muscle, kick-ass, huge cock, sex god, driver, drifter, fight god)

2. Chris 150 up, 32 down
A charming, honest, romantic, interesting, sensitive, determined, upright, princely, eloquent, and attractive person.

A Chris may strike you as a little weird or different at first, but that is because you won't know their true self until you work on getting to know them. As you find out more about them, they will continue to grow on you until you want to spend every minute with them.

A Chris may not be super buff, but makes up for it in strength and brains. They are very helpful and go out of their way to make other people happy. They also love to compliment girls and will do anything for their special someone, having a hidden romantic side. They are outdoor oriented people and have a strong faith in their religion. Chris's sometimes may become sad or depressed, but a friendly word or hug will cheer them up. They love their family, but may feel the need to break away and strike out on their own as they grow older.

To know a Chris is to know an amazing person who will impact your life deeply. Make sure to treat them with all the respect you can, because they deserve it!

"Wow, who was that cute boy you were talking to?"
"Oh, that was Chris. Isn't he amazing?"

"Have I ever told you that you are the most amazingly beautiful, stunningly graceful, and lovingly tender friend ever?"
"Aww Chris your flattering me again!"

This one, however, is easily my favorite:

3. Chris 623 up, 207 down
probably your name, and youre looking it up in Urban Dictionary to see what your name is defined as...this is it

Moving along, things returned to normal, sort of:.

6. Chris 1034 up, 422 down
A guy who can always make you laugh, even at the worst of times. He's an extremely sexy person, even though he denies it. He is also smart, and denies that too. Someone named Chris is always up for having a good time and will always leave you breathless. You'll never be bored with a Chris around.

Wow. He is so much fun to hang out with! He must be a Chris!

7. Chris 745 up, 298 down
Person who knows everything about everything. Omnipotent being.

Me: I took my car to the shop
Chris: I knew that
Me: I have a leak in my gas tank
Chris: I knew you would
Me: I hate you
Chris: I know you do

9. chris 11089 up, 5124 down
is a slang for huge cock

like incredibly huge.

oh man I wish I had a chris in me.

So, summing up, it would appear I'm an incredibly huge, cut up, grown-ass, breezy, ocean lightning bolt cock that knows everything about everything, is familiar with everyone, and moonlights as a natural born sex god.

Judging by that last bit, maybe I am the white Hamza, after all.   read

8:35 AM on 12.21.2012

A beginner's guide to Z-grade Dtoid fame

A section of the latest Communitoid that touched upon people asking how to gain a higher profile in the community resonated pretty solidly with me. A lot of good points were raised, and, having been floating around here for a while, I figured I'd share my own experience and opinions on the topic of making yourself known.

Mind you, I'm not so vain as to assume I'm that high-profile a member, so don't think this is about tooting my own horn; at best, I'd say I'd rank an "Oh, that guy," level of awareness amongst other Dtoiders. Rather, I've been ranking with plenty of others with low fap counts and mere smatterings of comments for long enough that I feel I'm in a good position to tell you guys, new or old, not to worry about it.

One of the first things you should recognize regarding Destructoid, is that while its community is what makes it so great, and is one of the main distinctions between Dtoid and the slew of other gaming sites out there, that community isn't entirely unified. That's not a sleight, by any means; rather, the variety of options out there mean that Destructoid has something to offer for everyone. The forums, the cblogs, the stream folk, and even the front page have their own, unique vibes, and what may appeal to the denizens of one realm may not be as popular in another. One of the best things any new member can do upon first signing up is to try everything, and see what sticks. Personally, I mostly hang around here in the cblogs and am all over the stream chats for both and Streamtoid, with the occasional poke into the forums and main article comment; being prone to walls of text, spewing words all over the cblogs is clearly where I belong, while I just don't have the time to keep on top of the forum threads that tend to interest me, given how quickly they move. What I'm saying, though, is you should find a niche you feel comfortable with before you concern yourself with raising your profile.

Once you've found a subsection you feel you can call a home, start interacting. Crying for attention isn't going to get you much, save for laughed at, and as was made clear by the Communitoid crew, you'll get a lot more respect for just being a good dude or dudette and supporting your fellow Dtoiders than you will just rolling in and expecting support. At the same time, don't force yourself to comment on things or get involved in conversations or threads you have little point of reference regarding just to get your name out there. Having something meaningful to say occasionally tends to get a bit more attention from one's peers than an onslaught of "haha awesome lol" one-liners all across the boards. Hell, the forums already have a subsection dedicated to the typical one-off, rapid-fire comment games and short-reply discussion threads, as well as massive, free-flowing conversations in The Bar and The Arcade for those looking for small talk.

Getting a bit more specific, given my cblog leanings, let's talk about blogging here on Destructoid. As was mentioned in the podcast, and occasionally comes up from other staffers as well, getting a job at Destructoid, especially as a writer, isn't the most likely thing to happen. If they were looking to hire someone, there would almost definitely be a notification of some sort. That being said, Destructoid has, historically, hired from within, so it can't hurt to post content here. Even if it doesn't get you on the green robot's dole one day, plenty of ex-Dtoiders, even just cbloggers, have catapulted into game industry jobs on the merits of the portfolios they built here. There's a great video below that catches up with a slew of Destructoid alumni to find out where they ended up, and I remember seeing it when it was first featured here and seeing names I'd long believed had just mysteriously disappeared. Community blogging may be something you're doing for free, but if your desire for money outweighs your love of writing (or community interaction, or what have you), you're doing it wrong and should reconsider your goals. And while you're at it, don't let a lack of faps or commentary get you down. Instant, community-based gratification is nice, but there are other forms of acknowledgement out there as well, such as front-page promotion and Topsauce mentions in the daily cblog recaps. If nothing else, you'll get a synopsis in said recaps any day you post, categorized for the convenience of those who prefer their posts in a digest format, which can drum up some interaction a while after your initial postings.

Slogging away here and having a place to practice and refine my writing has actually landed me both a guide-writing gig at Gamer Syndrome and an editorial slot at a little start-up called Machine Red in recent weeks, so it does work. If you are serious business about the games writing thing, you may want to take a look at Video Game Journalism Jobs, as new sites post there every day looking for writers. It's almost always volunteer, but many sites like to start their staff in a free capacity before moving them into paying positions upon reaching certain contribution levels or establishing reliability, so there's another way to get your name out there and establish a presence. Even if you do land a paying gig, keep in mind that it's probably not going to keep you particularly solvent, so you may want to keep your day job until you can catapult to something huge, or at least bury yourself in freelance work to the point you're basically paying your bills with your sanity and sleep schedule.

Returning to suggestions that apply across the community in general, be yourself. Yeah, that's as guidance-counselor-y as all get out, but it's good advice. Having an internet persona is fine and good, and being inspired by existing luminaries is something anyone creative or expressive is guilty of, but trying to be someone you clearly aren't just because you think it'll get you hits and comments? That always shows, and will just get you overlooked. You're not the next Jim Sterling, as the original has already filled the Jim-shaped hole in the games writing scene pretty well, and Jonathan Holmes' orifices probably aren't equipped to handle more than one Sterling anyway. Similarly, dropping big names for no good reason other than the belief they'll get you attention reeks of desperation and an inability to make one's own mark. Every now and then, someone will mention Sterling solely because his name draws attention, but in the context of a piece that has little or nothing to do with him save for disagreeing with him briefly, or fellating his opinion in an attempt to piggyback on whatever draw he's bringing in. This goes for any editor, or known figures from other realms as well. While it's always good form to cite your sources, acknowledge references, and bring up articles discussing whatever you're writing about if they've something to do with your point, make sure your voice is your own or you'll never get anywhere.

Another big thing, be it for blogging, foruming, or even just hanging out in a stream chat, is to listen to feedback. Not so much the whining and trolling end as to those who have constructive input or something to point out. Criticism is often hard to accept, but being able to process it is both an essential part of being a functional human being and one of the best ways to improve and excel. As with anything, however, integrating feedback also takes a bit of moderation, as suppressing stylistic quirks and trying to appeal to everyone can turn your contributions drab and boring in no time, much as it's done to many a triple-A title. For example, if you've read this far, you may've noticed I like to throw a lot of words down when I write. I get "tl;dr" comments now and then, and I imagine it's one of the reasons some readers pass my work by, but at the same time, some of them are probably the sort who get butthurt about review scores without reading the lengthy explanations of what went into that score. I've learned to tighten up what I can, but what it comes down to is that if you have a stylistic thing you're confident in, stick with it. Short form or long form, reviews or editorials, clown versus straight-man... don't be afraid to maintain your thing, so long as you keep trying to polis and refine that thing.

Oh, and if you screw up? Have the stones to fix things and/or apologize. It's not hard to make another post in a forum thread. The blog editor lets you go in and tweak things even after a post goes live, and I've taken to making note of any changes introduced in the posts themselves, both as a reminder of errors I've had to correct and as a show of transparency. Hell, the staff themselves make corrections and updates to front page posts all the time. If you say something out of line or link something that gets you warned or timed out from chat during a livestream because you didn't know better, say you're sorry and the mods'll cut you a break. Whenever you do something new, you're bound to do something stupid; hell, my very own first cblog is marred by some nightmarishly oversized images because I didn't notice the bit about how everything gets resized to 620p wide once it's uploaded. After that, I made it a point to resize things on my own and crop them to keep dimensions reasonable. Own up to and learn from your mistakes, and people will notice you're improving.

That's about all I've got, really. Thriving here as a contributor is pretty easy, if you feel you've lurked long enough and want to get more involved. Between the cblogs here, the forums, front page commentary, or even streaming for Streamtoid,'s community-oriented sister channel, there are myriad ways to make an impression on the writhing mass that is Destructoid. Just try to make it a good one, regardless of how far you hope it'll take you.

(Apologies for reposting the incredible community mosaics of Dtoid past, but I could think of no better way to depict this place. Credit goes to tehuberone for the original and TheToiletDuck for the kaiju edition, along with several others.)

(Oh, and those two sites I mentioned contributing to are cool with me still posting here, given the difference in nature of my posts here and my work for them, if anyone's wondering. This not always the case, so any tryhard bloggers who manage to move on up should check with their superiors regarding how tightly they're locked in to other writing gigs, and perhaps draw down their presence here a bit out of respect anyway. Just a tip.)   read

9:56 PM on 12.13.2012

Taking "idiot nerd girl" back.

As one who's not that fond of image memes, being old enough to remember that photos used to be funny without stupid captions added to them, and given my attitudes toward the treatment of women on the nerdier side, you can imagine I'm not one to get a chuckle out of the Idiot Nerd Girl meme floating around. However, some clever bastard (or bastards) have decided to turn the normally derogatory image/text combinations on their head, resulting in some cute, poignant commentary on the dissonance between males and females who fall under the nerd demographic.

I can't take credit for any of them, by the way; I merely stumbled upon the set on Tumblr, where they were originally posted by user thislyfe, who in turn found them on Uproxx. Just thought it was kind of nice to see one of these things used for something more constructive than unfunny "jokes." Hit the gallery for the full set.

Whomever's responsible for these, I owe you a drink. If you find a way to reappropriate the rapidly diluting phenomenon that is Grumpy Cat, sir or madam, I will owe you two drinks.   read

1:58 PM on 12.09.2012

Byte-Sized Boos: indie horror quick hits

I've discussed Slender and Slender Man's Shadow in the past, but in their wake has come a veritable onslaught of independent, free games flying a banner of "horror" and trying to get a piece of the YouTube scaredy-cat pie. In an effort to not afraid of anything, I've played a fair amount of them, and here's a rundown of some of the titles getting kicked around in the dark.

Forget Me Not Annie tries to take the psychological route when it comes to its fear, favoring atmospheric oppressiveness over jump scares (though there are a couple of those), and pairs its brooding terror with a first-person perspective and some interesting puzzles. The titular Annie is accompanied by a seemingly sentient teddy bear, attempting to escape some sort of facility and aided by his ability to swap places with her in space at any point. The game is effectively a demo, as its closing screen even admits, but it's an interesting glimpse at what its creators would have liked to do with more resources and time. The puzzles alone are a refreshing diversion from the usual "collect X y's" formula of "Slenderesques," and it would have been nice to experience a fuller telling of the story the game presented had it been finished.

Mangy Games' Candles comes off as fairly promising at first, starting players off in a dark forest, following the only available lit path to the unnamed character's home, where the lack of power forces you to rely on candles to light your way from room to room as you search for keys to the generator-housing basement. Imps lurk in the house's dark corners, which, while creepily designed, fail to be particularly scary. Their inability to approach lit areas without evaporating makes it easy to just pop in a bit, activating a room's candle, and then step back until one disappears, and while their glowing eyes seems intended to add to the imps' menace, it would've been more effective to place them in the periphery of players' views rather than smack in the middle of plain sight, making for some surprise attacks. The game's final sequence is also a bit borked on the physics side of things, to the point that it seems the game is actually broken when you're trying to accomplish the last task, so stick with it if you really need to see the ending. Candles is rather good-looking for an indie freebie, but its hobbled approach to horror sensibilities makes it feel half-baked.

Don't let its low-res imagery fool you; Ivan Zanotti's Imscared is brilliant. Not seeing fit to stay within the bounds of a game itself, Imscared extends its reach into your computer, creating files as you play through that expand and elaborate upon your experience that truly is a little freaky. The game's finish is a bit weaker than its onset, and there are some minor translation gaffes due to Zanotti being Italian and not entirely fluent in English, but they're easily overlooked once you've gotten underway. To say more, or to post screenshots of anything besides the environment, would ruin it, so let's just say this is truly a game for the after-dark, headphones-only crowd.

Set in the already bleak realm of a blasted-out, body-strewn, World War I battlefront trench, 1916: Der Unbekannte Krieg (or The Unknown War, if you're not Deutsche-inclined) charges the player with one, seemingly simple task: find the ladder. The difficulty of said task increases dramatically upon your discovery of something else roaming the trenches, turning what starts as just a wander through unfamiliar territory into a heart-pounding, frantic flight for your life. The only hint I can give without spoiling anything is to look down; many of your fallen comrades bear items that you wouldn't expect to be useful in most cases, or even usable. Short, but sweet, and admittedly a bit frustrating until you start taking better stock of your environment, 1916 will give your pulse a run for its money.

Lauded by some horror game fans as one of the best indie scares out there, Erie drops you into an abandoned power plant where something terrible has, or perhaps still is, happening. Relying on repeat playthroughs to find optimal routes for avoiding whatever it is that stalks you through the plant's halls, Erie unfortunately succumbs to the growingly tiresome trope of turning a sneak for your life into a collect-a-thon. However, the collectibles scattered throughout the facility do a nice job of fleshing out the game's story, which is more than can be said for the pages in Slender or most other Slender-Man-inspired games, so they're worth going out of the way to obtain. This game also gives one of the best feelings of being completely and utterly screwed once the monster is on your trail, making it quite a bit scarier than some of the other games here.

This is just a sampling of some of the free horror offerings out there, and expect a follow-up or two once I get through a few more; for instance, I was going to do a section on creepypasta-based The Theater, until I learned there were two versions and I may have been playing the less polished (and more crash-tastic) of the two, and I'd like to give the other one a chance. Even with the less engaging ones, it's nice to see more aspiring gamemakers trying their hand at the horror genre, and reliance on the increasingly overplayed Slender Man card being slowly shunted aside for some truly original frights.   read

4:35 PM on 11.28.2012

Hold the sausage: will videogames ever be more than playing with the boys?

(EDIT 11/29/2012 - edited the title and a couple of other uses of the term "misogyny" out of things; a friend pointed out I was using the term far too lightly, and it didn't fit the message I intended. Just a terminology hot-swap; nothing else has changed.)

The recent #1Reason____ trends on Twitter, as discussed in Jim Sterling's post regarding them, are the latest in a long and steadily building cascade of outcry against the treatment of women in the world of videogames. There are some with the misguided cajones to try and say this sexism doesn't exist, and that the women complaining about it are just doing it for attention's sake, or because they can't cut it in a man's world, among other reasons.

I beg to differ. I beg you to shut your mouths and open your eyes. The issue here isn't just the mistreatment of women who are or who seek to be part of the industry. There's a condescending, chauvanist attitude pervading gaming across the board, be it in regards to game content and marketing, gamer interaction on all levels from casual to professsional, game-related media production and reactions, or the making of games themselves. For a scene that's been building for forty-plus years (sixty-five, if you want to go as far back as 1947's cathode-ray amusement device), mostly in far more progressive times than other, formerly male-dominated cultures that have seen great strides in gender equality, the sausage fest that is gaming has done surprisingly little to welcome those without a Y-chromosome.

It's no secret or mystery that gamer culture has managed to stay a sausage party for a very, very long time. Take one look at all the skimpy outfits and jiggle physics tacked on to female characters in favor of actually characterizing them. Listen to the voices of the majority of players wearing headsets in any given matchmaking lobby; sure, some are higher pitched, but more often than not, one can tell that's the case because they're pre-pubescent, not because they're female. Name enough higher-ups in game companies, or even non-indie game developers (or hell, include the indies if you want), to count on all, if not just one hand's worth, your fingers. Go ahead, I can wait.

Not that easy, is it? And that's just part of the problem. Sure, there are segments of of the gamer population who are full aware of the problem, even on the male side from whence the problem spawns, and they've made fun of it as best they can, but there's a majority of gamers and gaming fans out there who don't think women belong in gaming in any respect, considering it a joke, an affront, or an outright deception on womankind's part should they pick up a controller or *gasp* go so far as to make a game themselves.

Some of this, at least back in the day, could be attributed to the fact that a great deal of the people creating video games came from realms that were already testosterone driven. The budding field of computer science was, as most sciences were back then, a no-girls-allowed clubhouse, and when Japan got their fingers into the gaming pie, it makes sense that their patriarchal society would only contribute to the male dominance of the industry. Game thematics followed suit, with concepts like war and combat being easier to portray within the limits of early gaming technology than more complex themes, and, once things evolved to the 8-bit era, the archetypical tale of the guy saving the day and getting the girl put ladies in roles of distress rather than participation, more often than not. Sure, there were exceptions, like Samus Aran of Metroid fame, and other leading ladies like the titular Athena and Alis of Phantasy Star, but for the most part, dudes were the ones killing (and being) badguys, getting things done, and saving the day.

Decades down the road, and how far have we come on that front? Not very. Super Princess Peach, a Nintendo DS title from 2005, takes everyone's favorite serial kidnap victim and sets her off to save Mario for once, with powers based on mood swings. Ladies have gained more and more ground in the realm of fighting games, but only in exchange for less and less clothing to wear to those fights. Lara Croft, renown just as much for her badassery as her enormous, polygonal bust, is now looking forward to attempted sexual assault to make her an empathetic character in an upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. And the aforementioned Samus, once considered a paragon of self-sufficiency, got some ridiculous heels tacked on to her Zero Suit and even more ridiculous overemotionality tacked onto her mental state in 2010's Metroid: Other M. Strong, respectable, and even reasonably accurate representations of women are few and far between in games, and it seems to be a product of both the men who are trying to write them and the boys who don't want them in their games beyond sex appeal in the first place.

Yes, boys. Not men. Children. Manchildren, in many cases, but still children have just as much of the blame for the state of descrimination against women in gaming today as the industry side of things. Harassment, both textual, verbal, and beyond are hallmarks of both online play and online commentary anymore. Websites like Fat, Ugly, or Slutty serve as documentation of the wide range of harassment female gamers undergo on services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, as well as in chat in popular MMOs such as World of Warcraft. If a girl shows up in a lobby and it's clear she is actually female, the immediate response of most is to fall back on the tiresome "get back to the kitchen" line, assume they're hideous, or proposition them for (and/or threaten them with) sexual favors (and/or assault). Those instances, at least, seem to imply a belief in the legitimacy of girls' ability to play games from time to time, which could be considered slightly better than the conspiracy theories surrounding "fake" nerd girls and the looming threat they pose to the "real" gamers' status quo.

Just recently, 343 Industries threatened (and later rescinded said threat) to lay down the banhammer on anyone reported for sexist, derogatory comments towards those of the female persuasion in Halo 4 multiplayer matches, which was met with a maelstrom of male gamers crying foul on the grounds of everything from First Amendment rights to nothing being done about "sexism against men" (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA wut), or the rampant racism and homophobia on the service as well. While the latter issues are ones that could use some addressing as well, a lot of the commentary on sexual preference and race of some players, while hateful, stems more from terms like "gay," "fag," and racial slurs having infiltrated common parlance as less targeted negative terminology; the kids calling you the n-word don't know your race or care if you're actually of a certain ethnicity, they're just out to insult you. Hatred against women, on the other hand, is specifically targeted towards female players based on their gender once said gender is known, and is less likely a product of upbringing as it is the ambient gamer culture itself, hence the priority. What makes it more of a shame that this is an issue in Halo is that Bungie and, subsequently, 343 Industries, have been making a point in their past few games to include female options for in-game character models (as far back as Dare being unlockable in ODST), an attempt at inclusiveness that's being shot down by the player base themselves. Who's going to play as a lady SPARTAN when that's an even easier way to open one up to verbal abuse?

These disgusting assumptions carry over into the realm of video and written content about games, should the creators and presenters make the twin "mistakes" of being attractive and female. Sure, there have been some incidents of female hosts being chosen more for their looks than for any video game knowledge, and there's the occasional, documented case of girls taking suggestive pics with game tie-ins to appeal to a nerdier demographic, but more and more, especially in the world of digital media and online video, the women discussing video games have a fair, if not impressively extensive, familiarity with their topic of choice. Apparently, that doesn't matter if you're pretty, judging by the caliber of commentary on YouTube segments. Here, have some samples.

Regarding Lisa Foiles, occasional video game writer and host of The Game Station's "Remag":

BOOBS - nadir moh
Thats the hottest red head I've seen. No lie. - Branden Barnalaby
dont get excited she stuffed her bra - Blood0cean
please tell us u didnt open ur worm hole for that d-bag - silver1fox21 (the video in question featured an interview with rapper B.O.B.)
He totally fucked her after the show. - Maxim Nawangwe

Here are some GameTrailers user comments from episodes of Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'?, discussing co-creator, co-star, and screen and voice actress, Ashly Burch:

So much for getting over my "Tie up Ashley Burch" fantasy <3 <3 <3 - Hoodin (doubly funny because it was Ash who was tied to a chair, not Blavis)
i bet ash gives a great BJ - MajorLeeStoned
ash is really hot especially with that ponytail on the side - Dozenbeer

Destructoid and Mash Tactics alum Pico Mause recently wrapped up a stint doing videos for Curse Network, where she and her successor, Lindsay Geektron, both get their share of *ahem* attention:

i want to fuck lindsey - gregwolz
Pico needs to be boned. - Peakiness
Lindsay has bigger boobs and automatically wins. - sevx1
soo when can i bang you - Adam Nelson
A girl with big tits moderates something about gaming. That kind of clishee is bullshit. - Nymly1 (I think he meant "cliche.")

And hell, let's look at some comments about Tara Long, from The Destructoid Show, while we're at it.

I want your fat fingers inside of me. <3 - TheLostGamingorg
Tara ur tits r awesome. can i buy u a fish sandwich? - Adam Laney
Uh...why is there an Xbox in the kitchen? - scathoob (Granted, they were discussing 343i's proposition to ban sexist players in Halo 4, but still.)

It doesn't end there, either. Barb, Kara, and the other women at Rooster Teeth get their fair share of objectifying commentary when they appear in videos, despite the nurturing and supportive nature of the bulk of RT's fanbase. Other Youtube personalities, such as Nixie Pixel, Dtoid community member Jess Brohard... the list goes on and on of video presenters who just happen to have breasts that are being judged on their looks rather than their content. And that's just currently; it's not as if this is something new.

If you want to see something spectacular, tune into one of the broadcasts the ladies of Kat Gunn's LT3 crew (which includes everyone's favorite Juliet Starling, Jessica Nigri) does on, or one of their semi-regular appearances on Mash Tactics, and wait for the bans to start. Our own channel's moderators have probably set records for deleted comment counts given how many people get blasted out of stream chat just for spamming commentary about breasts and sexual propositions, rather than paying attention to what they have to say or play. Sure, they're an attractive bunch, and well aware of it, but Miss Gunn and her friends have stated time and time again that they're around to play games and prove that pretty girls can actually kick some ass on a professional level, and aren't there just to look pretty. Gunn herself has quite a portfolio in the gaming world, having won the WCG Ultimate Gamer 2 competition, made an impression on the pro gaming scene, and is a competitive RC builder and racer as well, nevermind how bad she's spanked some of Dtoid's own ringers, such as Philanthr0py, in Dead Or Alive 5. LT3 member Kelly Kelley schooled several of us in a similar fashion in Halo 4 and Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 in recent weeks, and she currently does competition commentary on the regular for Gamespot. Jessica Nigri, aside from being an amazing cosplayer, both on the conceptual and craftsmanship fronts, has regularly shown off just how much of a huge dork she is, with webcam shots from her room showing a plethora of anime- and game-related paraphernalia (which includes a surprising number of busty, nigh-hentai statuettes filling the shelves).

These ladies have, clearly, legitimized their claims to game, and so have my earlier examples. Tara, while often quieter than her cohorts during her time on Podtoid, definitely kept up with gaming talk when it snuck in between Jim's declarations of love for Holmes and the rampant sexual deviance, and has played games quite capably on the regular on various Revolution 3 shows. Pico Mause has done her fair share of time playing through Mash Tactics' four-hour, weekdaily episodes, spent a fair amount of time in several MMOs and Minecraft in her Curse days, and will soon be providing video content for (the World of (war :p)Tanks/World of Warplanes crew). As if Ash's love for and knowledge of gaming in her performances alongside her brother weren't clear enough, she also streams gaming regularly at Hey Ash's channel, along with the rest of the Hey Ash crew and other friends, like Dtoid vet Brad "Pecs" Nicholson. What I'm trying to say is, while there may be Pooksies, Kristin Holts, and other poseurs putting themselves out there as "gamer girls" to get your attention, your viewership, and your clicks, there are just as many, if not more, women out there who have game, know what they're doing with a joystick, and can prove it. And, chances are, they're about as likely to lose to you easily as they are to respond to your advances over chat, message, or comment.

Thirdly, there's the industry side of things. While the whole #1ReasonWhy hashtag may have been an eye-opener for many, the women commenting on it and sharing their stories have been around and working in games for quite some time. Just off the top of my head, let me rattle off some names. Jade Raymond, managing director of Ubisoft Montreal. Brenda Romero (nee Brathwaite), game designer on several series and co-founder of Loot Drop. Karen Traviss, lead writer on Gears of War 3 and author of several Gears novels. 343 Industries' Bonnie Ross, Kiki Wolfkill, and Corrinne Yu, the general manager, executive producer on Halo 4, and principal Halo 4 engine programmer, respectively. I don't even pay that much attention to the mainstream gaming scene, and I can still name plenty of women who've worked on some of the biggest, most popular titles out there. Go to the indies however, and I don't even have time to list credentials without running out of breath.

Zoe Quinn. Christine Love. Anna Anthropy. Sophie Houlden. Erin Robinson. Jennifer Rodgers. I could go rooting through my Twitter follow list to pad this out, but the article's already gotten pretty beastly as-is. The more open, welcoming spirit of the indie gaming community can, in many ways, provide a more hospitable environment for women to work in and on games, but at the same time, that independence can lead to even more strife than the ladies who've "made it" and are with larger, established companies. Between finding and dealing with publishers, trying to build hype at events and conventions, and generally dealing with an establishment that, while improving, is mostly still favorable to the big name, triple-A side of gaming, female devs are, in some ways, dealing with a deck that's even more stacked against them, at least in terms of seeking "success" in commercial and exposure terms. But they're there, and they're creating some of the most interesting, entertaining games you've never heard of, despite all the annualized, reiterative cash cows and easily digestable, wide-appeal titles that are churned out and overshadow them. For instance, check out Super Street Fire, SWIFT*STITCH, or Puzzle Bots, and then try to say that women shouldn't be making games.

To be fair, I'm not convinced every male gamer out there is a disgusting, femme-bashing pig. During those aforementioned LT3 sessions on Mash Tactics, those amongst the several thousand viewers in-house who were being respectable human beings and asking serious, sometimes even thought-provoking questions in chat, outweighed the scumbags getting booted several hundred to one. I actually had to put some effort into finding sexist comments for my YouTube sampling, which came as a quite a surprise given their rarity amongst genuine praise, or at least more socially acceptable admiration of the ladies in question (though, truth be told, both sides of that coin were dwarfed by the general stupidity of YouTube commentary as a whole). Plenty of men tuned into the gaming scene are helping spread the #OneReason____ word on Twitter just as much as women are, and getting anecdotal, I've had plenty of gaming sessions where a girl was asked to stay around for a few rounds on account of her ability to wreck face, rather than having a pretty one.

Those exceptions aside, the attitude toward women on all levels of gamer culture, be it in regards to characters or the real women playing, talking about, and making games to play needs more serious reassessment and a dramatic overhaul. The resentment, backlash, and general negativity and dismissal displayed toward the ladies of gaming has no good reason to have persisted this long, never mind as vehement as it's grown to become nowadays. It just doesn't make sense. Women haven't ruined the beer, movies, or TV that are all traditional mainstays of the male entertainment diet, so what damage could some more progressive attitudes do to gaming?   read

7:28 PM on 11.25.2012

Red and Blue, resolving into purple.

This almost qualifies as NVGR, but given Red Vs Blue's basis on Halo, I figure it counts. Kinda personal, tl;dr ahead, so if you're not into that, you can find the Back button easily enough.

Of all the things that have ever ended up tear-jerking experiences for me, Red vs Blue was the least expected inspiration for crying I've ever experienced. Sure, it's light-hearted joking and fun from the start, but by the end of the early Blood Gulch Chronicles season, darker themes are already beginning to creep in, and with the recent wrap of season 10, business got serious, and surprisingly deep.

Probably going to spoil a bit for those who haven't watched it all; head over to Rooster Teeth's site if you want to get caught up.

While it was something of a mind-blow just finding out Church was an AI, thus explaining his ghostiness (and, subsequently, revealing his on-again, off-again, sort-of-girlfriend Tex was also an artificial intelligence), and I was bawling at the end of season 10, with the meaningful look in the Director's eyes as he realized his obsession with his dead ex-wife, the memory of which spawned Tex in the first place, had ruined his relationship with his daughter, it was RvB's ninth season that really struck close to home. The entire season, shot using Halo: Reach, focused on a recreated version of Church from his original AI's splintered memories recreating his time in Blood Gulch in the banks of a failing storage unit. His aim was to draw Tex back to his side by replicating the sequence of events that led to their original Gulch encounter, in order to get to the bottom of why she existed and why they were inexplicably drawn to one another, or at least, why he was drawn to her.

While he's waiting for things to come together, and for his own private version of Blood Gulch to work properly in the first place, Church's teammate Tucker makes it a point to rag on him about how creepy and stalk-y his Tex obsession actually is. Considering this version of Tucker was created from Church's memories, it can be extrapolated that in some ways, their discussions are a sort of internal monologue, with some of Church's better reasoning starting to slip through his long-running obsession. It seems to register, as the last minutes of the memory unit's existence feature Church pulling Tex aside, not to say goodbye, but to say he's forgetting her, letting her go. Granted, the collapse of his world turns out to be a rescue mission executed by Church's associates in the real world, and the parallel obsession over Tex on the part of Carolina, the freelancer that helped the Blood Gulch crew get him out in the first place, makes that letting go that much more difficult, dragging his turmoil (albeit with a new perspective) over another season, but that's not his fault. And it's not what I'm here to ramble about.

It was kind of a fluke of timing, but I'd been catching up on Red Vs Blue while going through old storage bins, getting rid of things I no longer need and scrounging up a few items that might be ebay-worthy, when I stumbled upon something I'd forgotten. A disgruntled-looking, plush eggplant peered up at me from the floor, almost as if judging me, just after I'd clicked "Play" on season nine's twentieth episode. The one with the Church/Tex moment I just mentioned. It struck me as to just why Church's plight was resonating so much with me, which only served to make said finale even more intense.

I spent seven years of my life, on and off, bullheadedly trying to make a half-baked failure of a near-relationship work. We never actually hooked up, just kind of orbited one another as I repeatedly screwed up chances as they came up, yet not badly enough for her to excise me from her life or for me to cut her out of mine. For example of how confusing the whole mess got, things reached a point where I'd stopped hanging out at the residence house where she, along with several of my other friends I'd known before she and I'd crossed paths, at her request and/or threat. Comparable amounts of rage were subsequently to be had from her when of my buddies decided to smuggle me in while she was visiting home, only for her to find out after I'd left, and a separate incident wherein I walked ten miles or so home from my GameStop job after I couldn't raise anyone on the phone for a ride home, rather than stopping by said residence house to ask someone there. We must've made friendly at least a half dozen other times, only for me to make an ass of myself again every time, be it for honestly trying to warn her against one friend's dubious history, or my tendency to drift toward familiar faces in unfamiliar situations coupled with an alcohol-induced haze being misinterpreted as creepier behavior than I'd had in mind.

The runaround finally ended four or five years ago, not long after I purchased a little eggplant plush, both out of my love for eggplants and purple, and to try and kick her a few bucks in what wasn't proving the easiest time for her. One of those misinterpreted, drink-addled incidents led to sharp words and a declaration that she'd never cared much about me at all, in a positive or negative light, but the situation wasn't about to be buried. We had, and still have, so many friends in common that completely avoiding one another was pretty much impossible. Thankfully, she'd at least moved a couple of states away by then, so the most I saw of her was the occasional online comment on someone else's profile, or across the hall at a convention, but there was always that little twinge as I forced myself to just walk by. If I'd been so much nothing to her, why not shut things down that much sooner? Why the years of back and forth? The lack of any real closure, just the fuck-off-and-goodbye that marked the final curtain on our little drama, left a conundrum in the back of my head despite how many of the memories associated with her I'd already repressed.

So there we were. The eggplant and I. My past staring up at me, its ":|" face seemingly condescending and judgmental in the glow of my laptop's monitor, as the third iteration of Leonard Church was finding the resolution he'd sought for so long in a way he'd least expected. Not unlike Church, I'd spent seven years trying to get things right. Trying to solve my own little Tex problem. But sometimes, you don't get closure. Sometimes, the only way to find peace is to forget.

It wasn't until the middle of last year that I realized I'd fallen out of touch with a girl who was arguably my first love, with whom I shared a peculiar, long-distance thing in high school, and that I had no desire to try and get ahold of her again. Just a couple months ago, I noticed I was the only one of my friends still mentioning the anniversary of someone I'd gotten rather close to being suddenly torn away from me and the rest of us, including her boyfriend at the time, and realized it was time to put that to rest.

And now, it's about time I forgot. She hasn't kept me from other pursuits or interfered with living my life, but she's always been there. A ghost of what could've been. A torch that, while dim, never quite sputtered out. A reminder of lessons I should've learned before I met her, and in much less hard a way. Kind of like a bruise that hadn't quite healed right, but was more an occasional annoyance, and a peculiar shade of purple. Not unlike an eggplant. Besides, there's another musing on Church's part that's got me a bit more preoccupied now, so there's no room or reason for her to hang around anymore.

As he's explaining his reasons behind recreating Blood Gulch in the now-sealed memory unit at the end of season 8, Church mentions that he's learned, "a great love is a lot like a good memory. When it's there, and you know it's there, and it's just out of your reach, it can be all that you think about. You can focus on it, and try to force it, but the more you do, the more you seem to push it away. But if you're patient, and you hold still, then maybe, just maybe, it'll come to you." I'm not one for holding still, normally, but I'm starting to think I've reason to give it a try.


7:42 AM on 11.23.2012

Something to be thankful for: the end of Ctrl-Alt-Del

After just over ten years of publishing, gamer-centric webcomic Ctrl-Alt-Del would appear to be calling it quits. Having somehow survived the post-Penny-Arcade boom that spawned a slew of similar, "gamer buddy" strips in the late '90s and early '00s, Tim Buckley has decided to go out with an inappropriately dramatic bang.

Personally, I jumped what I already recognized as a sinking ship as soon as the strip Loss, which dealt clumsily and asynchronously with the subject of miscarried pregnancy, hit the web back in 2008, but thanks to friends who refused to give up, I've heard dribs and drabs of what's been going on since then. It would seem bizarre tonal shifts weren't enough for cartoonist Tim Buckley, as racism, plagiarism, and a complete lack of stylistic evolution all had their time to shine over the course of the strip's final four years.

For the morbidly curious, the strip's final arc was an unsurprisingly dark and incongruous turn from CAD's normal, lighthearted fare; a sort of final "fuck you" that would've been better suited as part of a separate project. A quick glance through the archive revealed something about time travel, dystopia, and everything bad being main character Ethan's fault, but I couldn't bear to continue and figure out what was going on in any great detail. If you're feeling masochistic, help yourself.

And so we stand at what could be considered the end of an era, I guess. It's weird to see Ctrl-Alt-Del finally bite it, especially when it feels like it should've wrapped up years beore now, but I wouldn't say it's sad. For those who may have actually enjoyed the comic, fear not, as some wiseass managed to sneak this into their Wikipedia entry and it was still there as of this morning:

To be fair, the final arc isn't all terrible, as it did lead to this:


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