Category Archives: Games

Oklahoma Politicians Decide Some Videogames are “Harmful to Minors”

Oklahoma’s State Senate unanimously passed a bill that would equate videogames like HALO and Grand Theft Auto 3 with hardcore pornography, making it a crime to sell those games to anyone under the age of eighteen:

HB3004 seeks to amend an existing Oklahoma statute, and redefine what
is considered "harmful to minors." Authored by State Rep. Fred Morgan
(R), the bill would add "inappropriate violence" to the statute. In the
actual wording of the bill, "harmful to minors" means: "the material or
performance lacks serious literary, scientific, medical, artistic, or
political value for minors."

[. . .]

Virtually everyone can agree that there are games which are clearly
inappropriate for children, but that’s what ratings and parents are
for. Why is it that Republican lawmakers are gung-ho for personal
responsibility and government abstinence when it comes to healthcare,
welfare, and minimum-wage laws, but they can’t vote "aye" fast enough
when it comes to intrusively legislating morality?

If this bill becomes law, it will be a crime to sell a "harmful" game
to a anyone under 18. There are countless reasons that this is
incredibly stupid, among them the fact that a 17 year-old can buy
himself a ticket to a graphically violent film like Saw or Hostel, or a sexually-charged film like Showgirls.
But that same 17 year-old couldn’t legally purchase DOOM 3, and the
person who sold it to him would be criminally liable. How does this
make sense? The answer is, it doesn’t. Bills like this have nothing to
do with protecting the children or seriously addressing issues which
need governmental attention. Bills like this are entirely about
election-year pandering to the ultra-conservative minority who
unfortunately make up the modern Republican Base.

You can read the rest at the SGGeekwire.

on poker and acting

Last week, Otis asked me if I’d write a few words for the PokerStars newsletter about how acting and poker mix together, and if I’d discuss how acting has helped my poker game.

I tried to answer intelligently and keep it brief, but since it takes
me 200 words to say hello to someone, it shouldn’t be a big surprise
that I ended up sending Otis a little over 2800 words about acting,
poker, and Almost Famous. I was so long-winded, in fact, that Otis ended up using the power of the fully-operational PokerStars blog to handle the Alderaan-destroying mountain of words I sent.

If you’re interested in the poker stuff, or want to know how I’ve been able to combine my acting experience with my poker game, you can read the whole thing at the PokerStars blog.

For the rest of you, here’s a little bit about acting that you don’t have to be a poker geek to follow:

As an actor:
1) I have to be completely connected to the other
actors in the scene, so my character understands what the other
characters are doing, why they are doing it, and I (as the actor) can
allow my character to react naturally and realistically. rather than
"acting."
2) I have to completely commit to everything that my
character does, and allow my character’s memories, beliefs, and prior
experiences (that I have made up) to truly _live_ in me, like they are
real, so that all the unconscious physical signals that come with
different emotions happen naturally, rather than as a result of
"acting."

For an actor, getting caught "acting" is worse than a
poker player getting caught bluffing; it’s more like getting caught
cheating. So we actors work very hard to make sure it never happens.

[. . .]

One of my favorite examples of this is from Almost Famous. Kate
Hudson, as Penny Lane, asks Patrick Fugit, as William Miller, if he’ll
go with her to Morocco.

When she asks him, they’ve been running
around a park together, and it’s clear to the audience that they’re
falling in love. It’s really charming to watch, and unless you’re
deeply cynical, it’s tough to not smile with them, recalling the first
time you fell in love.

"I’ve made a decision, I’m gonna live in Morocco for one year. I need a new crowd. Do you wanna come?" She says.

"Yes!" He says.

"Are you sure?" She says.

He looks at her, like he was completely lost in her, and says, "Ask me again."

She flushes, and she says, more intently, "Do you want to come?"

"Yes! Yes!" He says, as some seventies power ballad starts to play.

According
to director Cameron Crowe, Patrick asked Kate to ask him again, because
he’d been staring at her, and just got lost in that moment, so he
missed his line. But he was still in the scene, so he asked her exactly
the way he would have if it had been real. Kate stayed focused on him,
stayed in the scene, and asked him again, so we have this incredibly
wonderful moment of two people falling in love that probably has many
of you running to Netflix to queue it up right now. If either one of
them hadn’t been completely focused on each other, that moment (which
would have been impossible to script) never would have happened. If
we’d caught them "acting," it would have ruined that moment, and the
whole movie would have suffered as a result.

Did I pique your interest? Heh. So go on, read the whole thing. You know you want to.

the los angeles flatheads

Flatheads

Two tickets from TicketBastard: $52

Parking: $10

Four Dodger Dogs, two sodas: $27


Crushing heads with my stepson:
Priceless

Watching the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles blow a one-run lead in the 8th to lose to the Cubs: Sadly predictable.

Eurofriendly Friday Poker Tomorrow

A lot of European players can’t make my Tuesday night game at PokerStars, because it’s sort of in the middle of the night for them. Because I love Europe so much (and to atone, in a very small and meaningless way, for that whole stupid Freedom Fries bullshit) I schedule a game once a month specifically for European players. It’s called Eurofriendly Friday, and April’s game is set up for tomorrow.

What: WWdN: N1kita Eurofriday
Where: PokerStars.
When: Friday, April 21. 1800 GMT
Password: monkey
Tournament number: 23319749
Buy-in: $10 + 1

Of course, anyone with eleven bucks and a PokerStars account is welcome to play with us, regardless of geography. It’s also a much smaller field than the regular Tuesday night games, so if you’re really into playing with me, your odds are much, much greater that you can crusher my kings with the hammer — in fact, there are just three players signed up now, so it may just end up being a semi-private sit-n-go.

Destroy More Humans!

"You
may have to metaphorically make a deal with the devil. And by ‘devil’,
I mean Robot Devil, and by ‘metaphorically’, I mean get your coat."

  - Bender

Crypto137
Destroy All Humans!
is one of my favorite games of 2005. My only complaint was that it was
too short (you can rent it and finish the entire game in one weekend)
but it sold very well, and I hoped that a sequel result. I hoped so
much, I was willing to "get my coat."

Looks like my deal with the Robot Devil is about to pay off:

Destroy All Humans Sequel Coming in Fall
The sequel will be set in 1960s Europe, where Crypto will face off
against ninjas, hippies, communists, and Godzilla-style mutant monsters.

read more | digg story

WWdN Poker tonight at PokerStars

Darwin_4
And now, an infrequent reminder that you can play poker with me tonight, and every Tuesday night, at PokerStars (or just download the client and watch us play, though I don’t think you can chat with us unless you have at least $11 in your account.)

To sign up, go to Tourneys -> Private and look for WWdN:Change100 Invitational. I’m hoping for over 100 players this week, so the final two tables will pay out.

What: WWdN: Change100
Invitational
Where: PokerStars.
When: Tuesday, April 18. 8:30 EST
Password: monkey
Tournament
number:
22928623
Buy-in: $10 +1

Additional details, and a whole bunch of WWdN tourney news is at CardSquad.

i wanna rock

"What do you want to do with your life?!"

"I wanna rock."

Guitar_hero
W
ell, shit. I’ve gone and found another game that not only do I totally love, but gives me something else in common with one of my kids. Productivity is down 75,000 percent as a result.

Guitar Hero
is the most fun I’ve ever had with a pretend guitar, and let me tell you something: I’ve spent a lot of time playing with pretend guitars, long before Journey make air instruments popular in the video for Separate Ways.

I saw it at IGN Live last year, and thought it was really fun, but I didn’t know if I really wanted to invest 65 or 70 bucks into the game, but when Ryan started talking about how he wanted it, too, we decided to split the cost so neither one of us would feel shafted if it wasn’t as fun as we hoped. Two weeks or so ago, we picked it up, and we haven’t stopped rocking.

The game is outrageously fun: you have a mini guitar controller (which you can outfit with stickers, including a totally rockin’ skull and some ass-kicking lightning bolts) that plugs into your PS2. There are five color-coded buttons on the fretboard, and a flippy lever thing on the body. You play along with the songs, DDR-style, by pushing the correct button (or combination of buttons) as the stream down the screen at you, while you strum along on the flippy lever thing. You get points and bonuses, including the totally rockin’ star power bonus, the more accurately you play.

You choose a character, and begin rocking out in some guy’s basement with songs like "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "I Love Rock & Roll," and work your way up to songs like "Bark at the Moon" in a stadium. Along the way, you can buy new guitars, new designs for your guitars, and unlockable characters. The only complaint I have is that you can’t buy hookers, blow, or tools to bury them when you’re done with them. But thankfully, I’ll always have GTA to fill that need.

There are different levels, and Ryan is much better than I am, completing all of Medium and the first level of Hard, while I’m still struggling to get past the second level of Medium. I’ve noticed that on the songs I know how to play in real life, I screw up the most, because my fingers get all excited and think I’m playing my bass for real (especially on Ziggy Stardust and Iron Man.)

Last night, Ryan and I were playing together (taking turns; we haven’t picked up a second guitar for what I understand is the greatest two-player game in the world), and we decided to take the game to a whole new level: in addition to the bonus points the game delivered, we gave each other style points based on how hard we rocked out (Chuck Berry-esque leg kicking and throwing the goat during extended wahh-wahh notes were both good moves.) We were both rocking pretty furiously and I took a huge lead, until Ryan went into his room, and came out a few minutes later with a necktie around his forehead, sunglasses, and a Hawaiian shirt open to the waist. He threw the goat and said, "I am ready to rock."

I immediately had to award him umptybillion points for that move, and Ryan took a nearly insurmountable lead. I tried to come back with some exrta rock of my own, but the best I could muster was, "Hey, get these bitches off the stage, man," when Ferris and Riley decided that our jumping and wailing was an invitation for them to come into the living room and play with us. I took away umptybillion points of my own, giving Ryan a two umptybillion point lead, which is just short of one brazillion.

Right around the time we were about to finish rocking, Nolan wanted to give it a try, so we set him up, and told him that he could finish the gig (did I mention how much more fun this game is when you play with people who aren’t afraid to be total dorks about it, and talk in a bad english accent and yell at the "audience" who are deep inside the TV?)

Nolan has only played once or twice, but he decided that he could jump right in on Medium (bad idea) and he picked Thunder Kiss 65 (worse idea – that’s a tough song to effectively learn on.)

He did pretty well, all things considered, until about halfway through the song. He missed some notes, and started to get frustrated. Ryan did the coolest thing, though: he said, very calmly, "Hey, Nolan, you’ve totally got this. Just relax and you’ll do great."

Nolan relaxed, and finished the song for a 3 star rating and 80% notes hit. That’s not bad for your third time playing, especially following in the shadow of your big brother who kicks ass at the game, and your stepfather who took the rocking out a little too seriously.

Last week, I said that I wanted to raise kids who are people I am "proud of, and I’d like to spend time with, even if we weren’t family:
honest, honorable, generous, compassionate, and responsible."

It would have been very easy for Ryan to be a dick to Nolan about it, or to tease him, or not say anything encouraging at all, but he chose to be kind and compassionate. He saw his younger brother struggling, and chose to help him through it.

Of all the rocking we did last night, that rocked the most.

Paging Leeroy Jenkins

My friend Sean Bonner is a self-described "casual player" in World of Warcraft. Sean is also the co-creator of Metroblogging.com, so he recently added Metroblogging: Azeroth to the list of Metroblogging cities.

Yeah, "casual," not "totally into it." I totally believe you, Sean.

I don’t play WoW (for reasons which will become apparent in a moment) but six million people do, and a Metroblog for a virtual city is just too geeky to ignore, so I interviewed Sean for SGNews Geekwire this morning:

W - Unlike something that would make a great April Fool’s gag, like Metroblogging: The Island from Lost, this could actually take off, because to many people, Azeroth is a real place. When you did it, did you think at all that it would have a life longer than the typical "I kiss you" meme?

S - Oh totally, we didn’t do this as a prank, and that’s exactly why we didn’t do it on April Fools. It’s something we’ve been thinking about for several months now at least and finally had enough people who wanted to give it a shot. So we put it together in all seriousness, just like one of our other cities, to see what happens.

[. . .]

W - How much time do you spend playing?

S - More than I want to admit?

W - Hah. That’s a great answer.

S - That’s actually a kind of deceptive question, but you wouldn’t know it if you don’t play.

W - Oh, perfect. Another Geek meme I’m not in on.

S - Dude, seriously, it’s nuts, you should check it out.

W - No way. I lost a year of my life to a MUD, and that was free and just text over telnet. I’m going to have to go to a meeting now, just because you brought it up.

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there is always soma, delicious soma

When I work on Games of our Lives, I usually listen to Fred on 44 or Ethel on 47. I used to listen to Lucy on 54, but it’s recently become totally unlistenable, thanks to the addition of Sheryl Crow (on the “alternative” station?), and the heavy rotation of Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers, making my satellite radio just as annoying as my regular radio. Way to go, XM.

Today, however, I’m listening to some fantastic radio from the internets that I thought I’d share with the five of you who don’t know about it already: SomaFM, from San Francisco, specifically the Secret Agent station.

I used to listen to Soma quite often in the pre-Mac days, when I’d stream music over shoutcast on my Linux machine, but I usually listened to Groove Salad. I forgot about it until I found the Secret Agent station sort of by accident last night, and I’ve been listening to it pretty much nonstop since I got up this morning. So check it out, if you want to hear something you probably haven’t heard before, or are in the mood for something totally different.

And while I’m off to work on next week’s Games of our Lives, I encourage you to take a look at this week’s installment, Bermuda Triangle, which has some cool (in my opinion, anyway) Easter Egg-ish obscure references for your “hey! I got that!” pleasure. While you’re there, you may want to take a look at Guzzler, which I also think is pretty funny.

Sony Says PS3 Price Leak is Incorrect

Remember yesterday, when I wrote that the PS3 was getting stupid expensive?

Sony says the leaked price was incorrect, but after reading their statement,  think it sort of depends on what your definition really stupid expensive is.

(link goes to my article at SGNews, which is SFW.)