Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 20:00 on 09-12-2011, Robinson L
Congratulations and best of luck, Michal.
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at 18:02 on 09-12-2011, valse de la lune
Congrats!
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at 18:00 on 09-12-2011, Michal
Wooo! Fully accepted into my MA program today!

I am so excited. And terrified. But also excited.
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at 14:27 on 09-12-2011, valse de la lune
Bastion is now on Chrome. As in you can play it in your browser.

I am bamboozled.
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at 20:09 on 08-12-2011, valse de la lune
I don't honestly think Malinda Lo is a very good author, but oh wow look at this reekingly homophobic e-mail she got. Jeeeesus.
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at 05:33 on 08-12-2011, Michal
In other news...why do I keep on reading Theo's posts on Black Gate? I should know better by now.

Inappropriate analogy? Check. A sneer at paranormal romance for no real reason? Check. (In this case, a really stupid reason: "Men have been writing this kind of crap for years but when the genders are flipped around IT'S REPREHENSIBLE!") Defending the rape-to-redemption plot (Because the story of the rapist's guilt is always a more important story to tell than that of the victim)? Check. Sneaking in a way to insult Muslims? Check. Professorial tone in which the man, in all his wisdom, tells the silly woman what to do? CHECK.
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at 20:59 on 07-12-2011, Michal
The oil sands look like the Somme after a good shelling. Or possibly worse. It's awful.

You can listen to the segment here. Far as I can tell, the argument goes "if we stop buying oil from the Middle East, they'll stop oppressing the women there, so buy oil from Canada."
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at 20:36 on 07-12-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I'm not sure I follow the spokesman's logic. Did they happen to include a flow chart in the explanation?

Truth be told I don't really like this oil shale business, mostly because I remember looking at some photographs of the Alberta oil fields Edward Burtynsky took a few years back and thinking to myself "Oh, we are so going to pay for this for the next century." I'm fully expecting a flood of stories to come out of Alberta in the 2040s all asking why the provincial cancer rate has increased 8000% over the past two decades.

On the other hand, I support nuclear power, so what do I know?
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at 19:31 on 07-12-2011, Michal
So, there was an "ethical oil" spokesman on CBC Radio's The Current yesterday (I only got around to the podcast today), and now it appears we must build an oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas in order to save Muslim women from oppression.

Somehow.
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at 19:23 on 07-12-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
It also appears that one of Joss Whedon's projects, a slasher-horror thingy that's been sitting on a shelf for a while ever since MGM went bankrupt and got its script leaked called The Cabin in the Woods is going to see the light of day. And here is the trailer.

Three thoughts:

1) I have no idea what the hell just happened.

2) I can't listen to that Marilyn Manson cover of "I Put A Spell On You" without imagining a platinum-blonde Patricia Arquette doing an affectless striptease for Robert Loggia. Thank you, David Lynch.

3) Slenderman's gonna be awfully pissed when he finds out Masky stole his best suit for that cameo.
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at 16:46 on 07-12-2011, Arthur B
This indie SF film, purely based on the trailer and the way the filmmakers are talking about it, is giving me a special feeling in my pants.
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at 05:46 on 07-12-2011, Arthur B
Is the Nice Guy Rules tumblr meant to be a spoof or not?

I'm inclined to think it is sincere, but if it isn't my guess would be it's not a spoof so much as a cunning trap, getting all the tumblr Nice Guys to out themselves by gushing about how wonderful it is. Balance of probabilities seems against that though.
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at 04:49 on 07-12-2011, Michal
I think the most irritating one is, "In her unpredictable world, be her one amazing source of consistency."

Since when has "consistency" ever been paired with "amazing"? And isn't this just encouragement to never change, never re-evaluate, never do any self-analysis? An invitation to never grow as a person, for in sameness lies your greatest quality?

...

Well, at least an invitation to be a predictable bore, at any rate.
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at 21:53 on 06-12-2011, Andy G
Is the Nice Guy Rules tumblr meant to be a spoof or not?
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at 20:13 on 06-12-2011, Melissa G.
Personally the ridiculously high pedestal these rules place the girl on is what bugs me the most. Protip: the opposite of misogyny is *not* treating a woman like a fragile exalted goddess. I really, really despise that kind of worship behavior.
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at 13:47 on 06-12-2011, Arthur B
I know, right? Plus their platonic ideal of romance seems to be acting like an insufferable goody-two-shoes who won't leave the object of their affection alone. If someone followed all the rules it'd be like being stalked by Fotherington-Thomas.
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at 13:10 on 06-12-2011, Fin
i like all the comments about how women are too stupid to get that the blog isn't sexist

also, lol 'why do people feel the need to overanalyse a good gesture?' i don't know, why do nice guys feel the need to ignore boundaries?
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at 10:08 on 06-12-2011, Arthur B
Someone brought the Nice Guy Rules tumblr to my attention, which has been taking heat lately because some of the rules posted are creepy as hell. (Like "Walk her home, even if she says she's fine walking home herself" or "stay even if she doesn't want you to stay, 'cause you know she needs you there".) Those rules which aren't actually creepy seem hand-picked to make you the most unappealing wet blanket in the world.
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at 08:13 on 06-12-2011, Arthur B
In regard to your criticisms, I would say that Hulk's definition is much easier fit with narrative-driven works of art than the more plastic varieties.

This is true, but actually raises another point which I've realised recently, which is that 99% of the time whenever people have "are games art?" debates what they often turn into is "can the developer-scripted narrative associated with a game be art?", which is a trap I think Hulk charges straight into. I call it a trap because it takes what ought to be a holistic assessment of the entire game and hones in on only one aspect of the thing being presented; if you took the same approach to film studies, honing in on the script whilst ignoring the acting, the visuals, the direction, the sound, you'd get a big fat F. It also misses the point that in some games the narrative is just tacked on as a paper-thin justification of a robust multiplayer free-for-all, as in CoD, and in some games there's no real narrative at all - abstract puzzlers don't tell a story, though to ignore them in any discussion of art would be much like dismissing abstract paintings in a discussion of visual art.

(As an aside, when I started putting together this response, I vaguely got the impression we had rather different views of what portraiture is. If I may be so bold as to put hypothetical thoughts in your head, I imagined you associated "portraiture" with academically-executed heirlooms of some local squire hanging in a manor hall, while I was imagining something more like this.)

Actually I was thinking of it as including both. Why can't both be art?

As for the multiplayer issue, I admit I am biased when I read about this series because I don't give a tin shit about the multiplayer. It does make me wonder, though: if the multiplayer is the primary reason people buy and play it, why do they bother to add a single-player campaign at all? Would it affect sales that much if it was cut out? It would certainly be better than including the product we actually got.

I think games companies are very leery of putting out multiplayer-only FPSs because there's a perception that they are not "complete" experiences - Shadowrun tried that route and notably failed, for instance. The only ones I can think of that's really made a success of it are Quake 3, the Unreal Tournament series and Left 4 Dead, and even then those include desultory single-player modes. (More successfully in L4D than the others because it actually has something resembling a narrative structure to the gameplay.)

In other words, games without a single-player component, however vestigial, are a risk, and no games company as big as EA is willing to tolerate risk, particularly when it comes to reliable cash cows like the CoDs.
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at 04:31 on 06-12-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Indeed that was the article I meant to link to, Arthur. My Ctrl-V-fu had failed me.

In regard to your criticisms, I would say that Hulk's definition is much easier fit with narrative-driven works of art than the more plastic varieties. Still, I don't think you gave portraiture an entirely fair shake. I would say that all portraits do have a thematic component, which I tend to crudely express as the question "how should my subject be presented to the world?" I would go so far as to suggest that the majority of portraiture (in Western history, at the very least) has been concerned with this question. While the history of Western painting is generally seen as a evolutionary path towards more sophisticated forms of realism, it took a long time for technical skill to approach that goal, and so there's been a long tradition of representing subjects through symbolic and allegorical means. And on an even more basic level, the simple choice of subject matter can change everything. Do you want your portrait to focus on your role in the family or the community? Do you want it to describe your piety? Do you want it to sketch your personality, or highlight a particular emotional state? If you're a ruler who's commissioned a portrait, there's the question of what civil/religious/military values your image should impart to your subjects. There's methods, styles, and libraries of symbolism for all of those options. There's a lot more going on in most portraits that you'd think at first.

(As an aside, when I started putting together this response, I vaguely got the impression we had rather different views of what portraiture is. If I may be so bold as to put hypothetical thoughts in your head, I imagined you associated "portraiture" with academically-executed heirlooms of some local squire hanging in a manor hall, while I was imagining something more like this.)

(As another aside, thanks for provoking me to dig though my old art history books! I sometimes forget how much I like studying art.)

As for the multiplayer issue, I admit I am biased when I read about this series because I don't give a tin shit about the multiplayer. It does make me wonder, though: if the multiplayer is the primary reason people buy and play it, why do they bother to add a single-player campaign at all? Would it affect sales that much if it was cut out? It would certainly be better than including the product we actually got.

Still, I do like when reviewers dissect the things like the MW3 campaign apart from the multiplayer; it's the video game review equivalent of testing the drinking water for E. coli.
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at 17:36 on 05-12-2011, Michal permalink
at 13:35 on 05-12-2011, valse de la lune
Returning /bows would have been pretty problem-free without that description, man. But yeah, their DEEP RESPECT huzzah.
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at 12:30 on 05-12-2011, Wardog
You don't understand Valse, that's Blizzard's way of conveying their DEEP RESPECT for a reclusive, humble people...
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