The Lin Kuei can only rely on each other right? No wonder that Sub Zero and Reptile had to eventually hook up. (These are ninjas from Mortal Kombat, for those not into the game).
Mhmm…yep. I can deal with this. So glad I got a photo of this.
I found the MCM Comic Con in London to be exceptionally crowded. There were SO many people it was near impossible to move on the Saturday. Fortunately for me, I had gone on the Friday as well – so I’d seen most of the stuff available and didn’t need to browse as much and so (thankfully) could spend most of my time away from the really thick crowds.
I did get to see some of the actresses in Lost Girl speak briefly – that was kinda cool. my boyfriend really wanted to ask Kenzie if he could get a cuddle…of course this was impossible. On the off-chance she’s reading this though, my boyfriend would totally appreciate a cuddle.
Pokémon’s 6th generation of main series games is literally only days away and I am both excited and utterly demoralised since I promised myself to hold off on acquiring it for important personal reasons. However, I have been following the news and everything is so delicious. I’m kicking myself for making promises I don’t want to keep. There’s much about the new generation of Pokémon that has gotten me hyped and a few things that I am not so thrilled about but still interested enough to see how it works.
Things that I am so hyped for in the new generation:
Pokémon X & Y are introducing salons in some of the Kalos region’s cities. In these specialised locations there will be the option to change the appearance of your player character, causing him/her to appear different in battle animations and have a unique look in wi-fi matches. It’s still a couple of steps down from the kind of character creation that long-time fans have been anticipating but it’s a positive step forward. It also means that we can get rid of the stupid sunglasses. I hate the sunglasses. Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?
Its species name is “Poodle Pokémon” and it changes form by simply getting a haircut. Unlike other types of Pokémon forms where the Pokémon may be able to access different moves, change stats or even change type with a form change, Furfrou simply changes its appearance. Yep, it’s just a Pokémon poodle. And that is why I love and want it so much. You can choose between three different types of poodle-shape* and each has a dye job to go with it. For a person like me whom is so entertained by simple things like changing colours and shapes and sparkly things, I know I’m going to find this a lot of fun.
Depowering the Steel-type (a bit)
Getting technical now, did you hate it whenever a Steel-type Pokémon appeared as an opponent in previous generations? Yeah, me too. They’re not as super-powered as the Dragon-type but they have so few weaknesses coupled with a great ton of resistances, including immunity to Poison-type attacks, and high average defence stats. It is so frustrating to take on a Steel-type Pokémon, even the ones where the massive resistance of the Steel-typing is offset by a second type. So for Generation VI, the Pokémon Team have changed the type pairings a bit. Obviously they had to change them anyway to include the Fairy-type but they have also taken away Steel-type’s resistance to Dark- and Ghost-types, which makes a lot of sense and I am totally cool with it since I quite like the Dark-type. And like I said, fighting against at literal steel wall when so few of your attacks will do more than half the regular damage is really frustrating. I’d rather see defensive play being mixed up by adding more moves to the pool rather than more resistances to certains types.
‘Since you’re able to run right from the get-go in these games, there’s a new item you’ll be able to get that allows you to go even faster. As an enthusiastic roller-blader in my childhood, I am certain to identify strongly with this new element. I don’t know if I’ll ever not use them. Screw the bicycle, skates are where it’s at in this game.
Things that I am not so hyped for in the new generation:
This seems to me a pointless addition to make to the list of types. Everyone initially got super excited because ever since the introduction of the Dark-type fans have been speculating the creation of a corresponding “Light-type” and Fairy seems to be filling that niche. However, what got a lot of appetites wet for Fairy-type was the fact that it’s super-effective against Dragon-type and additionally is not affected by Dragon-type moves. Dragon-type Pokémon have long been revered for being powerful and having few weaknesses. If I had to spend hours in tall grass trying to catch a super-rare Pokémon and even more hours raising it to level 50 to get its fully evolved form, I think I deserve a very powerful Pokémon, thank-you very much.
This seems like a much needed move to depower the Dragon-type generally but when you take a step back it’s a pretty moot move. Despite having few weaknesses Dragon-type also has few strengths. Offensively, their moves are only super-effective against themselves and aside from Fairy, Steel is the only type that they’re not neutral to. Defensively, they take double damage from Ice-type (and now Fairy-type), as well as themselves and half damage from Water, Fire, Grass and Electric, making them neutral to everything else. The biggest threat a Dragon-type Pokémon possesses is high stats so I don’t think this addition to the typing categories is really well worth the hype just yet. More so since aside from its battle properties we still don’t know about the growth rate or the average base stats of Fairy-type.
It’s a Psychic-type Pokémon that has a drastically different appearance based on whether it is male or female. It also has different move pools based on its gender with the female’s being more aggressive and the male’s being more supportive. It would have been less offensive to just make them two different Pokémon. Meowstic takes gender alienation in Pokémon to a new level of dumb, up from the different designs of various accessories depending on your character’s gender from Generation IV onwards. Here’s a clue: for each accessory there was actually only one design but they came in different colours. And of course you couldn’t just choose your colour; girls were automatically assigned pink and for boys, blue. I can deal with the theme of sexual dimorphism that Pokémon has been going for ever since they introduced breeding but segregating this Pokémon so far that each gender has different move sets based on their sex is taking that too far. Can’t people just accept that boys and girls can do everything the other can do?
So far Mega-evolution seems to be one of the coolest things this generation has to offer and I can understand that. The designs for many of the megas look really cool and it shakes up the game strategy a lot but I am just not hyped. Mainly because this whole temporary evolution schtick has been Digimon’s s domain since 1999. I was a fan of both of them as a child but Pokémon eventually stole my heart away completely with its unexplored lands of wonder, beauty and mystery over the digital world’s wondrously confusing topsy-turvy Wonderland-ish world. One of the major things that really separated the Pokémon from the Digimon was the fact that Pokémon evolved permanently and without much assistance from an external device** while Digimon did not. In my mind that is still one of the most important distinctions between them. Mega-evolution is cool but from my perspective it just seems like they’re starting to step on Digimon’s toes now. The reason why I like Pokémon is because it’s not Digimon and Digimon is great because it’s a viable alternative to Pokémon that is not another Pokémon thing (like Pokémon Conquest – totally viable alternative to the Pokémon main series but it’s still Pokémon).
That’s really just a gripe, though. It would be cool to instantly be able to boost all of your stats in a single move and even change type to get some strategic advantage. Then again, there may turn out to be more advantage in equipping some other sort of item over the mega-stone, like a berry (never underestimate those rare berries; Charti Berry lets me breathe a little easier in the face of Stealth Rock***) or even a focus band for the sake of getting in just one more hit, or maybe it’ll be more worth it to use a Mystic Water or other kind of item to raise the power of certain attacks, especially attacks that your Pokémon already gets a STAB from. See, I’m already questioning the usual plan of attack. An interesting way to shake up the battling but why did it have to wriggle into the Digimon niche?
All things considered, I love Pokémon and I can’t wait for the fateful day when I have fulfilled my promise and Pokémon X sits snugly in my 3DS and shines its glorious digital light upon my visage.
*‘Poodle-shape’ is a general term to describe the shapes that poodles are trimmed into and it’s a totally legitimate way to describe things. Totally.
**Just to be clear, I am aware of all of the Pokémon that need to be holding items or have items used on them in order to evolve but Mega-evolution takes the further step of the trainer needing to hold a special item that will consistently trigger Mega-evolution. You know, like how the DigiDestined kids needed to be holding Digivices to consistently trigger Digivolution.
*** Stealth Rock has ruined everything.
You know who’s super excited for the 12th of October? ME!!!
You know why I’m super excited for the 12th of October? Pokémon X and Y!!!
You know why I’m super sad? Because I have a Real Life responsibilities around the same time to contend with the time I would have been spending playing this brand new awesomeness.
In the meantime, there’s the newly released OVA
that I can use to procrastinate with reckless abandon, Pokémon: The Origin. It’s already been aired and subtitled and the first episode really sets the mood. You’ve probably already seen this clip of Charmander screaming continuously as Squirtle mercilessly unleashes Bite attack on it.
It’s absolutely distressing. With this clip it’s clear to see that Pokémon is going down some dark, dark roads. I haven’t seen Pokémon get this hardcore since the Pokémon Adventures manga. It’s terrifying, it’s disturbing, it’s violent, it’s horrific and I like it! Give me MOAR!!
Image: [thanks Serebii]
“Video games cause violence.” “Video games are for children.” “Video games aren’t good for you.” “Why don’t you do something instead of playing video games?”
All these and more are what the modern gamer have grown up with and it is about time that we break the cycle.
We’ve been told time and time again about how awful these games are and how we are ‘wasting our lives’ playing games. I believe that when people say this to us they are coming from a good place but also from an outdated place with a misconstrued notion of modern day gaming.
Video games have come a long way since their humble beginnings. They began, I believe, in the early 70′s with games such a Pong, Pac-Man and Space Invaders. In 40 years they have made many leaps and bounds. For now we are a generation of League of Legends, SuperSmash Bros, Journey and XCOM. Think about it, in a person’s lifetime we have made it from arcades to the living room (and possibly to the bedroom) to handheld and portable games. Now, imagine if you were a person that left the gaming world when Mario was dodging Donkey Kong’s barrels, saving someone other then Princess Peach, or when Pac-Man was still a bachelor?
You now have your children interacting with “realistic” guns yelling at each other over headsets. Not only that, but it is in your home and they can switch it on whenever they want and play for hours and hours. Is it no wonder that sometimes older peers and parents really just don’t get it? This isn’t anyone’s fault, it is mainly due to WHAT video games were back then. When video games were first developed, they then weren’t as gripping as they are now, they were also typically too short and too repetitive with not much background/story. Can you really imagine playing tetris for days and days on end?
The gap between Baby Boomers to Gen X to Gen Y might be too large in gaming but from the last of Gen X to Gen Y and Gen Z, gaming hasn’t changed all that much. The genres of games have been fleshed out, explored and more or less defined. Stories are coming to life as we help characters along their destinies. Board games are now on the big screen involving mini-games. The gamers (as well as casual gamers) of today are the best equipped to understand what games could achieve and future trends of games. We also know what good they can do e.g. encouraging children to read, potential family time, puzzle games etc. In fact gaming can only get better from here!
Think about it!
Gamers are giving children age-appropriate material (and have an understanding as to what that is), teaching them not to be one of ‘those’ gamers, teaching them some form of etiquette and warning them and preparing their children for the emotional scarring that comes with online games.
So here it is all laid out: past, present and some of the possible outcomes of the futures of gaming. I hope you now raise your children to the light and understand why parents and adults will never get off your back about gaming.
After all of the hype and excitement around Bioshock: Infinite died down a bit I did a bit of a quick revisit of the past couple of games in the Bioshock series. I feel that, with PAX happening in Melbourne, Australia right now, it is appropriate to talk about video games this week and why they are really great.
Video games are often seen as the domain of the frivolous and uneducated, even now that we’re in the middle of 2013. Critics and artists all the world over hesitate to see video games as an art form, a social comment or any kind of educational tool. Those who do think seriously about a video game aren’t to be taken seriously because, ‘really? Critically analysing a game? Why are you being so dumb?’
Trust me, it’s not dumb.
There is a wealth of video games on the market that provide relevant analysis and emulation of our social and political atmosphere. Many people are surprised to find that the number of gamers who are, in fact, educated and intelligent enough to delve into hard analysis and evaluation of their hobby is higher than they care to imagine. It must feel like the end of civilized society: people are looking hard and looking seriously at expensive software designed solely to entertain those who can afford it. Nobody wants to face the alarming fact that video games have now reached a level of complexity that allow them to educate, stimulate and critique their audience.
One of my favourite examples is a game series known as BioShock, developed by 2K. It’s now turning into a franchise with the release of BioShock: Infinite but the two games that have previously been released are a real feast for thought.
Examining them in chronological order, BioShock takes the player through the dilapidated gulch known as the underwater city of Rapture. The city was once ruled and then ruined by its founder and leader Andrew Ryan. An individualist, objectivist and a capitalist, Ryan built his city on the principles of free market unrestrained by law or ethics. Anything can be bought and sold while those who cannot afford such a life are the “parasites” to be exterminated. This extreme rampant capitalism culminated into a civil war and the implosion of civilized society in Rapture.
Then, BioShock 2 sees the player return to the ruin of Rapture, which has come under the control of Sophia Lamb – a psychologist who believes single-mindedly in absolute egalitarianism and achieving communist utopia. Everyone must be equal; no one must be better or worse. However, rather than this end being successfully achieved, the city is drawn into an obsessive quasi-religious hierarchical system and society fails to improve.
The themes of both games are a lot closer to reality than it seems, highlighting the substantial flaws that come with adhering to one of the two opposing Cold War ideologies: communism and capitalism.
When we play BioShock we come to understand that capitalism is a juggernaut that cannot be controlled. The fuel of the capitalist society is self-satisfaction and the individual man’s own sense of achievement or entitlement. It relies heavily on the exploitation of not only those who are lower in the social hierarchy but also the system itself.
ADAM is the drug that exacerbates this exploitation. Actually, ADAM is a type of foreign stem cell harvested from a rare sea slug but through scientific research and refinement the population of Rapture are able to freely use it like a steroid to drastically alter their genes. Unfortunately the effect is temporary and repeated use will not only strain the body physically but mentally too. So, to be frank, ADAM is the staple of Rapture’s economy. The population depends on it. Through the use of ADAM every vice of capitalism can be seen with the naked eye:
Greed: ADAM is rare and valuable, afforded only to those who have the money to pay for it. Those who don’t must steal it.
Power and Control: Not just through gene enhancement but also through the economy, one man – known cryptically as ‘Atlas’ – controls the entire lucrative ADAM industry and consequently the entire population of Rapture.
Self-interest: whether for genetic enhancement or the acquisition of wealth, ADAM is never used for the benefit of anyone but oneself.
With this capitalist idealism also comes elitism. Andrew Ryan designed his gulch to be an ethic-free haven for the free market and also wished to generate a community of the “best and brightest” in the world. The bulk of Rapture’s population are top scientists, artists and businesspeople. This creates a top-heavy society, which is (ironically) reliant on the short supply of middle and working class citizens. This unbalanced demographic was doomed from the start and it should not come to any surprise to a thinking player that this society could not be sustained.
Ryan’s capitalist Rapture is unsustainable because it is fuelled by self-satisfaction and greed. There are no safety nets for people in need and anybody lower than the upper-middle class is exceedingly undervalued. Those who had power fought for more power and those without had no tools with which to even fight for their next meal.
Ten years later, during the events of BioShock 2, Sofia Lamb has appointed herself as the leader and is supported by desperate civilians who are disappointed by the failure of the capitalist system. Lamb is dedicated to the creation of an egalitarian utopia that will benefit every citizen equally. However, the main flaw of this ideology is quickly apparent: it cannot function unless there is an autocrat to manage the people into an egalitarian community and ensure the community’s survival. This is the role of the “Utopian”.
The Utopian, in Lamb’s mind, is one person who can put the needs of the people as a whole before their own in all aspects of their life and work for the “greater good” of the society. Lamb also believes that this person does not exist and must be created by means of ADAM-induced mental conditioning. Some problems become apparent. First of all, a human being has to be sacrificed to scientific experiments and operations which may not work or may not be sustainable due to the temporary nature of ADAM. Secondly, the Utopian that is created has to be stripped of their personality in order to avoid bias or prejudice, which raises some serious human rights questions.
The main difficulties observed in Lamb’s pro-communist system are based in the structure of the society she is trying to create:
Autocracy: in order for Lamb’s society to rise it has to be ruled by someone who understands how and why it should work. This leader is non-negotiable and has the ultimate authoritative power.
Collectivism: the people of Rapture only have the right to what every other citizen has, no more and no less. The concerns of the collective always take precedence over the concerns of an individual.
Resources: Lamb’s goal is ambitious and requires vast amounts of resources and education. Unfortunately, due to the decimation caused by the civil war there is very little left to work with and so the only thing that she can share around is scarcity.
Sofia’s Rapture is unachievable. She does not have the resources – in terms of commodities, services and labour – to build her ideal society from the ground up. She also does not have a population that is entirely ready to meet the requirements of a utopian society of selflessness. That is to say: if one person is able to find a chance to be happy, they will not settle for being equally as miserable as everyone else until the rest of the group is able to take that chance as well.
The point that BioShock is making is that the two major ideologies presented – capitalism and communism – are unfeasible. They represent two social extremities: one that is far too broad to be manageable and one that is far too narrow to accommodate an entire society. The ultimate conclusion is that if modern society is to function at all, then people in powerful positions must cast off any notion of ideological positioning. Modern politics (and decision-making in general) isn’t best achieved by formulating a limited framework that will determine how and why decisions are made. Decisions should be made and positions should be taken based on reason. It’s no longer enough to say that actions should be taken based on a set of values; there needs to be significant thought put into what is reasonable and how values can be achieved, upheld or enriched via reasonable processes. BioShock does not show any immediate sign of addressing that question but it does a surprisingly good job of illuminating the issue, proving that video games of now and of the future are not here simply for boring rainy days but also to challenge and educate us about our world.
The moral of this article is: you should play more video games because that is obviously totally not a waste of time.