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Home Shit Home

I’m late to the party for Critical Distance’s November round robin affair, writing this on the evening of December 1st, but what the hell: I wanted to write something about this so let’s go for it anyway. This will prove a bit of a freeform ramble, as you’ve probably guessed by the publication date up top.

The theme this month concerns “player-owned” spaces in games, typically understood as a sort of home (or home base, if you want):

There are many games that allow players to carve out and claim a space to call their own. Unlike customizable avatars, these places become part of the fabric of the game environment. We can travel away from them, packed with gear for battle, or we can travel back to them in search of a bed to rejuvenate our bodies, souls, and possibly our magika. They can be urban or rural. They can be ours alone or communal spaces. Much like real homes, they are what we make of them.

Tell us about homes you’ve made in games. Have you built a home and started a family in Skyrim? What music did your Commander Shepard relax to, and what fish were in the tank, what models on the shelves? What makes your Animal Crossing home distinctly yours? Why is your guildhall the best guildhall in all the MMORPG land? How long have you defended your camp in Don’t Starve? Basically, if you’ve carved out a space to call your own, or if you’ve turned a house into ‘Home Sweet Home,’ we want to hear about it.

There’s something about this premise that rings false to me. To try and pin down this sensation I thought back to some of the places I’ve called home in various games over the years.

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Review: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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Preview: The Old City: Leviathan

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A city can be said to exist as much in the minds of its residents as it does in any geographical reality. Too expansive and complex for any one person to comprehend in its entirety, such is true of virtually any metropolis in the world today.

The social psychology of cities is one of the themes explored in M. John Harrison’s Viriconium stories; three novels and various short stories all set in or around the titular city. Another such theme is the subversion of a trope of fantasy fiction: secondary world-building, what Harrison himself memorably referred to as “the clomping foot of nerdism”. That is, the desire to map and categorise a fictional place: to cram into an appendix banal detail on the cultural customs of a made-up nation in a made-up world, to invent the language of elves or klingons, or to calculate the number of personnel required to man an Imperial Star Destroyer. Such concerns are by a long way secondary to the construction of story, but have often been elevated to great prominence thanks to a nerdish desire to catalogue, define and contain. So the argument goes.

I mention all of this because my early hours with The Old City: Leviathan brought it flooding back. First: Viriconium, a fictional city I’ve always found fascinating because it is simultaneously a cipher, a source of reflexive fiction, and the context in which some wonderful stories have been told. To remind me of that is high praise in my book. Second: the ineffable qualities of cities, such as the eponymous Old City – so old and so central that it becomes the only city. Thirdly: that the clomping foot of nerdism is the enemy of magic and mystery. What wonder remains when everything is explained to you in dry, tedious detail? That certainly does not happen here.

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First Look at Need for Speed Rivals: The Movie: The Script

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We didn’t think much of the Need for Speed film starring Aaron Paul when I wrote about it previously. Of course, demonstrating our inability to understand what the general public deem worthy of their money, the film has grossed $200 million worldwide.

A sequel has been greenlit to follow up on this success. It has been touted as the ‘Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift of the Need for Speed franchise’ by one insider, while another person close to the project said that the script was turning out ‘like a combination of What Dreams Might Come and The Machinist but with wicked ass cars’.

There has been mention that Darren Aronofsky (Noah, Black Swan) – currently taking a break from his gritty Police Academy reboot which appears to have a stalled because Steve Guttenberg is demanding more money – is set to helm the project if it gets off the ground.

Here at Arcadian Rhythms we were lucky enough to gain access to an early draft of the script, and have been allowed to go into some detail concerning plans for the film. For more info read on below the fold!

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Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

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To understand what makes Shadow of Mordor interesting, and in some ways very good, I have to go back to Hero Quest.

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Stupid Comment of the Month #6: totally not about gamergate

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We’ve not had a Stupid Comment of the Month since 2012. The topic does not often come up, and is usually helmed by Shaun, but this time round I am taking the reigns. It is going to be a bumper edition courtesy of a random guy off the internet.

In the last few weeks I have been slowly retreating from social media. After reading a piece by Laura Michet (not linked here due to the nature of this post) it struck me that I was spending too much time engaging in social media discussion that ultimately left me exhausted.

A comedian once said that mobile phones allow people to talk more about less and I utterly agree with that sentiment. I feel like the internet has caused me to have even fewer significant conversations and yet I’m more drained due to investing more time in those I do have.

However, when the following conversation started on a Facebook thread I really couldn’t resist breaking the silence.

Please note: we aren’t complete dicks, so identities have been obscured (with humorous pictures in some cases). Also, we have provided a translation for one of the members of the conversation. The text exists mostly in unedited form but we have included some non-stupid inline comments so as to give the rest of the discussion context. Screengrabs of the conversation were taken in two batches, on the night that the conversation started and the following afternoon just before the thread was deleted.

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