Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category


Says It All, Really

September 30, 2009

Zombie Cow Studios
pat m.


One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other…

September 24, 2009

From a certain PC magazine’s inaugural issue in 1982:


We salute you, Random Black Guy and Random Asian Guy, for going boldly where no one (with melanin) has gone before.

pat m.


“Sambo” Is A Viable Scribblenauts Term

September 23, 2009

…and it summons a watermelon.

Good going, guys.

There’s no point to writing any kind of in-depth insightful commentary on this one – intentional or not, it’s hilariously fucked up.

Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Scribblenauts and see what kind of offensive stories I can put together, though.

Read up more here:

Ian Bogost – Gamasutra


pat m.


Player Characters of Color: Talim (Soul Calibur)

September 22, 2009

Since the vast majority of traffic to this blog comes from Google searches for the guys in The 13 Hottest Men of Gaming, In Color, I thought I’d encourage the trend (read: pander to the masses) by giving some dap to the random people of color that show up in video games. We at Token Minorities know that it’s not easy being the only brown character in the instruction manual, guys, but we appreciate the pleasant surprise that comes up when we find you in the middle of your lily-white game world.

The inaugural character for Player Characters of Color is none other than Talim, from the Soul Calibur series.

While it’s no surprise to Token Minorities readers that one of the easiest places to find brown PCs is in fighting games, Talim gets extra dap for being the first Filipina in a video game and the least mindlessly sexified female character in a series that might as well have all their other women characters put the swords down and beat each other with their ballooning bosoms. That hasn’t stopped certain gaming magazines from including her in a swimsuit issue (PSM) or a “Girls of Gaming” spread (Play) – for shame, for shame.

Here’s hoping that she continues to kick colossal amounts of colonial ass with her two arm-blades while managing to wear more clothes than the rest of her female counterparts.

Matchup I’d like to see: Talim vs. Ferdinand Magellan.

pat m.


Race Mods for Popular Games, 9.17.2009

September 17, 2009

Grand Theft Auto:

Black male player: Wanted Meter starts at two stars. When the player is on foot, all white NPCs within eyeshot will cross to the opposite side of the street. Game can only be played on Very Hard difficulty level (does GTA have one?).

Asian female player: Wanted Meter starts at one star. When on foot, all white male NPCs within 20′ radius will run to player and proposition her (dialogue takes about half an hour to click through). Add one to Wanted Meter each time she rejects advances. If player has short hair, rejected NPCs will call her a lesbian.

Resident Evil series

Black male player: when other friendly characters are present, the game will not progress until the player is the first to open door/turn corner/walk down hallway/other situation which places him in mortal danger. also includes new Second Person Perspective camera, which remains fixed on white NPCs for duration of game. Game ends when player is killed, zombified, and killed again.

Latino male/female player: Game ends when player is killed, zombified, and killed again. (Game duration: five minutes.)

Asian female player: see Ada Wong.


Black male player: Player character has Afro instead of horns. Also, mysterious black shadows trying to separate Black male PC from white female NPC are now mysterious figures in white robes and hoods.

Madden 2010

Asian female player: No penalties are called on opposing team.

Phoenix Wright

Young white female player: Opposing attorney is Kanye West.


What I Really Wish Apple Would Make

September 11, 2009

So I’m working a part-time gig with a certain consumer technology magazine, and everyone has been abuzz about Apple’s recent (rather anti-climactic) press release. Yes, for those of you who weren’t paying attention, Steve Jobs is alive and well (if looking rather skeletal) and he announced a new version of iTunes (which has stuff that should have been in there on day one), a new version of iPhone OS software (which has stuff that should have been in there on day one), a rearranged iPod pricing scheme, and the addition of a video-only camera for the iPod Nano, which basically is a huge Fuck You to the Pure Digital Flip.

After spending a minute or two mulling over how much I’d like it if they got a decidedly less whitebread musical guest for their press events (more Wu-Tang Clan, less Norah Jones, please), I started thinking about how Apple is really seeing diminishing returns on their lifestyle products.

That is to say, the incremental iPod updates are getting progressively lousier. We’ve hit the storage saturation point (I can’t for the life of me fill my 60GB iPod Classic), the OS is already good enough, the damn things can do pictures and video and the iPod Touch and iPhone are basically mini-computers. Now we’re getting a damn video camera on the Nano, which is kind of cool, I guess, insofar as it facilitates the one-click YouTube uploading of cat videos, drunken party videos, and other stupid shit. I don’t even use Cover View on my iPod because finding the damn album art is such a pain in the ass when you don’t buy your music off the iTunes Music Store.

My point is that the guys at Apple design these things around a certain kind of lifestyle, and that lifestyle involves a lot of meticulous detail about their music, uninterrupted access to Facebook, Twitter, and NPR, and apparently, an irrepressible desire to film the daily mundane. I know plenty of people who are like this, and they already own iPods. Since Apple is in the business of selling iPods, they’re going to have a harder and harder time inventing new reasons for these hipster fucks to buy newer ones.

Believe it or not, there is an untapped market for Apple. They are young and hip, and they have disposable income. The thing is, they aren’t on Twitter or Facebook, they won’t really buy a Nano for the camera, and they don’t give a shit about Cover View.

Of course, I’m talking about young people of color. Ones like the kids I work with at the boxing gym. One of my kids managed to get into three fistfights on the first day of high school – one of which was with a gangbanger – and another one of my kids has seen three of his friends shot and killed in the last week or so. They live approximately between Fruitvale BART (where Oscar Grant was shot last New Year’s) and 74th Avenue (where Lovelle Mixon shot four cops). So here’s what I want to see from the tech world:

  • Right now, the iPhone has pretty good voice dialing. Let’s improve that tech! Have the phone automatically dial 911 whenever the iPhone hears gunshots. Patch into the Google Maps API to give the responding officer directions to the site of the call so they have no excuse for showing up 2 hours later. If the iPhone hears gunshots coming from a standard-issue police sidearm, the user can configure it to automatically dial the local newspaper, because you’re about to make the front page.
  • Put these new iPhone/iPod Nano cameras to good use. It’s accepted Homie Protocol in areas with frequent shootings that your friends take a crappy picture of you and make commemorative T-shirts which they print up at the mall. iPhone App, anyone? One touch and any pic can be instantly done up with life dates and a sappy caption. Send it via MMS to any local t-shirt printing company. (Oh wait, MMS isn’t working over AT&T yet.)
  • Everyone loves a good backyard brawl video. Instant uploading to YouTube is good. Automatic social media tagging – so everyone in your circle of friends knows that it was your grainy, pixelated ass that got ruthlessly beaten – is better. What I really want, though, is an iMovie plugin that automatically adds a Street Fighter II-style health bar at the top that depletes when it hears the distinct sound of fists hitting flesh.
  • Courtesy of John Hopkins: music studio iPod for making beats on the go. Complete with a gold chain case attachment, portable speakers, and maybe a docking cable that lets you use any write-capable optical drive to burn copies of your demo CD. (T-Pain optional–er, wait a minute.)
  • Google Turf. It’s hard knowing which block belongs to which crew, especially if you’re new in town. Harness the power of crowdsourcing with Google Turf, an iPhone app that provides you with on-the-fly coverage of gang lines via the Google Maps API so you’ll never be caught in Border Brothers territory without backup again. Bonus points if it has a plugin that suggests potential outfits that avoid certain colors.
  • Remember that bit from Dave Chappelle’s Killing Them Softly standup about how black people know the laws – and the penalties? “Don’t do that – that’s five to ten!” That’s what the iPhone needs. Think of it as an applied version of Lexis-Nexis – the user just types in a crime, and the corresponding minimum and maximum sentences, prosecution rates, and legal precedents pop up. Throw in a plugin that lets it cross-reference legal databases with local phone books to recommend defense attorneys with high success rates for that particular offense and maybe our kids will have a shot.

I leave you with this:

That’s it for now. Post your suggestions in the comments.

pat m.


Good and Evil In The Garden of Eden (Creation Kit)

September 9, 2009

I find it appropriate that the first substantive post in a long while comes on Dreamcast Day. 9.9.99: NEVER FORGET.


Escapist fantasies be damned: it’s hard to be an asshole in a video game.

I was polling my Facebook friends for good anecdotes about applying the problem-solving skills we learn from video games to real life problems (that’s Quality Research, folks) and got the following from one of my Jiu Jitsu buddies:

“I’ve found in choose-your-morality games like Fallout, KOTOR, or BioShock I have a really hard time playing a bad guy, even in a simulated world where there are no real negative consequences for my actions. I think a lot of the time we like to think of the character as our idealized self in an extraordinary environment.”

Now to be fair, this guy is a genuinely nice guy. Even in a sport that consists of grown men mauling the shit out of each other like wild dogs, he manages to be downright courteous. As in he sent me three apologetic text messages after a practice session where he noticed I was rubbing my neck after he caught me with a choke. However, I don’t think that his nice-guy nature is why he always gets the Good Ending. No, it’s most likely because most games “morality choices” are, well, garbage.

Grand Theft Auto got people all hot and bothered because they saw gamers in a virtual world which looked like they could do anything without worrying about consequences, and given a choice, they ended up stealing cars, doing drugs, fucking prostitutes and shooting pretty much everyone. People who actually played Grand Theft Auto weren’t nearly as shocked about the crimes they were committing because verbs like Steal, Fuck, and Shoot had buttons mapped to the controller. In GTA, being a law-abiding citizen, much less a Nice Guy, would be akin to winning the Evolution National Championships on a gamepad with one working button. It’s easier for Solid Snake to thwart a plot that endangers the whole world without killing anyone than it is for C.J. from San Andreas to drive on the right side of the road. There’s no meaningful choice between good and evil, which is fine, because no one buys a game called Grand Theft Auto to help old ladies across the street.

The Fallout series has a different legacy, however. The tension between Good and Evil is supposed to be a constant element throughout the game; each mission, no matter how small, generally has at least two or three different outcomes that will push your karma in one direction or the other. Unlike GTA, however, I’ve found that the path of least resistance is that of the Good Guy, because the decisions are too moral. Let’s say we have a real life moral spectrum that looks something like this (bad to good, with “|” denoting neutral):

Hitler ———————————-|———Garden-variety Asshole—–Average Joe————–Mother Teresa

GTA‘s looks something like this:

Raging Armed Psychopath——Murderer——|———————Regularly Drives Over The Speed Limit

and Fallout 3‘s looks something like this:

Raging Armed Psychopath—-|—-Guardian of the Wasteland

That is to say, there isn’t really much of a middle ground. Either you’re a saint or you’re shit. For any given quest, the options are Make Everything Better or Kill Everything, and the neutral path consists of Do A, then B. Fix Megaton up, then blow it up. Tell Zimmer who the Replicant is (to get Wired Reflexes) but tell the Replicant first (to get his Plasma Rifle). I could understand this if it were a Star Wars story involving Jedi powers, but then the good and evil actions would be more oriented around whether you prefer Force Heal to Force Choke and less about the morality themselves. Basically, the problem is that the Good Path tends to be more generous with in-game rewards (XP, items, Perks) than the Bad Path, and you don’t risk missing out on any further game content by offending (or killing) certain characters. There are certain NPCs and quests that can only be had if your karma is negative, but from what I can tell, it’s negligible compared to the whole, so everyone plays the game as a good guy the first time. If they really like the game (as in, they like it enough to play through it again with the handicap of having bad karma) then they’ll do it again to see the remaining 20% or so of the stuff that they couldn’t see as a good guy.

To make this a little bit more concrete: I’m playing through the game a second time. Even though I fully intended to play as a Bad Guy the whole way, I find myself choosing the Good option more often than not just because it makes the game easier. This is not a good model of morality. If GTA tells us that people can do incredibly horrible things if they’re just a touch of a button away (think of it as mass-market Milgram experiment), Fallout tells us that stealing a bottle of soda is maybe two steps removed from genocide.

Fallout is set in a post-apocalyptic fucking wasteland. Shouldn’t my do-gooder enthusiasm be rewarded with selfish backstabbing at every turn? For a world that claims to be harsh and soul-crushing, it’s awful easy to be the good guy. Needs more crabs-in-a-bucket.

This is not the good-evil tension I want in a video game, because it bears very little resemblance to the good-evil tension that fascinates me in real life. In real life, it’s less about Good or Evil (because honestly, who thinks of themselves as Evil?) and more about Selfish and Selfless. The Evil we encounter in real life isn’t Hitler, it’s the guy who can’t be bothered to make a new pot of coffee at the office. The lady who willfully cuts you off in traffic. Being good in real life is a combination of the belief in delayed gratification (or karma) and genuine concern over others’ well-being, and being evil is being just enough of an asshole to walk the lines of civil society without crossing them. One of the first moral choices in Fallout 3 comes up right when you leave the Vault, and you have the option of shaking down a lady on the run for her money or delivering her from her difficult situation. It’s a fairly insignificant moment in itself, but it captures the selfish-selfless tension perfectly. You can opt for the money, or you can opt for the good Karma.

I opted for the money.