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2013 in stuff

2013 was a weird year for me. I spent the first half of it with no money, no prospects and no motivation, but by the end I had a steady income, a bunch of new friends and small cool writing in lots of different places. I can probably credit a lot of that to the Not a Game podcast. Recording something every week really helped me get out of my rut, so thanks for that guys.

I mention this because it probably explains a few things here. Like not going to the cinema or reading much and just binge watching TV instead. Basically it’s about how I suck, but I suck slightly less than I did ten years ago.

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The day I stopped playing GTA

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So Grand Theft Auto 5 is out and a lot of people are discussing the controversial torture scene. People like Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell, who writes:

“GTA is a game full of violence, of course, but it is mostly slapstick, impersonal, cartoon violence – floppy-limbed pedestrians flying over your bonnet, cars flipping through intersections, or tanks and helicopters exploding. You’re always slightly zoomed out from the impact of your actions by the lack of close-ups and the way everything resets to normal a few minutes later. It’s very unusual to be hurting a single person in isolation over a prolonged period, which is why the torture scene is a different and unpleasant experience.”

With respect to Tom, I think he’s wrong to call this scene an exception. In fact his description of Trevor’s graphic torture reminded me very much of a small section in GTA 4 that put me off the series forever. The mission in question is called  ‘I’ll take her (Ransom)’. It’s short and remarkably simple, all you have to do is beat a defenseless woman and take a photo of her battered face.

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Let’s make comments earn their front page status

Note: I can’t claim full credit for this idea. It’s based on a similar brainstorm by my friend Chris Thursten. My version is just simpler and more drastic.

Recently I’ve read a number of articles on internet comments. Notably this one by Ed Smith on Medium. The message is simple: comments are terrible, they’re being used to bully and harass writers, something must be done. All these articles are confident that something will be done, that creators will eventually wrest the power back from the comment section but, other than Ed’s suggestion that comments should occasionally be closed, no-one seems to have much of an idea how we should go about it. I do.

The idea is simple. Having your words appear below the article is a privilege, not a right, so let’s force people to earn that right. Let’s make sure every single comment requires someone to click ‘approve’ before it shows up. Instead of only exceptionally bad comments being deleted, only especially good ones will appear at all.

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The Not a Game podcast

Not a Game - Logo - Web

I know an awful lot of interesting freelancers, and it always struck me as a shame that they never had a place to get together and just chat about games for a bit. The Not A Game podcast is my attempt to bring together a bunch of those people and give them a chance to talk informally, exchange views, have debates and hopefully not realise I’m nowhere near as cool as they are.

We all live in different cities and keep different schedules, so it’s been hell to organise, but from now on we aim to record one every week. We’ve started with a small core cast, but we aim to expand and feature guest appearances from freelancers and developers all over the world. In fact if you’d like to join us, please get in touch with me via twitter or email.

The regulars:

You can listen to the Not a Game podcast at Gaming Daily, where Craig is generously hosting them. Just click on the ‘Podcast‘ button at the top of this website to go to a list of episodes.

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Shame Boner

Listen video games, this is kinda awkward, but I need to ask you to stop trying to play with my penis.

It’s really rude. There I am, enjoying a healthy dose of graphic violence or an engaging storyline when suddenly you ambush me with rogue batch of wank fodder and poke incessantly at my genitals, demanding I rise to attention. It’s pretty embarrassing video games, I mean you haven’t even bought me dinner yet.

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Dungeons and Design part 2: I am everything wrong with gaming

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Recently some friends and I decided to try Dungeons and Dragons (fourth edition, Planescape setting) for the first time. As usual, no-one wanted to be the DM, so I volunteered, and I’m glad I did. Running these adventures has given me a lot of insight into game design and how to deal with players, including pointing out some things I really should have known already. So I’ve decided to write a little about each session, and the stark contrast between what I planned and what actually happened.
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Dungeons and Design part 1: Hawks can’t spot traps

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Recently some friends and I decided to try Dungeons and Dragons (fourth edition, Planescape setting) for the first time. As usual, no-one wanted to be the DM, so I volunteered, and I’m glad I did. Running these adventures has given me a lot of insight into game design and how to deal with players, including pointing out some things I really should have known already. So I’ve decided to write a little about each session, and the stark contrast between what I planned and what actually happened.
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