Category: general

So I wasn’t far off on my guess of what Jack Thompson would say to the Florida Bar Association…

Yesterday, I posted that lots of people from Penny Arcade have been complaining to the Florida Bar about Jack Thompson and I jokingly predicted that he would respond to them in the same way he responds to gamers who contact him: with threats. I never imagined that he really would do such a thing. Well, guess what? He did!
In a message posted on gamespot, Jack Thompson addresses the Florida Bar. The message ends:

Now, let me be clear. Any Bar complaint coming from these morons arising out of the above incident is baseless and itself constitutes a violation of a specific federal civil rights statute.
If The Bar proceeds with any of these, it does so at its own peril. The Bar paid me once. I am certainly willing for it to pay me again, along with others.
Regards, Jack Thompson

Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I can only assume that attempting to intimidate the Bar Association can’t be a good career move.
The Advanced Media Network has some slightly different quotes, one of which states,

If America’s law enforcement officials allow pimple-faced geeks who use death threats to drive people of faith and with values from the public square, this country will not long endure.

I’m not sure why the two sites have slightly different letters from Thompson, unless he sent out two versions. However, it is interesting that he implies that not only are the people who oppose him “pimple-faced geeks” (but if they are pimple-faced, then aren’t they teens and therefore not to blame for their actions because of playing so many murder simulators??), but he also implies that they are people without faith or values. Now it goes without saying that Jack Thompson thinks people who play videogames are without values, but now they are without faith? Too bad there isn’t some sort of Christian Game Developers Conference, or that Christians can’t use Halo to witness to gamers…

It is also worth noting that Jack has updated his website, StopKill.com with lots more of his propaganda. I recommend reading it to see where this guy is coming from and the numerous inaccurate statements he makes.

I can’t open my browser without hitting a Jack Thompson story

Man, everyone has jumped on the Jack Thompson bandwagon, haven’t they? I wonder if this is the new All Your Base? Of course there’s the whole deal with Penny Arcade. While I like Penny Arcade a lot, I read it every day — yes I know that they only update 3 days a week, but that’s how much I like it! ,, however, you don’t mess with Penny Arcade! Hell, I’ve probably just unleashed a hoard of rabid fanboys by just linking to them!

So now, it seems that the people on the Penny Arcade forum have pestered the Florida State Bar Association and now poor old Jack is under investigation

If he gets a letter of reprimand, his response will be something like this: “dear idiot: you initially contacted me. stop, or else. got it?

Jack Thompson, author

Jack Thompson, noted videogame hating, pithy email writing attorney has a book coming out. The title of the book is Out of Harm’s Way. The first chapter is available as a pdf and it seems to be an autobiography. Most of the first chapter is devoted to his conversion to Christianity. The odd part, however, is the the first before you get to that, Thompson has written a page and a half about Howard Stern, once saying that, “His new name should be Coward Stern.” Then we get three pages about an early encounter he had with Janet Reno (who Thompson once claimed was a closeted lesbian and would be unfit to be elected because someone might try to blackmail her about her sexuality… Except the fact that we know about this alleged incident seems to imply that it would be hard to blackmail her because Thompson already “outed” her…).

All in all name calling and offering a very unflattering portrayal of someone don’t seem very Christian to me…

Regardless, it once again raises an interesting dilemma. I really really want to read this book, but I also really really don’t want to give Thompson any of my money. Which will win out, my morbid curiousity or my morality? I guess time will tell once it comes out at the end of the year.

I get sent stuff for free!

Well, all my time spent watching Kathy Griffin beg for free stuff on her reality show is paying off. I got an email the other day from the developer of Professor Fizzwizzle and a link to download the whole game for free. If it wasn’t a good game, I would just ignore it and not mention it. However, Professor Fizzwizzle is pretty darn awesome.

It is a pretty straight-forward puzzle game where you control the Prof. who has to push boxes, roll barrels, use magnets, and other devices so that he can get from one teleporter to the other. The settup is that the good Prof made some robots but accidentally turned the switch to evil, so occasionally the evil robots show up to chse around Fizzwizzle while he tries to get through the level.

The game is really well made. I’m currently obsessed with the windows version but there are also versions for mac and linux. The “story” doesn’t get in the way and, like many of my favorite games, is really just a pretense for the action. The game starts off easy (incredibly so, actually!) and eventually gets pretty darn hard. However, if you get stumped, there is a neat solution feature which actually plays through the level for you but can be stopped at any time so you can take over if you figure it out once the game starts it for you.

So go buy Professor Fizzwizzle! …and maybe that way I’ll get more free stuff!!!

The Games I Play…

I’ve been playing Max Payne lately. THe bullet time, while interesting, is kind of pointless. I found it odd and gimmicy. However, it was fun.

Over Labor Day weekend, City of Heroes gave a free weekend of play, so I got absolutely nothing done that weekend.

I’ve applied to the SCMS‘s conference in Vancouver. I don’t really want to go, but it seems like everyone in my department thinks it is hot shit, so I want to go just to show them that I’m not just sitting on my ass playing games all day! Luckilly it is at the hotel across the street from the DiGRA conference, so I know exactly where it is if I get accepted!.

The main game I’m playing is still Urban Dead. Besides the fact that it is about zombies, they are still adding features to the game, so it is intersting to see a game in progress and how the game changes as new features are added. …and plus it is about zombies…

First day of class…

Today was the first day of class here at IU. I’m back to teaching the dreadfully dull public speaking, but only for the semester. At the end of the first day of class, I always go around and have the students say what they know more about than anyone else in this room and, of course, I always say, “I’m Bryan-Mitchell Young and I know more about videogames than anyone else in this room.” I always get an interesting response, mainly in the form of people asking me what games I play. Today, however, I said that I do ethnography on videogame players and then asked if anyone knew what ethnography was and in both classes at least one person asked if it had anything to do with videogames. Damn kids. Like it’s my job to teach them or something… oh, wait!

Since it was the first day of class, it was short and I found myself having more free time on my time than normal. Of course I filled it with playing Urban Dead. Or rather, I spent it checking out if my character was OK. Since you have a limited number of moves a day and build up one move every half hour, I don’t want to waste them, but I want to make sure my character hasn’t been attacked by any zombies. So we talk about pervasive gamines, but I wonder if this is some sort of pervasive games, but it seems like we the players have made this game pervasive. We check on the safety of our characters, how secure our safehouse it (and no I won’t tell you where it is, you damn zombie sympathizer!). Someone set up a wiki where people update intelligence and strategy. We’ve taken to looking for the websites and messageboards of other players to see their strategy and working with other groups of human survivors.

Then I think about the gamers I wrote a paper about last year that played Counter-Strike and Starcraft. They would email each other about gaming. They would plan ahead on when they could play. Is that any less pervasive? What about the time I spent looking online for Euchre strategies? Or for a good walkthrough for Max Payne?

I understand that pervasive games are typically about fictional web sites and fictional emails, but are those types of games any less pervasive, any less than the way I am playing Urban Dead? I don’t think so.

lazy days of summer…

Not much going on. Doing some reading. I finished up First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. The first part is good. There is some good stuff in the ludology and narratology stuff for people that have no info on it. The second half, however, how you say… sucks… Note to authors: Rather than tell me how cool your art project is, why not just show me your cool art project. Talk about dancing about architecture… Don’t get me wrong, the art projects all sound cool, but I didn’t enjoy reading about them.

On the gaming front, I’m playing Urban Dead. Zombies and gaming? Two great tastes that taste great together!

We Could Be Heroes…

I’m probably only the millionth person to make that pun, but oh well…

I’ve been playing City of Heroes lately — I’m a level 11 technology blaster. Thankfully, it is only a 21 day trial because otherwise I would flunk out of school!

I tried Anarchy Online back when they made their basic game free, but I only lasted about an hour before I gave up. I couldn’t figure out what to do or where to go — and since they just made it free, everyone on there was just as clueless as I was! So City of Heroes is my first extended experience with a MMORPG. As a comic book geek, I couldn’t resist (check out my eBay auctions! I need rent money!!!), but although I enjoy the game and like the world, there are some interesting aspects.

For those that don’t know anything about it, basically, you are a superhero of your own making and you get assigned missions and defend the normal citizens. Some of the missions, most in fact, require you to team up with other heroes to successfully complete the mission. I’m sure most of the other MMORPG’s do that too, but, at least in the beginning, you don’t know anyone playing the game, so you have to ask strangers to team up with you. When you think of it, for computer nerds and comic book geeks, this is kind of odd. The game is basically forcing you to talk to strangers. I don’t like to ask people in a store for help! It creates a very odd situation where you are forced to socialize and work together to survive, but at least in my case there is no bonding at all. I’ve played 3-4 hours a day for a couple weeks and still don’t know anyone. So am I just anti-social, or is this a situation where we are learning to work with anyone without having any personal bonds? I won’t even get into all the waiting around that goes on…

Another interesting aspect, which, again, I’m sure is common to many MMORPG’s is that around every corner there are bad guys. In City of Heroes, they are mostly gangs and are usually robbing someone. However, sometimes they are just standing around, but you can attack them any way. That is kind of an odd message: “Regardless of what you happen to be doing, if you are a certain type of person, it is not only ok to attack you, but it is GOOD to do so.”

Then there are also the citizens. They are totally defenseless. Without you they will be eternal victims. Sure it’s a game, but it would be nice if these automatons had some sort of agency. I might be interesting if they combined City of Heroes with the Sims.

OK, well, I have over 2000 points in debt that I need to work off! Spoon!

Now that we’ve decided that no one knows what cinematic means…

I got a couple interesting comments on my last post about “cinematic” and I’ve tried read a couple things that might relate, but nothing to change my opinion that cinematic is really a vague and nearly meaningless term. I think that a lot of it has to do with perception. I often read people writing that a game is “just like being in a movie” and I really don’t know what that means. I am much more likely to feel like I am actually THERE rather than in a movie. Is that a different way of experiencing the world or is that just a difference of word choice???

Moving on from that issue, I’ve been thinking about another term that gets thrown around. This time I’ve been thinking about “medium.” I’m not sure that this term actually means anything. Even if it does, is it a useful term? Are videogames a medium??? My thing is that I always like to think of videogames as kinds of games. So are cards a medium? Are board games? I don’t think they are. If they aren’t, then why are videogames? Is this a useful distinction to make???? Any thoughts? Should we ban “medium” from our thoughts and vocabulary from our hearts and minds????