Sex Games

Since my Modern Life is Rubbish post about my own relationship with computers a couple of new words have entered my vocabulary. Unfortunately those words have been GamerTag and Doxxing.

And I apologise for saying it, but what the actual fuck?

I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I’m not a particular fan of online multiplayer, although I have pumped some hours into Battlefield, Space Marine, Medal of Honour and more recently Destiny. I am also primarily a console gamer. Through choice.

There seem to be more and more subdivisions of ‘gamer’ now. Casual or Hardcore, Console or PC, Offline or Online, Big Screen or Handheld, Child/Teen or Adult, Entertainment or Art – but the most ridiculous of these has always been (and is becoming ever more so) Male or Female.

I’m the first to admit I’m not a big feminist thinker, but I have always believed that I didn’t need to be. I thought that particular fight had already been won. I work for a female boss, in an equal pay workplace with roughly a 50:50 male/female split where people are employed (or let go) on their individual merits rather than their skirt length or cup size (for the women) or how many pints they can drink or whether they’re in the ‘old boys club’ (for the men).

I’m a bit uneasy about the current action by up to 19,000 Asda workers over their allegedly sexist practice of paying their mainly male warehouse and distribution staff more than their mainly female shop staff. The jobs simply aren’t the same and apparently people can request a transfer between roles if they are able to do the job. That doesn’t seem sexist, but I only know what I’ve heard on mainstream news media… It sounds a bit like complaining that lorry drivers are paid more than school dinner ladies. Or comparing apples to oranges. If women shop workers are being paid less or being held back in favour of male shop workers, then yeah – sexist.

Anyway, back to the original point. The argument about big games developers having relationships (in any sense of the word) with reviewers, retailers, journalists and so on isn’t an argument about sex, or even gaming. It’s how big business of any sort works. I’m not saying it should be, but it is. And with the level of investment and potential income for a successful product you can’t honestly expect that to change any time soon.

What brought the whole affair to my attention was an article following Felicia Day’s ‘Crossing the Street’ blog, her attack (and attack is a strong word. If she was attacking anyone it was herself for not having felt strong enough to raise the issue publicly before) on GamerTag’s tactics and the current division in the gaming community. The doxxing response was as swift as it was inevitable and is completely unacceptable.

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Call it doxxing, call it trolling, say you’re doing it in the name of freedom of speech and some sort of ethical code all you want, but it’s bullying. Pure and simple playground bullying.

I don’t know if things are as bad here in the UK. But having said that it doesn’t really matter because A – I’m a bloke, and B – ‘U.K.’ Is not really something that exists online. If I saw someone wearing a T-Shirt for a game I liked, I’d probably give them a nod and a smile, maybe a comment. I know this because it’s a fairly regular occurrence (as my mum will testify following a recent Far Cry 2 conversation during a shopping trip that started over a T-Shirt). Sex doesn’t come into it. It’s a shared connection.

There are levels of misogyny in the gaming world that are frankly awful. Whether it’s developers spewing out another two-dimensional, scantily clad character, the advertising that then pushes a game on the merits of that character or the gamers themselves (particularly online) who can be downright obnoxious at times. I’ve just handed over some money for Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent’s Tomb Raider novel, The Ten Thousand Immortals. The recent Tomb Raider reboot was (in my opinion – and bear in mind I’ve already said I’m not exactly the feminist thinker of the century) a strong representation of a female character (a whole series of female characters actually) in a computer game. The young Ms Croft was at times naive, intelligent, cunning, afraid, courageous and beaten. I suppose I am a little sexist in that I would have looked at the protagonist’s trials and tribulations differently had they been a man. Watching a young woman go through the events of that game is uncomfortable to say the least.

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And Lara Croft is a good way to illustrate how far the industry has come since her first Playstation outings.

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The original marketing is now both ridiculous and mildly insulting – especially considering the character only really exists because the initial pitch for the game with a male protagonist didn’t look original or interesting enough (which is ironic in itself now considering the success of the Uncharted franchise).

I’m not a ‘hardcore’ gamer. I have friends who are in the industry and have various gamers, developers and journalists on the feeds of various social network sites – male and female. It absolutely should not matter what sort of games people play, for how many hours a day, at any ability, of any sex or sexuality. My 60 year old mum owns a Nintendo Wii, my wife has a peculiar addiction to mobile games and my 12 year old step-daughter plays Minecraft socially. You think I want any of them receiving abuse for being female or the wrong sort of gamer (whatever the hell that means)?

That feeling of connection when you see someone wearing an N7 T-Shirt should be something all gamers in on the reference should be able to relish and enjoy. No one should be made to feel inferior for any reason whatsoever. Up until a few days ago I used to think that the Sony vs Microsoft vs PC argument was the most irritating thing about being a gamer, but that’s probably because I haven’t experienced what the female section of the community has.

It’s truly disappointing and it makes me angry and concerned about a form of entertainment and expression that I have grown to love.

Gun Dun

Only a very quick post tonight. Starting off with a photo of the finished (for now) Elephant Gun for Halloween.

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So on with the rest of the costume! And some bits for it turned up in the post today… Some bandages and some black webbing tape.

splicers3The bandages are pretty self explanatory, but you might need a look at this picture to remind yourself of the details with regard to the webbing tape… I’m trying to make the strapping that goes around the chest and waist. I’ve managed to stitch the section that goes behind the neck and under the arms, now I’ve just got to figure out how to do the rest.

I did also get a pair of gloves I ordered today, but now I’ve got them I’m not so sure about them. They’re just not quite right… And I’m still waiting for some other bits as well. With the boots and gaiters I’ve purchased it’s pretty much sorted from the waist down (which I suppose is half of it if I choose to be optimistic about it…).

I’ve made a mask and I know what I want to do around it, I’ve got to snarl up a shirt at some point but between three different versions in the illustration I’ve got a bit of scope, so there’s a hat on standby, and a pair of steam-punky goggles winging their way in the post.

And just over a week to go!

 

Gun? Damn!

Progress has been annoyingly slow on the Halloween costume over the last few days. Mainly because I’m waiting for stuff to turn up in the post, but also because a lot of it isn’t a quick build. For those of you that missed the first Halloween post you can find it here. I’m trying to recreate some of the concept art for the Splicers in Bioshock 2. I know I won’t be able to make a lot of the detail, but it’s the feeling of it I’m aiming for. Part of that feel is getting the silhouette right. And part of that silhouette is the Elephant Gun.

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The creators of Bioshock decided they didn’t really need a super long range rifle like you find in a lot of First Person Shooters (as the environments don’t really allow you the space to ever need a super long range shot) so the Elephant gun was their answer. It fits with the time period and gives you a medium to long range rifle in the game. But how the hell should I go about recreating it?

Luckily I managed to get hold of a couple of ‘sort of rifle shaped’ bits of MDF from work. At some point in the dim and distant past they were used in an education session, but no one could remember what or why any more so I was allowed to take them home. As they were a little too thin (only half an inch thick) the first thing to do was glue and clamp them together. I knew the overall shape wasn’t quite right, but there was enough there to start with.

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Anyway, once they were together it then came to making them look the right shape. The first thing that went was the barrel. It was square and even my rudimentary knowledge of firearms told me that this was wrong. Then there was the godawful trigger guard which came off fairly quickly. And finally there was the stock. It shouldn’t be all in a straight line with the barrel like that. It needed angling down and then shaping a bit. And then reattaching…

A lot to do in other words.

So I started off by cutting the barrel, trigger guard and stock off. The stock was cut on a curve so I could just rotate it and reattach it at a lower angle, but everything else was thrown away. A piece of 3/4 inch copper pipe was cut to length for the barrel and the foregrip part of the wooden furniture and the stock were shaped a bit more. Before anything was attached to anything else it ended up looking like this.

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I promise it is mostly the same bits of MDF I started with.

Anyway, then the stock was glued and screwed to the main body of the gun and I’ve since attached plates and a rear sight to the back end of the gun using plasticard, a copious amount of glue and some teeny screws (just to make sure). I figured I can then add detail fairly easy to the plastic if I get time.

My main problem now is working out how to attach the barrel, but for the time being I’m reasonably happy with it. And it looks like this.

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The different variants of Elephant Gun that the designers went through include a fairly basic (it even lacks a trigger guard) version, so that’s the most likely iteration. I do get the impression that once I get it all together and painted I might not want to walk around in public with it as it’s starting to look pretty good (it only needs to look good in the dark remember).

More progress soon. I hope.

 

Materialism FTW!

I know capitalism isn’t cool – but there’s so many wants in me right now I’m fit to burst. Here’s my pre-Christmas list (for any philanthropist Santa Clauses out there). Let me just say before you carry on reading that I’m actually a very lucky person and I’m generally very happy. These are just some things that have caught my eye and piqued my interest of late. I do like being surrounded by “stuff” though… Character flaw I guess.

So here we go.

1 – A Loot Crate Subscription

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A monthly box of geeky goodness delivered straight to your front door? What’s not to love? T-Shirts, collectibles, books, posters and all sorts of other bits and bobs normally tied into some sort of monthly theme (for October it was a Halloween inspired “Fear” box). If I had already subscribed I’d be looking at a room that had in it cool things like a baby Groot bobblehead, an alternate cover Walking Dead comic, all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and an “Ewoking Dead” tee.

2 – PS4 Games

I’ve lumped (most of) these into 1 key want, but here’s the full list…

Far Cry 4 – Far Cry 2 was good, Far Cry 3 was amazing and Far Cry 4 looks like it’s shaping up to be sensational.

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Assassin’s Creed Unity – I’ve owned every iteration of the Assassin’s Creed games and I’m a bit miffed that Rogue is being released on last gen and Unity on current gen. That doesn’t stop me medically needing a copy of AC Unity though. Especially as I know Paris fairly well. It’ll be nice to climb the sights.

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Rocksmith 2014 Edition – I had it before on the PS3 and I’ve really missed it. And not just for myself, mainly because we used to bring a few guitars down to the living room and play together (badly, for my part, but still enjoyable). So I guess that should be “Rocksmith 2014 Edition AND an extra Real Tone Cable”.

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Oh, and it actually makes me feel like I can play the guitar a little bit, instead of the ham-fisted monster I normally feel like.

Bit of an Ubisoft collection there… Entirely coincidental.

3 – The Ten Thousand Immortals, the new Tomb Raider book by Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent. This was released today!

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Two awesome authors, one awesome protagonist and the continuation of the story from where the recent game left off. Sounds like a winner to me. If you’re not familiar with the work of Mr Abnett (or his wonderful other half Nik) you really should be (and actually you probably are…). He’s written consistently for Black Library, Games Workshop’s publishing arm but has also written for 2000AD, Marvel, Doctor Who, He-Man… His name was on the end credits of Guardians of the Galaxy. Legend.

4 – This PS4 game is on a whole new stratosphere of want…

Dragon Age Inquisition. This is probably the “main want”. It needs to be released already. There are simply not enough words. So here are some pictures instead.

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5 – A selection of supplementary wants…

…Which includes albums (on CD and vinyl), books, comics, trinkets, new sofas (one for the family there), an AWESOME Halloween party and loads more… Anyway, lots to look forward to.

The Splice of Life

Halloween is fast approaching and we’re thinking about having a party. Well, we are having a party. It is, after all, a Friday night, a pay day and we will only have one under 18 year old in the house (instead of the four we’re used to!). In typical geek fashion I’m trying to put together a computer game inspired costume prior to the big event. It had to be something game, comic or film inspired, but it also had to be something I could actually do (although my wife has already said something along the lines of “The problem is you want it to be perfect”).

I don’t necessarily want it perfect, but I certainly want it to look good.

Anyway, games, comics and films obviously gave me a bit of scope. Walking Dead, Resident Evil, Twilight – don’t worry, only kidding! In the end I decided to have a look through the art book I got with the Special Edition of Bioshock 2 and there was plenty of inspiration.

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The first two Bioshock games were set in the dystopian underwater city of Rapture and were genuine creep out, shock fests. The hulking Big Daddies, the creepy Little Sisters (and later Big Sisters), the mutated Splicers – there had to be an idea in there somewhere.

What I’ve ended up with is this.

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I’m not necessarily trying to match any one of the images exactly, but the thing I learned from the book is that one of the more important aspects is the silhouette. It’s recognisable even when you can’t see the details. So it’s the silhouette I’m trying to match.

So far I’ve managed to get (and adapt & paint) a masquerade mask (lots of the Splicers in the game are dressed for a new year’s masquerade ball that, well let’s just say it goes a bit wrong), a hat, boots, gaiters and I’ve got some other stuff on the way… Black webbing tape, bandages, goggles. It’s all being done on the cheap, but it should still look ok. Then there’s a fairly important part of that silhouette, the Elephant Gun, which I’ve started to make.

There were some old (bad) MDF rifle blanks at work which I’ve been given. Because they were too thin to form the woodwork for the gun I’ve glued them together. Then I’ve got to cut the barrel off and replace it with something that’s actually round, replace the trigger guard and build a trigger, cut off and lower the stock and then round all of the wood off so it’s curved rather than square edged. Finally it’ll all need painting.

It looks like this at the moment…

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And this is what it needs to look like…

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The good thing about the weapons in Bioshock is that they start basic and the upgrades change their visual appearance – quite dramatically in some cases. So if I don’t get time to do much to it, I’ll just stick with the basic Elephant Gun. If I do get a bit more time I might try to Steampunk it up a little bit.

If no photos of the finished costume make it onto here – you know it looked awful!

The book itself, on the other hand, looks amazing. It’s called Deco Devolution and there’s normally some copies kicking around on eBay.

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Suicide Mission

I know we’ve stepped outside the bounds of historical wargaming tonight at the regular Thursday night Victory At Sea meet, but it was worth it.

Myself and another regular attendee both got a set of the 2014 reissue of Space Hulk. I’ve got a 2009 issue as well but, for one reason or another, I never got around to playing it. Well tonight we ran through the first mission (of the 2009 issue, not the more recent one which has additional missions). It’s accurately called “Suicide Mission”. 5 Blood Angels Terminators against an ever increasing number of Genestealers.

It’s the first time I’ve played Space Hulk in the best part of 20 years and it was, satisfyingly, as fun as I remember it. We did the usual trick of playing it through once each as the opposing teams (then we did it a third time with people completely new to the game).

Funnily enough a few of the gamers tonight and I watched the 1986 sequel to Alien, James Cameron’s Aliens a couple of nights ago. The inspiration for Space Hulk is pretty clear, from the “blip” mechanic of having an unknown number of enemies closing on your position until there is line of sight, the tight corridors, the aliens that are faster and more dangerous than their human opponents, the design of Genestealers themselves is more than a little Gigeresque. I’m not saying it was the complete inspiration for the game, but the atmosphere has certainly lifted from it quite heavily, and the game was originally launched 3 years after the film.

I was too busy having fun tonight to take more than one photo, but here it is…

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And we got talking about future games. With three sets of miniatures, floor tiles and markers we have enough stuff to play some BIG games of Space Hulk. I remember adapting the rules for normal Space Marines in Power Armour (only rolling 1 dice for shooting a Bolter instead of the 2 for a Storm Bolter for example – less chance to kill the Stealers, but no chance of jamming the weapon) and the options for multi-level games already exist with lifts and ladders included in the current rules. I’d love to make a bespoke board, but realistically I don’t think I have either the time, the ability or the money to be able to do so.

Anyway, tonight was a good night.

Red Hulk

I’ve never really liked painting red miniatures. It’s my third most feared base colour (after white and yellow).

So far though, the Space Hulk Terminators seem to be turning out ok, and I recently had a chance to get some practice at painting white with the Dark Vengeance Terminators for my local GW store, so I guess this is my chance to have a go at red…

I started off with a black primer, then a basecoat of Mournfang Brown. This basecoat was then gradually made redder and redder by mixing it with Mephiston Red. Highlights then with mixed in Blazing Orange (I learnt a long time ago not to mix white in when highlighting red…).

I’ve just about finished one, and like I said in an earlier post, I’ve got them on 40mm bases (in case I ever want to use them in 40k). Here are three of them in with the nearly complete one on the far left, one in the mid stages in the middle and one that’s been basecoated on the right.

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I’ve resisted the temptation to use metallic paints so far. I normally would, just because it’s easier, but I’m trying to paint these properly rather than quickly. I’ll see what I learn painting these before I start on the next set (I have 2 to paint). These will be used to play rather than sit in a cabinet, but I’m in two minds about whether or not to spray varnish them. I (and I’m sure many other people have had similar experiences) have had awful results with purity seal frosting up the finished miniatures. Apparently this can be resolved by wiping it down with olive oil – but should we really have to or should we expect the product to be able to do what it says on the tin?

Anyway… I might try it – unless someone can recommend a good alternative?

I’ll continue to work my way through these, so you can obviously expect to see more soon.