What I’m consuming

Stranger in a Strange LandIt’s no secret that I like to play games. I play a lot of games. Call it a hobby. But I also consume other types of entertainment. I’ve talked at length here of the TV shows I watch and I mention the occasional movie, but I really haven’t mentioned what else I’m consuming.

As geeks go, I’m not very well read in the “Classics”. Sure, I’ve read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, I, Robot, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and others, but I haven’t read as much as I’d like to. When I was in high school, I read a lot fantasy books (mostly Dragonlance Novels), but I’ve recently endeavored to broaden my reading horizons. Going off of a few “Top 20/50/100 lists” (here and here and here and here) I’ve been diving right into some of the best Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels I’ve missed out on. I’ve just about finished up Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, and I’ll be moving on to the next book on my list. The next five books on my list are:

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
Ringworld, Larry Niven
Dune, Frank Herbert
The Foundation Series, Isaac Asimov

In addtion to that, I also started reading the Harry Potter books. (Yes, I am a hypocrite)

I’m also a voracious consumer of music. Recently I’ve been listening to Fort Minor. Fort Minor is a hip-hop/rap side project of Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. If you’ve seen any ABC/ESPN/TNT NBA promo commercials, than you’d recognize their song “Remember the Name“. But there’s more than just that song. The entire album, The Rising Tied is all pretty good stuff; great rhymes and serious beats. I’m digging it.

On top of it all, I’m excited about a lot of movies coming out this summer. We’ll be seeing Spiderman 3 this Friday because I’m a huge fanboy of the Blockbuster/action/blow-stuff-up kind of movie. Can’t wait. I’ve also got a huge list of movies I’m looking forward to this year, but I won’t bore you with that list. At least not yet.

As always, I’d love to hear what you guys are consuming. Any recommendations are also welcome.

(I should mention that this post was inspired by a post over at The Game Chair discussing reading lists of gamers)

Kids don’t get to watch eye gougings anymore

Buttonmashing.com reader Bobster, always the helpful tipster, sent me a link to an article at Reason.com entitled Blood, Guts, and Entertainment: A sanguine take on sanguinary diversions. A great read, as most Reason articles are. The writer, Justin Pete, is reviewing the book Savage Pastimes: A Cultural History of Violent Entertainment in which the author argues, “that violent entertainment is good, indeed necessary—a way to sublimate the vestigial primal urges left over from our hunter-gatherer days” and “our popular culture may be saturated with synthetic gore, but at least we don’t spend our leisure time watching real people have their eyes put out, their limbs pulverized, their sex organs amputated and their flesh torn to pieces with red-hot pincers.” Interesting claims, to say the least. While I don’t necessarily agree that we have “primal urges” to “sublimate,” I do think exploring violence in our culture (especially in the past) is a starting point to refute the hand wringing that goes on now. It seems that a lot of people decrying violence in the media ignore history, much to their convenience.

Justin sites example after example from the book of violence in past entertainment, in order to dispel the myth that “things were so much better (simpler, purer, cleaner, take your pick) before.” The idea that movies like Natural Born Killers couldn’t have been made in 1939 (the year of The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind) is simply a fallacy:

Such a simplistic worldview conveniently forgets that 1939 also brought such films as Death Rides the Range, Six-Gun Rhythm, and The Man They Could Not Hang, advertised with the tagline, “Boris Karloff dares you to see this holocaust of horror!”

But, in the end, the conclusion that violence in the media is not directly responsible for violence of the partakers is never breached in the book. It’s a shame. We’ve said it here before, but no one seems to listen. Just because we enjoy violence in our games (or movies or books) doesn’t mean we wish to participate in it. Being entertained is enough for us. But, as Justin says

… the tweaking [Schechter] delivers to the world’s Chicken Littles —those like Gov. Blagojevich, who writes on safegamesillinois.org that “when kids play, they should play like children, not like gangland assassins”—is overdue. If violent entertainment is anything, it is a mirror held up to a violent culture. Eliminating these cultural reflections won’t do anything to alter the master image.

In the mail…

I received a copy of The 2006 Gamer’s Tome of Ultimate Wisdom : An Almanac of Pimps, Orcs and Lightsabers, written by intrepid video game reviewer, blogger, and OSU fan Bill Abner.

The book looks great, I don’t have time to read anything right now since it’s time for dinner. Thanks a bunch to Todd (and QUE Publishing), this looks like a fun read. Support a fellow blogger and buy Bill’s book!

game girl advance

game girl advance:

“1. Willingness to take measured risks – gamers learn this innately long before they get to business school.

2. Different way of interacting with others. For example, less respect for hierarchy and seniority. In game world, anyone can be beaten by a 12-year-old. Gamers tend to respect ability, not seniority.

3. Seriousness about expertise, and being rewarded for that expertise. No matter how many times you fail in a game, if you REALLY want it, you CAN beat it. No doubt a helpful attitude in business.”

Just a quick blurb from game girl advance, commenting on a book called Got Game talking about how video games are training a new generation of business people. I like the three points made, especially the first one. Anyone who played the original Prince of Persia know all about taking measured risks.

Maybe these new business people can have some influence over at Electronic Arts.