PlayStation Orbis: The games industry VS its customers

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As you might have heard there are rumours flying around the internets that the next PlayStation will be called “Orbis”Make of that what you will but the article also says it will lock games to a user, meaning no more second hand games. This backs up what developers have been saying to us for a while – second hand sales massively affect their revenue. The problem is – what if consumers want to borrow their mates games because they can’t afford a new one? What will become of them?

Thus the argument begins. Is the games industry more important or its customers? Take me as a good example, I’m a student. I can’t afford to buy new games, I can’t remember the last time I bought a game, instead I’ve been borrowing friends games (or even letting them borrow mine!). I also know many other friends, who do buy games fairly often, also borrow games off each other. What happens to us? Boo hoo you can’t play new games so you say but this means I become a dissatisfied customer. I start losing faith in my PlayStation and move onto a different console and then the games industry still gets affected. Or I spend my money on games and become poor when the games industry becomes rich. Can I really win?

Shops will also suffer, CEX could close down (let’s not forget that there are rumours the new Xbox is going to use the same anti-second-hand disc system too). GAME relied heavily on second-hand sales because it’s where they got their biggest profit margins and HMV no doubt do the same. Surely keeping our high-street open is more important? Or at least, just as important. Blockbusters would also be affected if there was no more borrowing going on.

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Some would say – so what? You can’t really borrow PC games and they do okay but their games are cheaper to start off with and with services like Steam, I’m pretty sure people trade account details to “borrow” the odd game. Do those devs suffer…?

However, if it really IS affecting the games industry like they say it, then surely having a games industry at all is more important because if we didn’t there would be less jobs, no gamers and no games shops. So maybe it’s better to support it and give up our hard earned cash for every brand new game. But if there are no customers, there’s no games industry, swings and roundabouts…

Will you lose faith in the industry if the rumours are true? Perhaps it’s all part of Nintendo’s secret plot to win everyone over if the next Xbox and PS really do decide to follow through with such an idea.

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The story of the Rocket Minions

This was a memoir I wrote a few months ago for my university course. You may have heard me talk about my friends the Rocket Minions before in my why I will mourn for MGO postWell, this is mine, and their, story. I hope you enjoy it.

Press start

Turning 21 is weird. You would think it makes no difference, just another day that passes by. As I found out, it’s not. It makes you reflect on your life, on those past 21 years, what you’ve done and what is to come. Marriage, a career, raising a family…these are all things I look forward to, though they may scare me. So I sat there, on my 21st birthday, crying in my boyfriends arms. Not because I was sad but because I couldn’t believe what all my friends had done for me and how much they love me. I realised I am so lucky. A large number of these friends I know for a very odd but special reason. Weird stories deserve to be shared although I warn you, it’s a bit like a sitcom. There’s love stories, break ups and fights. Are you prepared for the journey? Then press start.

Leaving school and starting college was one of the best parts of my teenage life. Suddenly I was in an environment where people, more or less, wanted to learn. There was still the odd person who tried to bully me like they did in school. One boy called Stuart thought it would be funny to get his female friend to turn to the table I was sat at with my friends and ask me for my number.

“My friend really fancies you,” she said. She was your typical chav girl, I didn’t believe her for a second and when I turned round to see who she meant, I saw Stuart and ignored her. She tried to keep asking me so I told her to fuck off. It didn’t bother me in the slightest, I found it hilarious that he was basically the only person still acting like a kid. I had lots of friends and he’d lost most of his, as they’d gone to other colleges. I took pride in being more grown-up than him. Yes, I wanted a boyfriend and didn’t have one, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a girlfriend either…

I enjoyed college, it was tough but I worked as hard as I could. I still felt there was something missing though. I’m a big geek and even bigger gamer. None of my friends shared this passion. My dad had just bought a PS3 from where I had a weekend job at, Currys. Which I hated, by the way (the shop not the console). I was thrilled. We were also subscribed to Official PlayStation Magazine, a monthly magazine all about PlayStation, we’d been reading it since the PS2 was released. One day, I was reading through it and saw they had a Facebook group. I joined and starting talking to people on it, little did I know I would be friends with some of the people on there for life.

I wanted to find friends who would play with me online on my PS3 because I knew no one who enjoyed playing video games. Everyone was welcoming and helpful, especially a guy called Alex who threatened to kick my ass at Unreal Tournament 3, ha! Fat chance. The people who posted every day got to know each other quite well. We added each other on Facebook and spoke on MSN to each other too. A group of them enjoyed playing Metal Gear Solid 4’s multiplayer mode which is called Metal Gear Online. I got the game as I wanted to join in. I had no idea how to play though, so Alex and I did some online private sessions together, teaching me how to play and he trained me up well. They decided to make a clan, we all thought of names for it. Eventually we became the Rocket Minions. As for my characters name? I came up with RocketMinx, hence I am now known by most of my friends as “Minxy” or “Minx”. It’s very weird to hear people, who know me well, call me Laura now.

Our Metal Gear Online characters all saluting. (We do that in real life too).

Many people will say negative things about meeting people you know via the internet. The media goes nuts for stories about young girls tricked into meeting up with men who rape and kill them. Yes, this does happen and it is easy as a young girl to get drawn into things. It’s happened to me before when I was 15/16. Luckily I was sensible enough to know when to stop, some girls don’t and terrible things happen. But, I believe, this is far from the majority of cases. Alex, who I’d gotten to know very well over Facebook and we’d even gone as far as talking on the phone, wanted to meet up with me. He was going to be in Portsmouth, my home town, as he was seeing his friend Rob, who lives there, the night before and was staying over. I agreed but was very nervous. My parents were okay with it and on the day drove me to the seaside where we were to meet. They were going to walk the dog there anyway.

I was very scared in the car on the way there. What if we didn’t get on in real life? I was fairly sure he wasn’t going to be a creep or anything but that worry is always in the back of your mind. My mum reassured me, I was surprised at how fine she was with it all. I guess we were meeting in a public place and she knew all about Alex.

“Have fun! Call us if you need anything.” She said as she let me out of the car. I walked down the seafront, searching for someone who I’d only seen in pictures, how was I going to recognise him? Then I thought I saw him. We walked towards each other, trying to suss if we were the people we were looking for. My phone rang and that’s when we looked at each other and smiled, we were looking at the right people after all.

Your princess is in another castle

“Hi, I thought it was you,” I said in a quiet, nervous voice.

“I thought it was you too,” he said with a smile, much more confident. We walked along the seafront, the way I’d came. We begun talking about the stuff we usually spoke about: games. We never struggled for conversation, although I felt a tension between us, a good tension. Maybe it was a sign. Alex was shorter than I expected, sporting a Danger Mouse t-shirt and slightly hungover. It was a chilly July day so, like a gentleman, he kept trying to keep me warm. I was slightly apprehensive about how close he was getting to me, it’s not that I didn’t like him. He knew that I liked him and that he liked me. It was a dangerous situation since Alex was not single.

“How about I drive you home? I promise not to rape you,” he said, smiling. I burst out laughing and nodded. I shit you not, he actually said that.

As we walked back towards his car, he put his arm around me. I kept my arms crossed. Partly I was just trying to keep myself warm but I also felt slightly uncomfortable. I’d only just met him yet I was being treated like I was his girlfriend. We reached Alex’s car, I loved his old car. It was a classic, British Mini. British racing green in colour with a union jack roof. Plus, a small car for a small man seemed very fitting indeed.

Pretty soon, the Rocket Minions decided we’d like to meet up in London, in real life. I was excited by this idea, I felt like I knew them well enough to meet up with them. However, there was the small task of asking my parents permission.

We sat round a table together for dinner. My parents already knew about the minions but I would also be the only girl going. In reality, anything could happen. I told them the date we were planning to meet and where.

“Alex is going too and I’ve met him, his best friend, Matt, is one of the minions too, so at least I know two of them are okay.” I said, trying to sound as reasonable as possible.

“Well if that’s what you really want to do then of course you can go,” my dad said.

“Really?” I was relieved but surprised. They were really going to let me go to London by myself? I know they had let me meet Alex but meeting up with a group of six men in the capital city is quite different.

My friends however, we not so relaxed. They thought, for some weird reason, it was a very bad idea.

“What if you get raped?!” Alice and Bex, my two best friends, said.

“ I won’t! I’ve met up with one of them at least and he was fine.”

“Yeah but he could have been pretending, to lure you into a trap?” Alice said, concerned.

“I know, we’ll text you asking if you’re okay BUT you have to use a code word otherwise someone could have stolen your phone and just SAID you’re okay when actually you’re not.” Bex said in a serious tone.

I rolled my eyes and laughed. This was ridiculous, they were joking, right?

“Okay, if we text you ‘Are you ok?’ you have to text back ‘yes’ if you’re not and ‘red banana’ if you are.” Bex stressed the importance of it.

“Okay, okay, fine!” I said, laughing. Although coming away from that conversation, I wasn’t sure if they were seriously worried about my well-being or if they were trying to wind me up.

Then came the day to finally meet them all. I should probably introduce them to you, it’s a lot of names to remember, so sorry in advance. There was: Stewie, Iain (AKA Bossman), Alex, Johnboyy (or JB), Matt (or Moo) and Martyn (M). We were all so different yet so similar. Stewie and I were the youngest, I was 18 at the time and Stewie was 20. The oldest members, Johnboyy and Martyn, were in their early thirties, an age gap that didn’t really matter – we were all as childish as each other!

It was a cold December morning. I was up and ready to go London. I was worried if I looked okay, if we would get on, if everything was going to be okay. I was so nervous I couldn’t eat my toast. I felt sick, so I skipped breakfast and just stuck to tea. My dad drove me down to the station for the hour and a half long train ride to London. There were butterflies in my stomach the whole way there. Alex rung me when I was nearby, everyone was there now. Shit.

I had nothing to worry about.

When I arrived I met Alex and Stewie under the clock of Waterloo station and went downstairs with them to meet the others who were waiting in a coffee shop. I said hello to everyone, they were already getting on well with each other. We decided to get a move on now we were all there, we headed to the Trocodero, a huge arcade, perfect for us gamers. Johnboyy had bought a camera with him and was documenting the event.

The very first photo taken of us (JB took this pic). Alex, Stewie, me, Martyn, Iain and Matt (left to right).

Within a few minutes my nerves were forgotten about and I was chatting and laughing away with the boys. I realised, for the first time, I was actually surrounded by people like me. My two best friends are lovely, but they don’t get my hobby, okay, obsession. It was nice to have friends who shared my interests. We spent the day bowling (I was so bad, it was embarassing), playing arcade games (including dancing games and an awesome racing game where you sat in a car) and driving bumper cars. I think the bumper cars were the highlight of the day. We drove around, laughing like maniacs, ramming into each other. JB filmed most of the event whilst pissing himself laughing. I still look back at it and giggle. Martyn even found a dog-tag machine. We all made our own dog-tags, our MGO names enscribed into them with “Rocket Minions” underneath. Some of us never take those things off. We’d known each other a few hours but it felt like a few years. I did spent most of the day with Alex and Stewie, as I knew them the most and they were closest to my age. When evening time came, we sat down for a meal at O’neils before most of us had to start heading back to our home towns. We were sad to leave each other, I think. We all hugged goodbye and would definitely be seeing each other again.

I asked my mum later why she let me go to London to meet them by myself. My parents freedom has always amazed and shocked me. She said to me:

“I know this sounds terrible but if anything was going to happen to you, it would happen. We can’t protect you from everything.”

I agree with what she says. You can’t prevent terrible things from happening unless you are neglecting your child. My mum is so relaxed with me and my life because her mother was so strict and she hated it. She didn’t want to end up like her mum. At least I want to end up like mine.

As I said before, there were 7 minions. A lucky seven? No. We were missing someone and that person soon became clear. We started talking to and playing with a girl called Jen, also known as Jenivere. Jen had gone through a tough time. She’d been in a tough relationship which she had the courage to eventually end, even though that led to having to run away and move house, after being threatened with an air gun. She is one of the strongest women I know. I love her to bits.

Martyn had invited us all to stay at his house in Bath. We all accepted of course and planned it months in advance. We were all so excited about seeing each other and Iain was trying to arrange a meet up with the writers of Official PlayStation Magazine, as the magazine is based in Bath. It was going to be a weekend of games, food, drink, bowling and singing.

I was on the train on my way to Bath. Jen was supposed to be getting on the same train as me. It came to her stop where she was meant to get on. I looked around the busy carriage, trying to spot her. Then I noticed a tall woman with long dark brown hair, wearing a long leather coat and carrying quite a few things in her arms, one of those things was a double-ended lightsaber.

“Jen!” I called out and waved at her. She spotted me and came and sat next to me, struggling to fit all her bags everywhere. We were both nervous and quiet during our first face to face conversation. Then the boys rang us. Alex, Matt and Stewie were on a different train to us. We answered the phone and put it on speaker. Before we knew it, we were talking dirty to each other and making jokes about Jen’s “Double-ender”. The rest of the carriage looked at us like we were nuts…

When we’d all arrived at Bath station, the plan was to wind Martyn up. He was a very gullible man and fell for it hook, line and sinker. We got to his house and he showed us around and where we would be sleeping. We were all stood in his newly painted baby room, the baby at this point was still in his wife Michelle’s belly.

“We’re sorry Martyn, OPM said they couldn’t come down to see us this weekend.” Iain broke the news, we all attempted to remain poker-faced.

“Aww for fucks sake! That’s sucks, oh well…” Martyn said, upset.

Then we all started laughing.

“Not really mate, they’ve invited us to have a tour round the office!”

“…you bastards!”

We were all super excited, I had no idea about the tour, I thought we were just meeting up with them in their local pub.

The plastic drum kits and guitars were set up and we played some Rock Band before heading into the town centre of Bath. I had never been before and was taken aback by its beauty. I would love to live there someday if I could ever afford it. The old Roman Bath houses and cobbled streets somehow fitted into a bustling town centre. It was the perfect combination for me. Beautiful but busy. We made our way from Martyn’s place of a work, where he makes expensive model cars, to the main offices of Future Publishing.

A very confused tourist took this photo of us outside Future Publishing. Probably thought we were a bunch of weirdos.

We walked into reception. Martyn walked up to the desk and said:

“Hello we’re here to see Official PlayStation Magazine.”

“Who are you?”

“The Rocket Minions”

The receptionist still looked confused but rang OPM anyway.

“Hello Tim, there are some people here to see you, one second, who are you again? The Rocket…Minions…?” She put the phone down and smiled. “Okay guys, they’re expecting you. They’ll be down in a minute”.

A collective sigh of relief filled the room.

You have unlocked a new level…

The editor in chief, Tim Clark and editor, Ben Wilson, came down to shake all of our hands and take us up to where they all worked. Ben was fascinated in us as a group, where we all came from, what we do when we meet up, etc. We were a novelty, I mean that in the best sense possible of course. Maybe I mean we’re unusual, people are often surprised by us but it’s always a good surprise not an “okay you guys are fucking weird” sort of surprise. Anyway, they took us round the office and showed us where all the different gaming magazine and websites worked and who was who, then they took us into a small room.

A small room with a huge TV. Yes, they let us play a game that hadn’t been released yet on a 70” TV. It was so big in fact, the screen took up the whole of one wall. It was an incredibly huge privilege to be given. When we’d all played a little part of it (expect JB who doesn’t play games before release for some odd reason), we said our goodbyes and were going to meet them all at their local pub in an hour or so’s time when they’d finished work. We couldn’t believe our luck.

Later on in the pub we had a good long chat with some of them, we got to know them quite well and the fact they were interested in us too was lovely. The evening ended with a photo of us all and giving them a salute goodbye before starting to make our way back to the cars. JB had had a little too much to drink and was stumbling about. He started shouting at me (in a joking way) about how I should be looking after him otherwise he’s going to walk into a car or bus. Oh dear. We all laughed and laughed, still on a high from meeting some of our idols. We walked down Queen Street, “Hey JB! It’s your street!” Alex shouted. JB smiled, “Yeah get the fuck off my street you breeders!”

Something was telling me tonight was going to be interesting and boy, was it.

A very blurry photo of us with most of the OPM team!

That night included many games and much more booze. Alex, Matt and I stayed sober, each for different reasons. JB had already peaked, his body was pretty much 80 per cent alcohol by now. I took a break from the awful Singstar singing, or should I say, screaming, to take out my contact lenses. I was crouched down by my bag, looking for my lenses stuff when Alex approached me. He looked sad, “What’s wrong?” I asked, looking up at him, concerned.

“It’s my girlfriend, she won’t leave me alone, she keeps ringing me and texting me, asking where everyone is sleeping and stuff. I just wish she’d let me hang out with my friends without calling me every five minutes.” He looked like he was going to cry, I’d never seen him or heard him like this.

He sat down on the floor next to me and I gave him a hug. His girlfriend had depression, Alex spent his time looking after her and putting up with mental abuse, he barely had time for himself. We spoke some more when we heard a loud thump on the stairs.

It was JB. Crawling up the stairs.

“JB what the fuck!?” I laughed as he continued to crawl up the stairs bit by bit.

“I fell up the stairs!” He giggled, and continued to crawl on his hands and knees to the bathroom.

“Do you know what he did?” Alex said, “He threw a condom packet at me and said ‘well we won’t be needing this tonight will we Alex!?’ I’m a little bit scared!” Before we knew it we were laughing and smiling again. I disappeared when Jen appeared to have a serious talk with Alex.

Whilst upstairs I missed a lot of weird stuff that went on downstairs, luckily Matt filmed it all and stuck it on Youtube later. Jen had boasted she could lift JB up onto her back. Earlier that day, JB made it clear no one would be picking him up, he’s a big guy, way over six foot and although Jen is tall too, it was impressive task to pick him up. JB got drunk enough to be allowed to be picked up and sure enough, Jen got him on her back for a few seconds. Martyn declared everyone had finally let themselves go and now we were truly bonding. Some of us, more than others. We all sat round to watch “Anchorman”, Martyn, bless him, fell asleep on the sofa, Alex eventually told him to go to bed. JB had crashed hours earlier, he now laid in bed, fast asleep, with a condom on his face. The condom had miraculously disappeared by morning…

The next morning Alex had to leave because of work, and probably because of his girlfriend. We took him to the train station and sadly said goodbye before heading off to go bowling. We travelled in two separate cars. I was with Martyn, JB and Michelle was driving. I enjoyed my car journey, Michelle had been very quiet the whole weekend, she was probably fed up with us taking over the house and keeping her up at night, but during the car journey, she played Nightwish and sang along. She sang in a quiet voice, so you could hardly hear her, but I found something about that quite beautiful, I’m not sure why. JB was hungover. He wore sunglasses and kept quiet for most of the trip.

“McDonald’s will make me feel better, it always does,” he grinned.

When we arrived, it seems the other car had a much more fun trip than our quiet car ride. Iain had put on some crazy pirate music and they’d all been singing along, it was good to see everyone was enjoying themselves, apart from poor JB.

We did indeed go to McDonald’s for lunch. However, it didn’t make JB feel any better. In fact he felt worse. During bowling he spent most of his time outside. I was worried he was throwing up or worse but when he finally came back inside, he said he’d just been smoking. I am awful at bowling as you now know but we all had good fun, even Michelle seemed to sort of enjoy herself.

The rest of the day moved at a slow pace. We went back, played more games, a few of us suffering from lack of sleep. I think I slept a total of 5 hours across the whole weekend, although it didn’t seem to affect me too much. That evening we were singing “Never gonna give you up” together on Singstar as a group, two people sharing a verse each then we all sang the chorus together. I sang along with Stewie, we did an awesome job together. The video got recorded and we put it on Youtube to use later to “Rick-roll” our friends on the OPM group. We were all, apart from myself and Matt, very drunk. A few of us stayed up to watch Team America until it was just me, Stewie and Jen downstairs. They were cuddled together on the floor and I was lying on the sofa. I was going to fall asleep, my back was turned to them, when I heard something.

They were kissing. There’s no sound quite like it, I didn’t even have to turn around to confirm my suspicions. I felt weird being there now. I did a fake moan and stretch.

“Mm guys I think I’m going to head to bed now.” I rose up from the sofa and stretched again.

“Aww okay, night then Laura.” Stewie said, smiling.

I went upstairs to bed. I couldn’t tell anyone else about what I’d just seen.

Game over

Jen and I spoke about Stewie the next morning and when we all had to get our different trains that afternoon, Jen ran after Stewie’s train like in those old love films. I was worried where this was heading. Jen and I got the same train for half of the way, when we parted ways Alex phoned me.

I was seeing him next week.

“I’ve got something to tell you when I next see you.” I said.

“Me too.”

This was probably the first, but not the last, time I cried on a train.

This was also the last time we all saw Stewie in person. Stewie had been suffering from an old rugby injury, meaning it was hard for him to walk for long periods of time because his hips hurt. He had to stop working and was bitter about it and his ex, who he still had feelings for. I was close to Stewie, I hated seeing him sad and insecure. He was a good looking guy yet he thought himself unattractive, I have no idea why he thought that. Jen and Stewie met up outside of our friendship group, they got together but at the same time didn’t. Stewie decided very quickly he wanted nothing more to do with Jen, he accused her of saying things she apparently didn’t say and they fell out big time. He also fell out with Alex, claiming he’d made fun of his injury and laughed that he was going to end up in wheelchair. I have no idea whether Stewie lied or not, if Alex did say something like that, he wouldn’t have meant it in a horrible way and it would have been a mistake. Alex tried his hardest to figure out what he’d done wrong, he apologised, he text him, tried to call him but Stewie ignored him. I tried my very best for everyone to start liking each other again but it was too late.

The minions at Thorpe Park, posing with our favourite mag.

Before most of the above happened, the next trip we had together was Thorpe Park. Only Stewie didn’t turn up. We had a fantastic time and we said we missed him. Although I suspect Jen was happy he wasn’t there.

Friendships fell apart and I was unable to rescue them, Matt sided with Alex and the others just didn’t want to get involved. Stewie stopped talking to all of us one by one, he deleted me off every one of his social networks. Which I found odd, because JB said that Stewie said to him: “I really don’t want to lose Laura as a friend.” Guess he didn’t care that much after all.

Rumours went around that Stewie fancied me and that’s why he suddenly flipped. I don’t believe that’s true, I think he was just bitter from his accident and decided to take it out on us. I was angry at him but missed him at the same time, it’s hard losing a close friend.

1-up!

A girl called Holly started getting heavily involved in the OPM Facebook group. She joined in MGO with us, her character was a huge black man by the name of “CooperPrick”. Thus Holly became Coops. The first time she joined us in a full meet-up was a comic/video game/film convention in London by the name of MCM. She’d met a couple of the minions at a beach party Jen held, but most of us couldn’t make it. I’d just started University by this time and had to find my very first news story (I was studying Journalism) so MCM provided some great info about 3D technology, which was just starting to really develop. Holly had a great time and fit right in with the rest of us. Stewie earlier that day had sent a nasty message to Bossman about going to MCM without him. Even though we’d invited him and he said he didn’t want to come. There was no pleasing him. We put him to the back of our minds and Holly soon became our newest member.

After MCM, we went back to our beloved Trocodero. Alex and I snuck off to go make Holly some dog-tags. Then, over dinner, we presented them to her.

“We would like to welcome you into the Minions!” Alex announced, giving her the tags. Holly opened her mouth in shock and then smiled. She was very happy to join our team and we were happy to have her. Then there were 8 minions again. Back to normal.

The Rocket Minions have had many meet-ups since. From birthdays, to cosplay events and getting drunk on a beach, we’ve done it all. We’ve had our dramas, but true friends stick together, or so I like to believe. We don’t just stick to us 8 either, we’ve met up with many other people from the OPM group and we’re just as close with some of them! It’s hard to imagine what my life would be like without them, they are some of my best friends and I love them all. See? Meeting like-minded weirdos on the internet isn’t always bad.

Bonus round

Martyn’s wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl called Wren and they still live together in Bath.

Bossman is now “Mr Trophy” for a different PlayStation magazine and is soon moving to bath to work for a video games website. We’re all very jealous he gets to write about our favourite hobby for a living!

Jenivere is now with a man called Wez. She’s very happy and though she’s still dealing with a lot she’s still the life and soul of any party.

Johnboyy got together with my (ex) university house mate, Matt. Matt dropped out of uni and now lives with JB.

Moo is engaged to his girlfriend, Kelly. He’s enjoying life and shouting “MOOOOOOO!” at every opportunity.

Stewie has married a girl in America and seems a lot happier now. He talks to one or two of us and has since put the argument between him and Alex behind him.

Holly has finished university with a first (clever girl!) She’s currently traveling around the world and having a great time, though we miss her.

Finally, Alex and I have successfully got together, officially. We’re very happy and our friends have always given us the best support through some very difficult times.

I couldn’t have asked for a happier ending. Though, this is not the end.

Continue…?

10…

9…

8…

Should gamers have a say over video game storylines?

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Of course this questions comes over the huge, over the top, protest about the ending of Mass Effect 3. Now Eurogamer says this successful protest could pave the way for more game developers to listen to their fans. Is this a good thing?

I say no. Why? Because, let’s be honest, the general public are stupid. Great storytellers are rare and yes, the professionals don’t always get it right but if it was down to the public all the time, you’d get some really stupid ideas I’m sure. Listening to user feedback is always a good thing, it helps devs improve for next time but that’s not what we’re talking here. We’re talking about changing the entire ending to something or changing a character – core changes which I feel, should be left to the storytellers.

It’s a bit cruel to say the general public are generally stupid but have you been on Youtube? Have you read the comments on games websites and Metacritic? Exactly. Do you really want those people to be in charge of your favourites games? I didn’t think so. Plus would you expect film fans to protest to get an ending to a film changed? What about re-writing the ending of a novel? It simply wouldn’t happen and if we want video games to be seen as a special craft like other pieces of art, we should leave it to the artists.

Personally, I haven’t played Mass Effect 3 yet, let alone seen the ending so maybe I’m not the best judge. But if I didn’t like it? So fucking what? I wouldn’t care that much, it’s an insult to everyone who’s worked so hard on bringing a fantastic series to us – why would I criticise them? The ending to Rage was far worse, believe me, at least ME3 has an ending. I think people should remember and think: would I really be able to do a better job? If the answer is yes, go and write books or be a game developer. In the mean time, shut your bloody cake hole and get over it. It’s only a game.

Oh I wish I was a poet

He wasn't the most handsomely man but Poe was a great word smith

About a week ago, I went to the cinema with my boyfriend to watch the film The Raven, a film about a murderer killing people in the style of Edgar Allen Poe poems. Naturally, his poems were quoted throughout and it made me realise that I’d forgotten how talented the man was with words. I wish I had that power over words too.

Now I am a writer, a fairly good one I like to believe but the poets are the ones that hold the gatekeeper keys to the power of vocabulary. Poetry may seem old fashioned now to young readers, when I took a poetry module in university, I thought I was going to be bored stiff but actually I very much enjoyed it in the end. It gets you to focus on the words you use and their meanings – something most of us don’t do in our day to day lives. It’s what makes some writers great, although admittedly some over do it.

When I wrote poetry…it wasn’t that great, some people said they liked some of my poems but I don’t believe I have a natural talent for poetry and even though my passion was in my work – my teachers agreed with my analysis of my ‘talent’. If you want to read my bad attempts at poetry you can do so hereIn fact my best pieces were the couple of erotic ones I did (which you can’t read without signing up to the website unfortunately).

My writing is simplistic (feel free to tell me otherwise if I’m wrong!), I don’t tend to over write or use fancy words – I get to the point. Of course, not all good poetry has to be beautifully descriptive, I realise that, but I admire those who can write in such a way as I don’t think I’ll ever be able to. I’m okay at coming up with the few, odd witty phrases I guess, otherwise I would be a boring writer but to have something “quotable” would be lovely.

It’s like song lyrics. I love simple song lyrics that either sound beautiful to me or make me think. One of my recent favourites is “Follow your heart until it bleeds” from the amazing Evanescence purely because I believe people should do that – follow your passions and follow your love until you can’t bear to any more and that one line just sums up that feeling. Today I’ve had Robbie William’s “Superblind” stuck in my head. I was a fan of his last album, all but one song was written by him and some of his lyrics are very poetic. He’s a talented guy whether you’re a fan or not. In particular the line “What will they think if they think about me?” has been rolling around inside my mind. It’s not a great line, it’s not particularly poetic either but it makes me think. I’ve have always thought about how I will be remembered when I die, will I have made some impact in such a big world? Or, will people not think about you at all.  A part of me has always wanted to leave her make on this Earth, which is almost impossible but still part of me dreams to be widely known, even if just souly on the internet.

It sounds silly but I hope you see what I’m getting it. It’s a great talent to write something that makes people think, that people can themselves connect with and I hope I do that, even if I can’t do it with poetry. If I don’t – I’ll just have to improve won’t I?

Readers! I need your help!

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a Journalism student who’s in her final year. I’m currently planning to write two features for separate modules for University. One is about if Video Games are now regarded as art or not and the other is about whether marriage should be reformed or not. I know, they’re two quite different and random subject but if I could have your help it would be much appreciated. All you have to do if answer, and preferably share, these two surveys for me:

Are video games an art form?

Does marriage need a reform?

Thank you very much for your help. I hope to put these features on my blog after they’ve been graded.

Why Quantic Dream’s “Kara” could change the gaming world

If you haven’t already seen it, you should check out this video, showing off Quantic Dream’s brand new engine and what they can do with it. QD are of course the geniuses behind Heavy Rain which changed the way people thought about games forever. Games could be adult, with real emotion and a proper story – very close to your favourite film or TV drama. Well QD are taking that a hundred steps further and boy, it’s exciting.

In the video, Kara is a robot, her purpose is to serve humans whether that be by looking after the house, cooking or having sex with you. She is to be sold away and all the robots (for lack of a better word) all look identical. Kara is different though, after being booted up, she realises she has emotions, she doesn’t want to be sold because she thought she was alive. Naturally, the person watching over her being built freaks out and starts to disassemble her.  Kara is frightened, she doesn’t want to “die”, she cries and begs not be shut down. Just before it’s too late, the machine decides to let her go, on the condition she doesn’t start any more trouble.

An interesting plot is already in the making here – but I digress – what does this short clip show us gamers?

The adult theme still remains. It’s clear that QD is still making games for adults about important adult issues. I would say there’s still a lack of proper adult games on the market. Yes we have plenty of 18 rated games none of them really tackle anything of great importance. When was the last time you played a game that really made you think about your decisions and the consequences of your actions?

It’s highly emotional. If you didn’t feel yourself welling up at Kara begging for her life then what the hell is wrong with you!? It’s clear QD have picked an incredible actress here as she captures Kara’s fear and sadness perfectly. It also helps that QD are now capturing the voice, face and body motion all at once instead of separately, which is what most studios currently do. Even the voice-over of the man building Kara is patronising in an appropriate way. You feel sorry for Kara , even though she’s not a real person, you feel sorry for her, sorry for the fact she’s being used because when you look at her face, you see a woman and not a robot. The way the voice-over calls her “honey” and “baby” helps add to the creepy tone. It reaffirms the notion she is a woman, a human being, being sold off, even though we know she’s not real – the fact she can feel human emotions pulls the audiences heart-strings.

The graphics are stunning. This is running real time on a PlayStation 3! If you look back at Heavy Rain, at the time it was a massive break-through in terms of how humans in games were animated, Kara puts that to shame. Kara looks real, her eyes, her facial movements, even her tears. It’s amazing to think people are considering a PlayStation 4 when this is what we can do with a PS3 and I bet this isn’t even the limit.

A comparison of the actress who plays Kara (Valorie Curry) and her computer generated counter-part. (Image from officialplaystationmagazine.co.uk)

It’s a shame this demo is only to show off their new engine and isn’t a trailer for a game in development. Kara and her story have real potential to become a game much like Heavy Rain. But, I don’t think is the last time we’ll see Kara. Quantic Dream have shown us what the games of the future look like, and they look scarily real.

Charity: Do you know where your money is going?

Giving money to charity, that’s a good thing, right? It means you aren’t selfish, you care about others and you want to stop animals going extinct, children being killed and cancer. Are you actually helping though? Or are you just lining a very rich CEOs pocket?

As most of you will have seen, a campaign called Kony 2012 that has spread like wildfire across the internet today. Naturally, that campaign has come under fire itself (surprise, surprise). A website that “rates” and tracks charities (to see how good or bad they are) lists the amount of money that goes to the CEOS of Invisible Children. Now as you can see they pay themselves almost $90,000 a year. That’s a lot but I’ve seen worse. CEOs of charities have been known to pay themselves MUCH more than that. Here is a list from The Guardian, showing just how much very well-known charities pay themselves. See the Cancer Research UK one? Shocking, right? Now I’ll admit that list is a bit dated but it proves that a lot of your money is going to the wrong people.

Something else that was pointed out in the news and on the radio a few months ago was that charities that use people in the street to get you to sign up to give money to charity very rarely cover their costs – let alone actually help the charity they’re supporting! It’s a sad situation, what do we do if we want to save children in Africa but don’t want to pay some rich guy to just simple write letters?

There’s always something you can do. Raise awareness. Ring your government to say: “Hey, this is wrong”, like so many people did when SOPA was going around. If you fight for your internet, fight for people to survive too. Sign petitions – some people say they’re not effective but they show how many people care! It’s important to stand up for what you believe in, but that doesn’t mean giving your money away. Look at the women who fought for their rights – they didn’t ask for peoples money to fund “fund-raisers” they went out in the streets and said “This is wrong, we want change”, they fought for it with their lives. If you something to change that strongly, it is possible, you just need to fight hard enough for it.

Now back to the Kony campaign, it’s not the best charity in the world, after all it’s like when the US went after Gaddafi and Saddam. Yes they were both terrible dictators but was the situation solved in the right way? That’s an argument we could have all night. On one hand, they were people that needed to be brought to justice, but they were  in hiding at the time they were captured/killed. They weren’t doing evil any more, which is apparently the same situation as Kony. He’s in hiding because he knows people are after him but does that mean we should just leave him? I don’t believe so. If we leave him he could come back and continue what he was doing. Even so, sending in part of an army might not be the best solution and I don’t think any one knows a better solution. From what I can gather, the US are working with the Ugandan army to help bring him to justice so it’s not like the US are just marching in and doing what they want like with Hussein. However, any one who’s read anything about Uganda knows their army is a rather evil army within itself. Unfortunately, with the troubles in Uganda, it’s not the best country to support. Their entire government needs changing too, not just the evil people like Kony. Uganda is full of Kony’s I am sure.

Even so, raising awareness of Kony AND charities such as Invisible Children is a good thing. Why? Because it reminds us that 1) the world is full of evil people that need to be stopped 2) charities are not always good, nor do they always support the best causes. Both of these things need to be exposed, the good, the bad and the ugly truth we may not want to know. If you want to save the world – go to Africa yourself, help build schools and provide clean water. Or, if you can’t, give to small charities, not big corporations. It’s almost impossible for them to prove where your money is going but most of the time you’d be better off giving your money to a man living on the streets of London and even he may be a con-man.