zustifer: (Goggalor)
So, the new Half Life episode. I can't help but notice that there are a few sucky things about the characters (not least that the NPCs are always sucking up to Gordon and asking him things as if he can answer). The worst, though, is Alyx. I can't believe how completely null a personality she is. She's like some idiot fanboy's idea of what a perfect woman should be, and she doesn't even have Dresden Codak's decency to pretend to be insecure about whatever it is the protagonist of that is insecure about. Alyx is this ideally supportive, even-tempered, perky chick, who can also hotwire a helicopter. She's so, so perfect that it's ludicrous. And (my least favorite addendum) also she is a genius. She's always sweet, she never loses her temper, she's an order of magnitude cleaner than other random jerks in the world, she tells you that you're awesome when you shoot stuff. I have a seriously difficult time imagining that any of the people who brought us the beautifully written Portal dialogue and universe had anything to do with this empty edifice of positive attributes.

The only way I can think of to fix this is this: maybe Alyx (ugh, that fucking Y) was shaped by the G-Man to be Gordon Freeman's sinister Hwi Noree. Maybe he's using her to keep Gordon in his hands, or to have a kill switch for him, or something. This would make all her goody-two-shoesing okay, because she specifically has to behave as Gordon would want (and by proxy, as many unimaginative players who don't know what real people are like would want). It would make her willingness to hang around the autistic guy with the guns somewhat more believable, as it would a wish to make him feel like he was protecting her and doing awesome things.

(I just want a record of this in case it turns out true. Also I really do think it's one of the only ways to make a relatively important NPC not totally a traitor to feminism and games at large.)
zustifer: (why can't monsters get along)


I watched some videos to make sure this was correct, and it is. The pivot for the shoulder is in the center of the spherical shoulder-armor thing. (You can see it when she lifts her arms; there's very little shift in position of the shoulder things. They just rotate. If they were just caps on top of her shoulders, they would move around a lot whenever she moved her collarbone.) Poor implausible Samus. This is all the more annoying with the latest redesign where the suit is feminized noticeably; the smaller midsection just makes it so obvious that the shoulders and even the hips aren't quite lined up right.
zustifer: (1 of 11)
Since I'm confined again to a small verbal space, I will link to this pretty terrible logo over at typophile for London's Olympics thing. I don't know about reflecting London, but regardless it's pretty appalling all on its own.
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: blowtorch)
Uh, seriously, what's the point of this crap? You got three people to record the media they consume for a week, and that's it? No analysis, no larger sample size? What the hell.
I could get better information on freaking myspace. Thank you so much, fruity New York publication.

(link from n0wak)
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: Delia looks significantly a)
Hey, look, Mr. Godeon says what we're all thinking. Well, what I'm thinking. When my mom isn't around. (My mom has a difficult time with this sort of thing, but I understand her taste pretty darn well, so it's never hard finding her something I think she'll like. Really she sort of makes me feel bad about it period, because she is my mom.)

(The post is about not specifically going Xmas Shopping for Everyone, because you end up just trying to fill the list and not allowing good choices for presents to appear (due to time pressure). Instead, a better strategy is to just always keep an eye out for appropriate things for people, and if you find something good, then good. If no, then they don't have to suffer through a stopgap gift. This is completely sensical to me; I've been doing this for a good long while now. It also helps that my husband is a strong proponent of this viewpoint.)

I usually end up, with good friends whom I see, having something for them somewhere around hmas. Sometimes I remember to keep it for then, sometimes I just give it to them when I have it.

Something that always upset me a little is how weirdly people look at you when you just give them something, outside of holidayspace. Like it's only okay if it's during that time period. Pointless culture-fillip.
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: Delia looks significantly a)
Boy, it sure is great that Cartoon Network's programming is branching out to include such 'live-action' gems as Cats & Dogs. I really appreciate the thought and strategy behind the backing of one of 2001's finest films. I mean, even the movie's website is just glowing with skill and dignity.

First good Pet Sematary joke wins the prize. This is making me pine for Riddick.
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: Miss Argentina)
Okay, don't actually watch this, because it's appalling, but just from flipping through irritably I've learned that apparently having ears is out this season.
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: Miss Argentina)
Usin' my dubious photoshop powers for evil. No, wait, good. Definitely good.
zustifer: (Nivlem says See Here)
Okay, all you people who have a foot in the game world need to look at this and revile it for what it is: very poor advertising. This is an excellent example of the work of people who seem to have similar goals to me, but who somehow manage to besmirch the cause by aligning themselves with it (there was some kind of makinglight discussion on this concept recently but I'm unable to find it). It's an imitation of the low-budget seamless-and-diffuse-lighting 'mac vs PC' ads (which themselves are sort of chintzy, but this is not my point), only with consoles (PS3 and Wii) substituted in.

Now, conceptually, personifying something like an OS or console is sort of doomed to be pretty subjective and prone to straw-manning. It's like live-action political cartooning. The choices made by the creators of this ad are not even consistent in their message, although their mindset is very accurately depicted. Let's look at this sucker.

Okay, first shot. We have here a chunky dark-haired girl in black and blue representing the PS3. Presumably what they're trying to evoke is a needlessly bloated system, and not just playing the fat chick card (benefit of the doubt at this point). She's wearing glasses, which could either mean she's smart, or could mean she's a nerd. Smart isn't bad, and since the PS3 is being demonised here, I've got to assume they want her to look not-cool. First data point on the creators: they don't like nerd girls.

Next to her we have a blond chick in hot pants and some kind of bikini top. Also some weird striped high heel boots. She is pretty obviously The Hot Chick that is trotted out in ads pretty much constantly. The forthrightness of this could either be subversive or really brain-dead. Let's guess which! No, we don't know yet, we haven't watched the video. She's supposed to represent the Wii, so I guess our ad creators are for the Wii, since they've just heaped the 'positive attributes' onto this character. So, the Wii is, uh, naked? It's stripped-down and runs fast or something? Not too clear yet. Second data point on the creators: they enjoy blond chicks in bikinis better than nerd girls.

Okay, let's hear some dialogue. Uh, oh. I see. The 'Wii' is a dumb whore. The PS3 is understandably put off by her. Hmm, PS3 seems to have interests that most stereotypical gamers enjoy (WW2 games?). Are the ad creators not stereotypical gamers? Are they gamers at all (I'm unwilling to assume that they are sick of the same old shit, because there's no mention of it, and also because I already hate them)? Wii says she's 'as cute as a button' in response, which is an amusingly pointless thing to say. The console is cute? Does it DO anything?

It's a little clearer halfway through; the PS3 is supposed to be a sexless intelligent stereotype, presumably, even though the concept of the male viewer wanting a vibrate function (apparently for SEXY REASONS) is pretty stupid. The Wii is all sex and nothing else. Is this meaningful? Perhaps in the way that people refer to new gadgets as 'sexy', that being the most shallow way a person can talk about an object. Yes, your goddamned palm pilot is sexy. It has buttons and is new. Awesome, champ. Data point 3: ad creators like new and shiny. They own new high-capacity ipods.

There's some attention paid to ease of use, at least. Okay, valid point number one. Cost, valid point number two (although hearing Blondie the Blond Blond say 'I'm cheap' is kind of making me want to jam a q-tip into my brain).
At the END, the VERY END, they're managing to get to their point, which is almost cohesive. The PS3 has all these features you may or may not have asked for (bloating), wants to be a 'media center', and is very taken with its awesome cutting-edge whatnot. The Wii merely is what it is, I guess. Boy, I can think of probably dozens of better ways to show that.

So, okay, I sat through it again. All the way through. Apart from the points I mentioned and possibly the mapping of 'ease of use' onto 'stupid slut' (which I honestly can't be sure was intentional), this was utterly meaningless and vapid.
What's the main purpose of the Wii, in the real world? To be accessible, and easy to understand and use. This is maybe represented in the character of the Wii chick, BUT by translating this trait in this particular way, you have made the 'Wii' (the in-ad version) INACCESSIBLE by essentially the entire audience that Nintendo wants. Smooth move, ex-lax, let's alienate the entire fucking world except for your goddamned 18-45 nuts-and-gum heterosexual male fucknauts. An accessible ad for an accessible system? Fuck that! I want to look at some dumb hole giggling and slapping her own ass! Fuck the smart one I can talk to, let's paste her onto the thing we hate!

Nice one, guys, I hope you end up with the relationships you deserve in life. Even if you do like the Wii.
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: blowtorch)
Man, so THIS is why I was laughing so hard at that dead baby joke while playing Makai Kingdom.
Seriously, however, it's probably about time something like this study was actually done. I'd like to read the paper, but I don't have access anymore to anything scholarly. Also, let's do this study with serious-violent movies (not wacky-violent horror movies, f'rinstance) and books. I'd also be curious to see if we can make the opposite happen; if we could prime people with nice pleasant friendly material, then we could either see how upset footage of violence would make them, or measure their response to someone needing a door opened for them or some crap.

However, I have to make a big deal about how this study doesn't apparently state duration of these effects. Our society isn't going to be transformed into a bunch of callous asses who snigger at the Holocaust Museum by something with a limited temporal area of effect. Having a lowered level of empathy for ten minutes after playing Wolfenstein isn't terribly frightening.

The thing is, tying desensitization of some stripe to violent games is warranted, I'm sure. Our minds can be primed with perspective-changing information. Of course they can. However, who else knew kids who watched 'Faces of Death' when you were younger? Who knows a guy who trawls rotten.com for freak-out material? Worse or better than Mortal Kombat? I mean, it doesn't matter really which is worse, only that this is not a videogames-only problem. As ever. You know the research team got funding because of the 'hot-button issue' factor, and not necessarily because this was the best experiment to do.
zustifer: (Default)
Oh yeah, I wanted to complain about this, too. I've been playing CivIII again because I remembered we had the expansion pack, and it's fun and all, but I've found kind of an unreasonable gap between the first two levels of difficulty. Now, I know I'm lame and incompetent, but I'm able to win in various ways handily on Chieftain level (because I have a central nervous system), but once the difficulty is bumped up to Warlord, all of a sudden I can't pick up a win to save my life. And it's not even close; the AIs almost always beat me to both wonders and technologies simultaneously, I get stiffed in irritating ways by not being able to trade with neighbors early (because THEY haven't built enough roads) when I'm resource/luxury-poor (which also means I can't trade for tech), and I swear that enemy cities, closer to my capital than my own best-producing cities, defect at a really low rate (culture isn't nearly as persuasive).

I know that I could do a bit better by micromanaging _everything_ (and thereby lengthening the game session by 200% or something; turn-by-turn spending and what have you), and by really learning each benefit/cost that each improvement gives, and whether it's more effective to build [thing] instead of [guy] on this particular turn and blah blah etc, and making a plan to win by some way OTHER than space race, but GOD! Why such a gulf between levels?

Maybe I will just play Chieftain in german.
zustifer: (Dr. Phibes)
I am almost starting to suspect that our upstairs neighbors have started a little passive-aggressive covert war with us. It's not terribly difficult to deal with, so far, and if this is as bad as it's going to get, then they can have their small portion of fun and use it to decorate their empty bland little lives. But I worry.

Last weekend I noted that one of my paulownia shrubs had somehow been chopped off about six inches above its pot. Huh! I still don't know how they managed it (I presume 'accidentally,' like, they were carrying furniture past it or something), but I know that paulownias are insanely tenacious and in fact sometimes people trim them back to the ground on purpose, for straighter growth or fluffier leaves or I don't know. So I think it will be fine, but I wonder if they know that.

Secondly, I have noticed that [wife] has been tossing her dead plant material (from her stupid impatiens (which are annuals and also not all that nice-looking; I don't see the point)) over the edge of her porch, which overlooks our porch on a couple of sides. She probably thinks this is awesome and clever, since, see, we are unwilling to pick up all the little sticks on the lawn, for instance, so now perhaps she is bringing some plant waste home to us. Now, instead of placing the plant matter on the dead, acidic pine-needle-wasteland area of the yard (which they PICK UP when I do it), it's being used as a particularly ineffective little punishment.
Honestly it's almost cute.

Oh, and lastly (this one is a stretch): they this weekend for reasons known only to them chopped down a few little saplings that stood between our backyard and the garage of the house on the opposite lot, on the property line. Now, they can't know this (wait, maybe they CAN!), but that house has a bright annoying light that it likes to turn on at night. And, of course, the little trees had been screening it somewhat.
But apart from that, who chops down little trees in a non-nuisance situation? They weren't encroaching on anything, they weren't threatening any part of the yard. I guess they weren't a mulched heap in which struggled individual pansies, which seems to be a major goal of our neighbors.
In case it isn't obvious, I hate this brand of 'gardening' more than I hate the damned white flies that keep finding my verbena ([Parent Trap] Oh, Verbena!). In conclusion, if someone would drop enough money in my lap so we could buy out these lumps, that would be nice.

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Karla Z

February 2012

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