Geek apocalypse is born!!

land of the geeks

I had a dream once, well ok many a dream. Mainly to reach the far edges of the galaxy, and to appear on star trek just like Tom Morello had a cameo in star trek voyager or create a megadrive game to rival as much fun as toejam and earl. Or a basketball player, to see and hear the net on the basket make that lovely swoosh sound as I drain a three from downtown, thousands cheering as that shot wins my team the nba championship. I know chances are that will never happen, but still, I get immense joy simply watching star trek, admiring basketball and respecting the skill that’s needed in creating video games, simply any art form that inspired me and continues to in my twenties.

Therefore I had an idea. An idea I’ve had for quite a while, to create things that are close to me, and also talk about the influences, the…

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are some charities charitable anymore?

I firdiscriminationstly feel the need to share that I have a current routine in regard to writing my blog. I either wait a decent amount of time and figure out something that’s been on my mind, or if something rattles me before that decent period I then needs must. this is one of the needs must. I also need to underline I ain’t one for the dramatic, and although I don’t like to be labelled, It would be adequate to say I’m a hippie as in not much gets me angry or annoyed that i feel the need to vent. However I got told something today that I find absolutely ridiculous and shameful that I felt it was needed for me to write about it.

Now I have been an advocate of giving time to charities, which sounds obvious as in its a bit like saying be nice to people. you kinda should just do it if your a decent human being. I don’t mind saying that all the money I make goes back into my business, so I don’t make any real profit, but I always make a point to give something to charity, such as clothes that no longer fit or any spare money i donate. The thing though that should be the most valuable to charities  for  number of reasons, should be people giving their time completely for free. Simply because even if you believe in life after death or not, you should realistically treat life as a once in a lifetime  thing. therefore, everyone time is exceptionally valuable and should be treated as such.

but if you take charities into the equation, and I’m involved in several, they depend on people volunteering their time, because ideally ,the idea is that charities help the most vulnerable and try to get by in order to help whoever or whatever their charity helps. Now the thing that’s anger me is, I talked into my friendly Bernardo’s store, that I volunteered at for a number of years, and was actively told I’m not allowed to volunteer there any more!  the reason, they are not allowing anyone who has facial hairs, tattoos, long hair to volunteer for their organisation any more.  So basically, they described me, and quite a lot of people I know. Now to put into context, I really enjoyed working there and the manager that works there wrote me a glowing reference and is always wanting me to volunteer, but she’s being told by the actual organisation that I can’t give my time for free there!!

now what’s a monumental fuck wit flat out ridiculous part of that, is not only is that discriminatory and fucking stupid, but downright hypercritical. surely the idea of a charity’s to help everyone in need regardless of race, colour, background, appearance, basically regardless of difference. now how can you have that ideology when you are stopping a particular person from giving their time in order for them to run in the first place? incredibly hypercritical, because they really shouldn’t have a branding policy for the people that work for them( obviously they should screen volunteers for past criminal activity, but that’s standard practise for everyone). the reason being that they aren’t enough volunteers giving their time in general, therefore the best way round that is to decrease the volunteer pool?

the response to that which I’ve heard  several times is , ‘well if charities could pay people they’d love to pay everyone’. I can categorically underline that the charities I’m involved in do everything that they can to avoid paying you if you work for them. and they constantly complain that they aren’t enough free volunteers around anymore?! it doesn’t make any sense!

now I’m not saying that charities don’t make money, everyone including charities have to make admin money in order to function, but more and more I see charities that are taking more for themselves and their motivation is to make money for the individual not for the people that need it most. That really concerns me, its a bit like my mam that gets guilt trip letters that generally say, ‘we’ve heard you give money to the red cross, so you basically don’t care enough to donate to us?’ its up to the individual what they do with their money, and to say that against one of the most generous people I know really makes me question their motives.

Maybe what needs to happen, is for some charities, not all, to realise why they became charities in the first place, and realise, if they start branding like companies that try to make profit, then that’s not  charity. but stopping people from volunteering also isn’t charitable, its alienating people. people that are charitable and want to help. the thing is ,time is a valuable commodity, and they should take that seriously, and if they really are thinking about helping the people they help, they will need help from people who give their time willingly.

so stop this discriminatory bullshit cos my time is valueable, just like anyone elses.

next blog: tabletop day review :):)

the beauty of gaming, the life of a gamer part 2

gamingI wrote a post a week or so go where I talked about the value of gaming and I had a lot to say about the influence, joy and importance it has had over my life. I then sat down, after playing several different games the last few days, that I barely scratched the service on other games that I play or have played.

I also missed a couple of really important points in regards to my gaming life, the influence of my family. Every family has something that binds them together, something that gathers dust until family members gather round and becomes the family tie of bonding everyone together. There was two things that did that for my family, The TV series red dwarf and games,  in particular card games.

Some of my earliest memories involve the family gathering round to watch series 6 of red dwarf,one of the few tv shows we all liked and was mandatory viewing (remember when all tv was mandatory?). not only did that time influence my geekiness and my love of sci fi, but after we would sit and play cards, like a simple version of poker, switch(which I affectionately call pick up 2) or kings or trumps. Even on holiday, the thing that we would make sure not to forget, was a pack of cards and yahtzee, that we played so much we had to print our own score cards off!! It even would be created into anecdotes like when I was around 8 years old and was overtly aggressive with the yahtzee dices that they rolled into the swimming pool. Imagine my brothers face when he had to dive in and look for floating dice that his younger brother was at fault for? I still think he holds it against me!

What I regard as beautiful about this, is when I was thinking about this last night, the reason It hit me was because, we were playing uno(the chinese version of switch) at work and it was reminding me how much games bring people together. I mean we were playing uno with 13 year olds, over 10 years older than me, and it was something we could share like there was no generational gap at all. Last night I was playing games with my dad in a bar, because regardless of how little my dad and I talk about serious stuff, we bond over games like snooker, darts and cards. Some people regard gaming in that sense as insignificant, but games are the reason my dad and have something to do, and maintains our relationship even to this day.

Snooker is a really important thread in my life, because It is about one of my two major regrets. My family were really fortunate growing up to have 3 quarter sized snooker table in the house, and I played all the time, some of my earliest photos were of me with a half a regular sized cue trying to pot snooker balls with my dad or brother. It still makes me smile thinking about how much fun I had. the regret I mentioned was I suppose not my fault, but a cruel twist of nerves and age. my dad took me to a snooker club, baring in mind I was hitting 90 breaks in snooker at around 10 years old, I was getting really good, and for whatever reason, I got scared of going in the club. it looked to me like the entrance to a ghost ride, with teeth for doors ready to devour me, so i asked my dad to turn the car around. I never pursued it  beyond that initial encounter, other than playing occasionally like I do now.

I often wonder how I would of done, because I also got good at football but in terms of playing that particular sport it never sustained my love and joy that snooker still does now. My friends often joke that once I play snooker you have to drag me away from it, which is true, now my only consolation is playing pool and hustling people who brag how great at pool they are (I feel I’m providing a moral service in shutting up douchebags…honestly!). But the thing is, I play things that I lose at too, my dad is much better than me at darts for example and i lost 8 games in a row at uno. 8 games! that means even with it being quite a luck orientated game, the only way i could of done worse is if i celotaped my eyes shut. or the cards were trying to kill me, yeah lets go for that.

But that’s the value of games that are brilliant. My fondest memory of last Christmas for eample was playing cards with my family and sitting next to my sister, we laughed all day, we forgot at several points that we were playing cards, and its a good memory because it was nice to see my sister being miss serious all the time and enjoying herself. it reminded me of playing snooker with my brother years ago, or more significantly, we’ve done the same thing for 20 years: gathered round my dinner table at home as a family and played a board game or six, or endless card games and maintained the most important relationships in my life.

That’s the beauty of gaming, is that the game gets the people you love, the people you know, or the people you don’t know and develops maintains or creates relationships and friendships that can last due to the mutual love of games, and I’m so grateful that they exist, because, I wouldn’t have the life I have now without them, the friendships that have last years, the family that bind together over playing them, and Ill always be grateful for that.

so as I look at my new edition of Munchkin apocalypse, I get the same buzz, the feeling of opening it, and knowing that I get to share this with the people i know, or dont know…..and I still cant wait to do that! 🙂

I will be at Newcastle Gamers celebration of international tabletop  day on march 30th do have a look here http://www.newcastlegamers.net/ and do come along if ya can! 🙂

open society debate

I seen a post today from a friend of mine that I found interesting and got me thinking about this feeling I have been havipicturesbybish.com-110ng recently: he was mentioning that he doesn’t understand why people post negative comments on Facebook and other social media, and it got me thinking of a number of different things.

Firstly I understand where he is coming from in that people who always post negative comments is very disappointing, but it all depends how he means they do that and how often and personal. Obviously if people are being mean spirited and looking to generate publicity from it then it doesn’t make sense and people would rather not read it and generally just need to be better people . that I totally get.

but having said that, I seen another friend of mine basically telling people to not phone her and ask her to take down her update cos she upsets certain people. Part of me as a libertarian understands her feeling, If they feel the need to say something and I do believe in the value of free speech, they should be able to say something generic about a subject, isn’t that the idea of an open society? and if its your profile, cant you in most respects say whatever you want?

I want to underline if they are attacking someone specifically then they shouldn’t and im not advocating that, but if they are just simply saying for example, I hate Steven Hesse’s blog, now regardless of whether I agree with them or not(yes I agree with them) its their opinion, and If your in this internet world of voicing your opinion you have to be prepared to hear people views and most likely if they do respond it’ll be the opposite of what you thinks right.  I’m not particularly bothered if someone is hateful towards me even, because there is always the option of ignoring that person and if your so affected by what they say, then why are you friends with them? and if they are not that relevant in your life, then why do you care?

I think a lot of the time the person listening very often forgets that the option is there to choice not to treat it seriously, just like people who complain that they dont like a certain programme, there is so much other choice, what ever happened to just saying, ‘this is not for me?’ im not saying if someone does something thats clearly horrible and unnecessary, but if its on the grander scheme of things not that signifanct as it’s simple as someone voicing their opinion, then wouldnt it be better your time spent on things and people you do like?

its abit like whenever I use youtube (which is actually everday) you go onto a youtube video and its abit like going into a mens toilet somewhere, when your there never look below half way, or you’ll see something really horrid. I cant get how people go onto the site and go, ‘now what can I type in today to torture myself with, just so I can comment how shit it is at the end of it’, Why would you do that? why not type in something you really want to see? but the thing is, you have the option of not caring, which I don’t, I’m there to watch the video, and if I do see a bad comment, It doesn’t affect me. It tells me more about the person saying the bad comment than it does me, they need a hug, and need to get a reality check to realise what they are doing. And I dont let it affect my enjoyment of whatever I like, because I choose to not go on like say a Justin Bieber song and go ‘this is ridiculously shit’ because I choose to go ‘this isn’t for me’ because it clearly isn’t. now if he came out and said Steven, I did this song for you and your age group and it was terrible, Id be just the same as I was, ‘this isnt for me’.

the thing is, we cant screen everybody, ‘please only say what I want or agree with’ wouldn’t make us learn, wouldn’t let us educate, wont let us grow and neither will posting harshness on the internet, if it really means that much to you, ring the person and tell them the truth, or if you don’t know them, then you don’t have to care or make the comment. you either like something or don’t  you either deal with something or accept it, there’s no other choice to be made. things is just like you cant please everyone, you cant have everything your own way.

‘we spent our whole lifes searching for, all the things we think we want, and never really knowing what we have”- Kris Roe

The beauty of gaming: a life of a gamer

gaming

It’s funny, I have been a gamer for most of my life, and it was only on a recent podcast I did with the lovely Viv Wiggins that I started reminiscing about my life as a gamer.  Even after the podcast, Viv and I talked about the value of games, and I became to realise the value and thread it has had in my life that I’ve never really realised until now.

I suppose I just never looked at it in reference to my experience playing games, but I am always interested and engaged in seeing how people use games or even value games at face value. When I worked in a local school the other day for example my colleague was trying to get the kids to play the monopoly app and it bored them senseless. Now, on face value, you can say that was unsuccessful and that games aren’t important, but I think like most things, people feel the need to put it in the box of , if you don’t like one game you won’t like them all. If you don’t like a certain pizza topping, you don’t then say, we’ll all pizza toppings are bad so therefore ill just not eat pizza anymore. Which means all food is bad therefore I won’t eat anything, therefore living is wrong so I’m better off dead. Why draw the line so needlessly? The monopoly attempt also was an unsuccessful game because as much as I love board games, monopoly is dull and there are a million more games (such as settlers of Catan or ticket to ride) that kids would enjoy, even changing the rules to accommodate the age of the kids that you’re playing with. But that’s the point I’m making, don’t stop at one game (the kids didn’t they played minecraft) so if whatever you pick first does not work out try something else and you’ll hit that pizza topping extraganza of a game you’ll love (ok I overused the metaphor but hey it twas fun while it lasted!)

Just a heads up that I’ll mention this now before I get on to my experiences with gaming because the thing that often irritates me is an obviously touchy subject regarding games, particularly the video game genre. The violence, the lowering of a persons I.Q and other deeply misunderstood and excuses used by none gamer haters about how games are supposed to be a damaging influence. I can only speak from my experiences in detail but what I will say about that argument is that if you look for example at the Japanese or Chinese gaming markets, millions of games and hardly any violent crime, especially in relation to gun crime because….and this is so hard to understand….ITS HARDER TO OWN A GUN THERE and THERES A LOT LES GUNS!! So rather than become more responsible in regards to gun control (like what people do in most threatening situations) they blame something they have no interest in, or don’t understand in order to protect what they feel is being threatened. In this case particularly with America is their fear of losing their guns to the government why does that then mean we potentially get tougher restrictions on something that isn’t related in most gun controlled countries?

So what’s my earliest memory of gaming? The first computer I ever played on that I can remember  was the Amstrad, the brainchild of the UK Apprentices Alan sugar, where I endlessly played Fruit machines that literally just won you credits to keep hitting space bar to roll the machines again. Imagine a young kid reading this now?! What’s a space bar? Is that like a new mars bar? Haven’t you heard of casino’s Steven? In fairness we are talking roughly 1990ish and I would have been round 4 years old at the time. The other game we had with it I loved, I sadly don’t remember the name of it but I played it that much that the cassette tape broke. Naturally I was devastated, but the idea of the game was you were this stick man and went to rooms solving very limited investigations with very laughably pixelled objects to find. It was sort of the beta test to the UK TV show Knightmare (If you get that reference your welcome to hang out with me anytime). After flirting with the consoles commodore 64 ( CANNONFODDER!!!)  and the SNES, my brother got a SEGA mega drive and so beginneth the adventure and love of games that I still have to this day.

For the one person that may be interested to know, maybe, this is the reason I use the Toejam and earl music as my theme for the podcast. I have never had more fun that playing that game with my older brother, my friends and even one player mode when I irritated my friends by wanting to play it too many times. Imagine a none violent game where you get to use presents, rob Santa Claus and play cool aliens like toe jam and earl? In fact, I think like everyone growing up in the late 80’s, early 90’s have the arcade era to thank for influencing our appreciation for all type of games.  In fact, my older brother and celebs like Wil Wheaton make a good point that it’s a shame kids of this current generation haven’t been brought up to respect each other like their generation, for example you went to arcades, learnt to take turns and play co-op games with each other  and learnt the value of co-operation and general decency. Now if you’d shout at someone there like you do online now aka noob douchebags, then you would have got your head kicked in. at the very least you’d lose the thing you were there to do, being thrown out and barred from playing games. Because there wasn’t them games to play at home therefore it was the only places to go. That’s kind of the unfortunate side to gaming that even use gamers acknowledge, because we don’t like them just as much as other Medias do. We want people to enjoy games and it’s never going to be perfect, it’s a matter of gaming companies, parents and the douches that play to try and be more responsible in tackling it.

It’s the same deal with kids being given access to games that are below the 18 age restriction placed on the game, why are we not questioning the parents that allow kids to play call of duty and other games that have age’s restrictions and yet I know kids that are 10 years old that play these games. Irresponsible parents breed’s irresponsible behaviour, these same kids I meet through my work also watch family guy and south park, cant people see that it’s the lack of parents being responsible for what they child plays and watch that’s a factor if people want to focus on being proactive in the current problem. That’s what I think underlines that video games are not a problem, there is not an outcry of attacking films that promote violence or irresponsible behaviour, yet they mimic real life a lot more realistically than games ever can. Again, I think video games are bullied because it’s regarded as the inferior industry, kind of the geeky school kid who only has a smaller selection of friends, hmmmm where have I heard that before?

Not unlike me I have went on another tangent, but just as I said earlier in regards to my conversation with Viv, she said she wasn’t a gamer, and I told her exactly this, gamer isn’t just one thing, its embracing any type of game, no matter how little or much you play. You can appreciate games if you play half an hour a day as much as playing 12 hours a day, thts the great thing about being part of the main friendly gaming group that is gamers. Yes I play complex board games, I play card games like magic,  I play video games, but I also sometimes just enjoy scrabble, solitare and playing just one round of fifa. Now if I don’t do the first list, does that make me not a real gamer? No, I’m a gamer, because just like being a geek, it’s really just appreciating and being interested in something.

Thankyou games for the fun times and long may they continue! 🙂

p.s I will be part of Newcastle gamers celebration of international tabletop game day on march 30th! Do come along if your free!

Please bbc…hire me as a football ‘expert’

So I’m watching match of the day, for those that don’t know, it’s the legendary highlights programme of football/soccer that’s been on tv since 1964 on Saturday nights.  It’s something I’ve enjoyed being a football fan, even more so since BBC got it back from the poor arsed attempt itv did a few years ago that you probably don’t remember.

There’s many reasons for that because itv are the worst channel in doing sport in the history of TV. Even jack Dee would be more upbeat than any of the sport shows that itv produce, with Adrian Chiles constantly doing that look of I’m close to crying because my mam just told me I’m not allowed to get ice cream’ and Roy Keane sarcastically implying ‘I’m brilliant….they should just hire me to run the team that’s playing’. Or Gareth Southgate who must of kissed arse to get an FA job, because he never says anything of any substance, and endlessly agrees with people that make no points because he is worried he will let someone down…..euro 96?? But hey he must have kissed arse, because that’s all that FA do rather than make decisions for the better of the league. I feel endlessly sorry for Andy Townsend on itv though who is easily the best analyst on main tv, because he actually voices his opinion, and sticks his neck on the line by saying who he thinks will win or lose, rather than just the shitty ,that’s right or that’s wrong and not saying why, because that would involve I don’t know….analysing?

So back to match of the day, and as I’ve said you can apply this to a lot of football shows that I watch in the UK, (don’t get me started on Graham souness when he is on sky for example) that football analyst now how gotten exceptionally lazy because they have the easiest job in the world. That’s because they aren’t doing the frigging job they are meant to be doing, and it’s just accepted that what they say is gold because they used to play the game. I swear to you, I get more angry even when Newcastle united lose when an analyst talks utter shit about something that just isn’t relevant and more importantly its blatantly obvious and anyone with halfbrain could say it.

My most favourite example of an analyst being obvious is when a couple of seasons go, Gary lineker (whose is a great presenter by the way so I don’t dislike everyone) asked douchebag Alan Hansen ‘who will win the premier league title with 8ish games to go? To which Hansen said, in a totally serious voice ‘I don’t know, but it’ll be whoever wins the most games’. To underline my point about how irritating this point is, this is a guy who allegedly gets 1 million a year, 1 MILLION A YEAR! (I know I used capitals what a NOOB!) to put that into perspective, the highlights show is roughly an hour and a half, and most of it is dedicated to the games, so lets say 20 minutes of talking? That’s 38 games= 38 shows x 20 minutes equals 760 minutes= 12 hours 40 minutes for a million pounds.  Slightly overpaid comment ya reckon?

There are another couple of examples that spring to mind that underlines how little work that analyst do that are funny to share. On ESPN Kevin Keegan (that’s right I’m going to trash a Newcastle legend) was asked about a team signing a player from another league, to which keegan said something along the lines of ‘I don’t know, I don’t really watch football anymore’. This is a guy that’s paid to give an opinion, but TV don’t give a flying fook if it’s an informed opinion or not. I know peoples argument is always ‘it’s just football shows who cares if there’s opinion’s not informed?’ but regards of what TV we watch, we should care if there taking the piss out of us, because in some way we are paying to see people do their jobs and ideally do it better than we ever can, because that should be why they are in that position rather than us.

The other example is trivial but it leads to a very important point. On a particular dominant sport network in the UK that we won’t mention….sky, Jamie redknapp and the guys were talking about David de Gea signing for Manchester United and they all agreed he was really a good signing from Valencia, which is a shame as he actually played for Athletico Madrid, and it wasn’t like it was a team that played in European competition….*checks* agh shit they did and they were on sky during the season aghhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

But seriously, if analyst don’t even watch football that’s on their own stations then why should they be allowed to voice their opinion on flagship programmes? They should be watching football as a requirement of their job, not just watch a match they have seen and go ‘he got a hat trick, he had a great game didn’t he?’- well no shit Sherlock.  My theory on this is that I generally don’t think a lot of ex footballers regard being an analyst as a job because they played before, which is ridiculous to think in an ever changing industry that involves teams buying and selling players every year. That’s a bit like a website designer refuse to upgrade his systems every so often, because he understood the last system just fine. This hypothetical guy I just invented would be at home not being employed because he isn’t doing his job properly. Why isn’t this treated the same?

So whose good at doing this job? The best analyst on UK TV isn’t a former footballer and isn’t English, and that guy is guillem balague who does Spanish football on sky. Revista de la liga is the best review show on tv because of guillem and his knowledge, because he has contacts all over Europe and he reports what he thinks. And he clearly does his homework, they were asking him on transfer deadline day about other leagues other than Spanish la liga because he was picking things up before other reporters, and I generally think he is well respected for being good at his job, and treating it with respect. I really think the reason for this is what I said earlier, he know it’s his job but I bet if you asked him it wouldn’t feel like a job because he is passionate about it. He even wrote a book about one of the best managers pep guardiola, which to me underlines his commitment to caring about football. I’m not saying ex footballers who are analysts don’t care about football, they just don’t appreciate the incredibly lucky position they are in like guillem does being in the media getting to report on something they care about. We shouldn’t accept them being lazy and uninterested, and they should hire people who are passionate about it.

And as another match of the day ends, I find myself in the usual position, enjoyed the highlights, hated Hansen, don’t mind Alan shearer, not enough analysis, and I can’t afford sky so I can’t watch revista……disappointing!! Hire me BBC!!  And with all these cuts happening, ill do it for way less than a million a year.  At least think about it!

Steven Hesse