Being Black in Video Games

Being Black in real life isn’t super easy. Sure you always have company whenever you go shopping, even if you started alone. You’re more likely to have a living will or healthcare proxy (at least you should). Because Black folks are dropping dead like it’s Jim Crow again.
South Park’s new game recently introduced a slider that was labeled “Difficulty” and changed the character’s race. The darker you are the “harder” the difficulty. It’s funny because it’s true.

At least Fractured But Whole lets you be a person of color if you really want to. Or if you just really want to see a person of color as a hero in a video game. Continue reading “Being Black in Video Games”

How to Trick People Into Liking You…

People are fairly simple creatures who are easily tricked because of their addiction to patterns and basic context cues. People want to trust you, like you, not need to kill you. Heck, you could be an asset to their team if you turn out to be someone they can trust, let their guard down around, and learn to lean on.
We see characters like Daryl on The Walking Dead become fan favorites both in and outside of the show while still being kind of dickish. That’s because in fiction people aren’t real. In fiction, people can’t have all the minutia that actual human relationships are based on.
In reality we dislike people because of their minutia and, surprise, it’s that same bit of detail that makes us either likable or leave-able.

So what are the little things we can do to trick people into liking us?

1. Ask them questions about themselves and their feelings the LISTEN to their responses.

Most people listen to respond rather than listening to understand. Think about it the next time you observe a conversation. The person who isn’t speaking hears something they think they know about and have a response poised and ready on the tip of their tongue. They’ve officially stopped listening to understand the other persons point and are just waiting for a break so they can respond.
This is rude and selfish. If you’re telling someone about your dearly departed grandmother and you see their eyebrows raise up and their mouth do that “O” shape where  they clearly have something to say about hospice facilities while you’re still talking about… Well it doesn’t matter now because clearly your audience doesn’t care.
Don’t show people you don’t care about what they’re saying by listening to respond rather than to understand. Sit, Listen, and take time to process what you’ve heard. Then respond. Keep in mind, sometimes the best response is just agreement or acknowledgement. “I hear you.” “That’s the worst.” “I can’t believe that.” “I’m so sorry you had to experience that.”

2. Be helpful when you can and give a brief reason when you can’t.

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and do nothing or let someone take care of you. Sometimes it’s super rude even if you technically have nothing to do.
The worst thing you can say when you’re on a team or doing anything with other people is, “That’s not my job.” This one phrase is a sure way to make people side-eye you with utter, unabridged contempt. It’s worse than, “no” or “I don’t know how” or  even making an excuse that makes it clear that you don’t want it.
“That’s not my job” is somehow both dismissive, condescending, and mean. You’re rubbing it in that they still have work to do AND you’re not going to help; not because you can’t but because you just don’t want to.
It doesn’t hurt to help. If anything you gain skills and build a rapport with people through a shared struggle. And if you can’t help someone, don’t waste their time whining about all the things you have to do or how your arm hurts or whatever your real or fake reason is. They asked for help not a time suck. Again, this is selfish. This person is so busy or overwhelmed that they’ve humbled themself and asked for help.
Apologize with a sentence (not a run-on) explaining why you can’t. “Sorry, I’m in the middle of cooking these beans (they understand that the beans will burn if you leave them, you don’t need to explain).” “Sorry, I don’t know how to swim; maybe Joe does? (it’s great if you can offer an alternative; but don’t commit someone else to helping)”

3. Do what you say you’ll do.

The worst people are the people who can’t be relied on. People who can’t bother remembering to do things for others and are regularly letting people down.
It’s not just about being the kind of person that people can’t depend on, it’s about being the kind of person that makes life harder for other people. Your slack needs to be picked up or projects can’t be completed or children go hungry and die (in extreme cases).
The solution isn’t to shy away from responsibility, it’s to recognize that what you do or don’t do effects other people and get it done.

4. Try not to complain. If you must, follow up with your solution and plan.

Everyone hates their job. Everyone’s life is hard. Everyone’s body starts to fail after 25. Everyone could stand to lose a few pounds or tone up or eat better. Shut up and do something about it or just shut up.
Complaining gives people this great feeling of release because it’s good to get things off your chest– unless you’re the person listening to the complaints. Complaints are not communication. People who complain want sympathy not solutions which means there’s no real role for people who listen to complaints.
If you want advice, ask for advice. If you want to complain, get a diary or come ready with your own advice.
Like listening to understand, have conversations WITH people, not at people.

5. Mind your manners.

The weird thing about killing people with kindness it that they never seem to see it coming.  I had a roommate in college (who is alive and well to this day) who hated me– specifically she hated having a roommate. I went out of my way to pretend I didn’t notice.
I was nice to her and respectful of our space. I didn’t try to be her friend or invite her to parties. But I was kind to her friends and let her use my refrigerator and offered help when it was convenient or relevant. Eventually she and I genuinely got along swimmingly. I forgot she made me feel unwelcome and she forgot to make me feel unwelcome. The kindness ended up killing the animosity.
Being nice doesn’t cost you anything, doesn’t make you look bad, and doesn’t make life harder. Making the effort to mind your manners is not only basic decency but also the finishing touch you need to make your personality the kind that people are fond of.

So can you trick people into liking you?

Making a habit of all five of these things will guarantee more people will like you. Unfortunately these are not tricks. These are just things that people should do and other people will respond to.
You can fake them for a time, but eventually you’ll either grow to be a more likable person or your true colors will shine through and you’ll get a lot of side-eye and hear a lot of whispered conversations.
P.S.: Sorry if this headline tricked you into clicking. TLDR: some things don’t come naturally but you if you try them you might like the results.

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Semi-practical, Post-Apocalyptic Dress Up

As a faithful apocalypse fan-girl I always look for ways to incorporate my passion into my everyday life without triggering institutionalization. Is it possible to subtly cosplay, prep, or otherwise support my passion for the end of the world? YES! With semi-practical, post-apocalyptic dress-up!
I’ll show you a few examples of how you might pay homage without looking like you’re planning “an event.”

Bare Necessities

A simple, day outfit that covers the edgy side of apocalyptic dress-up. Feel pretty in a practical thermal dress and leggings wile you carry your junk in a handy utility belt instead of a snatchable purse.

In Case of Survival - Bare Necessities

Clementine from The Walking Dead game

Dressing up as the inspirational little girl from Telltale’s interactive apocalypse is pretty easy since she wears pretty comfortable everyday clothes. It’ll be kind of like a secret cosplay.

In Case of Survival - Clementine from The Walking Dead Game

 Maya the Siren from Borderlands 2

Everyone’s favorite badlands boss bitch can be your inspiration without too much fuss. You might want to add a bit more blue (aside from the shoelaces) with some accessories like a scarf, headband, or jewelry (especially on your left hand  where Maya summons her power orb).

In Case of Survival - Maya (Borderlands 2)

 Alice (Resident Evil Extinction)

Alice always manages to sty fashionable throughout the end of the world. Actually, she seems to get increasingly more fashionable as the apocalypse worsens… It’s hard to pick just one of her outfits to be inspired by. Though once you eliminate the outfits that are outright unpossible due to them being half CGI and half PVC, there’s some great material work with.

In Case of Survival - Alice (Resident Evil Extinction)
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5 Apocalyptic Lessons to Learn From TV

Art imitates life or Life imitates art depending on how you choose to live. No living person has been able to explore the depths of apocalyptic life the way television has– and we could learn a few lessons.
From the human on human violence of 28 Days Later to the choices made in The Walking Dead, we could learn a thing or two about some of the choices we might have to make in a post-apocalyptic world.

Continue reading “5 Apocalyptic Lessons to Learn From TV”

Finally! | The Walking Dead – Episode Two: Starved for Help

With such an amazing Episode One of The Walking Dead I was growing more and more devastated every day that Episode 2 didn’t show itself. Well, The Walking Dead – Episode Two: Starved for Help has finally come out of hiding.
As promised, this episode will feature all new scenarios and decisions. New characters will be introduced and old characters– if you didn’t see them to their death– will return.
Rather than dealing with the immediate aftermath of the zombie outbreak, Episode Two: Starved for Help deals with the group trying to settle in to life in the post-apocalypse. Food is running low and desperation is running high.
[wpspoiler name=”Check out the summary video for Episode One: A New Day (it’s Filled with SPOILERS):” ][/wpspoiler]
[wpspoiler name=”If you’ve already played episode 1 and you don’t mind seeing SPOILERS for Episode Two, check out the launch trailer.”]

[/wpspoiler]
Details from the Telltale Games Press Release
 
[wpspoiler name=”Details from the Telltale Games Press Release” ]
The Walking Dead is set in the world of Robert Kirkman’s award-winning comic book series.  Lee Everett, a man convicted of a crime of passion, has been given the chance for redemption in a world devastated by the undead. Players experience life changing events, meet new characters and familiar ones from the original comic, and also visit locations that foreshadow the story of Deputy Sherriff Rick Grimes. The Walking Dead offers a tailored game experience – player actions, choices, and decisions affect how the story plays out across the entire series.
The Walking Dead: Episode Two – Starved for Help is the second in a series of five episodes. Each episode is available for 400 Microsoft®Points on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for Xbox 360® and for $4.99 per episode or as a $19.99 season pass on PlayStation®Network. The Walking Dead is also available as a $24.99 five-episode season pass on PC and Mac from the Telltale Online Store and other digital outlets.
The Walking Dead: Episode Two – Starved for Help is rated ‘M’ (Mature) for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language by the ESRB.
[/wpspoiler]
 

This week in the real world

First of all, sorry for being absent as of late. I just didn’t have anything to say and so I didn’t say anything.  But I have been busy. Not buying a house like Char or getting good grades like Ann. Mostly I’ve been playing video games and reading comic books and I got a new phone (almost immediately after, my work phone died).
While its always important to plan for the worst the current situation can’t. Come second. Sometimes that means making steak for dinner instead of hardtack. Or just going for a drive because its nice out. However you can keep in the back of your mind all the lessons you’re. Learning while doing these things.
What I’ve learned from the pre-apocalyptic world: Continue reading “This week in the real world”

Review: The Walking Dead – Episode One: A New Day

Episode One: A New Day definitely has places to be and paths to take you there but to say it’s on rails would be doing it a huge disservice. Maybe a choose your own action adventure on rails would be most accurate as it is most accurately not of any specific genre.

Episode One: A New Day of The Walking Dead[1. A copy of this game was provided for review by Telltale games.] is finally out and it has all kind of expectations to live up to. The comics, the show, and what’s current in action adventure gaming today. Telltale Games set out to please everyone and no one. For the game to be successful it must stand on its own but still make sense within the The Walking Dead universe.
We’re introduced to The Walking Dead universe in Episode One: A New Day at the kickoff of the zombie apocalypse rather than weeks in as we are at the start of the TV series.
Immediately, we’re introduced to our main character, Lee Everett[2. A black man in the back of a police cruiser. Le Sigh.] and we get to decide what kind of person he’s going to be based on how he completes conversations–or doesn’t.  Not saying anything is an option, it’s also the default when you time out.
See, in the story summary video below there are choices being made that bring to along to those places and those conversations–those outbursts aren’t standard. Lee rarely says anything without your consent.

The game definitely has places to be and paths to take you there but to say it’s on rails would be doing it a huge disservice. Maybe a choose your own action adventure on rails would be most accurate as it is most accurately not of any specific genre.
However, to get a bit more specific, Episode One: A New Day offers some first level game things that should be noted.

The gameplay mechanics of Episode One: A New Day:


As is to be expected from a choose your own action adventure on rails, the game quickly introduces the method for choosing. The method is pushing the button that corresponds with your choice.
If you have the hints on, you might be notified after making a choice that you’re now seen as a nice guy, or an asshole, or a sketchball. It depends on what you decide to say.
Conversation choices need to be made quickly (sort of) or you’ll be stuck with the default or your choice will be “silence.” Saying nothing can sometimes say a lot about you.
Action choices, while they need to be made quickly can also be left to inaction like saving This Guy, That Guy, or neither. Though often in action choices you must choose.
Objects also must be found to complete a number or scenarios… So maybe this is a choose your own action adventure puzzler on rails. Anyway, a small number or items are kept in your inventory to be used either on people or thing to either solve them or win them over.

The story of Episode One: A New Day:[3. Of course, I get a little butthurt about the black man being carted off to jail for murder as an introduction, though it’s heavily tempered by my happiness that a mainstream game is actually staring a person of color as a regular person rather than a shaman or witch doctor or gang member or rapper.]

I was immediately engaged in the story presented in Episode One. The officer in the car is transporting Lee to jail but doesn’t believe he’s truly guilty. Out the window you–you’re allowed to look around as much as a real neck would allow– might see shambling people, and car accidents.
Eventually, you hit a person (zombie) and it knocks the police car into a ditch. Sorting yourself out at the bottom of this ditch is where you sort out how to control the character, interact with your environment, kill stuff and really do all the basic tutorial stuff. Lee comes to grips with the fact that something terrible happened and people are all fucked up.
Making your way through a neighborhood, Lee finds a house and is charged with making a friend or three to eventually get himself out of the suburbs.
Lee’s murdering past comes up often as a kind of haunting character motivation piece. Thankfully there aren’t any flashbacks.

Overall Episode One: A New Day:


1. The art style is great. It’s not intended to be Mass Effect-real or straight up cartooney. There’s a great mix of comic art and animated effects. To me, it felt new and worked well with the game.
2. Nobody is perfect. I hated something about every character, which to me is good because it means they’re not trying to make super familiar likable characters. Everyone, felt really regular and realistic. I think they did a better job of humanizing characters than the TV show did[4. Sorry, can’t help but compare.]
3. Maybe because I’m a nerd and I love graphs and stats, but I was geeked to see the comparison at the end of the level about who made the same choices you did. Were you among the majority? Did other people stay silent when they could have spoke up?
It’s a great feature that ads a bit of perspective and community to an otherwise solitary experience.
4. It’s not as heavy as the chow or the comics. People die and impactful decisions need to be made but they don’t unsettle me. I feel like playing through some of the decisions  in the show and the comics would have been really difficult.
5. There can be a lot of hurry up and wait. It’s urgent to get to X or to do Y but you can spend eight years searching a room for the A or you have to talk to every singly person before you can progress. I don’t care about some people and their motives
6. In order button mashing is how you fight. So, a zombie attacks and the screen flashes “x” and you tap it and then it flashes “b” and you tap that and you can win, lose or not die but not really win. Personally, I like being in full control of a hit stuff button.
I’m having fun playing and so excited to find out what happens next in Episode Two.
[Rating:4.5]

Remember, the full five episode season of The Walking Dead for PC and Mac is available for purchase via the Telltale Games Store (http://www.telltalegames.com/store/) and other digital distribution outlets as a season pass for $24.99.  Once launched on Xbox 360, each episode will cost just 400 MS Points, and on PlayStation 3, each episode will cost just $4.99, or $19.99 as a season pass.

Telltale Games' The Walking Dead Video Game!

Ohmigawd, Ohmigawd, Ohmigawd! I’ll try to breath, but, it’s finally happening. No, not the apocalypse. The Walking Dead video game. They said it would but after waiting so long (at least it felt like so long) I thought, maybe it was just an idea that wouldn’t really come to full fruition.
Then, one day, I saw the AMC choose your own adventure motion comic game thing, Dead Reckoning, and thought that was the game. I mean, it was awesome but not what I expected from Telltale Games. They make games not promotional content. (By the way, check out the AMC promotional games for The Walking Dead, they’re generally awesome.)
Finally, today, I got the press release  along with the video for the “Choice Matters” trailer:

Tellale explains the details in today’s press release:

Telltale Games and Robert Kirkman, the Eisner Award-winning creator and writer of The Walking Dead for Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics, announced today that the first episode of the game series based on the critically acclaimed comic book series, The Walking Dead, is now available for download.  Players can purchase the PC and Mac versions from the Telltale Games Online Store, as well as Steam and other digital distribution services.  The first episode is also available for download now on PlayStation®Network for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and will be available Friday, April 27th on Xbox LIVE® Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft.

Every system (except the Zelda/Mario/Exercise console)!
Continue reading “Telltale Games' The Walking Dead Video Game!”