Famous girl gamer used in viral marketing campaign for 'Repo Men' movie

Wired, Universal Pictures, and Lone Shark Games launched an alternate reality game combined with a manhunt. It’s connected to the upcoming March 19 release of the movie Repo Men. In the futuristic movie, characters who have received replacement organs from “the Union” fall behind on payments have to go on the run from Repo Men. In the new game, four real people have gone on the run, and it is the job of the public to find them.

via Wired.com What’s This Crazy #repomen Thing on Twitter?

Ciji Thornton (StarSlay3r) is one of the very few professional female gamers out there, and I was personally excited  that she was picked to participate in this viral marketing campaign. She’s already been in two gaming reality shows and proven her acting chops, so if anything, this will only further her career…. and maybe get her an acting gig? It’s all about the connections, lady.  Ciji’s got that punk rocker/”guitar hero” look (complete with tattoos) that works well with zombie movies, futuristic post-apocalyptic flicks,  and if any studio wants to make a film revolving around video games, she is a natural shoo-in.  And acting wouldn’t necessarily prevent her from gaming….

Ciji_with_Guitar_jpg_650x10000_q85Says StarSlay3r on her website:

“I did this for the opportunity to take a break from my normal life. I’m hoping to meet new people, experience new things, and experience life on the run to the fullest extent. I’m going to be keeping a notebook with me at all times so that I can log everything that happens so that I can share my story upon my return. I hope the fact that I have a decent size fan base will help me to make it the full 30 days by having them tweet misdirecting information, planting moles in the repo men chat rooms and leaving messages to warn me when the repomen are getting close to figuring out my location. I’m very thankful that I was one of the 4 chosen out of hundreds of applicants and I can’t wait to start my adventure!”

Sadly, after having been on the run since February  25, Ciji’s journey ended yesterday.  Ms. Thornton was caught at a skating rink by Geneva Conventional who is now $15,000 richer, thanks to grabbing not just Ciji, but another runner named Usman Akeju. (Woah, this viral marketing campaign is giving out money!?) Ciji’s capture is disappointing for a couple of reasons:

One, Ciji cannot win seven grand now that she has been captured, and we know she has a daughter back in Michigan. Cue the Les Miserables song “Castle on a Cloud”…. j/k!

Second, the clue that led Geneva Conventional to the skating rink to capture these two, was just for Usman Akeju who had an “assignment” there. It appears that Ciji was just tagging along. That sucks. That’s what you get for being friendly, Ciji!

And… for those of you who want to get involved in the manhunt and win some money before the movie comes out, go here to enroll, …..and  here is a more in depth post by the Alternate Reality Gaming Network about Ciji’s capture (including links to podcasts and the video of Geneva Conventional talking about her experience).

Gaming industry targets women with 'Project Runway' game

Victoria's Secret supermodel Heidi Klum waves ...

"give me moar money!" says Heidi Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Last Friday saw the unveiling of Nintendo’s newest game for the Wii console titled “Project Runway”.  The game is a collaborative effort between Nintendo, Atari, The Weinstein Co (producers of the Project Runway TV show) and Tornado Studios. I don’t know whether to be insulted by this development, or pleased, as this game is clearly just for the girls.  It doesn’t help when other media outlets say “This could be the future of gaming for women“. A fashion game based off of a reality show? Please! 40% of gamers are girls, and we were doing just fine before this game came along. If anything, this game ruins our cred as gamers.

First off, I am a little bit offended that this game is about fashion considering this will be “the future of gaming for women”. This game is clearly trying to get new girl gamers, and ignoring the already established gals that game. If any gaming company were to look at the games most popular with females, they would see that we like puzzle games. Just look at the  casual gamers that like internet based games like Text Twist, Bejeweled and Mahjong Tiles, to DS games like Professor Layton. Did anyone in the industry stop to think about why the horror shooting games with puzzles (Tomb Raider series, Resident Evil series, Bioshock series) are more popular with girls than those that do not have puzzles?

Second, I am a little offended that this game is being marketed to 6 – 12 year old girls, and that this game is all about fashion  and models on runways (Super model Heidi Klum is also in the game). Do we really need to make little girls that play video games feel bad about their weight? Do we need to start giving them body image problems when they are 6 years old (if we don’t already)? It is the 21st century…. why are we still boxing our genders? (Down with the system I say, quietly….)

Jonathan Anastas, Atari VP, was quoted telling the press:

“We really believe the core target audience is girls 6-12. Girls are starting to buy their own clothes around 13 and 14 and as they are learning to make their own fashion choices this is a way for them to interact and participate with style.”

via Victoria’s Secret “Angel”, Heidi Klum, to be in Wii game

Third, if I were to be one of those people that would use video games as a scapegoat, I could blame this game, and other games like it, for the vapid consumer society we live in and for the whole American way of living beyond our means.  If I could say that shooting games are responsible for all those school shootings, why wouldn’t a game like this be responsible for Confessions of a Shopaholic and our recession?

Fourth: Think about it. The reality TV show “Project Runway” has drama and suspense. Contestants don’t like each other. The judges are cruel. Does this game have any of the qualities that make a reality series good? No.

As for playing this game, of course I will play it  (will I buy it? No…). For the record, I love games that let you design costumes  or have amazing character customization (and I will admit I spend hours on designing clothes/characters within those games), but for a game that is only about clothes and fashion?  It will get boring and repetitive…. just like any ol’ shooting game.

I have been nicotine free for over a month

Antarctica: Marlboro Reds

You disgust me, cowboy killers! Image by elisfanclub via Flickr

As the title suggests, I have not had a cigarette in over a month, and all cigarette smoke is now disgusting to me. I attribute my success to the rigid control I exerted on my environment, but let it be known that the subliminal messages I got from TV shows were also helpful (both 30 Rock and Community had “quit smoking” references during my worst pangs).

My cessation of cigarettes was a multi-month long operation that began a week before the new year. I’d been talking about quitting smoking for years, … but I was “waiting” for the right opportunity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why I don't care about Starcraft II

Bubble Bobble flyer

Image via Wikipedia

So College Humor has a cute video involving Starcraft II creatures dancing.  By all accounts, I should have gotten into Starcraft.  It fits all my criteria, it takes place in the future, has a compelling story line, it is a PC game, and a strategy game.  Sounds perfect, but while watching the “Zerg Lord of the Dance” video yesterday, I had an epiphany as to why I never got into Starcraft, or RTS games generally.

First, the units are too few. If I am going to wage war, I want massive amounts of soldiers.  This is my rule in life, as it is in video games.

Second, when waging a battle you should be able to utilize the terrain around you. If you are attacking, or defending, you would use hills or buildings differently. I never saw this in any Starcraft videos, yet in any strategy game back to the hex-based days, you know that when you are defending you want to be on higher terrain so your artillery/archers/space marines/whatever have better line of sight.

As far as strategy games go, Starcraft just isn’t that great any more. It was great, back before computers were able to handle the complex task of thousands of units and a 3D battlefield, but looking at it now, Starcraft 2 looks like Bubble Bobble compared to a real-time tactical game like Total War.  For those unfamiliar with Starcraft, it is about efficient use of resources more than the tactical use of troops. In rock-paper-scissors-Starcraft, if your enemy comes at you with rocks (siege tanks) you want to counter with masses of paper (zerglings).   Real Time Strategy games are to Real Time Tactical games what Skate or Die is to Tony Hawk – an abstraction, for processor’s sake.

Despite its faults, at least Blizzard will make sure Starcraft II is done before they release it, unlike the last Total War game.

[youtubevid id=”E2TmbmtmxHw&feature=related”]

Women's History Month is insulting

Suffragettes - Labor Day 1913 (LOC)

"Omg, can we vote already? Or wear pants yet? It's now the 20th century!" Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

I was browsing through a list of free lectures in Chicago when it hit me that I was doing so during “Women’s History Month“,  …..and I subsequently became enraged. Why do women have their own history month? Why do women need their own history month? I know what women’s impact on our society has been, thank you very much. Men’s inability to resist our naked bodies has been made very clear in the Christian “apple” parable. Who do you think is responsible for the creation of the 7 day week, and the 4 week month, eh?

The fact that women need their own history month is incredibly insulting….   we are the majority sex on the planet, but we are still treated like a minority. Every time a female becomes the first of her gender to occupy a position of authority, it is  noted in the history books.  Really, gentlemen? Are you that pathetic that it has taken thousands of years for you to share your power? Are you that greedy, and blind to all the problems of modern society? Stop making us women feel bad…. a history month feels like you’re pissing on our legs and telling us it is raining.

That rant aside, I was very pleased to see that no library or cultural center in Chicago is treating Women’s History Month with any extra pomp or circumstance by having more “feminist” lectures than usual.  Caffeine Theatre will be performing plays by Emily Dickinson at the Newberry Library at the end of the month,  and the Assistant Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs will give a talk on the role of women in Egyptian history next week at the Chicago Cultural Center.