I’m kind of digging the beta of Hearthstone. It is everything I enjoy about other trading card games but more simplified and streamlined — with a World of Warcraft flavor that I find rather delightful.

I’m playing it on OS X but it is absolutely perfectly suited for the iPad and I could easily spend a lot of time playing it on the iPad once it is available there. Here’s some footage ((sans audio because I was watching Frasier like a boss)) of my first game against a human opponent. Maybe I’m just jonesing hard for a WoW fix since I haven’t been able to play for 18 months or so, but it’s a pretty great game and I’m impressed with how it plays.

20131110-Hearthstone on Vimeo

via 20131110-Hearthstone.


Fox plays hardball and asks the really tough questions*

  • This man is lying.

Fox News bravely ignores the obvious question about how in the holy hell did an 8-year-old kid have access to a loaded firearm, and instead shows the sort of journalistic integrity they’re known for and blames Grand Theft Auto IV because Vidya Games kill people, not guns.

It’s that type of double-talk that completely erodes their political position while simultaneously validating the bias you already know is there. It’s not Right or Wrong, it’s Us versus Them. The Fox viewing audience like everything to be about them: Their Money, Their Guns, Their Marriage, Their Language, Their Schools, Their Officials, Their talking points — an echo chamber to validate whatever selfish and short-sighted world view they have because every other channel they turn to reminds them that they’re not the only people walking the Earth.

This shooting occurred in Louisiana, where Bobby Jindal (still!?!) has the State Troopers running around arresting people for consensual gay sex like Vladamir Putin. In Putin’s case it’s possibly legal, but in Louisiana those stupid laws were defanged by the Supreme Court years ago.

The State Department should be issuing travel advisories for Florida, Texas, Virginia, and Louisiana because it has been raining stupid down there for months and surely they’re flooded by now.


I’ll Probably Not Like Splinter Cell: Blacklist

After seeing numerous great reviews of the new Splinter Cell title, Blacklist, Kotaku’s review gives me enough pause to sit it out.

Sam Fisher is no longer voiced by the Michael Ironside in this title either, which is kind of a big deal considering one of the best qualities of good Splinter Cell titles have been his voice work making the character interesting.

It’s startling just how much difference a voice-actor makes, too. With Fisher’s longtime voice-actor Michael Ironside out of the game, Sam becomes a generic military brotagonist with a shocking quickness. I lost interest in him so immediately and so fully that I had to ask myself: Was Ironside’s charismatic performance singlehandedly keeping this series’ storytelling afloat this whole time?

The last Splinter Cell game I tried to play was Double Agent which had an ugly interface and absolutely terrible gameplay. Shallowing the pool on Sam Fisher and reducing the game to a series of maps-of-badguys challenges that doesn’t even push the limits of the gaming hardware sounds like good money after bad. Fool me once, shame on you, and all that.


Microsoft’s Xbox One Reputation System

“There’ll be very good things that happen to people that just play their games and are good participants,” said Lavin. “And you’ll start to see some effects if you continue to play bad or, or harass other people en masse. You’ll probably end up starting to play more with other people that are more similar to you.”

This is fantastic news — I hope Sony is working on something similar. I recently noted that I wished online gaming had a way to sift assbags into a smaller sandbox and this story has made me optimistic.


Thank you Jennifer Hale, for Ms. Shepard

Mass Effect: The Need For Strong Female Characters – Up at Noon

What Commander Shepard actually looks like
What Commander Shepard actually looks like


On the IGN show Up at Noon, Greg Miller sits down with Jennifer Hale to talk about the Mass Effect series, one of many games she has been a voice actor on; and discusses the necessity of having more strong female characters and leads in video games.

I have never played through the Mass Effect series as a male Commander Shepard, partially out of reluctance to be a one-dimensional head-cracking meathead but primarily because Ms. Shepard is just a better character to play.

This video is most predictably a honeypot for raging mouth-breathers like the ones I’ve written about previously, featuring such gems as:

This guy may be a member of the proud and not at all insufferable "Men's Rights Movement"
This guy may be a member of the proud, responsible, and not at all insufferable “Men’s Rights Movement” or “Seduction Community”

So feminists have apparently ruined Sci-Fi Fantasy for pasty misogynists everywhere, and the final refuge of the armchair lady-haters is under siege by the horrifying spectacle of women being portrayed as equally capable as men. I am admittedly curious if Theodisc is the kind of fella that needs to reinforce his masculinity every day before he can ride his big wheel on down to the local Game Stop to impress his peers with exciting tales of homophobia conducted entirely on Xbox Live, but not enough to want any contact with someone that may be still contagious with Category Five Stupid. A quick trip to other comments this person has made indicates that it’s a really important crusade he’s on, another practitioner of the proud Internet Warrior Tradition.

If it ruins gaming to have more female characters and to put a much-deserved end the sweaty sausage fest of vidya games, I don’t see any problem with that — You’ll always have Leisure Suit Larry.

The front lines of sexism: the vidya game industry

There are a lot of stories about sexism aimed at women that work in IT or the tech industry. From dongle jokes and subsequent firings for all involved, to scantily-clad “booth bunnies babes” (and the mouth-breathing assbags that actually write stories ranking them at PC Magazine with photo slideshows) that do promotional modeling at industry trade shows, and more recently the absurdly egregious marketing maneuver by Samsung pitching the Galaxy S4 to women because it can help them monitor their weight in addition to critical functions like wedding planning and cooking!

But there is a particular segment of the enterprise and consumer tech industry that dwarfs the complete and utter sausage-fest of socially-awkward chauvinists: the video game industry. Even attempting to imagine doing news and comment as a woman before a perpetually angry mob of entitled ignoratii that casually make rape jokes and use gay slurs makes me want to through my Playstation out the window.

"You only have a job because you have breasts."
“You only have a job because breasts.”

Alanah Pearce writes in “30 Days of Sexism“:

Before I record the videos I create for various different companies I change my shirt from the loosely fitting singlet I usually wear during the day, to a high-collared t-shirt that will minimise my chances of being objectified. It’s less comfortable, it’s not what I would generally choose to wear, but I do it in attempt to avoid comments about my breasts, my chest, and my physique in general – I try to negate any harassment I possibly can.

Is the gaming community ground-zero for the rampant sexism across all of IT? As the demographic of gamers changes to bring in older players who are increasingly irritated with the idiots on Xbox Live, publishers like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft have to ensure all of their customers are enjoying themselves in order to be successful; and communities that want to involve members outside of one rabid and very specific demographic need to address this sort of thing quickly.

I think it would be really nice if there was an algorithmic way to gradually sift players who are sexist/racist/anti-semitic/phobic assholes into an ever-shrinking pool of people willing to play with them, until much like their local playgrounds, there was simply nobody that would play with them anymore.

Edit: My scholarly spouse comments:

You’ve heard about Tropes vs. Women and all the harassment she’s encountered, right?

I had not, but it’s a fantastic illustration of this problem.


I’m really enjoying Mass Effect 2, again, after finally playing the first one and setting up the trilogy as Bioware intended.

I’ve recovered the Reaper IFF, assembled my loyal team, re-written the Geth, and now I am ready to begin my suicide mission through the Omega 4 Relay. It’s going to be different this time, I promise.

I’m really enjoying Mass Effect 2, again