I Played the Game, I Fell in Love.

Seeing as I’ve already made a first impression, and showed some serious intent by purchasing a gaming console, you will now be regaled with stories loosely related to the topic of Gaming. What fun!

If I’m honest, I didn’t fully care what game my PS3 console came with, as long as it wasn’t racing-based. I suck at racing games. There was the intense research that had gone into the overall purchase; knowing that the bundled game was a GOTY Edition made me believe that it was a safe gamble, knowing what GOTY stood for made me take a moment before silently exclaiming, “So THAT’s what that means!” (Game Of The Year is an award given out as the name suggests: to the best game of the year). I felt bits of new knowledge, gaming knowledge! seep into my brain.

I was now the proud owner of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. That I didn’t own Uncharted 1 or 2 didn’t faze me at all.

I put the game on and it played an automated video that gave some background to the story/game. Taking my lack of knowledge of the Uncharted series into account, I should’ve been paying attention, but I was a bit edgy from New Stuff Syndrome, i.e. jittery from all the excitement, unable to focus on anything, wanting to soak up every.new.detail.at.once, etc. Plus there was a (self-diagnosed) bout of ADD to contend with. So my mind decided to travel – it chose to wander about aimlessly….

In the drifting wanderings of my mind, I thought to myself, “Ya know, for a non-existent being (that happens to be a gaming character) this lead guy [Nathan Drake] is pretty hot… Shutup Voice In My Head! It’s not weird! He is hot!” Then the controller vibrated.

I pondered whether this meant that Drake and I were now dating…

Nathan Drake from the Uncharted Series

Nathan Drake from the Uncharted Series

It would be a sort of perfect setup: he was rather hot (for a gaming character. It’s not weird. Shutupshutupshutup!), had quite the personality, was adventurous, liked to travel, plus – due to his being a gaming character – I’d be the boss of him, and stereotypes dictate that this is what I, as a female, would supposedly want.

Having been through the game, and though Drake and I had been through a rather lovely, but abandoned, French chateau together at one point in our journey, I wasn’t under any illusions (or, you know, ENTIRELY detached from reality). Like any person in an uncertain point in their lives, I’d had questions: What faces had served as the inspiration behind his design?!! What was my fascination with this character?! Is there anyone else out there being really perturbed by this??

The first question was answered easily enough by reading about the development of the game. I didn’t quite get it, but I’d had my answer. The remaining questions, however, required a journey of a different kind – one that took me through the minds of People of the Internet. Rather amusingly, while I found others that were equally fascinated by Nathan Drake, there were also a lot of heterosexual guys questioning their heterosexuality due to their being strangely attracted to him. You can always count on finding people on the Internet that ease your internal fears of being anything but normal.

Armed with this entertaining, yet pointless information, I went on with life in general. Previously uncharacteristic visits to gaming sites made me feel like I was dipping my toes into the ocean that was the gaming world, write-ups on games of interest were read. Then! I stumbled onto this article, listing the Most Attractive Video Game Characters. SPOILER: my eBF topping the list felt oddly validating.

And now I find myself looking carefully down the path wherein I become a strange person that games…

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Gaming Setup: n00b Edition

In an effort to make things easier, I sometimes find myself in more complicated situations. I realised this when I recently tried to find a home entertainment alternative.

I’m one of those “I don’t have a TV” types. It’s not that I’m against the South African TV offerings, it’s just that, if I’m in front a TV screen, I will watch almost anything that’s on. My eyes will also not leave the screen until, together with what’s left of my youth, hours have passed me by. I’m vaguely productive at the best of times, having a TV would severely deplete what little productivity I manage to muster… plus I’m severely scarred by the SABC TV license ads.

And because of this, my dear, wonderful computer became my everything. My sound system, TV, computing device, and sometimes a display unit… This was all before it succumbed to higher place by, well, dying. So new arrangements had to be made; I was pretty much over relying on one device.

Now that you know my entire life story, I can get to the point of all this. I’d decided on a simple setup that allowed me to watch DVDs on a screen, which I procure legally via the act of money leaving my account: a PS3 console (for its Blu-ray abilities), and a monitor (for its not being a TV abilities).

Rather thankfully, I had had assistance with getting putting all the tech pieces together and it seems right to pay this forward (and possibly help other n00bs that find themselves in the same position), so here goes:

What I ended up with – by no means a definitive list…

Console – Sony PS3specs
Perks: Apart from the more obvious gaming and BluRay DVD offerings, you can also access audio and video files from your hard drive.
Homework: If you’re not a huge gamer, like me, it might be a good idea to get a game in a bundle. There are usually bundles on special that have a combination of games/controllers. You’re pretty much safe with GOTY (Game Of The Year) editions – the graphics and story are sure to be enjoyable. Tons of research always showed BT Games as being quite reasonable, but it helps to look around.

LG iPS234V
Monitor – LG iPS234V (23″ IPS Super LED screen – specs)
Perks: Full HD, adjustable monitor, and pretty respectable to the wallet.
Notes: If you’re using a monitor for gaming, it’s N.B. to consider the screen’s response rate and that it has an HDMI input.
Homework: 5 best gaming monitors in SA

ASUS Cine5
Sound – ASUS Cine5specs
Notes: Seems very obvious, but when setting up it helps to switch the speakers off when finding the settings that worked. Technically an easy set-up, but my brain didn’t seem to agree.

HDMI Cable
Etc, etc – AAVARA HDMI AV Cablespecs
Notes: For total n00bs, this carries the picture and sound to your monitor (with the pre-packed speaker cabling connecting to the monitor for audio).

As far as installation goes, apart from a little snag with setting up sound, I pretty much found my way around things quite easily. If you do find yourself stuck in parts, don’t panic – solutions are usually just a Google search away.

And that ends my attempts at being vaguely technical. Good luck!

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Life – The Sound of Music

I’d had a moment.

Shadowclub’s song “Good Morning Killer” played on the radio as I left the office; about half a minute later I’d heard the same track rocking out proudly from a passing car. There was something about those two vaguely related pieces of time (and possibly that it’s my song of the moment), that had left me feeling like Awesome personified.

And that was it. Except, not really.

In the (+/-) 30-second piece of time that slotted neatly between the two vaguely related pieces of time, I had let my dreamer-self wander. Wander amongst the notion of a life’s soundtrack, my life’s soundtrack.

I’m no music fundi. Ask me a piece of musical trivia, make the future of my very existence depend on knowing it, and the chances are that you’ll be a murderer at the end of round 1.

And yet…

And yet, I dare to fathom a soundtrack for this existence! Such is the power of music I guess. So here goes, dear existence, let these artists weave their musical power:

It was love at first shadowy sound wave. I saw them live at Rocking the Daisies (2011 babeh!) and have been besotted ever since. They ooze what I imagine the essence of rock n roll to be.
Try: Playing their latest album whilst walking out ‘n about and see if you don’t feel like the coolest character in a movie (shot in slo-mo and with a black & white filter, hell’s yea!).

The Black Keys:
These masters of music seriously do not have a single track that won’t leave you feeling like you need to hit the road on an epic, yet self-reflective road trip. A road trip that’s bound to be filled with adventures that people will be talking about for years to come, in hushed silences of awe of course.
Try: Planning a trip that’s the length of all their albums, and then playing them all.

The Pretty Reckless:
I tend to cringe when I remember that the lead singer was that annoying chick from Gossip Girl, but boy can she SING! The sound gives a sort’ve rough around the edges, badass vibe. The kinda tunes that would play during fight sequences (like in the movies) where people bleed and other people smile at the fact that people are bleeding.
Try: When you’re driving away (real fast) after a blowout during a stopover at a rough-looking venue – you know, whilst on a mandatory stop after driving 2 hours on a long car journey…

Them Crooked Vultures:
A super band if ever there was one. There are certain elements of their music that seem reminiscent of a decade that was probably before my time, let’s say a ‘sound that defeats the constraints of time’. It’s the kinda music that doesn’t need affirmation, and I’d imagine it’s what plays towards the end of a movie, when the battles are won, and the bad guys are contemplating moving onto the side of good ‘cause it’s so much cooler. ‘Nuff said.
Try: When you’re making a quick getaway, or on the road home.

A life’s soundtrack is never complete, as long as the one compiling it is the one living it.

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Consumerism Feeding Now Over-Fed Goats

There’s something about today’s “feeds” culture that has turned me into a consumer. This RSS feed, with that status update stream feed thing, with this other status update stream, a number of blogs, email email email, that book, this picture, etc etc etc … there’s been a lotta consumin’ going on. I feel like an over-fed goat trying to climb up a hill.

Why should I bother to blog when there’s so many great blogs out there, why should I update any one of my numerous status feeds when there 1000’s upon 1000’s that are doing a great job already, how can I produce anything if I’m so busy consuming these greatly amazing pieces of content.

Sometimes it makes me want to shut everything down and escape into a world of quiet. Other times it makes me wonder what kind of self-considered “creative” person I am if all’s I do is consume.

I want to produce, and I don’t want to just make a sporadic effort, I want to make things. I want to do this on a regular basis, whatever “this” may be. And right now it seems that I’m on that Ledge of Frustration, the one that’s going to set flight to an amazing new concept that will take over the world, and earn me that part-biographical, part-imaginary movie deal, like in those movies about books about real people (or fake) written by real people with fake names.

All these articles about how things should be done + about how you shouldn’t worry about how things should be done + the best way to do things that should or should not be done – have left me in a very frazzled state of mind. I read the article about how I should create a filter and not let the influx of information in this New Digital Age bog me down, and right after it lies “If you liked this article, you will probably like these”. I can’t help but click through links, wondering an hour later how I got here. I’ve become such a consumer that I read a number of blogs regularly and yet I can’t even produce a comment!

The answer in all of this is; not to take a break, not to just say “No” to everything – to go cold turkey, because the “problem” will still be there when I get back. The answer lies in figuring out that all allusive balance, to consume and produce in equal parts. To take in the World, while being a part of it by contributing, producing.

Disclaimer: No coffee went into the making of this post. Copious amounts of sugar may have though.

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A Rant – By Desrie Govender

We use stereotypes to shape how we see the world. Sometimes they help us understand, other times they help us categorize, and occasionally they’re just daft thoughts from a certain group of daft people.

I think they [stereotypes] are important, but that their importance is dictated by how they’re used, and in their message.

Maybe I’ve just had a long day, but after hearing some ad from an Internet service provider, something in me snapped, a strand of tolerance possibly.

The ad in question had a supposedly Indian guy, with an “Hindian” accent. No doubt Indian people in South African wouldn’t be able to understand what he was saying if he used any other accent. And really now, I’m sure the people in charge if producing the ad HAD to use that particular accent because how else would other Indians relate, right? I mean it’s a radio ad, it’s not like they can SEE him wearing a turban.

And while I’m at it, let me bring up an ad by a national supermarket chain from a few years back. In their attempt to show their multi-cultural appeal, their TV ad showed Indian females in a shopping centre with a Sari, a SARI. Right. Because EVERY female Indian worth their curry powder shops for groceries with traditional, cultural attire.

If you’re going to use a stereotype, do it right; use it for a reason.

Example: The official Durban Tourism ads.
Sure there was a lady in a Sari, sure there was mention on Bunny Chow and spices, but it was all used to create a narrative, for a reason.

Example 2: The Polka Broadband ads
It wasn’t offensive. The stereotypes used were used, once again, with purpose.

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