Sci-fi classics

Written by Benke on the 27th of July 2009 at 16:45

While portable gaming has more and more portable over the years, nothing beats a good book when it comes to portability in my view. No batteries to think of, light may vary, no stylus to keep track of, cartridges to remember, etc. Plus you can still read a book with ice cream on your fingers.

So I thought I'd catch up on some reading this summer. Makes me look a bit more sophisticated than when I doodle on my DS or focus on my PSP, and hopefully it will sharpen my language a bit to your benefit.

I'm a bit of a science fiction (sci-fi from here on) nerd. Not fantasy, just sci-fi. In fact just recently I got a bit shunned in a conversation as I hadn't read the Harry Potter books (though I have seen a few of the movies). There are so many books I would like to have read before I take on seven books a some boy and a school for wizards.

And eventhough I may cause me some social awkwardness (in some circles at least), I'm not budging. Afterall, I refused to see Titantic (and still haven't seen the whole movie) - these mass psychosis phenomenons have no effect on me (unless its Star Wars, of course). So this summer I've been reading up a bit on post-911 America (In the Eagle's shadow), but I have now started a less serious, but perhaps more enlightening reading project. Catching up on sci-fi classics I should have read a long time ago.

First off I read Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. I had only Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep before (the novel that laid the foundation for Blade Runner), but after reading the Man in the High Castle I know I'm going to have to read more of his stories. A very inspired story of an alternative 1962 where Germany and Japan had won the war and America was under foreign rule. Many memorable characters stood out, and the clash of cultures is ever present. The book within the book device and the ending that left me wide awake unable to sleep as I tried to figure out what it really meant. I'm sure there are some fancy answers out there, but to me it was about making you think about the truths you take for granted. A valuable lesson, intentional or not.

The next book I read was Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. I was interested in it from a description I got, however the plot description I heard prior to reading it was incorrect. It had led me to believe there was one big overriding plot, but instead The Martian Chronicles, just gives you a bunch of accounts of what took place as humanity reach its closest neighbour. It was written back in 1950, something that colours every page with the fear of atomic war, the safe family life of suburbia, but it also touches on censorship and big brother. It had me both laughing and thinking, and that's about as good a compliment I can pay any book.

The book left me with a lot of unanswered questions about the Martians and about the fate of Earth. Another classic you should try and seek out if you haven't read it already.

What's next then? Well, I was thinking of picking something else by Dick, maybe a collection of short stories. Then I've been meaning to read The Mars Trilogy, perhaps Solaris or A Clockwork Orange (I enjoyed the movies) or Gateway. There still summer left...


Gaming in the summertime

Written by Benke on the 10th of June 2009 at 06:03

The Swedish summer is about as reliable as a ten dollar Rolex on the bottom of the ocean. But it does provide us gamers with an alibi to engage in our favourite hobby. However, when the sun does show up on occasion I find it hard to play video games.

This summer has a few interesting games lined up for us so I don't quite know what to wish for in terms of weather. But there aren't too many of them that would keep me inside on a sunny day.

What I do know is that I'm still trying to take in everything that went on last week in Los Angeles. It was a very powerful showing from an industry determined not too let the current financial turmoil spoil its progress. The next 12-18 months will be some of the best in terms of games released in the history of the medium. I have no doubt of that. It's going to be hard to try and keep up with just the "must play" titles.

Personally I'm dying to play stuff like Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Brütal Legend, Modern Warfare 2, Halo 3: ODST, Alan Wake, Heavy Rain, Bioshock 2, Assassin's Creed II, Final Fantasy XIII, Borderlands, Starcraft II and well, there is just too many to mention them all. I just wished some of them would hit this summer already... cause I have a feeling there will be a lot of rainy days.


Disc read error... [PS3]

Written by Benke on the 4th of May 2009 at 10:44

Throughout my gaming life I've been blessed with console that have survived. Haven't had to replace or repair a single one despite periods of excessive almost compulsive gaming. That streak was broken when I had to send away my Xbox 360 last summer and now it seems my Playstation 3 has suffered a similar fate. It just won't read any discs period. The blue light shines, and the symbol in the top right corner is spinning, but nothing happens. Oh well, time for a call to customer service I guess.

Oh, and my Vault-Boy broke (after a six foot fall from the top shelf of my book case) this weekend too. I guess it was just one of those weekends when all things just breaks. I should probably count myself lucky that I didn't break any bones.

I'm hoping my luck turns around this week. [Equipping my lucky 8-ball]

On Dark Athena... and E3

Written by Benke on the 27th of April 2009 at 16:45

I've been playing The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena over the weekend. And overall I'm pleased with it. It feels a bit retro as the new chapter has clearly been designed with the same mindset as the original, but the lack of innovation on a grand scale doesn't bother me much. It's still a very enjoyable game.

I'm going to take the old Escape From Butcher Bay for a spin before I sit down to write the review. It will be interesting to see how well it holds up.

The countdown towards E3 has started and I have the feeling that it will be a big one this year. Anticipation is riding high, and the big three all have reason to come out swinging for the fences. But I would not expect too many announcements from third parties that we haven't already seen or heard about. It is clear that everyone is anticipating some major announcements and therefore want to avoid being overlooked. There will be some surprise announcements of course, but Ubisoft chose to reveal Assassin's Creed now and Activision has given us the first glimpse of Modern Warfare 2. Third party titles don't get much bigger than that.

It will also be interesting to see what kind of things will be made available on Playstation Network and Xbox Live.

Oh well, I'm off to Dark Athena again. Maybe we'll meet in the darkness one of these days...

My thoughts on The Pirate Bay

Written by Benke on the 17th of April 2009 at 15:08

Today the ruling from the first Pirate Bay trial came in... One year in prison and 30 million SEK (less than €3 million) in damages. The ruling will of course be challenged and we will be bored by another trial in a not too distant future.

Why should we care? Does piracy destroy the gaming industry? Is The Pirate Bay an ideological movement or just cheap ass consumers?

Do we even have to care about it? The issue is not really about The Pirate Bay... They were not the first and won't be the last. I don't even think they have any true ideology. Either you are an anarchist all the way or you are not. You can't just choose to be an anarchist when it comes to certain goods or services. That's my opinion anyway, but then again I tend to side with society.

Personally I don't think piracy is that much of an issue in the gaming industry. It's always been there and while it has affected individual games and companies harshly over the years the industry has managed to survive and grow. I also think that the gaming industry tackles the piracy issue as a technological issue, and I think that is the way to go.

There will always be ways for people to get a hold of copyrighted materials. To a certain extent it is vital for democracy and for keeping those who hold the rights from charging excessive amounts for access. I can pay my way, and I proudly do so, but when corporations prevent me from accessing things I want to see in timely manner... well, I'm not going to sit around and wait.

Do I cry over the people involved with The Pirate Bay? Not really, they knew all along what their were going up against. The problem is that they flew too close to the sun and their wings melted. I think a certain degree of piracy will always be tolerated, but make it too accessible and you will be taken down. The powers in place just won't allow it to be too widespread. Is it justice? Is it fair? That's stupid questions that I leave it to other stupid people to answer.