E-Gads!

To further promote your image of me as a horrid little troll who lives in the basement feeding off the dead remains of farm animals whilst flicking his snot around the room and calling everything noob, I am an avid gamer and have been ever since I was little. In all fairness, being a ‘gamer’ has become a cooler thing to be as the years have passed and the industry is booming. Could you imagine trying to be a hardcore gamer back in the days where your computer hooked up to your TV set? Fuck yeah, just beat my record at Pong bitches, haters gonna hate! I was born in the nineties so I can almost consider myself as having grown up alongside the video game industry and what started as a cute yet dorky little dysfunctional child/console soon grew up to be something bigger, smarter and with a lot more tricks up his sleeve/disc slot. However, as I reach the period of my life that is full of uncertainty, of opportunities to grasp a hold of and make something of or to fail, I feel that my dear old games consoles have stumbled across an identity crisis themselves. Oh what poor naive children are we, lost and afraid in a modern world.

Let’s start with the console that everybody loves to hate, the latest edition in the XBOX family, XBOX One. Apparently one now comes after three hundred and sixty but then who’s counting. Not Microsoft. Cheap joke but XBOX started out as the green-eyed envy of Bill Gates made into a ‘Kinda like Playstation but chunky and I own it’ deal and from there it went on to become Sony’s main rival. At first when XBOX stormed the scene it sported a wide range of games, mostly aimed towards boys with a fixation on proving how manly they are by rubbing their balls in each other’s faces, and aside from having technical difficulties that became feared as a techno-plague, XBOX and his son 360 took their place on the stand of big-fucking-deal console. I’m sure we are all familiar with the XBOX 360, the console with more shooters on the market than innovative ideas, a fan base mostly consisting of beer-swilling-racial-slur-slinging hoodwinks but with the occasional boffin chucked in on the side because they realised Fallout New Vegas works much better on 360 than on PS3 or they sided with XBOX at the start and won’t change sides from there. XBOX 360 looked like it was going to take itself seriously though, in the long run, and just as it started rolling out games that offered a challenge, it pandered to the family-fun gremlin and boom, Kinect. I have used the Kinect, a god awful piece of shite with a lense that throws a wobbly if you step just half an inch too far one way or the other, like a fascist who has discovered Feng Shui. As the build up to E3 made the new XBOX One out to be some sort of schizophrenic toaster that thinks it’s a cinema system with a social network latched on, Microsoft had a lot of shit to scrape off it’s shoes… It not only failed to this but it planted both feet in the shit and did a merry fucking jig. The XBOX One is essentially that computer from Space Odyssey but it orders pizzas, streams movies and apparently constantly observes your living room for signs of insubordination against the great beings! The camera is constantly on and the console demands you connect online at least once a day or your games will be rendered null and void until you have given a Microsoft executive a thoroughly good hand-job. You can’t trade or buy used games without going through a lengthy procedure and as ever, all the goodies that you actually want your XBOX to do will cost you a modest fee. Joy. I’ve never been a big fan of the XBOX but even XBOX fans have been telling me the new console is a blinking light show that raids your trousers for spare change whilst you’re drearily staring at some heavily armoured space marine with a gun bigger than his own leg.

Sony’s turn now and their entire campaign was mostly ‘Reasons why Microsoft should just quit now’. Sony promised something cheaper, something that is actually turned off when you press the power switch to do so, a more gamer-oriented experience and even did a video to explain how to share games using that age old method of handing the other person the disc. Yup, if Sony wasn’t trying to take a shit on Microsoft’s doorstep then someone please direct them to the bathroom because they left a steamer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWSIFh8ICaA&list=WL6F4BEE00F8B2ED96

Well the PlayStation has had a funny life all things considered, emerging from the darkness to suddenly dethrone Sega and Nintendo as the top dogs of the nineties with a faster and more sleak little number, the PS One (See, they even did the one thing first). Profits swelled and ho-hey, out comes a second PlayStation and this one is black and sexy and it plays DVDs and it has a whole host of games we all know and love. Sure, it now had a rival in Microsoft but it kept going, the ever-reliant oxen of the console world. I think an ox is an apt metaphor, the console won’t break down on you and you can always rely on it to be your humble servant but it’s a bit dopey and it’s potential can only be used to the truest extent provided you know anything about oxen in the first place. The PS3, when it first came out, sold itself on the premise ‘Wait around long enough and we’ll show you something really cool, honestly… keep waiting… keep waiting… seriously, it’ll blow your mind in a few years!’. Unfortunately, Sony spent a fuck ton of money and energy on swagger and forgot to back it up with some real substance so it had a shaky start next to the 360 but then it got into the swing of things and started doing backflips and juggling knives for all the boys and girls. Shooters? Yeah. Party games? Yeah. Hack and slash? Yeah. Games where you play as the animated remains of a wallet dressed in drag and save your patchwork buddies from an anti-social owl? Yeah why not? The PS4 is a step up from there… supposedly, though it couldn’t help getting itself a little touch-screen like his buddy Wii U and now the beloved Dualshock looks hideous, like that girl you used to think was a real stunner until she died her hair the colour of pixie shit and you’re left confused as to what was wrong with brown hair? I’m not sure what to expect of the PS4, they’ve pitched it around an old man’s face and the promise of yet another Final Fantasy game… and Kingdom Hearts apparently.

This leave us with the good old Wii U, the ugly child of the Wii who was the ugly child of Nintendo’s mind finally snapping into a bunch of random squiggles with Mario’s face on. In the usual tradition, Nintendo announced new consoles with old games made a little more shiny as if scared of having new ideas but this is nothing new, the SNES came with a remake of Super Mario Bros for the NES but with cuter graphics. I never understood the direction Nintendo sought to go in. Start from brick with box pad controls, make nicer brick with similar controls, make little box with ergonomically designed controllers, make brick with wand thing, make cute looking brick with Etch-A-Sketch. The Wii U uses two screens, a feature I’m pretty sure almost nobody asked to be incorporated into games. Gee, this HUD display in my shooter game is so conveniently placed right in front of me, I wish someone would get rid of it and put it on my iPad for me to stare at periodically so I can fail to remember whether it was ammo or health items I needed to restock.  You touch a few buttons on the little fella and then your TV makes a sound, the game continues, taking otherwise seamless and smooth game play and then chopping it into jagged chunks. The games roster will be the usual deal, find an old game, advertise it all over again with a heavy dose of nostalgia and then dig up a character from the nineties and remind people that this character is cool. Megaman is back people, he’s in the “New” Super Smash Bros. Game. Nintendo has bought the rights to a few good games though, including Bayonetta 2 unfortunately (I say this as it’s a Wii U exclusive and how that will work is a mystery to me). All in all, the Wii U will assume the position previously filled by the Wii – an ever-so-charming box of wonders suited to gamers of all ages that occasionally pisses out  sentimental memories of Sonic the Hedgehog all over the rug. D’awwwwww Nintendo, you little cutie!

I can’t help but feel an age of gaming has passed as consoles compete like bickering old ladies in a bingo parlour only to find that all three have shat themselves and there never was a bingo parlour, they’re sat in a pub in Hull. The games console isn’t a games console any more, that’s not what comes first. Your console is a cinema system, a fast-food order machine, an internet browser, a free international phone service, a social network provider, a photo album, your Netflix subscription and YouTube all rolled into one and it kinda feels a bit weird. Before gaming became a big deal and a big money-maker the rules were simple.
‘This console plays games that have this console’s names written on it. You buy games at a store, you put them in the console, you have fun, you get bored, you buy or trade for new games and repeat until you are bored of console. If you want to watch TV, watch TV on the TV, not on console. Console play game? Yeah?’
Ignoring how I suddenly devolved from fluent English to Engrish as the sarcasm actually cannibalised my brain cells for a moment, I hope I make a point. However, once anything makes a name for itself it becomes an udder you milk for money until the cow explodes. The consoles cost the same as a decent used car nowadays so maybe for that kinda money we should expect this little flashing box of giggles to offer us pizza now and then, or replace the DVD player. Easy fix there though would be just build something that is a generic disc-recipient that plays back what is on the disc and that’s it, cut the price down a bit!

Not how it works is it? Well I thought I’d let you all know console wise, I side with PS3. Not PS4, because unlike most people I don’t just have the money to get a new console on a whim and if I did, I’d spend it on something more useful. The PS3 is fine, it works, it is a good console with more than enough games and I have a PS2 for the PS2 games, the PS3 plays PS1 games for whatever reason so yeah. I’ve never owned an XBOX though I have lived in a household that owned a 360 for a few months and found it to be an up and down experience. My friends were all XBOX or Wii fans back in the day so I’ve spent a minimum of about twenty-four hours on each of the major consoles of this generation. I like my PS3 best, not out of that stupid ‘My parents got me the PlayStation, please can it be the best console so I don’t regret asking for it instead of the XBOX?’ logic that many gamers go by but mostly because a number of Dynasty Warriors games are PlayStation exclusive and considering how it defined my childhood, I stick by PlayStation. Cue hate from gamers calling the series a dull button mashing splorge fest in a historic setting, so sue me for enjoying something. If you are ten years old and you witness a guy in red and gold armour swing a halberd around and effortlessly destroy an entire army, that quickly sells to you.

I hope that come what may, we will never lose sight of the joy of slapping the old disc in a console and sitting down with a remote ready to immerse ourselves in a zombie apocalypse, a ninja showdown or the adventures of a stuffed animal in the land of milk and honey. Once that’s gone, I’ll just say fuck it to the lot of it and live out the rest of my gaming days on outdated consoles quite happily.

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Through The State Of The Art Looking Glass

I am almost certain I am not the only one who has noticed that the development of new technology basically means making it smaller than the predecessor and with a few extra bells and whistles. For example, the mobile phone was an invention that was perfected with the invention of a phone small enough to be stored in your pocket, a battery life that would get you through the day and the ability to either directly call someone or send them a message for them to reply to when they are less busy working, driving or jerking it to pictures of Emma Watson… though at that point in time, Emma Watson was still learning to do long division so if you were jerking it to her at that point, you have serious issues. However, as time went on someone decided that this wasn’t enough for us and that we needed to carry the internet in our pocket, as well as thirteen thousand different games to play, an app that directs us to the nearest sushi bar and another app that does impressions of various guns and or fart noises. I don’t remember voting on this and whilst I can see the convenience in carrying a portable and cheap internet browser everywhere I go, I’ve yet to see why I would need to quickly impersonate a farm animal or auto-tune my conversations unless I was taken hostage by the Gregory Brothers.

The latest high-tech thingamajig that everyone is discussing, aside from games consoles that never stop watching you, is the new trendy eye-wear Google Glass. Google Glass is a pair of sci-fi spectacles that respond to audio and physical commands by the user and work as a camera, camcorder and of course an internet browser. I’ll be one of the many who say that Google is trying to deliver on the kind of technology we all see in films and secretly want, much in the same way I’d sell a member of my own family for that computer from Iron Man. Fundamentally, for all our talk of a new age of technology we haven’t had anything revolutionary since it all became wireless and since then it’s just been it is either smaller, bigger, slightly faster or can now be used to stream movies or order pizza. Google Glass hopes to up the ante entirely as being technology you can wear and won’t ever need to physically interact with, aside from winking to take photos and talking to do things. I’m also curious why technology went through this weird detachment from keyboards to touchy-feely bits and bobs and now it has decided touchy-feely is best left to the past and now we need never even touch our computers to use them, as if all computers are essentially prostitutes with guilt complexes.

I will give credit where credit is due, Google Glass is genuinely something new as opposed to iPhone Y, which is a larger X and smaller than a Z. However, is it really going to catch on? The iPhone and it’s ever-so-similar competitors held our interest for so long because they appeal to this apparent human fascination with quirky little gadgets and then along came tablets and notebook computers and we accepted them as this new medium between the nifty little phone and the big old laptop. Google Glass is a piece of dorky facial gear but it can take photos of what your looking at (Of which, I can see a dozen problems with) and the moment you mention a place or person of interest, you’re suddenly viewing the Wikipedia page related to the subject. I’m a cynical man and I’m really not too sure if people want this but then there will always be an audience for anything and critics for the very same. I won’t claim to be an expert in this field but I’ll look at what is presented to me and go from there shall I?

Ok, so wearing the technology makes it entirely hands-free and easy to keep on your person to be used at any given moment plus the fact that Google Glass can take physical cues from the movement of your own face. I can see the advantages here, blink to take a photo rather than having to reach for a camera and learn what you need to know about anything just by asking your facial gear on a whim. However, Google Glass has a lot of disadvantages that you can’t shake off too easily:

1. You are wearing hundreds of pounds of technology on your face, a visual indicator of your disposable income and the equivalent to wearing a sign saying ‘Please feel free to mug me, I’m very rich’

2. A phone is distracting enough but you can put it away when you don’t need it, Google Glass could spend a whole day just sat on your face and if you get used to it being there you’re likely to forget you’re wearing it and idly open up internet tabs on your own face

3. How rude would you look? Friends talking to you but you’re busy reading an internet fan-fiction or looking up random topics of interest just because you can. I personally wouldn’t want to strike up a conversation with a Glass-user, I’d forever be worried I’m boring them when they can quite easily ignore me and just read the news instead

4. Google Glass could be used in so many dishonest ways. How often do you actually notice someone blink? How can you be certain you aren’t secretly being photographed by some fat-wallet totting creep? A man such as myself isn’t much at risk but perhaps you fancy yourself the good looking sort but not the sort that wants to be part of a randomer’s wank bank. Sounds silly, the internet has taught us that there are people out there who will polish their pork swords to anything, be it a pony or a passing broad

5. On a more serious privacy issue, Google Glass can be used to connect to the internet and who’s to say that everyone has innocent intentions for this device? Record an incriminating video using your own eyes and then upload it to the internet or ask for a lot of money from someone to not do so. All too easy to stumble in someone changing, catch it on Glass and share the picture with all their friends and family as a cruel joke.

I’m being harsh but I’m just thinking that every step forward we take in an age of technology enhances our ability to be wicked and petty towards one another. Google Glass has become the lightning rod for criticisms and it’s not entirely fair on them because they are trying. Adult content will be inaccessible on the headset which is good because I for one have never pondered the faces my friends pull when they are enjoying their happy time and I know people wouldn’t do that in the presence of company but come on… it’ll happen to someone at some point if Google don’t make it a family friendly gadget. The device is voice activated anyway so the wrong word in the wrong place could bring up all sorts and I for one would have endless fun walking up behind people on Glass then setting off voice commands for hardcore porn then running away, unless Glass recognises the voice of the user as it’s one true master in which case double darn to my pranking plans.

Inevitably, this product will sell to someone and it may even catch on. I never expected the tablet to be popular, calling it the fat brother of the phone but with the worst of both ends like a trike – get caught in the rain and you can’t slip past cues of traffic. However, it did and so maybe Google Glass will too and things will keep moving until we reach Deus Ex and suddenly my own eyeballs double up as searchlights and my penis comes with twelve vibration settings and 32GB of memory

I never expected to ever say that

Activity Update!

Well good day to you readers, Old Man Wolfe checking in here. I value my audience and regard you all as being at least somewhat interested in the direction this blog will be moving in some time in the future so this is another one of those posts to keep you all up to date so that new releases don’t come as a complete surprise or go by unchecked because you weren’t expecting anything.

Ok so first things first, you’ve no doubt noticed my new baby of creative writing, the TDWC short story series. TDWC is short for Tea Drinking Wise-Cracker, originally written as a series of Facebook notes as means of practising my written technique, the notes were read by a number of friends and family members who wanted to see that I flesh the series out and make it into something I commit a bit more effort to. TDWC started off as a playful self-insertion comedy action series and so little did I expect of it that the main character was not even given a name, beyond being referred to by my nicknames on occasion. Whilst you can argue TDWC is still very much an eight year’s old fantasy mixed together with some curse words, the series has been developed to include a cast of different characters with different backgrounds, goals and futures ahead of them as little by little an overruling story arc develops to link the separate adventures together. I plan to write a total of 13 episodes for this series, 12 regular ones and a thirteenth extended episode that will tie up the series in an epic climax in order to resolve loose ends from earlier episodes.

Granted, as far as literature goes, you might say this is a poor quality British knock-off of Devil May Cry littered with a few out of place references and one-liners but if you say so now, you’re too late because I’ve already come out with it. TDWC is a playful irony on the conventions and characteristics of our favourite heroes and anti-heroes and as such the protagonists can be traced to a number of influences (Lee Patience for example clearly shows a mixture of traits taken from Sherlock in the modernised BBC adaptation, Dante of Devil May Cry and some of that rough-edged bitterness you’d expect of Wolverine or Ragna). TDWC isn’t my attempt to leave a big mark on the writing scene, it’s a self-indulgent jolly bit of creative tomfoolery that I’m sharing with my friends but should it get noticed, I may make it into something more sophisticated in say, a second series. Let us wait and see shall we?

I have more to say on the subject of TDWC but let’s move on for now to the main blog, the regular rants you’ve all come to love and hate in equal measure, judging by the comments section. I will admit, you’re not getting much of it and when you do, it’s me getting up on a high horse about something topical whilst tearing my own rulebook apart and holding up the burning flag of anarchy. Ironically, I am not an anarchist and believe the notion of a government to be a fine one but we as a species have this uncanny ability to elect profoundly incompetent cretins to positions of power best given to those who have an idea how to use it properly. The blame for that lies with all of us, voters or not. However, in regards to my regular rants, I’ll try to come up with more ideas for what to rant about and work those in alongside the short stories but believe it or not, TDWC episodes can take a week to write. I am of course open to requests or suggestions about rant topics but I’ve yet to get much audience interaction from you lot, as if you’re scared to say anything. I don’t bite, I just bark at people looking to stir up trouble with their ‘Oh no, that’s offensive’ brigades on a blog that’s not shy to admit it’s written by a man that has such a tight relationship with controversy, we’re looking at buying a flat together. I shouldn’t have to explain this to you folks, you don’t come here for pick-me-up fairy tales do you? Sorry if you do, you’re so hopelessly lost if that’s your reason for being here and you should scamper off to a field of daffodils or the ball pit perhaps.

The lack of activity is partially a struggle for new ideas getting nowhere but also a hectic lifestyle with college work and a hopeless quest to find work in Shrewsbury, the town devoted to ruining itself. I would move and get a flat outside of Shrewsbury but that’s looking impractical to pull off when you have £7 left to your name, which a sneaky little cunt under the same roof as me slips his hand in my wallet when my back is turned. If you’re reading, you owe me at least £30 in notes and god knows how much change… I can say that because my brothers never read any of my work, dismissing it as foul-spirited trash and shitty stories. So supportive. College is ending soon, by which I mean before the month is out, so assuming I can find a job that’s stable and can give something towards my expenses here, I might be able to stay online longer and get something done with this blog. Sad really, I want to be a great writer but this blog’s success fluctuates and deflates like a nervous balloon. I’ll get there, don’t play your violins just yet, but I’d appreciate your help readers.

Ok, this is where you guys come in – I want feedback. I want to know if I’m going in the right direction with my work and what people want from me because I throw you guys a bone and it goes over your heads and into the flowerbed unnoticed… you are not dogs incidentally, don’t take offence at the metaphor especially you tetchy types that seem to read this blog to get yourself in a bad mood. Honestly, you aren’t going to force me to back down because in reality, this entire blog is just a well-meaning joke and an overplayed expression of an opinion I hold. I hope that’s clear now; I do not actually plan on having the government lined up and shot and having the over-zealous feminists shipped off to the land of Nopenis. I’m going to ask that you all comment on this blog or contact me at the specially created e-mail address below or my personal e-mail if you know me on a first-name basis because if not, it’ll just get put in junk and I never read my junk… wait…

oldmanwolfe@hotmail.com

I’m thinking of doing a special questions and answers post about TDWC, including some trivia you may or may not already know about the series and the characters. Please, don’t be shy to get in touch, my view stats and audience responses provide me with a sense of validity in my work. I’m sad…

Stay classy San Diego, and you know, those other places where people actually do read my work…