Twitch Streaming and Human Connection

I’m a little behind the times, and so I’ve only really just figured out what Twitch is. I’ve always known it to be a streaming platform for gamers, but I’ve never really had a reason to tune in to anyone’s channel.

This autumn has seen the release of many games that have peaked my interest, and so YouTube clips eventually lead me to streams from dedicated full-time gamers. Most are working for tips, as any live performer would, with the more established streamers making a living from subscribers (patrons) and sponsorships.

I remember Twitch being criticised last year for allowing non-gaming streamers on the website, largely because this came in the form of “hot girls” in low-cut tops talking to their camera for tips. It was thought that these streams would take audiences away from the gaming streamers, but the website appears to be as popular as ever.

These non-gaming streams spawned sub-genres such as Music & Arts, Just Talking and Game Shows. Also ASMR — Gently crafted soundscapes to help you relax and sleep.

As someone who dabbled with live streaming around ten years ago, I completely understand the appeal of performing and reaching out to an audience.

Back then it was basic webcams and cheap USB microphones on a now-defunct platform called Blog TV. I never tried to make any extra pocket money from it, but my friends and I put together a 48-hour long livestream to raise money for charity.

Even though huge pockets of that were broadcast were unplanned, I remember having so much fun scheduling segments from various artists, performers and guests — All talented friends who, like me, just wanted to be noticed for a moment whilst doing something to help others.

We switched between webcams to different areas of my attic bedroom that had been converted into an amateur studio. It felt like a reverse Wayne’s World for the digital age.

Life happened, as it always does, and so I stopped streaming — But it was fun while it lasted.

During our two-day livestream we were featured on the front page and peaked at around five-hundred viewers, which is a drop in the online ocean compared to the number of viewers that top Twitch streamers get nowadays.

As I type these words, the two most watched channels in the world right now have 50,000 and 25,000 viewers each. They’re playing the games Fortnite and a little game you may have heard of, called Chess.

The most beautiful thing about this is that twice as many people are watching masters play chess than are watching a Fortnite streamer. I guess you can’t beat the classics.

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The overall Twitch community doesn’t seem to be too healthy, but like all digital social circles it’s hard to pin-down exactly who the average Twitch user is. Some streamers will have an obscene chat, filled with memes and bigotry — Whereas others will have a positive chat, filled with memes and love.

So I guess memes are probably the common trend, and you cultivate a community that reflects your personality.

I find it difficult to keep the chat open whenever I’m watching a stream, because it’s usually a barrage of nonsensical noise, with people looking to connect to the host.

That’s the really interesting thing about live-streaming — The connections people are looking to make.

In the digital age we’re all just looking to connect to others. Every time we post a Tweet, photo or update, we’re asking for people to notice us. We want to be recognised, seen and heard in an increasingly loud world.

As much as I keep this daily blog for personal reasons, I can’t deny that my heart is warmed whenever someone likes a post or comments on some nonsense I’ve written.

Social media induced endorphins man; The real drug that’ll get you.

Streaming though, particularly on Twitch, is a raw and extreme version of that connection. Sure you can glam yourself up, change how you behave and even adopt a persona, but ultimately you’re putting more of yourself out there for the world to see than in, say, a photo on Instagram.

You’re live, you’re unfiltered and you’re asking to be noticed.

I think it takes a dash of ego to be a successful streamer — To plug away for so long in order to gain an audience. But I also think that bravery is a crucial trait, just because of how exposed you leave yourself to a faceless crowd.

I’ve seen explicit and inappropriate things in Twitch chats, largely directed at female streamers who’re just trying to play a video game and, presumably, not looking for men to describe how they would get into her pants.

But I’ve also seen the uplifting — The harmless communities formed around a shared interest and personality, the stories told to each other, and the games played together.

The most interesting part of this platform, for me, is the new streamers. The people who’re playing to an audience of less than five, but are still trying just as hard to gain a following.

This next bit is going to sound a little creepy, but imagine me approaching this with Louis Theroux levels of inquisitiveness and it’ll seem a little better.

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I’ve found myself scrolling to the least-viewed streams of a game and tuning in. In some cases I’m the only viewer, and the person is just sat there, playing their game. Then, after a few moments they notice they have someone watching (me), and so they begin a performance.

They start to commentate themselves, and make a few forced jokes. You watch them transition from someone practicing a routine at home, to performing that same routine on a stage, as they shift from one version of themselves to another.

It’s fascinating to watch, but I don’t linger for too long, as the interaction is all one-sided. They talk into a microphone and I watch, both of us gaining some kind of distant human connection for a moment before parting ways for good.

As I said, a little creepy, but it’s so intriguing to witness a live version of someone looking to fill that basic human need of connection. And not only that, but at its very root.

Watching someone stream to an audience of two is like noticing that someone in the room wants to say something — The connection isn’t fully formed yet, but they’re trying, in order to connect to others. And in that seed for potential interaction you see a familiar struggle — You see yourself and everyone you’ve ever known.


Today is Wednesday, November 28th and my cat jumps at windows to get the bird, but she never gets the bird.

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Reignited and It Feels So Good

I’d say that approximately 9% of my childhood was spent playing Spyro the Dragon games on my Playstation. This past week I beat that record by 91%, by playing Spyro the Dragon games on my Playstation.

The Spyro Reignited Trilogy has finally arrived, after a full year of teasers, trailers and delays. This three-in-one remake is a remaster of the original Spyro trilogy, and sees one of the most innovative 3D platform characters take to the skies once more.

This game has been eagerly anticipated by myself and many since the release of the Crash Bandicoot collection last year — A cartoonish remaster that delivered on graphics, but one where some of the movement mechanics failed to register with the old-school feel.

Spyro does not suffer from these gameplay issues, as this HD purple dragon handles and feels like his limited polygon 90s counterpart. If that’s because the studio, Toys for Bob, decided not to mess with anything beyond the graphics, then they definitely made the right decision.

I began with the first game, as I imagine most players did, and my childhood muscle-memory immediately kicked in. I raced that dragon through levels at lightning speed, before slowing down to take-in some of the upgraded scenery.

Each level has the exact same skeleton and tone as it originally did. The colours are even more vibrant than before and everything has been fleshed-out. Details and props adorn walls, hillsides and backdrops — But none feel out of place. Whoever was in charge of adding textures and more colour to these worlds has done a great job of staying true to the original vision of the games.

The enemies and fodder have been rendered cuter and I’m mad about this, in a good way. I genuinely felt remorse when toasting or charging certain gnorcs, dogs and sheep.

Some of the enemies didn’t feel like enemies, and I started questioning who the good guys were in this narrative. Sure, Gnasty Gnorc has incased all of the other dragons in crystal, but Spyro then goes on a Gnorc massacre, whereas not a single dragon dies. I’m sure there is some allegory for the Israeli—Palestinian conflict hidden in the subtext here. I’m absolutely certain of it.

The first game flew by fast, as there are fewer individual challenges compared to other instalments. It’s all about treasure hunting and dragon collecting.

Speaking of treasure hunting — The gem collection system is as enjoyable as ever. Touching bright colours and watching digits increase to a satisfying, round number was my favourite pastime as a seven year-old, and now apparently is again at twenty-five.

My non-gaming wife and partner in crime picked up the controller to play the first Spyro game and took to it in no time. She found all the treasure in every world she has played so far, so I’d highly recommend this game to parents with younger children looking to play a decent platformer that harkens back to an older generation of gaming.

That’s both a compliment and a burn on my partner and I’m okay with it — “Non-gaming” is the operative word there.

spyroreig2

The second game played even better than the first, as colourful characters and even brighter worlds emerged. This game has more challenging moments, with Spyro having to carry out specific tasks to earn Orbs. I had no “trouble with the trolley, eh?” this time around, but some spark-plug thieves and an angry oxen gave me a run for my money.

They have turned Elora (a fawn, you dork!) and Hunter the Cheetah into complete furry fantasies. But I think it’s probably impossible to design a cartoon anthropomorphic animal these days without adding curves, muscle definition and no pants.

I mean, I bet they could try, but statistics show that furries make up 69% of gaming consumers, so they’re not a demographic you really want to alienate.

Each world in Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer (I refuse to call it Ripto’s Rage, as an EU original) feels like it has its own identity. This is helped by individual characters who aid you in each of the worlds.

Highlights of these characters include the Breeze-Builders and the Land-Blubbers — Two sides who can’t find common ground despite sharing many ideologies. They’ve been at war for longer than they can remember and…damn they’ve done it again haven’t they? Another allegory for the conflict in the middle-east. Spyro with the hot-button issues over here.

I’ve just started playing the third instalment, and I’m curious to see what they’ve done with the secondary playable characters — Especially my boy, Agent-9. Already they’ve nailed the colour palette of this third game, which to me always felt like a vibrant celebration of the Year of the Dragon.

For me, the third game is the best game, as it takes the best features of the first two and cuts away some of the issues from both. It’s also the most challenging, in terms of time and difficulty, so I’m curious to see how I handle some of the skateboarding and speedway races.

I’m also curious to find out how they’ve represented Israel and Palestine in this game, seeing as how it’s obviously a thing now. Probably something to do with Sgt. Bird, that warmongering shit.

I can’t recommend this game enough, as it’s more than just a nostalgia trip. If this were released for the first time today, it wouldn’t sell as well, but I’d hope it would still receive critical praise as a platform game.

Parents! Are you sick of your kids asking you for another loot box so they can find that MEGA TIT CANNON in Fortnite? Well, listen to that nonsense no more, by buying them the Spyro Reignited Trilogy this Holiday season.

All of the colours of Fortnite, with none of the additional expenses! Wholesome gameplay that’s fun for the whole family. No longer will you hear your seven-year-old yell that he’s going to plow someone else’s mother, as he’ll be too busy chasing the dragon.

Wait…not that!

Spyro for President! 9/10 — Only loses a point for not being an original game.


Today is Monday, November 26th and I ate my weight in mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving weekend.

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Types of Pokemon GO Players

You can’t put people into boxes. If you do so metaphorically then you’re oversimplifying a person’s individual traits in order to type them for your convenience, and if you do it literally then you’re probably a serial killer trying to dispose of a body, which is equally bad.

My better half and I have spent many hours this summer playing Pokemon GO. We had both put the game down in 2016 (like most others), due to the lack of things to do or accomplish. When we heard they’d introduced a trading aspect, we jumped back in, figuring that we might now stand a chance of finishing a Pokedex or two.

A major part of the game in 2018 are the “Community Days”, where thousands of people flood the streets in order to catch a specific Pokemon and enjoy various bonuses. These “days” usually last for around three hours, and for that time a city, park or shopping mall becomes Pokemad.

That’s not an official Pokemon word by the way, but if you use the prefix of “Poke” with any word, you can pretty much brand anything. For example — I’m currently enjoying some Pokecoffee, whilst sitting on my Pokechair and fending off Pokeexistentialdread.

I’ve found on these Community Days that you can very much see the different types of people who play the game, and so I’ll now present them to you in listicle form, and you can decide for yourself what kind of player you are. Because my word is law and you can definitely just sort people into neat little boxes…

1. The Self-Proclaimed Leader

charizard

Likely Team: Valor

Favourite Type: Dragon

Which Pokemon Are They: Charazard

As one of the few extroverted types playing the game, this loud and outspoken player naturally becomes the leader for any raids. He’s always a he, and you can find him on your local Discord server, delegating detailed instructions to the rest of the community. He’ll be at the start-point six hours before Community Day begins, ready to lead his band of players across the dangerous landscape of a well-maintained city park.

If you join his train, be prepared to listen to every order for maximum efficiency, or you will be kicked out of the group for making jokes about this just being a game. Not that I’m speaking from experience…

“Look if we don’t hit this gym now, then we won’t have time to catch the potentially shiny Pidgey on that street corner before we head to the next one!”

2. The Young Parents

kang

Likely Team: Instinct

Favourite Type: Normal

Which Pokemon Are They: Kangaskhan

Don’t let the two strollers and three infants fool you, these guys are the most hardcore of any Pokemon Go player. Despite the fact that their children are all under the age of four, each of them has a device and an account, all controlled by the parents of course. The six-month old is currently Level 37, and has caught over twenty shiny legendaries.

Multiple strollers make for natural storage space, where they can keep wires and extra battery packs. They also act as battering rams to remove any pedestrians from their path, so they have no need to take their attention away from the five screens. They make for excellent raid allies, but don’t expect to take a gym from them any time soon.

“But I thought you were watching the kids, Sharon?!”

3. The OAP (Older Age Player)

alakazam

Likely Team: Mystic

Favourite Type: Grass

Which Pokemon Are They: Alakazam

An OAP doesn’t need to be a pensioner, just someone who wasn’t young when Pokemon was around for the first time in the late 90s. This can be anyone over the age of forty-five, but the best players are pushing sixty or seventy. Often the most relaxed members of the community, they’re always up for a conversation and excited to geek-out over the Pokemon they’ve caught.

They may not be as efficient when it comes to raids and gym battles, but they’re having a lot of fun, so don’t preach at them. Also, due to an increased amount of free time and disposable income, they’re likely already Level 40 and have nine super incubators going at any given moment.

“This Pokeman looks like a blue radish, what will they think of next?”

4. The Lone Master

mewtwo

Likely Team: Mystic

Favourite Type: Water/Ice

Which Pokemon Are They: MewTwo

This player just wants to get out and enjoy the benefits of the day without actually talking to anyone else, if possible. They’ll follow small groups from a distance and then mysteriously help them with a raid. Headphones are this players must-have item, as they silently yet efficiently move through the city without the need for a Train Leader.

They’re probably technically the best player, in that they see an efficient way of playing whilst remaining casual and disconnected from the wider community. I always want to talk to these people, as they’re who I’d want to raid with, but I also respect their commitments to public privacy.

“…”

5. The Pokemaniac

eevvee

Likely Team: Instinct

Favourite Type: Fairy

Which Pokemon Are They: Eevee

Pokemaniacs will be the first players you see as you arrive at the Community Day event, as they treat it as an opportunity for cosplay and convention-based fun. They may not be in full costume (although some are), but they’ll likely be wearing a lot of official Pokemon merchandise.

They’re often overly friendly (one of them once said “yiff?” to me and I’m not sure what that was about) and eager to show-off their digital collection, even though it’s less impressive than your own mediocre one. They don’t make for very good teammates on raids and you worry that their appropriation of Japanese culture is borderline offensive, but they seem like they’re having the most fun of anyone at the day.

“Eek! That’s my one-hundredth tiny Pikachu! uwu!”

6. The Troll

250px-089Muk

Likely Team: Rocket (If it were possible)

Favourite Type: Dark

Which Pokemon Are They: Muk

You’ll never see this player at a Community Day as they’re likely “spoofing” from back home in their mother’s basement. Ever take a gym in the middle of nowhere, only for it to be immediately taken back by the exact same six players who definitely aren’t stood in the empty field you’re in? That’s the work of The Troll.

For whatever reason, this person uses six devices for six separate accounts in an attempt to play the game to maximum efficiency — No matter how many rules they break, or how many other player’s days they ruin. If they add you as a friend, you’ll receive gifts from Japan one day and France the next, as they spoof to Pokestops all around the world. Stay away from these players, they see themselves as a Giovanni when they’re actually just a Gary.

“Mom! I need more Mountain Dew! Now!”

So there you have it, an absolute definitive guide to the only types of people who play this game, with no room for debate or discussion.

I’m joking, of course, a huge variety of people play Pokemon GO and it seems like the game is more popular now than it was in 2016. It may look strange to see thousands of people looking down at their phones like zombies as they walk the streets, but it’s better to be playing a game outside than it is indoors. At least as far as vitamin D levels are concerned.


Today is Wednesday, September 26th and the hearing of Professor Ford tomorrow is going to be a mess that brings out the absolute worst in old men everywhere.

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Walking Like It’s 2016

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been playing Pokemon GO again. We wanted a reason to get out of the house every evening and go for a walk in the sun, and we’re not people who’re driven by “health benefits”, “free vitamin D” or “normal human activity”.

So we re-downloaded the app from somewhere deep inside of our clouds, and got to walking again. First of all, let me say — Team Mystic for the win!

They’ve added a lot to the game in the last year and a half, but not so much that it wasn’t easy enough to pick up. There are two-hundred new Pokemon to catch, which is great — because I was only really missing twenty or so from the original run of one-hundred and fifty.

I’m not someone who wants to be the best trainer, or gym-battler, or efficient level-upper. I just want to Catch ’em All. That’s what the TV show taught me back in 1999, and so that’s my destiny. Listen to me, taking what an entertainment program says at face-value and allowing it to enter my core-belief system — that’s not what adults do.

An an unrelated note, Fox News have said a lot of crazy things this past week.

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Yesterday we went downtown to walk around, spin some Pokestops and hopefully catch a few new Pocket Monsters™. We hadn’t been paying attention to the online community, so we had no idea that it was Zapdos Day. I’d say a thousand people were downtown specifically to play Pokemon Go. Huge flocks of players were walking in unison, looking down at their devices and attempting to catch ’em all.

We actually spoke to some strangers, in an attempt to put a team together to take down a Zapdos, which we could all then catch. Our leader looked like a college professor, but he may have just been cosplaying one of the many Pokemon scientists — he gathered us and we started to look for others.

We found a nervous looking collector, who showed us all of her shiny Pokemon. She seemed panicked that she hadn’t manage to catch a Zapdos yet, as though it were some blight on her very existence that brought a deep shame on her family. Calm down pal, we’ve got this.

Then we met a couple who were pushing their newborn in a stroller. They had two devices each, and so I half expected to see their baby with a smartphone of its own. It turns out it actually did — but it was playing Fortnite.

Our team was formed, and we took on the legendary electric bird together. Post-battle, all of us managed to catch the hulking bird. I mean — I definitely wasn’t going to be successful, but my wife did it for me. She’s a lot better at the game than I am, and what’s marriage for — if not instant, judgement-free video game assistance?

It was great to see so many people enjoying a mobile game that’s been around for over two years. It reminded me that when mobile games work, they’re incredibly social compared to a lot of the voiceless multiplayers of the last decade. Still not quite as social as getting a few of your mates over after school to play something on the original Playstation, with a Multi-tap, but more social than joining a lobby of one-hundred gamers and never saying a word.

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During our walk downtown, we got chatting to a homeless guy who was having a rough time of it. I had the most real and genuine conversation I’ll have all month, and it pains me that people think that all of these folks are faking it. Even if they were — you’ve got to question the sanity, or mental health of a person who wants to do that.

Shakur (nickname) obviously had the brain damage he was touting, due to his repeated sentences and apologies for doing so. Oh, and his visible concave skull. Not once did he ask us for anything, he just wanted to have a conversation with someone. We were surrounded by people — other Pokemon Go players mostly — as it was on the central street downtown. Before anyone unnecessarily worries.

Give me ten random homeless people or ten random middle-class Republican voters, and I know who I’d feel safer around. Only one of those groups tries to take things from me in nefarious, devious ways, and let me assure you that it’s never the people who’re struggling on the streets. Also, their stories are far more interesting.

Our conversation reminded me how lucky I am to be able to stick my face in a phone and catch digital creatures, as I enjoy the summer heat as a luxury and not a struggle. Still, to dwell on a comparison of things that are entirely out of my control would only lead to my own madness. Just remember to talk to these people, at the very least. Keep your wits about you if you must — whatever, but don’t dehumanise them.

We’ve been going to parks across the city, to catch our Pokemon, and I have no doubt that when the summer months come to an end we’ll put our phones down once more. But for now, we’re getting some exercise, and some instant gratification.

Summer of 2017 was a busy one for me, with sorting out my Visa and moving from one country to another, so I can see why I didn’t play the game back then. Hopefully Pokemon Go is here to stay, and we can pick it up again in April of 2019 — if the world is still here.

I reckon — due to climate change — that by 2025 we’ll be able to play in thirty-five degree heat for eleven months of the year. So let’s keep burning those fossil fuels people, because I need a complete Pokedex.

Today is Sunday, July 22nd and my cat just tried to scale my cork-board like a climbing wall. Using the push-pins as hand-holds and everything.

Violence and The Last of Us

Way back on Monday night, after the American president spurned democratically elected leaders, but before he sat down and had beef and ice-cream with a dictator, we got the first gameplay trailer for the The Last of Us Part II.

This sequel is one of the most anticipated in video game history and it certainly has a lot to live up to. The Last of Us was a critical and commercial hit. In the last five years we’ve seen the influence that it’s had on the gaming industry and, to an extent, modern fiction as a whole. The sequel will need to be just as emotionally gripping, hyper-realistic and gut-wrenching as the first outing, and the footage we got at E3 seems to suggest we won’t be disappointed on any front.

In this outing, set at least some-years after the original, we’ll be playing as Ellie. The companion character from the original has been elevated to protagonist status, which should allow for some new styles of combat, as well as different reactions to new situations.

It would be difficult to primarily play as Joel following the closing scenes of the first game. I know I’d be conflicted, immediately jumping into the shoes of someone who’d made a selfish decision that changed the course of human history, without having the time to deal with that as a spectator. I imagine we’ll get a chapter where we play from his perspective, just as we did with Ellie in the first game, but I’m certainly glad to be shifting protagonist.

In the first and final scenes of the trailer Ellie is at a dance, seemingly in a safe-zone during a time of relative peace. We get a lot of the trademark Neil Druckmann dialogue, with each line pushing the characterisation forward. There’s an unknown woman who seems to be making the rounds with all the twenty-somethings in camp, and her and Ellie share a tender moment and a kiss.

elliekiss

Fortunately, I’ve only seen a little bit of negative online backlash to a kiss between two women in a video game.

“Why did they have to make her a lesbian?! I’m not buying this game now. The gays are pushing an agenda!”

“Well Ellie’s sexuality was revealed in the first game, and you obviously bought that. What’s the agenda exactly?”

“To have gays in the game, and- and- make them- kiss!!”

“So their agenda is to exist and experience love? Yeah, I think I know where the real manifesto of hatred is coming from…”

I’m not going to dwell on that anymore. Show me a 2018 game with an LGBT protagonist, and I’ll show you ten that don’t feature any. If you can’t handle a handful of non-heterosexual characters in modern fiction, after a century of populist-fiction that featured almost exclusively straight characters, you need to look at your heart.

The real controversies from the gameplay trailer came from the level of violence.

This is definitely a discussion worth having because, yes, that was an extremely violent scene that they showcased! A man lost his small and large intestines for hells sake! Possibly a medium-sized one as well, there was a lot of intestine hanging out.

As graphics and motion capture technologies improve, games that set-out to be hyper-realistic are only going to get closer to emulating what real violence would look like. The trailer featured stabs to the neck, visceral gunshot wounds and the aforementioned fairly casual disembowelment. Which was carried out by the presumed antagonists.

The Last of Us series doesn’t pretend to be any kind of cartoonish portrayal of the apocalypse, so I think most gamers knew what to expect. On first viewing of the trailer I watched the raw-video, but the second time around I watched fan-recorded footage of crowd reactions at E3, and I think their responses showed that we’re mature enough to separate fictional violence from reality.

There was an audible groan of disgust, matched by my own, as the disembowelment took place. The audiences gasped and verbally flinched every time someone violently had a sharp object plunged into their flesh.

At one point, right at the start of the gameplay sequence, I thought that they cheered a man being stabbed in the neck. Which made me feel a little uneasy. But on closer inspection, they don’t cheer as the violence starts, but when the game HUD fades in and they realise this is no longer a cinematic.

Two more moments during the violent scenes drew cheers from the live-audience. One featured Ellie crafting a brand-new item that violently exploded an enemy, leaving chunks of his flesh scattered on the floor. The other was during a near-death moment that Ellie managed to escape from by shooting an attacker in the face. I can only hope that the gamers in attendance were cheering for a cool new game mechanic and their hero escaping the clutches of death, and not the idea of people being murdered in such brutal ways.

I think hardcore gamer-bros and Mumsnet will draw different conclusions from the trailer, and everyone else will land somewhere in the middle. But there’s no denying that this was one of the more violent scenes of video game action we’ve seen in a while.

elliefight

I don’t like to talk about video game violence as a “problem”, because that’s historically been the right-wing way of scapegoating real-life violence, instead of acting on gun control or funding mental health services. But I might start to debate it with more seriousness the moment I find myself reacting inappropriately to hyper-realistic video games.

I know that anyone who has issues with the levels of violence in games like The Last of Us will be smart enough to just not play them. My challenge to anyone who’s worried about video game violence so much that it consumes them, would be to address and help with real-world violence. Donate to foreign-aid clinics, help with March For Our Lives and other such movements. Expose the terrorist organisations on our shores, like the NRA, who bring real violence to everyday life.

As much as we love our fiction, there’s only so much energy we should waste on something that’s unproven to correlate with the violence that’s happening in our world right now.

Judging by the behaviour of the antagonists I’m going to hope that they’re a chaotic group with fascistic overtones, or at least harbour prejudices to people other than their own. Because in this day and age, nothing beats graphic fictionalised violence against people with hate in their hearts.

Again, I know the distinction between what’s fiction and what’s reality. I’m not about to go out and stab a person who incites violence against the marginalised, but you bet I’m going to live it out in a video game.

Today is Wednesday, June 13th and North America just won the World Cup bid for 2026, which’ll be pretty awkward if Trump declares war on Canada.

Will you be playing The Last of Us Part II? Or has the violence crossed a line this time? Let me know in the comments below!

Fallout From Fallout76

I’ve seen a lot of people reacting to the details of the latest Fallout instillment as though it’s literally, and not fictionally, the end of the world. I’ll admit that I don’t follow a lot of video game franchises these days, and I’m not into the current trend of mass-person, teenage killing-fields like PUBG and Fortnite, but I try to keep up to date with the the franchises I enjoyed as a teenager.

Fallout is definitely one of those franchises. A few weeks ago, Bethesda Game Studios teased a new instalment of their post-apocalyptic RPG series with a reveal trailer and a title: Fallout76.

Now, personally, I kept my enthusiasm to a trademark minimum. Bethesda are well known for leaving 5-10 years between installments of their major franchises, and it’s only been three years since Fallout 4. So I was under no impression that this would, at all, be the eternally anticipated Fallout 5.

The name Fallout76 was a dead-giveaway but, judging by the angered reaction from pockets of the internet, clearly wasn’t as obvious as I thought. You see, 76 isn’t the number 5. I’m no maths expert, don’t pretend to be, but I’m almost completely certain that the number 76 isn’t the number 5.

Can anyone from Mensa confirm this?

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I wonder if anyones actual house is going to end up in the game?

It seems that some people were expecting another single-player RPG spin-off in the style of Fallout: New Vegas. Which really was a fair assumption to make. I’d set myself up for total disappointment and decided that it would be a Fortnite-style, battle-royal game set in the Fallout universe. Where one-hundred people spawn in the wasteland and have to launch mini-nukes at each other’s gizzards until one person is left standing.

The actual reveal on Sunday happened to be somewhere in the middle of a Venn-diagram of these two assumptions. Fallout76 is going to be an online RPG, where cooperation is encouraged in order to conquer the wasteland of West Virginia.

Of course, we all know from years of online gaming that teamwork is somewhat difficult when it comes to strangers on the internet. I remember playing Grand Theft Auto Online for a few days before I got fed up of random teenagers plowing into my shit car with a million-dollar fighter jet.

I hope they were teenagers, god help any grown men doing that for fun.

Because let’s face it, they are men.

I don’t think Fallout76 will be the greatest game ever, but I also don’t think that it’s the worst idea in the world. My enthusiasm was pre-curbed, so I’m looking forward to exploring the wasteland with other people, and seeing what a realistic post-apocalyptic world would be like. Because that’s the hook right there. What would really happen if dozens of people emerged from a vault into a nuclear wasteland? Would they work as a team or blast each other from arsehole to breakfast-time?

We know that each version of the gargantuan map will have “dozens of players”, so people will be few and far between, unless you intentionally seek them out.

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Imagine if the sloths are only mutated in size, but they’re still as slow and lethargic as actual sloths. That’d be ideal.

I can understand why reaction to an “always online” Fallout game has been split. And I’ve decided to assume the reason why, like a prick.

I think those who’re cautiously optimistic about it are people who have a couple of friends that they can play with on day one. I’m certainly looking forward to working with a few of my friends in order to build a personalised settlement and defend it from anyone and anything. One great aspect of gaming for me, these days, is about hanging out with your mates and achieving goals together.

Then there’s the other camp, the people who’re so livid that this isn’t a single-player RPG, despite no promise that it would be, that they’re planning on boycotting the game. Whatever that means. I’ve decided that these people are reacting with a tsunami of negativity, because they don’t know anyone that they could play with. They don’t have any friends.

Now, this could be an entirely incorrect assumption on my part. But what I do know is that I’d never want to be friends with someone who makes a thirty-minute YouTube video, seething that a game isn’t exactly what they wanted it to be. I just think that the cautiously optimistic (or the happy-to-be-proven-wrong negative camp, I can’t forget about those sweethearts) people are more likely to be better people, and therefore have some pals to goof around with.

“This game sucks! These (homophobic slur) pussy-ass (racial slur) keep teaming up to kill me. I just want to MAGA but these (too offensive to type) (racially charged unique adjective) (transphobic noun) won’t let me teabag them!”

“And you wonder why…”

I do empathise with people who thought that it would be a purely solo RPG. With the exception of Fallout Shelter, every game Bethesda has released for the franchise has been just that. But given the known timeline of releases, I’m glad that we’re seeing something different while we wait. Because that’s what this is, Fallout 5 will still happen, this is just something fun to do with friends until that time comes.

I want to take down giant, mutated monsters as a group. I want to explore the lore of the land and find the perfect spot for our settlement. I want to make trade agreements with other groups of friends, or wage wars when things turn sour. I don’t know, it all sounds like an immersive post-apocalyptic experience to me.

Sure, the narrative will probably be non-existent beyond a handful of exploration quests, but I don’t think Fallout76 is pretending to be a masterclass in storytelling. It’ll hopefully be more about the collective imaginations of the group you assemble, as you tell your own stories in a pre-established world. Like the early Minecraft days, or D&D.

A lot of people are saying that the lack of a story means it’s not an RPG, but isn’t taking a world in any direction you want a true version of an RPG? Especially when it’s with a group of pals. I play games like The Last of Us and Uncharted for the story, I play RPGs for the freedom to do tell my own story, and it sounds like Fallout76 has fewer limits than any prior instillment.

Cautiously optimistic is the state I’ll remain in until release, then I’ll pass some kind of irrelevant judgement. But for now, call me crazy for thinking that hunting a digital moth-man with my friends, sounds like a fun way to pass existence.

Today is Tuesday, June 12th and I see more rage in the YouTube comment sections of video game trailers than I see anywhere else for our current government. Anger is perspective I guess.

5 Things We Need To See From An Uncharted Movie

Over the past few days I’ve watched the Indiana Jones movies. Yep, all three of the Indiana Jones films. I’m so glad Spielberg left it at those three 80s adventure flicks, and never decided to return to the franchise…

The campy action, explosive set-pieces and cartoonish characterisation from the first three films holds up brilliantly well. Which got me thinking about the Uncharted game series and rumoured film. Uncharted, rightfully, borrowed so many tropes from Spielberg throughout each of the five games. As well as peppering in its own brand of quick-witted dialogue, along with Neil Druckmann’s trademark emotional storytelling.

With a Spielberg directed and Ford fronted Indiana 5 set for a 2020 release, and an Uncharted movie stuck in development hell, I can’t help but wonder if Hollywood is backing the wrong franchise. I’m not sure how many movie-goers will be interested in the Jones brand once Ford hangs up his acting hat, and dramatic whip, for the last time.

Whereas a fully backed Uncharted franchise, with a younger established star as hero Nathan Drake, could provide a studio with a future 5-10 tentpole movies over the next couple of decades. Because that’s how things work now, you can’t just think about a stand-alone blockbuster.

So here’s…

5 Things We Need To See From An Uncharted Movie. Number Three Will Make You Want To Punch An Octopus!!!

1. Cartoonish action

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One thing that makes Indiana Jones enjoyable to this day, is that at no point do the original films take themselves seriously. The action is can’t-miss, yet there’s an element of silliness to almost every sequence. Early Uncharted games mirror this slight campiness, with slapstick and ridiculous set-pieces being utilised effectively.

The last thing I want to see is a hyper-realistic, “dark” action movie that for some reason considers itself to be the peak of artistic cinema. A lot of DC movies and the recent Tomb Raider film fell into this trap. It needs to closely mirror a lot of the in-game action sequences. They should even look back to the opening train-chase scene of The Last Crusade for how a younger action character would behave when being chased by a threat much larger than himself.

We need brightly-lit, vibrant scenes of overtly-choreographed action that bleed seamlessly into each other, just as it would in a video game.

2. Chloe Frazer

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The rebooted Lara Croft may be different, but her original characterisation was simply tits and an ass. She was meant as a sexy avatar that gamers could view as they played the game. This was before readily available pornography, so pixelated tits did a lot for some people. I’m- erm…told.

Enter Chloe Frazer, a character from the second, third and fifth Uncharted games who’s even more competent and capable than Nathan Drake. She’s framed as having looks, as is Drake, but her emotive backstory and competitive nature make her a well-rounded character when compared to the original Croft. As long as Lara is built on as a brand, we’re going to have backwards-thinking gamers boycott the film, due to her not being a pair of tits stuck to a broom handle. Establish Chloe Fraser, and these same people who don’t think women can be action stars will be tricked into seeing a female-led flick.

So I would build her as the secondary protagonist of the first film, so that she could take centre stage in the second. Uncharted started out as the Nathan Drake story, but over the years has become an ensemble group of adventurers, seeking the world’s most sought-after treasures.

Her inclusion in a prequel movie might ruin some of the cannon of the video games, but if the films are successful, then a separate canonical storyline can be established.

3. A Compelling, Possibly Cursed, Treasure

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Each and every one of the Uncharted games pulls you into the historical lore of a certain region. Some of the treasures are based on true events, whereas others are taken from local myth and legend.

The film series would need to start out strong, with a recognisable ancient treasure being at the centre of the chase. Part of worked so well with the first and third Indiana Jones films was the use of Biblical treasures. They used some historical, archeological facts about the location and significance of the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, only to apply a realisation of myth and legend in the final act of each film.

It’s the blending of human history and mythology that makes both of these franchises so exciting. The idea that at any moment, something fantastical could happen and it would be believable. I’m not entirely sure which lost city they should focus on in the first film, but I do know that we need mythical creatures, an ancient curse or fantastical powers to be featured in the third act.

Also, that octopus over there just called you a prick. Go on, give it a smack.

4. Greatness From Small Beginnings

The revelations of Nathan’s past that are made in the fourth game are some of the most emotive and inspiring scenes in video game history. They tease this idea that Nathan and his older brother, Sam, are descendants of Sir Francis Drake. Only to find that they aren’t. Instead, as orphaned children, they become driven by this idea that they get to make their own fortune. That they may not actually have Sir Francis as a biological ancestor, but why not take his name and become self-made men in their own time?

Sic Parvis Magna was the motto used by Sir Francis Drake, which is interpreted in the Uncharted games as “Greatness from Small Beginnings”. If the first film is to be a prequel, or at the very least the start of Drake’s story, we need to see that Nathan came from nothing, and that he is out to make his fortune.

It’s from this motto that he can struggle, at first, to work well with others. It can explain his mistrust for large organisations or those who’re seeking a wealth-driven glory. If Nathan’s motto is well established in the first act of the film, followed by a strong action sequence, we’ll learn everything we need to know about him in the first twenty-five minutes.

5. Nathan’s Antithesis

Building from that, we need to see an antagonist that is the polar-opposite of what Nathan stands for. The villain also needs to be an orphan, but one who along the way decided to build his or her fortune on the backs of others. They’re now financially rich, but morally bankrupt, as a result of exploiting the “fortunes” of others. The world was never there for them, so why should they be there for the world.

Nathan seeks personal glory, the treasure for him is uncovering the treasure itself. The villain simply sees the price-tag, but also gets off on the idea of crushing Nathan’s personal dreams, because they didn’t have the strength to live out their own.

On top of this, they could make the lead henchman a direct parallel to Chloe. Hell, make the henchman an evil Lara Croft-type. A spoiled, bratty girl who was dishonorably discharged from the army but found mercenary work. And perhaps she doesn’t wear as much clothing as she probably should. Have Chloe defeat and overcome her own backwards archetype.

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At the time of writing, Tom Holland has been attached to the film to play the role of Nathan Drake. While I think this is great casting, it reeks of a studio just making talk, and that they have little intention of actually producing an Uncharted film in the foreseeable future. We’ve certainly seen it with many video game adaptations in the past.

No matter what happens with the project, they absolutely need to take lessons from the Indiana Jones films, and remember what made them fun in the first place.

So that means no aliens please.

Today is Sunday 3rd of June and you should always remember that Temple of Doom is a prequel.

Are you looking forward to a potential Uncharted movie? How would you like to see it play out? Let me know in the comments below!