A Reality Show about Gamers?

Family watching television, c. 1958

TV has come so far....

Video games have been around for more than 50 years, and reality television for 30 years, so it is only natural that one day there would be a reality show about gamers. (Why it took so long for video games to become mainstream when cellphones became mainstream almost overnight, I don’t know.)

The only reality television show out there about gamers is WCG Ultimate Gamer, so being the gamer that I am, of course I would  watch it. How could I not, when there is nothing else to watch on the internet?

My boyfriend refuses to watch it, calling it “WCG the biggest loser”. Harr di harr harr.  His sentiments are tame compared to chat rooms and message boards. There is much hate for this show on the internet, and I am baffled by  its existence. You’d think the nerds, freaks, and geeks would enjoy mainstream culture catering to them with a reality show.

I get a kick out of the show though, because I enjoy watching real people  (or in this case competitive gamers) face challenges, come to self-realizations in front of cameras, deal with confrontation and stress, be drunk most of the time … and “be put to the ultimate test”.  Here is a show about a group of people who think they are the best at my favorite form of entertainment (aww snap!). Watching this reality show is a no-brainer for me (WCG, and The Colony, baby).

WCG Ultimate Gamer is now in its second season, and as I write this, the 3rd episode aired days ago. I didn’t want to write about the show at first, because I tried out for it (you can read about that here), and became disillusioned when I was asked to perform only on an Xbox. I think some producers heard my complaints as this year, Tekken 6 (arcade style) and Mario Kart & Sports Resort for the Wii, were played this season. While the inclusion of other consoles perked me up, it also soured me since I absolutely own at those two games.

But enough exposition –

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Indie Fallout 3-inspired movie in the works

I have long been saying that Fallout 3 was an amazing game, if not one of the best ever made. From the story line, to the creatures, to the post-apocalyptic  environment, the game play to the music (I cannot decide if “Mighty Mighty Man” is my favorite song, or if “I don’t want to set the world on fire” is ), to showing women have hair above their lip too… oh my lord, just talking about Fallout 3 gets me excited in a variety of ways.  It’s not just me though, that adores this game in a borderline fanatical way. Check out this fan movie inspired by Fallout 3 titled “Desert Story”:

[youtubevid id=”dw1Vh9Yzryo”]

You may be wondering why at the end of the film the two females didn’t go with the male hero, off into the wilderness. The Fallout 3 universe includes people who are not cookie – cutter good or bad, or who think logically- these two females decide to stay in their home. Most likely they were raped, mistrust all people except for themselves (because how could you get by in that world looking like they do without becoming prostitutes or sex slaves?) , and figure they’d be better off without the male hero.

If you want to be good in Fallout 3, you have to accept that sometimes you will save bad people from bad people, or saving people doesn’t necessarily influence their decisions in any way. Even if you saved two females,  that doesn’t mean they’d join your party. By staying with each other, the freed  “prostitutes”  are unintentionally feminist,  as opposed to the hero who is  intentionally feminist by treating the hookers as people.

I now have a small writer crush on Tim Pape  (why didn’t I think of this, dammit!).  Wild Gunmen has an interview with the Papes here, where it is revealed there will be 2 more episodes in the same vein, and a feature length movie that is already “partially funded” titled Black Velvet.  (oh, what would I do to be cast in this?!)  For another interview with the Papes, check out Co-Optimus.com, where the Papes mention the next two short installments are inspired by Zelda and The Princess Bride (<3!!!!!).

Another fan movie worth checking out is Law Abiding Engineer. Suck on that, Ebert!


My FarmVille Epiphany

FarmVille

That duck looks too happy. Image via Wikipedia

When I first saw FarmVille on Facebook, I immediately shunned it. At one moment in time, it felt like all of  my female Facebook friends were doing it,  so therefore I wanted to have nothing to do with it. I took the saying “If  all your friends are doing it, would you?” to heart. I am a skeptic of the unanimously popular.

I freely admit that as a grown up, this now makes me a jerk.  What can I do though?  It’s my initial gut reaction. Also, inside my head, there’s a 15 year old male gamer,  scoffing at the farm game, and probably questioning my sexuality. Real gamers don’t play FarmVille, right? Even if you’re playing for an hour a day, every day, you could never EVER be a “gamer” because you played Farmville. Those are the facts of gaming life, I am pretty sure.

A couple days ago, I happened to read “Nice Guys, Stressed Ladies, And The Curious Ways They Play Video Games” by Leigh Alexander, and it made me want to play Farmville. It was this quote, in particular:

“It just feels really good to know that I’m on top of things,” she tells me, chewing on her straw a little nervously as she explains why she’s so into FarmVille. “I like to know my farm is in good shape and, like, everyone can see it.”

The article goes on to mention how games are used as escapism, or control, or a coping mechanism, or some other psychological reason proving we are still so tortured despite our tremendous technology…. (except, I added the weird philosophical wane on technology at the end). What I am trying to say is, I too, want to feel like I have my shit together….and  with FarmVille, I can knock out being social, AND get that the fake accomplishment/satisfaction feeling from having an orderly farm. And everyone seeing that I have an orderly farm. I have healthy cows. My chickens lay nice eggs. My crops are fertile. I have accomplished something very important today.

… But then I pull up the FarmVille website, and I am instantly terrified. I can’t click on anything in the page. This is a game…? It doesn’t look like a game. The website tells me nothing… Except… if I want more information, I must sign into Facebook.

Here is the other part of the dilemma:  I can’t sign into Facebook, because then everyone will know that I am now playing FarmVille.  I am a proud member of the  “I dont care about your farm, or your fish, or your park, or your mafia!!!”  Facebook group. Or, at least that is what I tell myself, the “myself” that has been influenced by gaming males….  But enough about males: either way, can I go back on my digital word? Do I need to create a fake Facebook account so I can play FarmVille? Why do I even care that much about FarmVille to consider making a fake account!?  (Why, FarmVille, why have you eaten at my psyche like so?)

As if on cue, last evening I stumbled upon this NPR story on older female players and “Bejeweled” (…which also happened to mention FarmVille):

“What you find is a lot of women who are both working and raising children just have no time for relationships,” says Misiek Piskorski, who teaches about online social networking at the Harvard Business School. “But it’s not like they wouldn’t want to spend more time having these relationships. It’s just really, really hard. And this allows them to basically sustain these relationships.” Piskorski says the games aren’t taking away from face-to-face interactions. They’re just replacing time these women would’ve spent watching TV or some other media. And for busy King, that’s good enough.

I played Bejeweled (and Mah Jong tiles, JT’s Blocks, Text Twist and many many others) during my free periods all through high school, so I am all Bejeweled out at this point in my life. But NPR, mentioning FarmVille when I am already wrestling with my decision of the game? Are you listening to my thoughts, NPR?

I do like that these social networking games are the new way of “doing lunch”, or “grabbing some coffee”, but should I replace actual face time with digital time?   I can reach more of my friends by interacting with them digitally, but do I lose something when sacrificing actual face to face interaction? Is this a trade-off I want to make?  As I age, I wonder if I really need to keep up this “gamer cred”. What is the point in impressing the “young male gamers” in my head when I am in my mid-20’s?  If I play a game to relax and unwind, does it matter what kind of game it is?

My boyfriend jokes that he will break up with me if I got addicted to FarmVille, so I guess gamer cred still lives on at my age… Maybe I should stick to Team Fortress 2 as my “coping mechanism“…..


Does Steam care more about pirates than its customers?

An in-game screenshot of Crysis, powered by th...

I've been watching The Pacific, which made me want to play "Crysis" (Image via Wikipedia)

I don’t want to rain on the good Steam press parade happening right now (Steam recently announced it would start distributing their games on Macs),  but while I was moving this weekend, Steam let me down.  I  did not have internet access from Friday to Monday because I was moving. To someone addicted to Team Fortress 2, four days is a long time. I tried to fill my FPS void with Crysis, thinking it would still play without an internet connection. I don’t need an internet connection to play Crysis, right? Wrong!

Booting up Crysis in Steam’s offline mode couldn’t, and wouldn’t happen, because Steam didn’t believe that I had an authentic copy of Crysis, never mind that I had purchased it through Steam.  How is this possible? I’ve played Crysis countless times before, and the game was authenticated when I first got it. How could Steam let me down, now, in my hour of need, when it is supposed to be the savior of PC gaming? At the time, I felt like I was being punished, maybe for not getting Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse.  If only that were the truth!

Now that I have internet access, I did some googling, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Steam might be paranoid:

“In general, it seems DRM restrictions in gaming are becoming more intrusive and creating problems for genuine customers, rather than the pirates who happily bypass these measures every time,” Boyd said. “PC gaming should be about portability – what use are games you can’t play at the airport or on a train if you can’t get online?”

via Hackers Crack Ubisoft always-online DRM controls

But wait, doesn’t Steam have digital technology that makes DRM obsolete?  Then why I couldn’t play Crysis?


I could have been the classy 'Snooki', named Fruzsi

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 12:  (L-R) TV Perso...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I tried out for a reality TV show about two weeks ago. No, not Chicago’s version of Jersey Shore … but the World Cyber Games Ultimate Gamer Season 2.

Sadly, I did not make it. Combined with my nerves and limited play time on the console, my Xbox gameplay left much to be desired…and as I found out after the fact, Ultimate Gamer is really “Best Xbox Player” and not the “Best Gamer across all platforms”.  The show shouldn’t call itself “Ultimate Gamer” if it doesn’t include games from all platforms.

I understand why the emphasis  is on the Xbox because this show is created by World Cyber Games…  and in all honesty, I don’t compete in tournaments (just a gaming columnist here) so maybe if I took a spot on the show it would have pissed off some “hardcore gamers”.  I still think I’m a better gamer than some of the girls from last season, though (sans Ciji)!

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Top 10 sexiest male video game characters

The internet is littered with lists of hot female video game characters, I thought it was time I made one for the ladies. For you males about to protest my lack of steroid-using males, I refer you to this picture.

Number 10:

Miguel Caballero Rojo from Tekken 6

Choosing a Tekken character was difficult as the obvious choices are Jin ( “take me for a night ride, Jin!“) and Hwoarang (because he has pretty flowing hair, rides a motorcycle and can rock goggles).  What removed Jin and Hwoarang from this list is: both men weren’t consistantly attractive throughout the series. Hwoarang looks like a Neanderthal in Tekken 4  and Jin’s nipples were too weird in 4 & 5 to the point of distraction. Horns are only attractive on certain males, and Devil Jin is not one of them.

Miguel makes my number 10 because of his outfit, his sexy voice, his nonchalant manner, his swagger, and his need to seek revenge for his sister is somewhat noble and heartwarming. Miguel is only number 10 because he is too manly for me to handle and looks like a newly homeless pimp in his second outfit. Miguel, how is it possible that you can rock a matador outfit but not a long coat?

Number 9:

Ryu and Ken Masters from the Street Fighter series

Ryu and Ken are tied for 9th place because of this video from the animated Street Fighter series (apologies for the song).  Homophobes should not click on the hyperlink, or watch the video below.

If you can’t handle thinking about Ryu and Ken this way (prudes!), I present you with Tenacious D’s song titled Double Team to explain why I listed these two street fighters together.

Number 8:

Tidus from the Final Fantasy series

Despite their feminine features, Final Fantasy males have normal, attractive bodies (compared to say, the men of Gears of War). Squall Lionheart was my initial choice because brunettes are better than blondes, but Squall’s style and scar aren’t enough to overlook his character flaws. The same applies to Cloud Strife.  Why exactly does Cloud have that large of a weapon? His sword size makes me think he is compensating for something…  while Tidus is honest, speaks his mind, and has one of the best personalities of the main Final Fantasy characters. Cloud requires some warming up, while you  instantly like Tidus.  Tidus and Yuna also have a romantic underwater kissing scene. Tidus is only number 7 because of his clothing attire (inspired by fishermen? really?) and because of his age in Final Fantasy X: 17 is jail bait in some states.

Number 7

Fox McCloud from the Star Fox series

Fox McCloud is so foxy. Can you imagine cuddling with him? And his nice bushy tail? Sometimes I wish I was Krystal

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Number 6:

Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Series

Even though Solid Snake is based off a variety of action movie heroes (but also Christopher Walken!), he is troubled and complicated.  I wanted to be his stay-at-home wife, and be his shoulder to cry on when he came home. From having to kill his twin brother, to constantly being pulled out of retirement, to killing his old mentor, to insane premature aging, to his multiple suicide attempts, Solid Snake had some issues to work out (and I am not even scratching the surface here).  I don’t think there is another video game character out there that I want to hold and comfort as much as I want to hold Solid Snake. Despite all his hardships, Solid Snake always maintains a level and calm head, is dependable,  and possesses MacGyver-esque capabilities (to be expected with his high IQ).  Solid Snake is only at number 6 (he could easily be number 3) because watching tribute videos of Solid Snake make me cry like no other video game tributes ever could. To add a touch of humor to an otherwise tragic choice, Solid Snake makes a great porn star name.

Number 5:

Dante from the Devil May Cry series

He has silver hair, is seeking revenge for his dead mother, has super powers, a great sense of style (notice the zipper over his crotch, and his trenchcoat), is generally witty,  and is demon spawn. I crushed on him so hard when I was a teenager…

Number 4:

David King from the Resident Evil Outbreak series

A man of few words, David is sexy as all hell, a badass, fires his gun with one hand in a nonchalant manner, has a great voice and is the true Macgyver on this list. Never in a million years would I think a plumber was sexy, but David King is the exception.  Yeah, the whole mysterious “rarely talk about my past or myself” is enchanting at first, but it gets old really quickly. The internetz say he had a short temper, but I don’t remember any of that… or perhaps I overlooked it because his ability to craft weapons from anything outshone his anger problem.

Number 3:

The Prince from Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

From the Prince’s poofy pants (very Aladdin-like!), facial hair, haircut and voice actor Nolan North, the Prince has earned the number 3 spot easily. The Prince is so acrobatic and graceful, thereby so fun to watch move… and despite the critics, I think the Prince looked great in Warrior Within and the subsequent versions, even if he stopped wearing the white poofy pants and became all doom and gloom.

Number 2:

Leon from the Resident Evil series

Oh Leon… he is such a gentleman. He’ll even take a bullet for you. If there was ever a zombie invasion, Leon is your man. Having been exposed to both zombie viruses (and a parasite), he knows the drill. When you first meet Leon, he is late for an assignment because he overslept- something I can relate to-  but by the end of the series, Leon has become a trusted Secret Service agent.  Besides his hair and voice, Leon has a great sense of style (even looks great in a mobster outfit) and is a friend to animals.

And while I know he is not related to the Kennedy’s, taking him home to my immigrant mom would win me some brownie points.

Number 1:

Desmond Miles from the Assassins Creed series

Yes, Desmond Miles is not the “assassin”, but you know by the third installment Mr. Miles will have all assassin  capabilities because of the “bleeding effect”. Desmond Miles has a sexy voice (Nolan North again), and moves like a panther ( I can gush about his swagger all day long), eagle, and ballet dancer all rolled into one. How many males can get away with that sideways cape, or those knee-high leather boots? No one but Mr. Miles. And you know under all those layers he has a fantastic body. The fact that I cannot see it makes him all the more attractive – there is much left to the imagination…

But most importantly, Desmond Miles looks like a normal dude, someone I can actually have a relationship with. His personal issues only make him more intriguing…what can I say, damaged guys have their appeal?

Honorable mentions include: Yoshi (all about the tongue), Max Payne, Dr. Gordon Freeman (his glasses and his field of study), and the demoman from Team Fortress 2 (his accent and eye patch).


Fruzs is going gaming

A gameplay screenshot.

via Wikipedia

Yes, I will still sometimes write about public art and protesters, but my focus will be on video games from a female perspective. This switch should have happened last week, and it took Paul Tassi’s newest post “Why My Life Filled with Video Games is Not A Waste” to get me thinking seriously about this endeavor. Let me first introduce myself:

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