Category Archives: video games

2 Broke Girls, S5E11 “And the Booth Babes”: A TV Review

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Next week 2 Broke Girls makes its way to Thursday to join CBS ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory, which actually segues really well into a lot of what this review is covering. See, while the latter has absolutely killed it for the network it’s also received a fair amount of flak, primarily from the types of people it claims to represent. General nerd news site Bleeding Cool referred to it as “the television show that hates you” back in 2011 and hasn’t stopped since, and I actually took time on this very blog to cover an episode that featured some particularly divisive promos.

All of that is to say that CBS as a network doesn’t have a stellar track record when it comes to appealing to what I’m going to call “nerds” from this point on [Supergirl not withstanding, which I’ve only heard excellent things about]. Couple that with 2 Broke Girls not having a stellar track record with most topics and we find ourselves here, tonight, with me dreading every second leading up to this episode, tempered by a bizarre sense of excitement. Continue reading

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Dividing Violence and Video Games

When I had originally planned on writing this post we were a little ways into November, with Remembrance Day having just passed. Walking through the subway stations here in Toronto it was impossible not to spot a bright red poppy pinned to a stranger’s lapel that inevitably forced me to, well, remember the war that lends them their importance.

thrallflandersJust before the day on which Canada and the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations pay tribute to those who have fallen in the line of duty was Blizzcon, the annual convention put on by my favourite video game developer. With World War I on one hand and a company that holds the title of creating the highest grossing game of all time in World of WarCraft on the other the connection was clear.

Asking whether or not it’s possible to have a split between violence and one of the quickest growing forms of both entertainment and narrative device, for mainstream audiences, is a difficult enough question as it is, and I felt it all the more pressing as the longer I put off writing this post the more [extreme] acts of violence I could see reported on the news. I don’t even need to drop any news links for you to think back on an incident that occurred just this past week.

Now before I go any further I want to state plainly that this is not an indictment of violence in video games. As my co-writer Gordon related a few years back being exposed to such can actually be beneficial to the way we perceive and navigate the world. Former Culture War Reporter Stew, who assisted me in writing this, also mentioned that it can be “interesting because the interactivity of videogames presents us with a unique way to actually explore our violent tendencies, or our instinct for survival.” I don’t particularly believe that this aspect of the medium is harmful by any means. Instead what I’d like to explore is what video games could be with its absence. Continue reading

Mystery Room: A Culture War Report

I’m actually being half-serious when I say that today’s post very well could have been “Re: Re: Do Western Christians Want Martyrs?”. It’s an extremely relevant topic, and I hope that you’ll take the time to read what Kat had to say, as well as Gordon’s response. No, instead what I have for all of you is another one of my rarely shared new life experiences, this time being the hour and a half I spent on Wednesday night trying to escape a series of dark locked rooms.

Now apparently this sort of thing is, and has been, all the rage according to a friend of mine, but the very concept was extremely foreign to me. Wikipedia’s entry for it is titled “Real-life Room Escape”, and describes it as being:

“a type of puzzle simulation games in which you are locked in a room with other participants and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit.”

It also mentions the fact that their existence stems directly from online video games, which is honestly the coolest thing. Whereas most video games are based on real life activities [stealing cars, shooting ethnically ambiguous terrorists,
running your own farm, etc.], this is an example of an activity that mimicks a video game. That is, and realize I don’t use this word lightly, neat. It’s super neat.

I should probably get to what my time with it was actually like, though. To help prime your expectations a little bit, the course my friends and I went through was titled “Haunted Hospital”.

Zombie nurses not included.

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The Real Reason Assassin’s Creed Unity Has No Female Playable Characters

I don’t know a lot about video games nowadays, but I do know one thing: I love the Assassin’s Creed franchise. This may lie entirely in my simple love for stabbing and vaguely historically accurate settings, but I’m down with what they’ve got going on. In fact, I got thoroughly hyped for whatever game developer Ubisoft’s announcement was going to be at this year’s E3 without knowing almost anything about it.

Here’s the trailer they released:


The following tumblr post more or less sums up my reaction [after I finished gawking at the assassinations, of course]:

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Fame Day: Alice and Kev

If you’ve been reading this feature for some time you’ll know that we typically laud things for being good and then some. Tom Morello is a great musician, sure, but he’s also an activist of the highest caliberIf I Were You is a podcast featuring a very funny internet duo, but it also has them tearing terrible people a new one. Today’s installment is a 60-part story that was created using the video game The Sims 3.

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It’s also a highly successful attempt at translating a game’s playthrough into a compelling narrative that discusses the realities of poverty. That may have been a lot to take in, I realize.

Alice and Kev was created by Robin Burkinshaw, a games design student at the time, in mid-2009. He describes the outset of this venture as starting out relatively simply:

“This is an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3. I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any of the game’s unrealistically easy cash routes. It was inspired by the old ‘poverty challenge’ idea from players of The Sims 2, but it turned out to be a lot more interesting with The Sims 3′s new living neighborhood features.”

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Culture War Correspondence: Russia and the Ukraine

GORDON: The Culture “War” has more often than not been used as a metaphor, but every once in a while (and with increasing occurrence) battles of the heart and mind start to include blood and iron as well.

Today we’re going to be discussing the ongoing Crisis in the Ukraine, both in regards to its roots and its implications in our society as a whole.

EVAN: I’m going to be one hundred percent honest with you, Gordon, and with all of our readers, I’m primarily going to be viewing a lot of Russia’s actions, and the responses of the other world powers, almost purely as if this were all a game of Sid Meier’s Civilization V.

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Consequently, I can only imagine Putin like this.

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Shame Day: Candy Crush Saga

I don’t own a smart phone, and as a result I do not have Candy Crush Saga. I own a dinky little Samsung slider phone which is complete with six game demos, from WPT Hold ‘Em 2 to The Sims 2. My all-time favourite is Block Breaker 2, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve broken those blocks on the only available level over and over and over again. I’m easy to please, is what I’m saying. Also that I’m not in the target demographic here.

Many of my friends are, though; their enthusiasm for this confectionery-based game has seemingly no bounds. I get it, too- puzzle games are fun. Puzzle games that feature the too-sweet treats that you ideally want in your mouth doubly so. I don’t personally have anything against smart phone games candy-based or otherwise, what I have a problem with is greed and theft.

candycrushshame Continue reading