Silicon Brick Road of Guilt (Pt. 2: Consequence)

So we’ve covered some basics of videogame guilt, so let’s get a little deeper. Oh, and minor/major spoiler alerts for most of these games, by the way. If you see the name of a game you haven’t played and want to, I’d stay away from that game’s section. This will be nowhere near comprehensive; that can come later, as well.

But let’s start with making you question your actions. Some games have multiple endings or certain sequences that are determined by certain tasks being done, or certain behaviour towards NPC’s (non-playable characters; any AI character, basically). As a matter of consequence, you may not fully appreciate the effect of your actions until it’s too late. I don’t mean stories with twists at the end, or characters that face consequences by story alone, because that includes almost every story ever, really. These are more direct examples of guilt/regret; very deliberate. Continue reading

Silicon Brick Road of Guilt (Pt. 1: Why did I do this..?)

Guilt. Guilt is one of those weird, almost untouchable emotions we all spend countless amounts of alcohol, therapy, denial, or self-justification to live with. It walks hand-in-hand with regret down the road of life, taking hellacious dumps for us to step on when we least want or expect to. So why, then, would we ever willingly look for them? Please be patient with this first one, it’s starting slow to give us a foundation for the rest.

Enter videogames, stage left. Not a stranger to this blog, they are funny little things that we subjugate ourselves to. Funny, sad, scary, boring, mind-building, and world-ignoring, they do everything that would otherwise be possible. Look at the terms used over the years: escapism; time-wasters; morally corrupting; power fantasies; etc. They kind of cover all bases like films or books or whatever else (like I’ve discussed before). So why would you ever want to feel some of the worst emotions possible, and on purpose, for that matter? Continue reading

Curating New Ideas: Natural History in Budapest

Whenever I go to a new city, the first thing I typically look for is its natural history museum. It’s not a make-or-break for visiting somewhere, but it sure comes close. I recently forced myself into a holiday, going to Budapest for a couple days. They happen to have a natural history museum. Double-plus good.

During a rather sweltering September day, I went to the.. Magyar Termés..Természet..tudomá..nyi Múzeum. Hungarian isn’t exactly an accessible language to me, hold on. The “Magyar Természettudományi Múzeum” which translates, quite neatly, to the “Hungarian Natural History Museum,” is an interesting sort of place. It’s in the middle of a rather large park of other educational facilities, and seems to have a historical connection to the conservation efforts of the Hungarian Zoo. It’s sleek, modern, engaging, yet at times, rather baffling. Continue reading

Baby Jesus and the Brandy: A Czech Christmas Tale Part 2

So as previously discussed, Christmas is not exactly a standardized holiday. Between different nations and/or cultures, the day may be different, the events may proceed differently, the movies are different, et cetera et cetera. There is one rather large part I’ve left out. Food. As opposed to the expected US Thanksgiving, Christmas has no set standard of foods. Some people will prepare turkey (a feverish roll-over from Thanksgiving, I’m sure), but there’s also ham, roast beef, pork roasts, lamb, among others. There’s no one “correct” side dish either, compared to the expected cornucopia surrounding the Thanksgiving turkey.

To the same extent, there is little agreement on desserts, either. Gingerbread men, and maybe decorated sugar cookies? The rest is family tradition or history. Perhaps this has something to do with America’s multi-ethnic and multicultural history, but there isn’t any definitive “American Christmas meal” that I’ve ever known of. The Czechs, however, do have such a thing.

With Vánoce (again, the Czech equivalent of Christmas, please see above link for more clarity and background), their meal of choice is kapr, or, carp. A big ol’ fish. Continue reading

Baby Jesus and the Brandy: A Czech Christmas Tale Pt. 1

Christmas appears to be the one holiday that everyone has at least some kind of response to. For some it’s a wistful memory, some bitter hatred, or even an (often over-)emphasized ambivalence, be they theist or atheist, consumers or retail slaves, or be they human or ancient lizardfolk alike. It’s wildly inclusive if one looks at the whole scope of who discusses it, so I suppose it succeeds in bringing everyone together… at least in some tortured manner. The traditions and norms of Christmas aren’t universal truths, however. My “Christmas” is nothing alike that of a friend’s Christmas, nor is it likely the same for anyone outside of the US.

Christmas was never religious for me. Santa was Christmas. Of course, I wasn’t ignorant of the whole “Christ” bit in Christmas, but it seemed always secondary to my “beliefs,” amusing as that may be in the big picture of things. Continue reading

Rattle and Ramble: The Skeleton Question

Skeletons. If one were to believe the rumours, they are both spooky and scary. They’re also a fairly steadfast companion for the average person; a beneficial tenant in Hotel You. Wave your hand in front of your face. Your skeleton just said hi. But skeletons, what’s the deal with ’em? Skeletons just don’t seem to get any love these days. Anyone versed in classic horror or the fantasy genre knows of skeletons quite well. They’re typical “fodder” enemies in videogames and role-playing games, and they used to be used for frightening moviegoers back in the day (the Original House on Haunted Hill, anyone?). While they’re still used in basically every fantasy world ever, their presence in recent years has become a bit of a joke (Army of Darkness comes immediately to mind). Strange that the reanimated calcified cores of a human would become so banal. Funny how life works, isn’t it?

My question, however, is if these skeletons are so readily able to reanimate, what exactly would that mean? What would be the limits? Continue reading

A Short Digestif for Meals Long Past

Sometimes it can be easy to take the things around us for granted. Enough time spent around a certain stimulus or situation and it will often cease to have the same impact compared to the first time, or returning to it after an extended period of time. Perhaps moving somewhere new, and there’s a particularly pretty commute to work. Or perhaps a particular dish made by a parent or a loved one. You know it’s beautiful, you know it’s delicious, but driving the same place five days a week, or eating the same dish for a week, and the magic is a little dampened, so to speak. You can also have the opposite situation, when moving away from somewhere, and you begin to miss the things that you previously gave little thought, or had just delegated it to one of the regular experiences in your day-to-day. Continue reading

Bending the Truth in the Mobile Debate: iPhone 6’s Alleged Flaw

Technology and how the technology is used are things that are sometimes at odds with the other. Like something built for one purpose, but utilized for another, or something that can be used to varying degrees according to whatever respective party’s vested interests. Take the obvious example: nuclear products. One one hand, you have treatments for cancer and an energy source with staggering potential. On the other hand, you have nuclear weapons or irreparable ecological damage due to reactor failures (whether due to human error, natural disasters, or whatever). Someone can refine nuclear products for powering thousands upon thousands of homes, or tweaking the recipe to make weapons-grade materials. All in the eye of the beholder, as it were. Or to a much lesser degree, say, the internet. You have a nearly infinite source of just about every scrap of knowledge ever logged by the human race, versus the dangers of hacking, internet addiction, stalking, etc. Pros and cons. Continue reading

Aphex Twin’s Syro: What Else to Say?

Aphex Twin, for the few that may not know of him, is Richard D. James, one of the most revered electronic artists of all time. He’s built up an impressive library of aliases spanning different eras of music and styles since the 80’s, and cultivated a sort of cult of secrecy about him like: disdaining any interviews and giving flippant, cryptic answers for the few he humoured. His last full album was Druqs in 2001, and his last real released work, the Analord series, frankly did little to inspire me, as expansive as it may have been (~60 tracks over 11 EPs). Now the silence has been broken by Syro, and for an actual interview with him, that’s quite good, I’d suggest reading this, it’ll explain some important things from a first-hand source.

Now, Syro. It’s sort of like a little of the “same,” but in the best way possible. The tracks feel like they have a classical sort of influence to them; they feel old but it’s all brought in a fresh way. There’s almost pervasive 80’s synth feel flowing underneath many of the tracks, like you could expect to hear them in a Blade Runner-esque film. I say that in the best way possible. When acid or jungle beats get piled on top of them, juxtoposed by the strange, processed vocals of James, his sons, or his wife, it makes for a captivating combination. Sometimes the beats, melody, and voices are given such a texture that is just… satisfying. You feel you know some of the samples, yet without feeling trite. I swear I hear the Amen Break sample in several of the tracks, and it’s glorious. Many of the tracks shift from style to style, and because plenty are in the 5-6 minute range (with one being over 10 minutes), they have room enough to breathe and change in an unhurried way. Continue reading

Continuing The Bipedal Question: On the Other Thumb

A quick follow-up to the last post, is another peculiar anatomical anomaly that came to my attention a few years back, and I’ve yet to find a suitable outlet for. So here it is.

Catgirls. Anime catgirls. Everyone has an image of this classic anime cliche (more properly called called neko or nekomimi which just means ‘cat’ or ‘cat ears,’ respectively), so ubiquitous to the anime image, that you can never see a single piece of Japanese animation and know about it.

But stop and think about it for a second. What’s odd about it? What does, or doesn’t work? Continue reading