The Cultural Gutter

unashamed geekery

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Thoughts on Trolls

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At PBS Idea Channel, Mike considers and then reconsiders the beneficial effects of trolls. At Kill Screen, Matthew Byrd writes about the integration of trolling into a multiplayer online gaming experience, particularly with DayZ and Demon’s Soul. (Thanks, Edie!)

On the Abandoned Cities of Azeroth

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At The Gameological Society, Samantha Nelson ponders the hidden beauty of World of Warcraft’s abandoned cities.  

Neverwinter Diary: Tales from the Sword Coast

Rock Paper Shotgun‘s John Walker has been playing Neverwinter, and he’s been playing with other people–and he’s formed a RPS guild. “And for the first time in an online game, I don’t feel like the interfering hanger-onner, muddling my way through with the people who know what they’re doing. I mean – that absolutely still […]

“The Extraordinary, Mischievous, Too Short Life of Sean Smith”

Kotaku remembers Sean Smith, an Information Management Officer for the US State Department killed in Benghazi, Libya. He was also Vile Rat, a famous/infamous high level player in Eve Online.

Gender Cues and In-Game Harassment

In a new study, written up at The Mary Sue, researchers look at gender and harassment in multiplayer online games, in this case, Halo 3.  “[T]he use of gendered insults and the tripled rate of negative comments, regardless of skill level or win percentage, indicates that something more than just a proclivity for trash-talk is […]

News from the EVE Frontline

Tor.com reports on one of the largest space battles in the history of EVE Online: “A space battle kicked off entirely by accident. A space battle so big it could not be simulated, it had to be crafted and pushed forward by human ego, so big it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and yet […]

Thousands Dead In Azeroth

A hacker’s attack left thousands of player characters dead in Azeroth. According to Forbes Magazine, community moderator Naethera responded on behalf of Blizzard, ““This exploit has already been hotfixed, so it should not be repeatable. It’s safe to continue playing and adventuring in major cities and elsewhere in Azeroth.” Good night, and good luck in […]

Difficulty Settings and Cheat Codes

John Scalzi and Dr. NerdLove use gaming to understand being a guy in the real world. In writing about “straight white male” as the lowest difficulty setting in life, Scalzi builds on a  Luke McKinney article in Cracked. Dr. NerdLove is a little less explicitly game-centric in his “Virgins, Victims and Player Haters: Adventures in […]

Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits

An armorer has some suggestions about balancing functionality, character and story in “fantasy armor and lady bits.”

7 Biggest Dick Moves In Online Gaming

From Ultima Online to Eve Online, Cracked covers “The 7 Biggest Dick Moves in Online Gaming.”

Ask the Dungeon Bastard

Have a party of adventurers who get hurt so often that you never get to cast your offensive spells, but spend all your combat rounds healing their wussy asses?  The Dungeon Bastard is here to help with your clerical duties. (Thanks, Fewdio Paul!)

Warriors of the Unknown

Warriors of the Unknown is an animated series featuring gamers whose characters jump from server to server in pursuit of a mysterious hacker while mixing up game genres. You can sample the first episode here.

LEGO MMO

LEGO still clicking with their new “LEGO Universe” MMO game. The trailer’s here. Meanwhile, Unreality tries to understand the appeal.

An Ultima Gift

Origin Museum director, Joe Garrity, writes the Artful Gamer about building Richard “Lord British” Garriott an Ultima reagent box:  “The Reagent Box ended up to be a 2-year effort in finding the individual reagents and binding each to a velvet base with brass wire, presenting them with a 19th-century-scientific look.”

The Mainstream Notices Us, Head Explodes

Forbes gets worried – World of Warcraft will create “offline political forces“. Charles Stross’ Halting State has a lot to say about this stuff, including a fun, opposing theory: we’ve never been contacted by aliens because they’re probably too addicted to some advanced MMO game to worry about reality anymore!

Sauron For the Win

Care to be corrupted by darkness?

When a writer puts a story down on paper, one version of all possible outcomes becomes the final version. The ending is part of a carefully constructed framework of theme and comment and all that good literary stuff, and it’s never going to change. For example, the evil lord Sauron is never going to win […]

The Long Road Back to Gaming

Guys night out in Azeroth

For the last nine months, I considered myself a non-gamer. Not a reformed gamer, mind you, but someone who just hasn’t had the time to dedicate to playing games or keeping up with the industry. I had been adapting to the life of a new parent; I had been forever transformed. The days and nights […]

Gaming in a World of Grown-Ups

Gamers with Jobs

Every gamer thinks about gaming at work. Unless they review video games for a living, and then perhaps they dream about sitting in front of excel spreadsheets all day. The ridiculously absorbing MMORPG formula has players planning out their character’s next level or what equipment to buy, surfing the official forums for hours on end […]

Click. Kill. Reward.

The Hero

The mob of deranged and frothy beasts approaches quickly, my tower shield and fearsome-looking warhammer doing nothing to slow their approach. Blood is spilled as I dispatch the group quickly, their remains forming a pile at my feet. I loot the corpses, ignoring the broken weapons that were casualties of the skirmish. I drink a […]

What Happened to the Arcade?

Wobbly joysticks and grudge matches.

The arcade was a place of refuge for the outcasts of adolescent social circles, where time would be spent dumping quarters into some dumb machine instead of studying or playing ball hockey or parking their ass in front of the TV like every other kid. Communities were built among the cabinets with their sticky buttons […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    At Paleofuture, Matt Novak writes about Idiocracy‘s unpleasant implications: “Sure. As an over-the-top comedic dystopia, the movie is actually enjoyable. But the movie’s introduction makes it an unnerving reference to toss around as our go-to insult….Unlike other films that satirize the media and the soul-crushing consequences of sensationalized entertainment (my personal favorite being 1951′s Ace in the Hole), Idiocracy lays the blame at the feet of an undeserved target (the poor) while implicitly advocating a terrible solution (eugenics). The movie’s underlying premise is a fundamentally dangerous and backwards way to understand the world.”

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    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley looks at “The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos.” “A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets. Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.”

    And McKinley defends classic television with, “In Praise of Vintage Television.”

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    Journalist Margot Adler has died. She is best known for her work as a journalist on NPR, but she also created the speculative fiction radio program, “The Hour Of The Wolf” and was the writer of Drawing Down The Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979) and Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side (2014). The New York Times, NPR and  Suvudu have obituaries.  Here Adler discusses Vampires Are Us. And here is an excerpt from Adler’s memoir, Heretic’s Heart (1997).

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    The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs for 2014. There’s lots of goodness in there and it’s worth taking a look even if you aren’t going to the festival, so you can you movie watching later this year or next. We’ll be posting the trailers from the films later.

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    Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed by Robert Osborne and Dr. Peter Feng on TCM.  At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz writes an appreciation of Shigeta’s life and work. “Shigeta, who died yesterday at 81, was a marvelous performer, and his work as Nakatomi Corporation President Joseph Takagi in the original 1988 Die Hard is one of my favorite examples of how an imaginative actor can sketch out a life in just a few scenes and lines.”

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    At RogerEbert.com, Alan Zilberman explores the history of the eye in cinema from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) to Mark Cahill’s I Origins (2014). (via Matt Zoller Seitz)

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