Of Musings and Wonderings

{February 15, 2013}  

I don’t think I’ve read anything so utterly spot on before. Well worth a read, whether or not you spent yesterday on your own, hanging out with friends, or the love of your life.


Dear Future Husband,

Hey, fucker. Yeah, you. Asshole. Where the fuck have you been? I wait all goddamn year for you to show up, and yet every year you fail me. You’re supposed to waltz into my life with just the right combination of swagger, rugged sex appeal, and humility. You flash me a smile, drop a few smooth words, maybe do a couple pushups, and then date the hell out of me. Get your shit together, future husband! I am losing patience over here. How many more empty Valentine’s Days am I going to have to sit through before you sack up and sack me?

I mean, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do. I stay healthy (you know, slim, but without sacrificing curves), I keep my face fresh (natural makeup, of course, enough for you to think I’m not wearing any), my clothes cute (but never too short or too…

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ImageA couple of weeks ago, my mum returned from the weekly Tesco shop and came into the middle room, where I’m usually glued to my laptop. She dropped a book on the desk. “I picked this up in Tesco.” The price tag on it was something like £1.97. I glanced at the blurb, and saw why she’d brought it. See, ever since my parents started watching The Walking Dead, Mum has latched onto anything zombie or apocalypse related. And I figured, why not? I started reading.

And couldn’t put the book down.

White Horse tells the story of Zoe, a woman making her way through Europe once the world has ended. From the beginning, Adams plants questions in your mind of where the story is going; we know Zoe worked at a laboratory, and we find out she worked at Pope Pharmaceuticals as a cleaner. Although the text doesn’t make it clear, anyone who knows anything about apocalypse stories is probably already wondering what Pope Pharmaceuticals’ actual role is in the disease named ‘White Horse’. Because, come on, there has to be a link there somewhere, right?

Then, of course, there’s the question of the jar, mysteriously appearing in Zoe’s flat one day. The jar itself prompts Zoe to go see Dr Nick Rose, and even in his first appearance it’s clear that there’s something between him and Zoe.

Throughout, Adams shows us glimpses of Zoe’s past and present, separated with the simple words Then and Now. Although the ‘then’ sections sometimes jump a bit further ahead than last ones, the progression of the story is always easy to follow, and Adams skilfully spreads the seeds of questions with every bit of text.

We follow Zoe as she treks through Italy, meeting and picking up other survivors on the way. The characterisation of these people is done brilliantly. All of them are seen through Zoe’s eyes, and they remain solid and realistic; some are naïve, others more world-weary, but all of them are aiming for the same thing; survival.

One of the things that really endured me to Zoe was her relentless grip on her humanity. She doesn’t let herself become jaded by what has happened to the world, and there’s always the touch of optimism to her, which remains despite everything but never comes across as naïve. And the emotions are really carried through the book; you feel the hope of these characters, their despair, and desperately want them to reach their goals.

I really wasn’t expecting much from the book, but I was pleasantly surprised. So much so that when I glimpsed ‘Red Horse’ near the end of the book, along with a sample prologue, I couldn’t help but feel extremely pleased that the book had a sequel.

The story itself, the settings, characters and even the effects of the disease are all original, even if it seems at first to be just another apocalypse story. It’s a book that will keep you gripped from start to finish, and a brilliant book if you’re looking for a slightly different end of the world.

White Horse – Alex Adams (Amazon)

{February 7, 2013}   The Issue With ‘Gamer Girls’

I know, I know, I’ve been AWOL for just over a month. There’s a reason, a very good one, too. On New Year’s Eve, my parents took me to PC World. My mum leant me some money and I walked out with a brand new laptop. Sleek, shiny, and unlike my old laptop (now given to my brother), it can play games.

More importantly, it can play a game I have wanted since November 2011.

I’ve spent most of my free time in the last month playing Skyrim.

Near the end of the month, I also started on Sims 3, then the World Adventures Expansion Pack. What can I say, I’ve always been a sucker for the Sims games; they’re simple, fun, and WA brought something even better to the whole set. In WA, you can explore tombs and complete various puzzles and quests. It’s a great break when you get just a little fed up of watching Sims doing everyday things. (Which at times, is still surprisingly fun.)

Anyway, now I’ve got all that out of the way, I wanted to bring attention to something I saw recently on Memebase. Two of my favourite websites have to be Memebase (and many of its other sites, such as Art of Trolling, Pokememes, Video Games etc) and Tickld.com. I think (though I can’t be sure) this popped up on both.

hF1431B36I’d have liked to think that this was just a little sarcastic, but I don’t think it is. (I could be wrong.) The truth is this is very much the impression I get of how ‘gamers’ see ‘girl gamers’. And the fact that there even has to be a ‘girl’ in front of ‘gamer’ for it to apply to females is a whole other thing. Anyway, without getting too off track let’s have a look at this timeline.

If anyone really thinks girls spent 1995 until 2005 thinking all guys who played games were losers, they’re giving themselves too much credit. The fact is, there might have been some girls who thought that, just as there could have easily been guys who really were losers, but probably not because they were playing games. When I was a kid, my brothers got a SNES. I have two older brothers, the oldest of which was never really bothered by playing the games but did so occasionally. My other brother played the SNES a lot, playing Mario and Starfox and the Bevis and Butthead game. And when they weren’t playing on it, there were two other people in the household rescuing Peach or Zelda, battling through space and, in the case of one of them, creating art with a mouse and mousepad that connected to the SNES.

Those other two were myself and my mum.

I loved that SNES, playing it every chance I got. And when I wasn’t on that, I was on my brother’s Gameboy. Eventually, we moved on; my brothers got an N64, I got a pocket Gameboy. One Christmas, I got Pokémon Red. My brother got Pokémon Blue. And on the N64, I played Super Smash Bros, Goldeneye, more Zelda games…anything we could get our hands on. And having Blockbuster up the road really helped that.

I had a Gameboy Colour, then Gameboy Advance. I played on them every second I could, then, one Christmas, something amazing happened.

I got my own console. The small, tiny PSOne sat in my bedroom, where I again played anything I could on it. A few years after, my brothers got a Playstation 2 and I don’t think there have ever been more arguments in this household. My brother – the one who had sometimes played the SNES but not as much as the rest of us – had his Tony Hawk games. All of us played GTA (I think Vice City, if memory serves right) and I was the one who got Mum to buy the boys Red Dead the same year she got me Tony Hawk American Wasteland.

My brothers moved out; one went to University, the other took the PS2. And then, when I asked if I could borrow it one weekend, he told me it had broken. I stared at my games, at Kingdom Hearts and THAW and others. I left school, I started working, and I spent a whole lunch hour trying to find a PS2. I couldn’t afford one of the brand new PS3s, but I did manage to grab a PS2 for £50.00 and once more, I had a console of my own.

That PS2 and Wii helped see me through Uni, helped me relax when the work got too much, or kill a few hours when my internet was down.

And, like I said, at the start of January, I got a brand new laptop which can play games. I’ve chatted to one of the guys in work to death about Skyrim, and the weirdness of playing it while reading the Song of Ice and Fire novels. Because when I get into a game, I really get into it.

So what’s the point of trawling through my gaming past, I hear you cry?

Well, easy.

Just because there may be some girls out there who call themselves ‘gamer girls’ but have never sat and had a marathon session on a game doesn’t mean we’re all like that. Look around you, guys. You sat and moaned for years about how you couldn’t find any girls who liked games. The truth is we were too busy kicking Bowser’s butt to come outside and play. Or running through the snow of Skyrim and fighting dragons and the undead. Like all aspects of life, don’t judge everyone based on one or two negative perceptions. Don’t sit and moan, making images detailing ‘a history of gamer girls’ without really knowing what we’ve been doing all these years.

Returning to my mum. She played Zelda with us, and Mario when we were kids. She came in the other day while I was on Skyrim, and asked “Would I be able to run that on my laptop?” Gamer Girls – we didn’t just spring into life in the last few years. The truth is, we’ve been around as long as gamer guys. And it’s about damn time we got called ‘gamers’, rather than having to tag girls on the end to emphasise the difference.

So, now, anyone have suggestions for decent games on Steam? I fancy trying something new.

et cetera