What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Fiona Maazel, novelist

Fiona Maazel, novelist

The Brooklyn writer is currently in Germany, a place where nationalism, sports and gaming are all thrown together in a hooliganistic mix.

By Drew Toal • June 29, 2012

In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.

Fiona Maazel is the author of Last Last Chance, a 2008 novel in which a deadly plague is unleashed on mankind—which proves bad timing for a drug-addicted woman who’s trying to get clean. Her forthcoming novel, Woke Up Lonely, features a cult leader who tries to eradicate loneliness in America. (It’s available for pre-order on Amazon.) A Brooklyn resident, Maazel is currently abroad, serving as a guest professor of literature at the University Of Leipzig.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Fiona Maazel: Oh, you know, I’m playing that game where you watch other people play. Play what? Soccer! Finals of the Eurocup are this weekend. Have I watched all 28 games so far? I have. I’ve watched at home, in bars all over Germany, and with 30,000 of my Polish friends in a park just west of the main square in Krakow. I’ve graphed the scores and recorded most of the players’ stats. I’ve thought a lot about the geometry of the game—there’s real elegance in all that math—and also about everyone’s hair. A lot of gel on the field this year. A few mohawks.

I’ve also thought about my revising allegiances as the tournament proceeds. Generally, I root for the team whose home country’s economy is in worse shape. I wanted Greece to run away with the whole thing. Then Portugal. Spain. Italy. Except this is just in theory because it’s impossible to root for Portugal—Ronaldo is an ass—and even harder to root for Spain. When nationalism—which usually just fronts for xenophobia—doesn’t come into play, allegiances turn capricious and strange. Or just unpredictable. So I don’t know who I’m pulling for, so long as it’s not Germany. Anyone but Germany, which are fightin’ words, since I’m in Germany, in which case maybe this weekend, I’ll be playing that game called How Not To Get Killed By A German. 

Gameological: Great game, that—the German death one, not soccer. Do the Germans have drinking games?

Maazel: I don’t think they have any. Like anyone here needs a game to drink? Most of the bars open at 8 a.m., and usually have plenty of customers by then. That guy with his pint of Schwartz beer? He really doesn’t need to be playing quarters. 

Gameological: At least you can use your hands in quarters. You just finished up your second novel, apparently centered around a cult leader, his family, and a hostage situation. But you say it’s really about loneliness. What’s your interest in that?

Maazel: Oh, I think I’ve been interested in loneliness all my life. One of the central questions of the novel is whether loneliness—which is, of course, very different from solitude—is congenital, circumstantial, or acquired. Is it surmountable? Can it be mitigated? I don’t really know, so I decided to write a novel to see if I could find out.

The book’s about people on various paths towards or away from estrangement. It’s about four people who get taken hostage, the cult leader who snatches them, and his ex-wife. The cult is a therapeutic community whose mandate is to assault and overcome loneliness in 21st-century America. It does and does not succeed, depending on who you ask.

Me, I’ve always felt somewhat lonely. Surrounded by friends and family, but just sort of not there or worse, unknown. I am certainly not the first to feel this way and not the first to write about it. But I started to think about this condition in the context of the 2000 and 2004 elections—when the country seemed so polarized, though who could have known then how much more polarized things would get?—and what would happen if a whole lot of people, in addition to feeling fractured from each other, also felt fractured from the ruling government to the point of wanting out. Of wanting to secede. So some of the book is about a fringe part of the cult and also, uh, North Korea, which is rather keen on sponsoring a large anti-American movement from within. Well, the book’s a little nuts. Am I answering your question? Maybe the game I need to be playing is how to be coherent about my own work.

Gameological: Well, as far as games go, loneliness interests me because, on one hand, it seems like games are meant to be played with or against each other. You know, other people. On the other hand, one of the best things about gaming, and books, for that matter, is that they both appeal to the maladjusted loner in all of us. You don’t need other people for either one. In fact, they can be a detriment. Or is that what you meant by solitude? What’s the difference, in your mind? One is voluntary and the other is not?

Maazel: It’s true. Gaming in the 21st century is often about solitude, though I don’t know if it’s about loneliness. What’s the difference between the two? They seem almost unrelated to me. Solitude is just about being alone. Loneliness is about feeling disconnected from humanity, which you can feel among friends or alone, no matter. For a lot of people—especially the Transcendentalists among us—solitude is redemptive. It’s a spiritual condition that has nothing to do with loneliness. It is a condition to be sought and cherished. Reading is a solitary activity; likewise certain kinds of gaming, though that interaction—between man and machine—actually feels more binary to me than the experience of reading a book. For instance: a book doesn’t punch back. 

Gameological: Norman Mailer may disagree. Run into any soccer hooligans, German or otherwise?

Maazel: What makes you think I’m not a hooligan? So presumptuous. Get enough adrenaline flowing, and maybe I’m the one fencing strangers with a broken beer bottle. But anyway, I’m told the Germans aren’t really allowed to express their nationalism—for all the obvious reasons—but that football is a sanctioned pretext for it. So you’d expect them to go wild. But they are no more wild than anyone else. At the moment, Germany’s riding a very high horse, and so I think the rest of Europe has added incentive to take them out. But from Germany’s point of view, the game with the Netherlands was more charged than the game against Greece—the former being another notch in an old rivalry, the latter being about, uh, David & Goliath economies, which only a dork like me cares about in this context. 

Gameological: How do you express your American nationalism?

Maazel: Gah! I don’t have those feelings! I am, in fact, horrified by any display of nationalism. I find it embarrassing. Okay, I can deal with the national anthem now and then, but the flybys and flag folding and children’s choir singing “God Bless America”? That stuff makes me despair. How about we spend less time indulging displays of our greatness and more time actually trying to be great? Or even decent? How about just decent?

Gameological: I’ll settle for decent. Personally, my favorite symbol of American nationalism is “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. I just played an Xbox game that took as its premise a militarized United Nations invading the United States. Guess those guys got tired of us, too. With the EU kind of failing and nativist elements popping up in the U.S., do you see the world sliding back into armed nationalist camps? Or are we too busy playing the Angry Birds to get that angry anymore?

Maazel: Well, you know, Duggan has a bachelor’s in applied plant biology. So when we all blow each other up, that guy’s gonna be just fine in the biosphere. Nationalist camps? Well, it certainly seems like jingoism and extremism are on the rise—for instance, what is Golden Dawn doing with 21 seats in the Greek Parliament?—but then I think this has less to do with actual jingoism than despair apropos of failing economies and desperation. It’s a lot easier to blame the immigrants than your idiot government for why you have no money, though I suppose it’s just as easy to blame both. Personally, I’m way too busy playing Angry Birds even to be having this dialogue with you, but then I might not be the control here.

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527 Responses to “Fiona Maazel, novelist”

  1. blue vodka lemonade says:

    Right now I’m playing “justify the cost of The Secret World,” and depending on whether or not I win that one I’ll be playing the beta of The Secret World for a couple days. Otherwise it’s Mass Effect 2 and Game of Thrones: The Card Game (of Thrones,) which I just purchased and for which I have yet to entirely parse the instruction manual. Having never played any kind of card-battle-game, it’s going to be an interesting time.

    • dreadguacamole says:

       The Secret World is coming out in a few days, so no more beta.
       I’ve preordered a copy for me and my wife, so I’ll probably be spending a large amount of time on it (If I get into the headstart weekend, which apparently is not a sure thing).

       I loved, loved, loved the beta; combat is not very good (it wouldn’t be a problem, but it being an MMO, there’s loads upon loads of it) but the sense of immersion and adventure is top notch. Unless there’s some serious drop-off in quality and content, ala Conan, this may be my favorite MMO since DDO.
       To be honest, I kind of wish they’d release it as a single player game.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         That’s at least comforting; I’m waiting for it to download right now. This is the first time I’ve pre-ordered a game since I bought Alone in the Dark in 2008, played it for exactly one day, and sold its ass back to GameStop for a fifth of what I paid for it, so I was pretty hesitant to jump in on a game in a genre I’ve never quite gotten into.

        It’s pretty telling when I get really excited by art from an MMO just because it looks like female characters get the same clothes, more or less, that male characters do.

        TEMPLAR4LYFE

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

        I started playing right at noon EST, had to go get lunch, and now it’s so slow I can’t even log in. Oops. 

        Everything is pretty enough so far, but the extra-stiff tank movement seems like it needs some serious streamlining. It’s a bit more visceral than click-click-clicking to run along, but it’s also much easier for me to, say, become stuck in the corner of a record store with an invisible character, uncertain what direction I’m facing or how to get out.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       Tell us how the Game of Thrones Card Game is. It’s come up a few times in the comments, and I’m very curious about it.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

        I’m probably a very bad judge of this, because I’ve never played a game like it–no Magic cards in this house, except the thousand or so my mother tricked herself into thinking she’d use to make collages or something–and so far, just reading the rules is like trying to learn another language. 

        If nothing else, it requires a pretty substantial amount of table real-estate considering how insubstantial the package is; you have a board, you have two kinds of cardboard tokens, you have four decks of cards each about 1.5 times the size of your standard Bicycle pack. Once you see the “suggested layout” for the cards in front of each player, you realize that it takes up pretty much your whole kitchen table if you’re playing with 4 people.

        Also, while the box cheerily advertises that you can play with 2 to 4 players, several online commenters have said it’s badly-balanced with 3 and the rulebook itself only suggests the 2-player variant in a few lines near the end, and strongly advises that you play with 4. Right now we’re planning on heading to an open games night at the local shop and seeing if anyone will help us get into the game, because the variety of cards, the art, and what I understand of the mechanics all seem quite nice.

        • Girard says:

           Tell us how your mom’s Magic: The Gathering collage is. It’s come up a few times in the comments, and I’m very curious about it.

          Seriously, that may be the weirdest reason I’ve ever heard of for buying Magic cards.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

          @bakana42:disqus See, that’s the tragic thing: she never made anything out of them. They sat in a Longaberger basket in the TV stand for upwards of seven years. I think they ended up with my older sister’s boyfriend who actually plays the game.

          All I know is they came from some guy she met in MENSA who had a few hundred cards to get rid of. She asked him if he had any worthless/duplicate cards, so he gave her a huge box of ’em for an unspecified number of dollars.

          I do, however, have photographic evidence of four or five unfinished quilts, a mostly-mosaic-tiled cement bird-bath, a handful of halves of cross-stitch projects, and at least one terrifying abomination of wool felt and antique doll parts. My mother loves all crafts, just not for very long.

  2. Sandwichands says:

    Finishing off L.A. Noire hopefully.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

       I’m assuming this is your first time playing, so:

      I finished it just a few weeks ago, and had mixed feelings about the endgame. I’d love to hear another perspective on it from someone who’s recently played, since most discussions of the game seem to have died down.

      • Sandwichands says:

        Yeah if I finish it off I will definitely get back to you.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           Teti likes it, but early on in Gameological’s sordid comment board history, we commenters spent a lot of time trashing it.

          I, for one, never finished it, so I’m always curious to hear what motivated people to keep at it.

        • dreadguacamole says:

          I kind of liked it, warts and all, but my stupid completism killed it for me – the fact that it ranks interrogations and missions made me replay them until I got them perfect, which got really boring after a while. And them* being so random sometimes made me unhappy with just sticking to my choices and moving on. After a while it kind of killed the game for me.
           Damn my pseudo-OCD!

          *Edit: (The interrogations)

        • Effigy_Power says:

           ‘t’was an early GS’ “Dawes”, ‘t’is true.

        • Merve says:

          @dreadguacamole:disqus: Oh man, the interrogations are just awful. The worst part about them is that deciding between “truth” and “doubt” comes down to interpreting the ridiculous facial expressions of the character models. In many cases, both involve lies of omission, so in theory, “doubt” should be what you pick. But the game doesn’t work that way. The lines were originally recorded as “coax” and “force,” which makes a lot more sense in the context of the game.

          Also irritating: there are many instances where multiple pieces of evidence could be used to prove that the person of interest is lying. But you have the select the exact one that the game wants you to.

        • Zachary Moore says:

          I think if you treat it more as a story to be experienced, and not as a game to get a perfect score in, then you’ll enjoy it much more. I kinda wish they left the ranking system out of it.

          I liked the ending on a story level, sort of, but in terms of gameplay it sucked.

          This is related, I promise: http://tinyurl.com/cyut7kr

        • HobbesMkii says:

           @google-dad81b5bddd5512057304af81c4db7a7:disqus I try to pay attention to the story most of all, because I’ve heard how underwhelming the mechanics are. I’d be more interested in the story, if Phelps wasn’t so much of a dick. He’s perhaps the least pleasant protagonist I’ve encountered in any medium.

      • blue vodka lemonade says:

         @dreadguacamole:disqus I’m usually at least a little bit of a completist, but it being my second-ever rental meant that I sped through it in a few days and didn’t really focus on playing “well.” What I’m saying is, I wrecked a lot of cars. Like a lot a lot.

        The one thing I almost shamed myself into replaying was the very first case, in which I answered every single interrogation question incorrectly. It did not boost my confidence going into the game proper.

        • The_Misanthrope says:

           If you hold down the button to get in the car, your partner will drive for you, which saves you from a lot of property damage.  Granted, at that point, it seems like the game just wants to play itself and just let you watch. 

          Alone in the Dark had much the same problem.  Screw up enough times on a chapter, it would just ask you if you want to skip it. 

          I understand that developers want to keep people from quitting a game due to difficulty, but options to skip sections of gameplay are just lazy design.  It would have been better for LA Noire to tighten up the driving controls a little bit.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

          @The_Misanthrope:disqus Tragically (for the residents of Los Angeles, at least,) you can’t make your partner do any chases. I don’t think I actually killed anybody, but I did wreck a couple $20,000 cars.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           Instead of tightening the driving controls, they should have tightened the map.
          Once again, the mantra is that the map is massively wasted on the game. So much room, so little to do.
          Interesting that Fallout New Vegas’ version of the Mohave Desert (poetically known as a place of solitude and desolation) is packed with action, while L.A., the city of choice for 80’s roustabouts, is devoid of any activity.

        • lokanoth says:

          When I got to the topiary maze I decided I hated the game as much as I hated Cole Phelps.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           @lokanoth:disqus Aaarrggghhh that damn hedge maze. What was also terrible was when I gave up and looked online for the way through it and the first thing the guide said was “It’s an extremely easy maze and no one should need this but…”

          So I was doubly-mad. Erblah.

        • Zachary Moore says:

           I liked to imagine that Cole Phelps used driving as a release for all of his pent-up rage, which is why he (aka I) drove on the sidewalk so much and drifted wildly around every corner.

          Also my Cole Phelps didn’t give a fuck about property damage.

        • Merve says:

          The partner AI in the game isn’t all that great. I failed cases a couple of times by accidentally running over my partner. Here’s a hint, Rusty: don’t stand behind a reversing car!

      • Merve says:

        Having finished L.A. Noire a few weeks ago, I have some thoughts on the endgame (SPOILERS).

        I had mixed feelings for most of the game (and negative feelings for much of the homicide desk*), but the last few hours of the game, particularly the sections where the player controls Jack Kelso, are fantastic. It’s a shame I had to wade through so much crap to get there. Jack breathed some life into a game that was otherwise getting repetitive, and I liked the fact that he couldn’t just call for back-up to get out of a sticky situation.

        As for the ending, I didn’t hate it, but I’m not sure that the game earned it. I’m fine with Cole dying after finding redemption for what he did in the War, but there simply isn’t enough cynicism throughout the game to justify ending it with Earle and the police chief still in charge. The story is too much a tale of Cole’s rise, fall, and redemption to also be a thorough examination of stagnation and corruption in “the system.” As a result, the final scene seems to be the ending to a story that wasn’t told. There are glimpses of it over the course of the game, but it’s never really the story’s focus. Some might argue that the arson desk is all about corruption, but I’d say that the corrupt group of men who control the city are presented as a standard cabal of evildoers, not as products and perpetuators of “the system.”

        So overall, the final few hours are great, but they don’t stick the landing.

        * The most irritating part of the game for me was knowingly putting away people who weren’t the culprits, as Cole was forced to do for most of the homicide and arson desks. The game became less of an exercise in crime-solving and more of an exercise in fudging evidence to fit some cooked-up story that didn’t make any sense.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

          The whole funeral at the end bothered me, with both who was there and what was said.

          Also, I spent about 60% of the game fully believing that Cole’s wife was dead and he had no children, because there was no indication they existed except for the one or two times he’d yell “she’s the mother of my children!” at someone for saying something mean. 

          There were a lot of things going on at the end, and like you said, it felt like a lot of those things just didn’t get set up. And there were some clues in the homicide desk (maybe I just missed the punchline) that never seemed to get resolved, like being led up to the roof with the pigeons on one murder, and then having another murder be by the guy who takes care of the pigeons, completely unrelated to the other murders. If that makes sense.

          I enjoyed the atmosphere, the acting, and a good number of the cases and chunks of the overall plot. It just didn’t cohere too well, for me. I also made the mistake, after finishing most of the game except for the last two arson cases, of just running around to try and find a collectible or two and “see the sights.” For some reason, running around the bumfuck corners of that ghost town, something just broke for me and I couldn’t quite properly enjoy the rest of the game. It just soured the whole experience, made it feel hollow, and that’s not a feeling you want from a big, modern, open game.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           I shouldn’t have read this, since I didn’t finish, but he dies?! I have to play this to the end now, if only to get some closure on the trauma Phelps has inflicted on me.

        • Merve says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus: I find it interesting how many players complain about hating Phelps. He’s a douche, but he’s supposed to be a douche.

          Playing a game as a sort of antihero is somewhat of a novel experience. L.A. Noire doesn’t want the player to project him- or herself onto the protagonist, which I think conflicts with some players’ natural inclination for role-playing.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          I think the thing with most antiheroes is that they’re someone you root for. I tried to make sure Cole completed all his cases as correctly as possible, for my own sake, but I also took a sort of perverse pleasure in watching him die. Max Payne is an antihero, but you feel sympathy for him. Cole is just an asshole.

        • Merve says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus: I think there’s a difference between Cole Phelps and someone like Max Payne or Tommy Vercetti from Vice City. Phelps is a good guy, unequivocally on the right side of the law. Payne’s and Vercetti’s actions are more dubious.

          If you’ll let me indulge in amateur psychology, I have a highly unscientific theory about this. Max Payne and Tommy Vercetti aren’t exactly working on the right side of the law, but players find it easier to sympathize with them because they do crazy things, like bullet-time shootouts and vehicular explosions. Playing as them is a way of sublimating our primal desire to cause mayhem. (I’m not saying that’s how you experience the games; I’m speaking in generalities here.) With Cole Phelps, there’s no such release valve; there’s just pure asshole, all the time.

        • dreadguacamole says:

           @Merve2:disqus I don’t think the problem is that Phelps is a douche (at least, not for me.) The problem is that he’s a fairly two-dimentional douche, at least until fairly late into the game. I’m not saying Vercetti is drawn any better, but if a character is this unlikeable and unemphatethic (is that a word?), then at least make him interesting.
           The other problem is that he’s fairly inconsistent douche; ok, so he’s unhealthily driven, and a bit of a prick. That doesn’t explain why he’ll just launch off these weird righteous angry tirades against the most obviously innocent bystanders on interrogations.

           And as you said, Kelso and the supporting cast were fantastic, so only makes Phelps look worse.

        • Merve says:

          @dreadguacamole:disqus: That’s a fair assessment. I found Cole more interesting than most players did, so I didn’t mind that he was a prick. If anything, it made me want to find out why he was a prick.

          As for the interrogations, I expressed my dissatisfaction with them upthread. I too was put off by how easy it was to make Cole fly off into a rage if I selected Doubt at the wrong time. For the record, though – and I’m sorry if I’ve pointed this out before – it wasn’t Aaron Staton’s fault. They recorded his lies as Coax, Force, and Lie, and then relabelled them as Truth, Doubt, and Lie in the final version of the game. Not only does this change make some of the interrogation scenes bizarre and nonsensical, it also, as you pointed out, undermines some of Cole’s characterization.

  3. ShitMcFuckensteinAVC says:

    Arkham City GOTY. Maybe. haven’t been playing much lately. Anyone else go through phases where you play a lot for a while or quit for a while?

    • TomElman says:

      oh yes, until i got the last humble bundle i would just stare at the box for dark souls, never being able to muster up the energy to slide that bad boy in. this weekend i will be attacking the binding of isaac. the first couple times i played i didn’t get it, but now i daydream about playing it at work

      • doyourealize says:

        Don’t be scared! I was thinking about starting a new character in Dark Souls this weekend, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. Look me up if you get on! PSN doyourealize.

        Note: I’ve posted on here before that I want to play with people, and then I got into a crazy busy grading time and was unable to find time for a while. If you’re reading this, I apologize, and I have time now.

      • dreadguacamole says:

          Oh, man. I’m more than halfway through Dark Souls, I really need to go back and finish it. I wish I’d stuck to the game instead of “trying out” whatever game took me off rails.

         I have this problem fairly often; for example, I loved Bayonetta, but Mass Effect 2 came out before I finished it. By the time I went back to Bayonetta, I’d become unused to its combos and controls, so I couldn’t get back into it at the point where I’d left it. It’s there, in my shelf, waiting for me to tackle it from the beginning.

        This also happens to me with every Zelda game and a lot of Nintendo games (but the fact that the series doesn’t do much for me also helps – I keep trying to finish them because everyone else says they’re so great…)

    • Sandwichands says:

      Shameful to say but I had this experience with Metal Gear Solid 4. It got to a point where even though I loved playing it, it was becoming a bit same same. Picked it up 2 months later to finish it off and had a blast.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

       With Arkham Asylum, I played it for like five hours a day the first week I had it. Then I had to get my Xbox serviced and lost my savegame, was depressed about that, and left it on the shelf for six months. I swear it taunted me in my sleep.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       I would say this is my experience with almost every game. There are a few old standbys I know I’ll enjoy and that don’t feel like they’re going to require much effort to partake in, but often I can’t muster the energy to reinvest myself in games like Skyrim or Dragon Age and consequently never complete them.

      • The_Misanthrope says:

        Yeah, I just downloaded the Extended Cut for ME3, played through the infiltration of Cerebus HQ, and then just kind of stopped playing.  I’m sure I’ll finish it up this weekend, but it just starts to feel like a slog.

      • lylebot says:

        I started Dragon Age Origins back in May, got to the part where it opened up (after Ostragar), and then left town (and my PS3) for the summer.  I was enjoying it when I left, but when I’ve been back for a day here or there I have found it impossible to get back into.  I find I just don’t want to play it anymore :(

        I’m playing Torchlight while I’m away from my PS3 for the summer and have only my MacBook to keep me company.  I’m making such good progress on the hardest achievements that I’m debating whether I want to put in the 120+ hours I estimate it’ll take to get them all…

    • ToddG says:

      I briefly mentioned this here a few weeks ago, but I’m doing the Calendar Man trophy following the actual calendar instead of messing with the system clock.  This of course means I pop in Arkham City once a month and, while the actual calendar man requirement only takes about ten minutes of interaction, I invariably end up playing one, or two, or ten combat challenges and suddenly it is two hours later.

    • JudgeReinhold says:

      Yes. The play a lot stage was before I had a kid. The quit for a while stage is everything after that point. 

      I did manage to play about 6 total hours of Crusader Kings II in the month since I bought it, though. And Guiness, son of Potato, had just become King of Ireland the last time I played.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        There’s a new patch out and Paradox isn’t guaranteeing it’s save game compatible. So now you get to experience the joy of attempting to build a kingdom from scratch, again. 

        If you don’t mind ahistoricism, a mod I really enjoy that might make it easier for new players is called “Broken Kingdoms.” It strips all Kingdom and higher titles from the start of the game, leaving behind only duchies. You can then choose to play as a duke and try to form a kingdom before the other dukes do. It’s available here (you need to register your key w/ Paradox to see that forum):
        http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?593646-Mod-Broken-Kingdoms 

        The same guy who created that also created a Title Generator, which allows any duchy to form a Kingdom and an Empire version of itself. So you can play as the King (or Emperor) of Meath, for instance. I find it complements Broken Kingdoms beautifully. And because you can tweak the requirements to form these Kingdoms and Empires, the AI can’t take advantage of it. Unfortunately, this one isn’t updated for the new patch yet, but it should be soon.

    • doyourealize says:

      I’ll be playing that myself.

      Also, I seem to be in that phase myself these days. Usually it takes something that sucks me in completely to turn me around. Last time it happened, I finally picked up the Half-Life games, which I tried to play before on console and got bored, but when I played on PC I realized why people like FPS’s on PC so much.

    • Merve says:

      I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve picked up and put down Fallout: New Vegas, Worms Reloaded, Far Cry and Beyond Good & Evil. I’m sure I’ll finish them eventually. I get distracted by shiny new* things really easily. Right now I’m playing through Tales of Monkey Island – I’m stuck on chapter 2 – and I seem to have put all my other gaming on hold.

      * By “new,” I mean “new for me.”

  4. maazel tov?

    Anyways, i’m playing Tomb Raider Legends on an old PC laptop. Cool game, but very stressful as you have to jump and jump for infinity.

  5. Matt1267 says:

    I’ve had Mario Kart Wii for a few years, but never really played it. Now I’m starting to get into it. I’m also starting a new build on Oblivion, and I’ve been checking out the Pyromania update on TF2. These new Pyrovision goggles are pretty amazing

    • Asinus says:

      I hate playing the races alone, but, damn, I love time trials. I also think that the game will hand out fewer of the cheat items computer racers (if you’re playing alone) if you don’t take the lead right away. Getting hit by a 4th or 5th blue shell just makes me so angry at that game, but I found that if I try to hold somewhere around 7th place during the first lap or half lap, I see far fewer of those “fuck you, there’s nothing you can do about it” items.

      The blue shell is particularly shitty. What good does it do the person in 11th or 12th to take out the person in 1st? I’d personally rather not have it and get more practical things that will help me advance.

      Sorry… been playing that lately, too, and spending a lot of time telling the game to fuck off.

    • doyourealize says:

      My experience with MKWii is brief, but from what I could tell, it seemed seriously dumbed down from previous iterations. One of the most strategic aspects of 64 and Double Dash was the short boost technique you could use after sliding. Figuring out how and when to use it made the game much more satisfying (according to me, anyway). As far as I can tell, this feature is completely gone in the Wii version.

      • Matt1267 says:

        Well, I haven’t played 64 or Double Dash (SNES is the only other version I’ve played), but in MKWii you can drift around turns, and build up small boosts. I’m not sure if it’s the same as in 64 or Double Dash, but it sounds like it is

        • doyourealize says:

          Nope, that sounds about right. Maybe I was too quick to judge. We were playing with the wheel. Are you using that or a controller?

        • Asinus says:

           I THINK you can still do it with the wheel, but that is way too sluggish, so I use the wiimote/chuck. Well, wait, maybe you can’t. You use B to do it with the nunchuck, it might be 1 or 2 when you’re steeringwheeling.

        • Matt1267 says:

          @doyourealize:disqus I’m using just the Wiimote, but without the wheel. The wheel feels kind of clunky, but I like the tactile feel of turnning with the wiimote

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        In MKWii you can pick between Manual and Auto. Usually this means shifting gears, but in MK land it means being able to drift boost. Why they chose to allow people to turn that off for themselves is beyond me. They don’t explain it very well in the game either.

  6. Got FAR CRY 2 on 360 for $5 a little while ago and now have no other gaming distractions to get in the way of playing it this weekend.

  7. Craig says:

    NBA 2K12, which will be obsolete soon enough but dammit, small forward Andy Dwyer deserves to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame and I am determined to get him there.

    • JudgeReinhold says:

      As a Heat fan, I support your decision to play NBA 2K12. Which team does Mr. Dwyer play for? And does he team with Bert Macklin for a 1-2 punch of scoring wings? 

      • Craig says:

        I play for the Pacers, of course (they drafted me, believe it or not).  No Bert, but when I’m in the zone, I call that Macklin mode.

      • Cornell_University says:

        BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

        • Cornell_University says:

          Sorry.  Lifelong Celtics fan.  More well adjusted than most I promise.

        • JudgeReinhold says:

          As a lifelong Heat fan, the Celtics have now joined the Knicks as the team I love rooting against. 

          Although rooting against the Knicks at this point just feels like piling on, since it’s been a long time since they were constantly beating us in the playoffs, and they haven’t gone anywhere since. The Isaiah Years were sweet for us Knicks haters. 

          But hey, thanks to the Celtics for goading LeBron into unlocking Beast Mode. It’s appreciated!

        • Cornell_University says:

          I was not aware there was such a thing as a lifelong Heat fan, other than maybe some toddlers with lousy parents.

          I KID! I KID TO KEEP FROM CRYING.

          and we just drafted a guy named Fab Melo.  Which is either the coolest name ever or a laundry detergent.  WATCH THE THRONE MIAMI.

        • JudgeReinhold says:

          Oh, I often make fun of the late-to-the-party (in so many ways) Heat “fans” myself, so I don’t take offense. 

          You know what’s funny? I wanted the Heat to draft Fab Melo just because of his name. Just as one of those “We just won a championship, so it really doesn’t matter” type of moves. 

          I can’t believe we passed up an opportunity to grab Perry Jones. That was a zero-risk, potentially great reward pick. 

        • Cornell_University says:

          I’m guessing it must be something akin in spirit to going to Red Sox games after 2004 and being the only person in my section that was actually watching the game (and yelling obscenities, because it’s Boston)

          I thought it was hilarious that PJ got drafted by a legit contender rather than a boondoggle like Orlando and was just pissy and inconsolable he slid so far.  I love the NBA so much I can’t wait for next year. (except I can, because we took the guy with the f’ed up back in the first round, Ray Ray’s done and every other thing wrong with the C’s)

        • JudgeReinhold says:

          It’s exactly like the post-2004 Sox in at least one way: Trendy “fans” drove up ticket prices prohibitively. Now that it’s a place to be seen demand is insanely high. 

          I do give them credit for actually making some noise in the Finals, though.  And seeing Birdman sitting next to an old ass white lady courtside? That is 100% Miami. 

          But our whining about our teams should stop, given how successful they’ve been lately. Shit, we could be Bobcats or Hawks fans. 

        • Cornell_University says:

          we could not, because Bobcats fans do not exist.

          but I get the sentiment.  I wasn’t too glum when  Lebron crushed the C’s, as I didn’t even expect any sort of playoff run when the season started, and holy shit has LBJ finally lived up to all the hype.  Once he figured out that he was too goddamn nice to try to fit the villian role that the media kept trying to push him into in Miami I resented him a lot less.  

          as for the Celtics, the window HAS to be closed for another title run for at least a few years, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride after suffering through the post Bird era for so long.  “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLEEEEEEEE” is worth a dozen early playoff exits (I will absolutely recant on this later).

          Okay I’m done talking sports I swear.
          “BEAT IT JOCK” -everyone

        • John Teti says:

          I’m also a Boston fan (grew up in New Hampshire) and have been saying “Surely the window is closed now” for the past few years, but I agree, it HAS to be closed for a little while now, right?

          The 2010 NBA Finals coincided with E3 2010, so I got tickets to Game 6, a potential clincher for the Celtics, who were up three games to two. Of course, as you’ll remember, it was an enormous loss. Just an all-out miserable 60 minutes of basketball, surrounded by taunting fans (not obnoxiously taunting, though — they were pretty decent folks in my section). After that, I was like, welp, no basketball experience for the foreseeable future could possibly be as terrible as that just was. And while their losing Game 7 was really depressing, everything since then has not seemed so bad. My experience matched yours: I wasn’t terribly glum after the Heat won that series this year. The whole playoff run felt like icing.

        • Cornell_University says:

          hey neighbor!  (I’m from the Cape originally, but I moved to Boston after dropping out of college)  

          I moved to Indianapolis 6 months ago, so I had to settle with watching the Celtics live the two times they played here this season.  I was hoping against hope they’d match up in the playoffs (the Pacers were giving away tickets.  Other Guy and What’s-His-Face don’t seem to be attracting a rabid fanbase) but of course I didn’t get my way.  I was also hoping to randomly run into Larry at a game and get him to be friends with me, but I’ve been thwarted now that he’s quitting.  Just hope he’s OK.  

          If Rondo stays on our planet and Bradley continues to show promise I think we can squeak into the playoffs as a low seed (this kinda sorta hinges on KG staying, which I am convinced he will since he seems way beyond caring about contract figures and also I cannot live without his postgame interviews).  I don’t see any possible way for us to really compete hardcore for a while unless Ainge is really nailing these draft picks and/or cooking up some sort of insane trade behind the scenes (DOUBT IT).  But that’s okay.  For one, I said this exact same thing last December, and really, I owned a Eric Montross shirt at one point, so I’m willing to look on the bright side.

          P.S. Refs handed the Lakers game 7 on a silver platter.  CMON TETI!

        • JudgeReinhold says:

          Hey, I went through the post-Alonzo Mourning era and the post-Shaq era. Well-run teams can rebound quickly. And the Celtics bounced back from that Toine-Pierce run and into the Big Three era pretty quickly.

          I’m just glad I don’t have to endure another summer of suggestions that one of the best players in the league should be traded because the team was only better than all but one of the league’s other teams.

  8. MC_Escher_on_the_mic says:

    I decided to work my way through Ultimas IV-VII for the first time in over 16 years. I’m about finished with IV, which I surprisingly retained quite a bit of knowledge of over that time. Plus, with the magic of the iPad, my desk is not cluttered with notes and manuals.

    That might change with V, where I remember having a few pages back and front of scribbles and notes. These damn kids today with their quest logs and auto maps, they don’t know how good they have it.

    • blue vodka lemonade says:

       I was cleaning out a desk at my parents’ house that pretty much only I ever used, and haven’t used in five years or so. I found this sheet of paper covered front-and-back with weird little doodles, very fussy, detailed doodles, along with strings of numbers and phrases and in general the kind of thing you’d expect the crew on Criminal Minds to find in the home of a serial killer. Then I found another six of these sheets.

      It took me like ten minutes of looking them over to realize they were just my notes for various Nancy Drew adventure-game puzzles.

    • JudgeReinhold says:

      Holy shit, how are you even playing Ultima? Do you have some Windows 95 computer laying around your house that takes 15 minutes to boot up, or did they release some playable-on-a-modern-PC versions of the Ultima games?

  9. Emperor_Jim says:

    The new Close Quarters map pack on Battlefield 3. It’s a shot in the arm for that game, and exactly what the community needed. Ziba Tower is now one of my favorite maps in anything ever.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

      I’ve been debating whether to get this. I LOVE Batlefield, already have 200 hours on 3 and i had 300+ on Bad Company 2 before that, but i’ve been pretty pissed at EA lately. On Bad Company 2 we got our new levels for free as long as you had a new copy of the game, and then I willingly paid for Vietnam because it had entirely new weapons, vehicles, AND levels that actually altered the game enough to feel different.

      The whole private server thing has become a noose, since EA decided all the extra money coming in meant they should save even more money by shutting down most of the public servers. I swear there was a filter option for just there official servers at first, and now there isn’t because there just aren’t enough of them.

      I am SO tired of 500 ticket games that usually become one sided slaughters for the last 200 tickets. And i have been randomly kicked from way to many matches in the last few minutes when i am in first place to not be suspicious that players are booting people from their servers for doing better than they are.

      Also, it is disheartening how many people i have seen with the “Premium” tag in the last 2 weeks. Apparently idiots aren’t gonna stop giving EA money, so this is just gonna get worse.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

      I broke down and traded in a game for a playstation card.

      Ziba Tower is fucking awesome. I suck at Gun Game.

  10. Enkidum says:

    I’m playing “being really quiet in China because my Chinese sucks” and “trying (and failing) to convince my brother-in-law that I don’t wish to spend every waking second drunk out of my tree” and, uh… a lot of Plants Vs. Zombies and Dice Soccer for some reason.

  11. Sandwichands says:

    Is Day Zed worth chasing down for my weekend?

  12. TaumpyTearrs says:

    Got Mass Effect 3 on sale for $30 new at Gamestop last week. I’m only about 10 hours in to the one player, because i have gotten addicted to the multiplayer.

    The funny thing is, i don’t even enjoy the multi-player that much, but the whole earning money to buy random packs of new items/characters is frustratingly addictive. They obviously realised if they let you choose your unlocks most of us would play just long enough to unlock our Krogan or Asari or whatever your favorite is and then quit soon after. Instead, you’ve gotta keep grinding the fucker to get what you want. Unless you give them gobs of real money to buy the packs.

    Also, this game shouldn’t be able to say it has “leaderboards”. I figured it would have rankings for best times or scores on each level/difficulty, but its just your fucking N7 rank for all your characters combined. This just means its a ranking of who played longest, and even worse buying the packs and getting characters ups your experience.

    This means that somebody could literally NEVER play a match of MP and just spend shit tons of real money until they levelled up past everybody else to be number one. They would have to be a rich, idiotic loser to do it, but any ranking system where real money can supplant actually playing the game is deeply flawed.

    Just give me my Krogen Vangaurd so i can stop already!

    Also, why the fuck can’t the Batarians roll or dodge in any way? Its bad enough that their home planet/most of their race is destroyed in the story by Shepard’s actions before the game even starts (Admiral Hackett basically just told me “The Batarians are fucked. Oh well, they can’t help us so let’s move on…”). So, there is no way their planet can avoid destruction, but they can’t even roll away from a missile in MP? Poor ugly bastards.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      I am N7 855 and still haven’t acquired the Black Widow, yet have maxed out every god damn shotgun in the game. Only recently got the Asari Justicar. I think the ‘random’ unlock system purposely analyses what weapons and classes you use the most and gives you the complete opposite just to fuck with you.

      Batarians were always dicks anyway, had no problem not bothering to warn them that I was about to propel an asteroid into their mass relay in Arrival. And that dying one in Omega? Sorry no medigel for you pal.

      • TaumpyTearrs says:

        Racist!

        But yeah, that system sounds about right. I have 5 sniper rifles, including the regular Widow, and i have not used one yet. I got the Asari Justicar, but i think it is still my only alien other than the Drell adept i started with and my non-rolling Batarian.

        I also don’t seem to get Medi-gels that often. I currently have 20 thermal clip packs, 13 survival ops packs, 5 missiles and 0 Medi-gels, and i use my missiles and survival packs at pretty much the same rate as the Medi-gels.

        I also talked to someone in a game last night who knew someone that spent $200 real money buying Spectre packs til he got the Black Widow. Between this and Battlefield 3 shenanigans, EA is truly finding amazing ways to part fools from their money.

        • Staggering Stew Bum says:

          Hey, Soda Shepard doesn’t give a shit about anyone who isn’t human and if that’s space racism then so be it.

          Every time they release a DLC with new weapons it makes my slim chances of getting the Black Widow drop even further. It shits me. As for the medigels, don’t worry your supplies will eventually mount up. Luckily when you get to 255 thermal clips you stop getting the damn things in the packs. The secret to the multiplayer is saving your credits for the Premium Spectre Packs, then you get your disappointment in larger and more infrequent doses.

          You shouldn’t be worrying about that though… Finish the single player!

    • Marquis Moon says:

      Now that the Extended Cut DLC is out, and has made the endings much less unpalatable, I’m doing a new playthrough with one of my imported characters who has been waiting in the wings for Bioware to un-shit the bed.

      I expect to be fully addicted — as I was with ME2 — in a matter of days.

      And although I was very much against their decision to make multiplayer a requirement for finishing the game at the highest story success level, I have to say it has not been painful at all to play. I’m enjoying it whenever I dip my feet in there, even now when I no longer have to.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         The endings are… better explained, I give them that much. I am not sure they are better, but they are marginally less confusing.
        Personally I still find it too little too late.

      • Xtracurlyfries says:

        Yeah, I was all excited for the new DLC to give me an excuse to replay the game, but once I started, and learned what exactly had been done to the ending, I just couldn’t get into it.

        The endings are a big steaming pile in what is otherwise an incredibly good and well written series. If I hadn’t played through the others so much and been so well invested perhaps I wouldn’t have cared. As it is the game spoiled a weekend for me and this half-assed DLC does nothing to change that.

      • Merve says:

        The multiplayer is not a requirement to achieve the highest story success level. You can get the same result if you do almost all of the side missions.

        • ToddG says:

          Apparently, it’s possible for your decisions in prior games to close off enough side quest options to prevent you from getting to 4000 or whatever without playing MP, but from what I understand, it’s unusual.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          The extended crap lowered that from 4000 to 3100, according to the ME-wiki.

        • ToddG says:

          Good to know, @Effigy_Power:disqus   I had no idea.

  13. HobbesMkii says:

    Boy, I get the sense that this Ms. Maazel speaks very quickly and breathlessly. I wonder if that’s the case, or it’s just the way her clipped sentences appear on the page.

    I wish I could say I would be playing this weekend, but instead I will spend seven hours at a wedding, sandwiched by six hours of driving in either direction. But maybe when I get home, I will play some A Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2. Or maybe I’ll start working on the history files for the Riverlands. Either way, it ought to be a lot of fun, right? (Hint: only one of those will be fun)

    • Effigy_Power says:

       A game of Crusader Kings 2 IS the weekend, isn’t it?

    • JudgeReinhold says:

      I got the same impression of their conversation. I assumed she spoke like a character on Dawson’s Creek/Gilmore Girls. 

      How is the Game of Thrones mod going for you? Are you sticking it out as the Lannisters or did you move on?

      • HobbesMkii says:

         I’ve mostly played as the Lannisters. I initially tried Robert, but got steamrolled, and then read on the forums that you actually had to use strategy and attempt to link up with the Riverlands, North, and Vale armies, rather than charging the Targaryens doomstacks single-handed. Dorne was also kind of fun–because of the way they’re set up, you have to use their desert attrition to their advantage and just delay invaders from scoring 100% warscore before they’re too weak to continue fighting. The Lannister’s have done better: Tyrion married Margaery, Tywin installed her as Lady Paramount of the Reach, and then their son Bryce inherited both the Westerlands and the Reach. That gave him enough military power to fight off the Targaryen Crownlands, Stormlands, Dorne, and Vale forces (North and Riverlands sat it out) when he declared independence. Now he’s Bryce I, King of the Rock.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Oh. I also played one got Ned Stark incapacitated in battle (I feel like Ned Stark always dies in Robert’s rebellion) causing him to drop dead and Robb take over. Then I married Robb to Jon Arryn’s female heir, causing my Heir to inherit the North and the Vale. Then I kind of screwed that game up because all my Starks became Valemen instead of Northmen and then the King tried to revoke my lordship over the Eyrie but I refused, causing him to go to war with me and half the North took this opportunity to rebel against me. Needless to say, the Starks lost. It was rough.

    • Shain Eighmey says:

      How is that mod going along? I’ve been wanting to give it a try, but I’ve been too busy setting myself up as the Sultan of England. 

      • HobbesMkii says:

         It’s going pretty well. I would encourage you to keep playing as the to-be English Sultan for a bit, because we’re trying (but not promising) to get out a 1.06 compatible version out for the weekend (obviously, this is something I can’t really help with, outside of not introducing more bugs).

      • HobbesMkii says:

        It may take a week. Paradox is apparently going to release a hotfix for 1.06, and it’s murder on mods to release a version only to have a number of things altered by a hotfix patch a week later and have it be unusable again.

  14. ImANarc says:

    I’m taking the few perks of being on an Xbox and playing the Dawnguad DLC for Skyrim.  Decided to roll as a werewolf fighting against vampires because I am unimaginative.  From what I’ve played, the expansion is pretty cool.  Werewolves are actually useful now and the new weapons and armor are pretty cool.  Plus a sexy vampire lady who follows you around and actually has a personality and says more than the few stock phrases.

    [Spoiler, maybe?  It happens pretty early on]

    I find it hilarious that she walks around with an Elder Scroll on her back.  You’d think that’d be unusual but everyone just carries on bemoaning they don’t make steel like Eorlund Gray-Mane.

  15. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    Root  means something entirely different in Australia.
     
    Anyway, I would like to have written that I would be downloading and playing through the Mass Effect 3 extended cut some time this weekend, but for some reason it’s delayed until next week for Australian PS3 owners. Another triumph. After not wanting to negotiate a week of spoiler avoidance I cracked and looked at the extended destroy clip on youtube. Yeah, extra bits are totally unnecessary. I’m still going with IT to make sense of it.

  16. GingerPurple says:

    Prince of Swine is the controversial film now on DVD/VOD. A new girl in town puts Hollywood on trial. http://www.princeofswine.com/store.html

    • HobbesMkii says:

      “Ginger Purple” sounds like a name I would make up if I suffered from a serious head injury. Which is to say it’s the perfect name for a spambot. Flagged.

  17. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    Oh look, the teddy bear was preparing a cocktail, NOT masturbating. What a wonderfully clever advertisement!

    Seriously Gameological, you’ve got to do something about these ads in the side panes, they’re freaking horrendous.

    • Effigy_Power says:

       The Wilfred ad gave me nightmares for days.
      “No Frodo, it is evil!”, I yelled in my sleep. “It only wants the ring!”
      (Not really, but it makes for a better story than waking up with a WTF-face at 4:23am)

  18. Andrew_Ryans_Caddy says:

    After a lot of resistance, an online friend finally talked me into trying MGS: Peace Walker. While I still wish they’d let the guy who died in the first game 20 years ago rest already, I’ve got to admit it’s a lot of fun in co-op. There’s a singing flying robot thing, Miller’s sweet cravat, and a secret KGB agent with a robot hand that has fingers that are lights and CCCP written on it.  Then there is Hot Coldman, the greatest terrible name Japan has come up with since Backyard Bottomslash. 

    Also a lot of Team Fortress 2, because I love that Meet The Pyro answered no questions, kept the gender ambiguous, and was just weird. I plan to play with the Pyrovision goggles until I can actually keep track of what’s going on.

  19. SamPlays says:

    This article is kind of a stretch for this site – I’m not sure soccer was in mind when the brainstorming sessions were being stormed up:) However, I think the site should definitely branch more into board game territory based on the message boards.

    I have Deus Ex: Human Resources sitting on my table, waiting. But I really don’t have that much time to get into it so I’ll be playing some demos (yes, lame, I know) in-between chores and errands: Arkham City, Journey, Mass Effect 3. My plan is to play the first 20 minutes of ME3, then watch the extended endings on YouTube – apparently that’s the best way to experience it:)

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      Deus Ex: Human Resources – not as good as Deus Ex: Accounting department.

    • doyourealize says:

      I’m gonna say an interview goes the way it goes, and she wanted to talk about soccer, which is a game, and wouldn’t be the first time on this site a soccer conversation has broken out. And I liked the bit about solitude and gaming.

      • ToddG says:

        I agree.  After all, this feature is more intended for us to talk amongst ourselves anyway.

      • SamPlays says:

        Point well taken. And I agree with @BreakingRad:disqus about the intent of this feature.

        But c’mon @doyourealize:disqus … who wants to talk about soccer when this site is clearly devoted to games that are supposed to be FUN? 
        Maybe I’m just pining for more features where Teti harasses Gameological interns.

        • ToddG says:

          I think it’s safe to say we are all pro-intern harassment here.

          …erm, in the culturally appropriate sense, that is.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I imagine John in a royal robe, telling his people:
          “Let them eat lactose…”
          Let’s hope all that gaming has stunted the carpentry-skills of his interns enough to prevent them from erecting a guillotine.

        • doyourealize says:

          We would all like to see more intern-harassing features here. Maybe it could be a weekly thing (I like @Effigy_Power:disqus ‘s idea). And while I agree that talking about soccer isn’t really fun, there may be some who disagree (even if I don’t want to know who that is).

    • Merve says:

      The best way to experience ME3 is to ignore the Internet and just play the damn game. It might be a little too late for that, though.

    • John Teti says:

      I was in all the brainstorming sessions, and sports came up pretty often. We wanted to build a place where the conversation could digress into any sort of game, and the “that doesn’t count as gaming!” referees swallow their whistles.

      This is actually one of my favorite interviews we’ve run in this feature, along with the Dennis Cooper interview.

      • ToddG says:

        I don’t see the problem; she was obviously referring to the real-life competition based on EA’s FIFA series of video games.  I guess it’s a niche market compared to the video game’s audience, but come on, let’s not split hairs.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         I thought this was about gaming… did they make a real sport out of FIFA’12? Neat. Those Europeans.

      • JudgeReinhold says:

        Clearly you were just talking about CPU vs. CPU recreations of major Euro 2012 games, right? 

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0Nkw1IDaSM&list=UUaZyWuUHAQG_yJrUK0coCzw&index=3&feature=plcp 

        (I love that guy.)

      • SamPlays says:

        If sports is in the cards, you cold at least drum up an interview with Chuck Klosterman. I’ve always enjoyed his sports-related essays. 

        Another point well-taken, although you admittedly acknowledge that sports are a digression for the site. 
        In that regard, perhaps it’s the distinct lack of sports coverage that made this interview seem somewhat of an anomaly. But I’m more than happy to see tangents more frequently in the articles (and this is evident in several features on the site).
        But seriously, don’t forget about the interns. You gotta have the right mix of savvy, sexy and stupid. If you can manage 75% for each, you’ll have a hell of a website!

        • John Teti says:

          Oh, yes, I agreed with you that it’s a stretch in some respect. I’m just saying that we like stretching around here! Stretching is the norm. And we hope to do more of it.

          Your 225% program seems like a reasonable mark to hit. You should package that as an infomercial!

        • SamPlays says:

          @JohnTeti:disqus Well, I’ve been meaning to e-mail you about this feature I created. It’s called “Tete-a-tete, with John Teti”…

      • Andrew_Ryans_Caddy says:

        *makes shrill whistle noises when breathing*

  20. Long weekend for Canada!

    BBQ at my Dad’s means washer-toss and cribbage. 

    Otherwise, Persona 4. I bought the game when it first came out, but I died one too many times and quit. I don’t like the fact that the dungeon crawling takes place in the afternoon instead of evening like Persona 3. It creates a bigger disconnect between the two elements of the game. Even though MP no longer fills automatically, there’s no fatigue, so the incentive is to have one intense marathon grind session and clear dungeons in one session each. Tartarus was much more forgiving. I’ve decided to wuss out and play the game on beginner this time, because it makes me so mad. 

    So far, I’ve enjoyed the story a lot more than P3. The central mystery is neat. It looks like the central theme is a scathing indictment of consumer culture, but it also carries over sub-themes of friendship and self-deception from P3. 

    P4 lacks the thematic synergy of P3. P3 is the game I always cite in the “games as art” debate because every element of the game supports the central theme of friendship overcoming suicidal depression: the battle system, the social links, the flow of time, and of course the story itself.

    • PaganPoet says:

      I have yet to play P4, but P3 is certainly one of my favorite games ever. Every last one of the Social Links is sad or sweet, but not in an unbelievale/melodramatic way. They’re all very real and relatable. Who doesn’t remember feeling down when a good friend of yours moved to another town (Fuuka’s friend Natsuki/Hanged Man Social Link)? Or stood up for a friend even if they haven’t treated you well lately (Moon Social Link)? Or encouraged a close friend to do what they wanted instead of what was expected of them (Priestess/Fortune Social Links)?

      I love the cast too. I hope that Atlus adds Junpei/Yukari to the Persona 4 Arena roster as DLC at some point.

  21. ToddG says:

    Starting Uncharted 3 on Crushing (someone here said it’s pretty easy compared to 1&2, so I may finish it, too)  Also, some Gears 3 multiplayer, Magic 2013, and this game called “Drive My In-Laws to My House from BWI Without Injuring Anyone or Being Pulled Over.”

    Played Extended Cut on Tuesday and was really disappointed.  

    *ONLY THE VAGUEST OF SPOILERS FOLLOW*  

    Now, I have no idea about the “left” or “right” endings, as I prefer to stick with my choice and thus have not watched them on the ‘tube even in their original form, but the “middle” ending’s extended scenes did not tell/show me a single thing I had not already inferred from what I was told immediately prior to making the decision.

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      What are your thoughts on Uncharted 3, compared to the other two? It was never going to be as good as U2, but has some absurd and enjoyable setpieces nonetheless. The stretch from running after the cargo plane to fighting in the abandoned desert village is so great that it almost makes up for the many rubbish bits.

      • ToddG says:

        Honestly, I don’t think any one of the three stands out to me as particularly better or worse than the others.  It’s a solid formula and they’re all a lot of fun.  The setpieces are often, as you mention, pretty spectacular, though I wish the shooting was a little tighter.  I think U3 tried for a little more narrative depth than in the past (with mixed results, but I respect the effort), and I like that they (for the most part) abandoned the supernatural elements that had shown up in the prior games.  But, yeah, quite a fun game.  I don’t really understand how someone could label U2 Game of the Year and then actively dislike U3.

  22. JudgeReinhold says:

    Interesting interview. Although when watching soccer I take the exact opposite tack and root for the countries with the most disciplined economic policies. I wanted Germany to beat Greece in soccer as a proxy for actual war (economic or otherwise). 

    Also, as a history scholar, I appreciate that Ms. Maazel recognized that the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece is just another example of economic despair leading to political extremism. 

    • Electric Dragon says:

      For an actual football fan, the choices of who to support are a lot more complicated. They’re bound up with history and also affected by the personalities of the team and the way they play. Like Spain: I just feel that Spain’s tiki-taka philosophy of retaining possession at all costs is starting to become sterile and dull. Being English, I have painful memories of matches against Germany so I find it hard to support them, but they had been playing some of the more exciting football so it was disappointing when Italy knocked them out last night.

      • JudgeReinhold says:

        Honestly, I rarely watch what the rest of the world calls football outside of the World Cup or the Olympics. 

        But I was in Europe at the time of the last World Cup, and watching Germany play (and win!) in a bar surrounded by a bunch of Germans was an awesome experience. And watching the Italians play (and lose!) while surrounded by a bunch of Italians might’ve topped it.

        I based my rooting interest on the fact that Germany was a beautiful country with extraordinarily polite (but not friendly, if that makes sense) people, while it seemed like we encountered rude Italians in every city we went to there. 

        What I’m saying here is that I based my fandom on entirely arbitrary snap-judgment stereotypes.

        • Craig says:

          I think I’m finally past my reflexive anti-German sentiment.  First of all, Germany (the country) is obviously awesome.  Second, the German fans are maybe the least likely to express racist sentiment in Europe.  And third, I love the way that team plays.  Sucks that they got bounced by the fucking Italians, but they’re young and will continue to be great as everyone switches into World Cup mode.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         I feel we Americans miss out on that sort of sentiment sometimes. We prefer to play our games against other Americans and the occasional Canadian, but contests against other nations are pretty much relegated to the back pages.
        That’s probably why we named our MLB finals the “World Series”. That way we can pretend that there’s no reason for us to compete against Cuba, Japan and all the other countries who are quite good at it.
        I am not sure if it’s borderline xenophobia or insecurity about being beaten at “our game”… It’s gotta be something.

        • ToddG says:

          Super Bowl winners are routinely referred to as world champions also, which, despite being a rabid NFL fan, drives me insane.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Baseball’s such a niche sport outside of the United States that it’s hard to imagine there’d be much chance to play an actual World World Series. My father and brother and I went out to an Irish pub the other night where they had a number of tv monitors tuned to ESPN channels. On ESPN2 they were showing the World Cup for softball, and it was Team USA versus freaking Puerto Rico. The sport is so small that the World Cup is played between the US and a US Territory.

        • Girard says:

           One sad thing is that the strongest players from various international leagues tend to get snapped up by the American ones, so if there were a World Series, it would probably be mostly an embarrassing anti-climax where the foreign teams would mostly fare poorly against American teams comprised of not just American players, but also the most adept of their own countrymen, who had “graduated” to higher-paying careers in the US Leagues.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           Baseball is actually quite popular in a few Latin-American countries, Japan, somewhat in Korea (south, obviously) and in the Netherlands, where it’s called Honkball.
          The chance for an American All-Star Team to lose the International Baseball Trophy against a bunch of Dutch dudes who call it Honkball would be worth any amount of money on PPV.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        To be fair, Italy isn’t the boring Catenaccio automaton it used to be. I think they’ve been pretty much on par with the creatively disappointing German and Spanish teams this tourney. Prandelli’s maybe something like the Italian Klinsmann?

      • hcduvall says:

        Exactly so. My own personal feelings about the Euro crisis (Germany is the big dog but doesn’t mean I’d ever cheer for Greece) aside, after my personal allegiances, the way people play defines who I root for–alas Holland, how can you have so much talent and play that way? Italy’s better than I thought, even if I was rooting for Germany. Actually, if Ms Maazel wants to toss in politics, the make-up of the German team is a great, great thing, let alone their style of play. And while there are plenty of reasons to boo Balotteli if you like, the goals he scored were not only great, it probably upset all the racists he has to deal with, and who can’t get behind that?

      • Electric Dragon says:

        Well, it’s a good job Spain heard about my scathing comments here and upped their game for the final.

  23. CrookedPaul says:

    This is ridiculous. Why is this interview on the Gameological Society, which is ostensibly a website about videogames? I’m sure Fiona Maazel is a nice lady and maybe a good writer, but she doesn’t have anything at all to do with games. She doesn’t even mention a videogame until the very end of the interview, when she jokes about Angry Birds. WTF.

    In the past, when y’all interviewed actors or musicians who apparently like to talk about videogames, I rolled my eyes but didn’t bother to protest. But this is downright silly. This writer has nothing to do with making games, apparently doesn’t play them, and isn’t even talking about them. 

    Can’t you find some game developers to interview? Or someone who does market research in the games industry? You know, someone halfway relevant? That would be good. You should try to do that.

    • doyourealize says:

      They do those interviews, and plenty of them. This column is for an outsider’s view, and a chance, as @BreakingRad:disqus put it, for us to talk amongst ourselves.

    • John Teti says:

      How terrible that you were forced (I presume you were forced) to read something that strayed from your template of what qualifies as game writing.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         And may I add: “Meeow!”

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        I really love that you never sugar coat telling people to fuck off when they have stupid complaints with what they think this site should cover and how you’re doing it wrong or whatever. This is more and more my favorite place on the internet.

    • Electric Dragon says:

      Yes, it was so disappointing to have that series on TV gameshows. Oh, wait, no it wasn’t, it was awesome.

  24. Effigy_Power says:

    I gotta clamp down and do some art this weekend, so I’ll be “playing” Photoshop CS4. Mind you, there’s no way I won’t finish the HOG “Royal Detective: Lord of Statues” sometime in between and I might just be tempted to continue the career of my 3rd Base Man in MLB2K12, unless the numerous bugs of this justifiably cancelled franchise make that impossible yet again. (My starting pitcher has been stuck twice after a shutout and a no-hitter, just shy of completing the MLB call-up goals. Frustrating.)

  25. doyourealize says:

    While I’m not sure Ms. Maazel is the kind of person I would want to hang out with at a bar, she seems like she has ideas that could prove to be fascinating, and her new book certainly seems like something worth checking out. (If you’re reading Ms. Maazel, I didn’t mean that, and I’d love to buy you a beer!) The idea of loneliness is something that always interests me, and done right can really provide wonderful scenes. I read a story a while ago an Dane-adopted Asian who was dating a Japanese girl at a university in France. The girl had mental issues and locked herself in her dorm room. The set-up alone provides countless opportunities to explore loneliness (the writer himself is Korean), but at the end, there was a scene in which the main character ended up holding his girlfriend’s hand in an elevator, while she was on a gurney, under a blanket, and dead. Could have been hokey, but the scene was really earned, and even though I can’t remember the title or author (I’ve got it somewhere), that’s been one of my favorite stories for a while. Along with plenty Carver stories, which almost always deal with this theme, among others.

    An episode of Homeland (recently watched the first season, and it’s an excellent show) does wonders with this theme, as well. Written well and masterfully performed by Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin.

    As for games, I’ll be spending my time with Arkham City, Portal 2 co-op, Shadow of the Colossus HD, FFXIII-2, and hopefully Dark Souls (look me up on PSN!). I probably won’t get to all that, but I’d like to. It’s summer break now, so I’ve got the time.

  26. JokersNuts says:

    Playing that new Amazing Spider-Man game.  It’s a lot of fun even though its given me all the Spoilers for the movie and the model of “New York City” isn’t even trying to be slightly accurate in the least. 
    Really fun game though. 

  27. I’ll probably polish off Lollipop Chainsaw, largely because I know Gus will never be able to forgive me if I don’t.

  28. Cornell_University says:

    I got a wedding tomorrow that I’m told will have an epic open bar and some yard sale creepy crawling (adulthood rules).  so probably not a ton.  I’m a little burned out on Dreamcast right now, I’ve been too busy to properly go thru the cd-r buring tutorials again and I’m too broke to buy any more used games for a while.  I do however have 5 NES cartridges that I bought used like a month ago that I haven’t played yet.  I remember Blaster Master being a dud but I have general positive memories of Jackal and Smash TV.  Never played A Boy and His Blob or Astyanax.  WE SHALL SEE.

    also I bought a used copy of Tomb Raider for PS1 based on that T.Rex feature a while back.  YOLO.

  29. Shain Eighmey says:

    Well, now that I’ve firmly set myself up as the first Sultan of England, I think I’m going to invade Norway in Crusader Kings 2. Then I’ll take my swarm of Islamic Vikings into the Rus territory so I can fortify it against the Mongols that I happen to know will be there soon. 

    • HobbesMkii says:

      Are you playing Sword of Islam? You can try and become Padishah of Britannia, can’t you? Or is that possible only if your an English Christian?

      • ToddG says:

        TOO SOON.

      • Shain Eighmey says:

        Yes you can!  I’ve nearly done so, I just need to finish off some of one pesky Irish duke who can’t get over the fact that I’m a Sunni.

        It’s a really nice piece of DLC actually, I find my fondness for this game ever increasing. I may even need to take a peak under the hood to learn about modding, but I’m a little worried that could take some of the magic out of the game for me. Did it do that for you at all?

        • HobbesMkii says:

           Nah. It’s given me a respect for Paradox. I’m inventing characters wholesale; they must have had had a serious history team that researched birth and death dates as closely as they could (given that people were going to chew them out in the forums over it). The event chains are where the real meat-and-potatoes of modding are, and I have no prowess for that so I couldn’t really say.

  30. Cornell_University says:

    also good subtle burn on soccer.   USA USA USA

  31. Zachary Moore says:

    I just started Uncharted 2 for the first time. I am constantly amazed by how much fun that game is, despite the fact that you’re basically just running through a maze filed with enemies.

  32. Cornell_University says:

    also seems relevent http://youtu.be/wCYX11Dzws0

    have a great weekend everybody!

  33. urthstripe says:

    Diablo 3, probably and I finally beat Dead Space 2! I don’t know if I did what I’m supposed to do, but when the Ubermorph showed up, I just ran like hell and used the force gun to push everything else out of my way. I died a lot, but that’s mostly when I actually tried to stop and collect things. It was kind of frustrating because the game had trained you to clear out rooms before moving on, but then I appreciated it because it was a like the climax of a well done horror movie. Big monster shows up? You run like hell and mash on the door open buttons and pray like hell it opens before it gets to you. And then keep running.

    Anyway, what should I play next? I’ve got Deus Ex: HR, Just Cause 2, Far Cry 2, Fable 3, or actually suck it up and try to finish Amnesia. I LEAVE IT UP TO YOU (please don’t pick Amnesia).

    • Merve says:

      DX:HR. It’s a really great game.

    • doyourealize says:

      If you promise to finish Amnesia, I will too. Your call. Although I freeze up whenever I’m about to open that game.

    • dreadguacamole says:

        I agree with Merve – Deus Ex is probably the best out of that lot.
       And seriously, man or woman-up and play Amnesia! Preferrably in the dark, with headphones. Games don’t get as visceral as that.
       Out of the rest, I really enjoyed Just Cause 2, liked Far Cry 2 (but found it incredibly annoying!), and -kind- of liked Fable 3.

    • TaumpyTearrs says:

      Just Cause 2 is a perfect relaxer game between heavy sessions. The game rewards random exploration and destruction, and it takes 70 hours or more to 100% if you are a perfectionist, so i recommend playing it as a back-up game. Missions can be completed ridiculously fast, i carried out an assassination in 30 seconds after a minute or two of travel time in one of my smoothest maneuvers.

      Once you get used to the hook and chute traversal system, its like riding a bike, so you can take a week or two off with no worries. I wish i hadn’t sold my copy, i had played for 50 hours and beat the story,but i still only had like 60% complete.

      One thing i do recommend is when you go to a village or base, try and 100% it in one trip. Once you learn how the pick-up radar and property destruction works, you’ll realise how much easier completion is if you circle around the place zeroing in on what you haven’t found/destroyed.

  34. Knarf Black says:

    I gave into temptation and dropped a Jackson on Dust 514. It feels silly putting money into a free-to-play game that isn’t even out of beta, but it’s already held my attention longer than 99% of shooters I’ve tried. (Even with limited map selection and wacky beta bugs everywhere.)

  35. Len Hunt says:

    I’m playing Final Fantasy XIII. I just started.  Everybody has really great hair.

    • PaganPoet says:

      I think Hope’s hair is a little too 90’s lesbian for my liking.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         “perks up ears”
        How is that even possible?
        “looks up Hope”
        Ah… carry on.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Makes you wonder how much gil Final Fantasy characters spend on hairspray.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           Any amount that requires marginally more time grinding than would be fun. Just like everything else in those games.

  36. Tom Clancy says:

    This woman has watched all the Euro matches and knows useless facts about Hacksaw Jim Duggan? Just more proof the Internet exists solely to let me know i was born a decade too early. Wait until I tell my kids about having to find a woman back when being a nerd wasn’t so great.

    • Effigy_Power says:

       Or way back when, when there were no women on the internet at all according to official records… well, other than huge-breasted Japanese schoolgirls with tentacle molestation problems.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Those Were The Days

         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d8FTPv955I

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Second comment under that video:

          you defend an accusation of racism with “im black stupid”? not only are many blacks (not all, but many) incredibly racist, but you basically just said that only blacks experience racism. i’ve never heard a more bigoted, ignorant comment, the kind that you seem to condemn yet hypocritically condone in your attempt at a reply.

          Clearly related.
          Youtube: 1,324,531,123. Sense: Naught.

        • HobbesMkii says:

           @Effigy_Power:disqus I’m sure Archie Bunker would agree with that point of view.

      • Merve says:

        Women? On the Internet? THIS IS MADNESS.

        • JudgeReinhold says:

           This is all Mavis Beacon’s fault!

        • Merve says:

          @JudgeReinhold:disqus: Mavis Beacon Online: the new typing-based MMO for women.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           Observe that madness is used in caps, which makes it more of a Carrie Nation type madness.

        • Electric Dragon says:

          Merve: keep typing away until you level up and gain more letters! Note: level one players only get letters Q, W, R, T, and Y. Punctuation marks are dropped randomly when you beat a challenge! Vowels can be purchased from the online shop for only 837 BeaconBuckz each! (Note: BeaconBuckz only available in lots of 643.)

  37. Citric says:

    Still on FFXIII-2, still trying to figure out how Dark Law works. Might start one of those Humble Indie Bundle games, they’re like a nice light snack a lot of the time.

  38. PaganPoet says:

    I’m still hooked on Persona 3 FES ever since it was released on PSN. I only had P3 vanilla on my PS2, so I was never able to play the “epilogue” portion, and I never did do a New Game+ or beat it on Hard difficulty or max out all social links on one playthrough or complete my Persona compendium…and then my PS2 broke. So you can imagine how crazy that drives a completionist like me. =P

    I hope they eventually release Persona4 on PSN as well, but I imagine they want to make money off of P4 Golden before they do that.

    • I loved FES. They add just enough to the main game to make it worthwhile (I don’t want to SPOIL anything, but the buildup to the Cultural festival is much less anti-climatic than in P3 vanilla.)

      I didn’t play the “Answer” for very long, though. One of these days, maybe. 

  39. I’ll be continuing my jolly saunter through Cthulhu Saves The World.  I’m halfway through the Volcano chapter and have already logged 12 hours game play.  Considering I paid mere pennies for the game it’s turned out to be great value for money. /salespitch

  40. ferrarimanf355 says:

    More Forza 4. Fuck my backlog. New DLC pack in a week or two.

    Sorry Lollipop Chainsaw, you’re going to have to wait. I need to tune my virtual 2013 Viper and my virtual RUF CTR Yellowbird so that they won’t kill me even with the traction control turned on.

  41. awkward_ghost says:

    Hello, I’m new here. I heard about the site from the Eurogameological E3 podcasts, and had been wondering how come Teti hadn’t been around on EG for a while… (I post as erp over on EG.)

    Last week I finished Catherine on PS3 after enjoyed it greatly, both the puzzling and the fantastic “infidelity sim” sections in-between. (I can tell the story must’ve been good, as my girlfriend enjoyed watching it and helping me with the moral dilemmas – the only other games she’s enjoyed watching of late have been the Uncharted series, so it’s in good company there.)

    After finishing that, I’ve decided to revisit Little King’s Story on the Wii. It’s a game that I’ve been meaning to go back to for a while, as I’ve always felt guilty about not giving it the proper attention it deserved on its original release. So it was a combination of that guilt, as well as someone’s post on here about Love-de-Lic (whom I’d never actually heard of and so was previously unaware of the distant relationsip between King’s Story and Chibi Robo – another favourite I plan to revisit) that finally encouraged me to go back to it.

    I’m about 3-4 hrs in now, the world’s beginning to open up, and it really is proving to be a wonderfully charming little game.