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Religion and Me

Now i'm gonna attempt to summarize my relationship with religion in the 25 i've been on this Earth, naturally i won't get everything i wanna say down in just this blog. but here we go...

Now my life has gone like this, I was born on October 18th, 1986 in Minnesota, USA. At the age of 2 I moved to Saudi Arabia and I lived there consistently barring vacations until 1999. There are a couple of things I should note about my life growing up there. It was there that I learned to hate the religious police, I was never at the end of their wrath or ire but I remember seeing them do stuff. I remember once they came to my neighborhood block, think of it as an urban neighborhood cul de sac but with the island being the local mosque. I remember the mutawa came in their SUVs and blocked each entrance and knocked on everyones doors to go to prayer, I dont remember the reason, and I just remember them doing this.

I remember standing across the street from the Russian mall and seeing an old mutawa man sitting on the steps with a whipping stick, at that moment I thought nothing of him, but then this thin young woman walks up and the wind blows, her abaya blows off a bit and showing off her designer jeans underneath, and I remember seeing this old man start yelling at her "shame on you! Shame on you!" and whipping her few times on her back. This wasnt just a yelling, it wasnt father and daughter or anything else, just this old religious guy whipping a stranger girl whose fault was that the wind blew her abaya. That image seeing it first hand still sticks with me today, and I must have been maybe like 8.

I went through the Saudi public education system for all but 1.5 years of my consistent living in Saudi. In there they got Quran classes. At one point I could memorize and recite the book back and forth, I got awards in excellence for the religion courses. Remember family throwing a party in my home, my grandma came all the way, on a 2 hour trip to celebrate this, and she never left her home.

By 1999 my family moved to the USA because my father got an assignment with the oil company in Houston, and I lived there for 3 years. At the time my mothers health was failing and she needed a pacemaker and she went to Mayo clinic in Minnesota to get surgery, and thankfully she is still alive and well with me and my family to this day. Once my dads assignment was done my father had enough money and investment that he retired and we moved to Minnesota and Ive been there ever since. Ive gone back to Saudi every other summer since then.

Coming to the USA was a period of great deshelling for me, when I went into the American education system I excelled in math, science (odd I know, when you think of Saudi but yes), but I was not good in English. No NOT because I sucked at English, I spoke it fluently thanks to my mom (who is American), and could read and write it just fine. My problem was critical thinking and a bit of lack of imagination. Like many countries in the world, their education system is based on rote not critical thinking. And it took me a while to learn it.

When I took my Arabic classes, it was all based around memorization and recitation. I STILL to this day remember one of the stories: "two boys and their mom live in a farm (Saudi farm is one with a ton of palm trees and they harvest the dates), the two boys run out of the house and run into the farm. They find a beehive and mess with the bees, the bees chase the boys and they run home to their who keps them safe and she makes them *something*.. " but that is the jest of the story. Its very basic child story and I am paraphrasing but you get my point. It was never about what was the lesson here? those types of questions were never asked.

So when I arrived in America to stay in 1999, I was 13 years old. I was ignorant about a lot of things, different religions, different thinking, I remember having a couple of my friends in middle school laugh at me because I had to ask the question what is a condom I really didnt know. And this is before the internet became as big and as user friendly as it is today. So I had a lot of learning and catching up to do.

The first time I ever had my religion challenged was via Televangelists on TV screaming if you dont accept Christ you'll end up in Hell. Now this remark really did shake me as a 13-14 year old young teenager, so I turned to my mom and she offered me a Torah and a Bible, and I tried understanding it from their viewpoint. Because my mother was one who converted herself, so she allowed me to see other texts. I even had an obsession with Greek/Roman mythology tales (still have the books out) to the point my parents were a little scared I believed in those stories. I was just enthralled, thought the stories were so cool and still do. First time I ever met an Atheist was when I was in my first year in high school, he was a French exchange student. I actually remember being perplexed at the notion of living a life in disbelief in God.

Ok. Fast forward to college, in 2004 when I started my college career. I would end up meeting liberals, conservatives, Atheists, Christians, other Muslims, Buddhists. Really the only group I ever had real issues with were argumentative and talk-down Atheists, Christians, and Muslims. Thats why Ive said on the forum I really dislike preachy people, and still do. But at first where I had no real skin for criticism on faith, I was still slowly growing one. It was around this time as well when I started to look deeper into my religion, specifically its hadiths. And as some already know I started not taking them as seriously, in a sense I gave em up. The Quran I still read and have read several times, and I read certain surahs often.

But ok. Lets fast forward to today in 2012. LGBT issue has been the one social issue where Ive made a complete 180 on, and I wrote about that in this blog (though I was obviously wrong about the not being attracted to the same sex part obviously). However I gotta say, ever since I told my mother about the relationship, what at first seemed like cool acceptance has been nothing but guilt tripping about hellfire (so yeah, another thing that I now sympathize LGBT with). Wife beating (actually spousal abuse period), honor killing, and child marriages Ive always abhorred. I remember last time I was in Saudi in 2010 I was in my grandmas house and my little cousin Munira (who was 8) is playing with me (I dragged my Wii from USA along with Mario so the two of us had something to play together), shes very sweet and wicked smart young girl. I remember looking at my dad and saying to him in English (most of my extended family has like basic English understanding) how the hadiths say that Aisha was her age. And I remember seeing the look on his face as it twinced and then he pushed away and ignored it. $hit like that does indeed stay on my mind.

I lost fear of hell/judgment sometime in the mid 2000s, I stopped caring about where Ill end up primarily because reading scripture and Hadith tells me its basically a crapshoot so. As a kid I never believed in the jins, which are one of the considered supernatural creatures/beings in Islam. When I pray I pray for guidance, but I tend to believe that that deity does not give a damn. I find especially in 2012 my religiosity is slipping into basically apathy, indifference. I only care for the things that people do in its name. Yesterday last night, I went out with some very lovely Muslimahs friends (that Ive grown up with) to the Turkish-American Society Center and broke fast and salat there with some of my Turkish friends as well. The entire time I never brought up religion, but I love the sense of community, we have similar interest, we talk about Saudi, we talk about college, video games, the Olympics, the future, work, stuff like that.

And I think introspectively and I dont know where I am in regards to religion and me. Am I just a secular Apatheistic culture Muslim (all those labels -_-)? Because when i think Muslim, i gravitate towards the community aspects by far the most and i think of all the friend and loved ones i have that are Muslim. I find prayer relaxing, but i don't feel like i am connecting with God. As an ex-girlfriend has said to me "you have a very cold attitude towards religion".

Recently I was at home with the family, my mom and dad and my brother Khalid were talking about his med school. How he has to study really hard to do well on his MCAT exams this September. My mom in the last two years has become VERY religious (more so than my dad, who is Saudi), kept pressing about pray to Allah to help you do well, and she kept pressing it. I interrupted and said "if I were you I would sit here and focus on the books." I get the response "what do you mean you dont believe in prayer" I responded As "I think, study first, pray second" mom and dad literally gasp outloud (my dad's eyes almost buldging) and mom responds "you act like you dont have faith in God."

And I cant help but remain silent.

Steam sale, Ramadan, Jobs, Bane, and back into Comics

well Steam summer sale came and went, and my haul has been biggest ever. This year i snapped up 23 different games. Decided i opt to providing


  1. Fallout 3 : GOTY
  2. Fallout : New Vegas Ultimate Edition
  3. Jade Empire Special Edition
  4. Bioshock
  5. Bioshock 2
  6. Borderlands Game of the Year edition
  7. Deus Ex : Human Revolution + All the DLC
  8. Grand Theft Auto 4
  9. GTA4 Episodes of Liberty City
  10. Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition
  11. Prince of Persia 2008
  12. Alan Wake
  13. Alan Wake American Nightmare
  14. Star Wars : Force Unleashed
  15. Star Wars : Force Unleashed 2
  16. Revenge of the Titans
  17. DC Universe Online DLC
  18. Dear Esther
  19. Vessel
  20. Shattered Union
  21. Offpsring Fling
  22. Hard Reset Extended Edition
  23. Cthulu Saves the World


So yeah a ton of content, with the only one possibly being a regretful buy being the DC Universe Online DLC. that all said though i'm in a period of transition with gaming, playing more on my Alienware m14x laptop and a lot less on my consoles. Coupled with playing on my Vita quite extensively (with a lot of great content coming for it this holiday).


As for Ramadan, well it is summer time so it's pretty difficult to say the least. the OT thread came and went with the expected religious insults and questioning (over a simple holiday greeting thread) so that was to be fully expected really.

This is the first year though that i have actually incorporated my exercising workout routine in as well. After Iftar and salat al-Magreb, i take my vitamins (B12, D, and two purified Omega 3 pills), sit for a little bit then workout for about an hour. doing three days inclined speed walking on the treadmill or jogging, and three days doing upper body workouts with crunches and working on abdomenal muscles. With one rest day in there.

so far it's been working well, and i haven't ever been able to stick to a Ramadan workout schedule ever before. The plan is first and foremost for weight loss and to adopt new daily routine habits to keep my weight down.

I'm 5'3" inches tall or 1.6 meter. about three years ago i was at my heaviest weighing in at 280 lbs (127 kg), and before really starting a workout routine i seem to just hover around 203 (92 kg) and 209 lbs (95 kg). my goal is simple, steady decrease down, if i could lose another 40 lbs i would be very happy.

but simple quick fix diets aren't gonna fix that, and i'm not about to turn vegan or foresake ever tasting junk food again. no. just not eat them in the same frequency or amounts as i used to.


Not much to say on the job front, so far i've send 30 applications, got 4 no's. Most of them sent out to companies in the Gulf, today i plan on registering and applying at the Qatar Oil Company, and just keep going down the list with all my information and credentials applying for jobs that i can apply for while ignore the rediculous (need 5+ years experience) that is on every.single.job.posting. Sent out applications to Aramco, Ma'aden, Sipchem, Shell, Seagate, Goodrich, Saudi Airlines, Schlumberger, and others. and it's Ramadan time so i expect there to be nothing in response until Ramadan and Eid are over with. I just hope and pray something calls back.

I didn't go to college, study my @ss off in the hard sciences of mechanical engineering, and worked on a master's for occupational safety and health (with special credentials from the US's government safety agency OSHA, and from other sources) only to now be told i'm somehow over-qualified, or that i'm REQUIRD to have 5 or 10+ years of specific field experience before i can ever get my foot in the door.


So i'm gonna end this on a slightly lighter news, i ended up seeing Dark Knight Rises a second time. I still really love this movie. Yes it's got pacing issues, and yes it doesn't have much Batman (or Bane for that matter) in it. but when the characters show up man do they put on a show. I never expected Bane to become such a menacing villain. I wouldn't say it's the best trilogy ever, it is one of my favorites. Probably second to Lord of the Rings in my personal book. I was so enamored by Bane in the movie that i went out and bought this:


I was fiddling through my Iphone and found two apps that let me create a really neat and creepy looking picture of myself. I used the "Gotham City's Most Wanted" app, where you can pick between Batman's cowl, Catwoman's ears and glasses, or Bane's mask. you center the image, where once you press go, it super imposses and tracks your face (so it's as though your wearing the mask). I then took my pic, and tossed it into a second app "Comic Book!" where you can take your regular photo and put it through a filter that makes it look more comic bookie. I used a filtering that made it resemble the Obama "Hope" posters. and here's what i ended up getting:



Recently DC Entertainment rebooted their universe, called the New 52. and once upon a time i once regularly read comic books. The first im jumped in, was in 2002 when the original Spider-Man movie came out, at around that time Marvel launched a new universe called "Ultimate" and they rebooted Spider-Man. I took advantage of that and jumped in, and for the most part i really enjoyed it, i only stopped reading it because well... i caught up in the trade paper backs and i couldn't wait.

here's the thing about single issue comics for me, i really hate them. I cannot stand how much ads in there, it breaks the flow completely for me. I can't stand it. It's why i waited for the trades.

This renewed interest in reading comics is coinciding with my renewed interest in e-books, something between my laptop and Iphone that i can read with. Right now the Kindle Fire seems like the sure fire ticket especially for someone like myself who likes to read comics. I just downloaded the first issue of Batwing for a dollar, which is 21 pages of art and story. every issue after the first is 2 dollars. i originally downloaded it on my Iphone, and while i can read the comics just fine and they work great, i would really like to see it on a bigger screen. Then i fired up DC Digital Comics on my laptop, and i was surprised ( i guess i shouldn't be?) that i could read the same comics on my laptop in much bigger screen where i can really appreciate the artwork and not have to squint at all.

All this without any ads whatsoever, AND the 2 dollar digital issues instead of the hardcopy 4 dollar issues (WITH ads fudged in there). AND be able to have access to the huge DC (and Marvel) libraries and follow along with my favorite series without having to hope or wait on the local store having it.

suddenly digital comics doesn't like a dirty word to me anymore.

I don't look for resale value in comics, i'm not a collector. I just enjoy the medium.

I have never REALLY read Superman, Wonder Woman comics, and now for a few dollars every week i can actually keep up with the comic series.

I will say if i do keep up, it'll likely be a lot more DC then Marvel, DC is almost uniformely 2 dollars per issue with the exception of the first issue and a few others. Marvel's are all 2 dollars or higher, and the price tagging is sporadic.

so to start off reading digital comics i started with Batwing, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Nightwing and Justice League. Just to start off and see which ones i like to keep following. The biggest personal surprise for me is Batwing. A totally new super hero introduced into the new DC Universe.


who is David Zavimbe A.K.A. Batwing, who operates in the fictional city of Tinasha in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Part of what intrigues me so much is it's an entirely new hero - albeit associated with Batman - that operates outside the USA, AND is headlining his own comic. Also there is an entirely different cast of characters of heroes and villains of Africa, which makes this all the more interesting to read for me. One villain is aptly named "Massacre" and you can guess what his deal is (think of Victor Zazz but on a bigger scale if he can have it). It also resonates to me because well.. i grew up in third world countries, so to see a well done, well written, well drawn super hero for the third world. yeah consider me in, and i sincerely hope the material continues to be good and people keep picking it up.

Anyways that's all i got for now, tata for now.

Tomorrow is... Batman night


Tomorrow at 6:30 PM at the local theater, with my brother. Gonna go watch the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. :D

I freakin' loved the Dark Knight, and going back i appreciate Batman Begins a lot more. At the time i first saw Batman Begins, i didn't get what everyone was lauding it for.

I got a weird friend.

Not long, just a short thing.

before i came to Gamespot, i was a regular member at Golemlabs forums. but much like how i've grown dissatisifed with Gamespot OT, same occured previously at Golemlabs. predicatiblity set in. After a while you knew exaclty what quite a few people were gonna say on any one topic before they set in.

Not that i don't have a predictable pattern of my own, but i'm concious of it. put up a topic attacking Islam and you could predict what i would say. put up a topic about Saudi and you might be surprised (i don't always defend the laws or customs of the place).

That all said though, i'll cut to the chase. Like here, i made some friends at Golemlabs. and you know how people change over time? Even though it's been years since i went back to Golemlabs forums, i still kept in semi-regular contact with a few of the members i got a long with.

Mind you their not simple clones of my own opinion or demographics. One from Washington USA, another from Norway, and a third from Hong Kong. All three Atheists, with two of them being ardent liberals of varying degrees, and one being a conservative. the thing is though the friend i've known from Hong Kong. scares the $hit out of me.

At times we'll be dead on in agreement, but then he'll go off into conspiracy theory land and start using white supremacist talking points. The thing is.. he's Chinese, from Hong Kong. He only went to America for college.

Just find it odd the people i end up meeting the more you get to know them, the scarier some of them.

What I'm Watching & Gravity Rush Impressions

So, it's summer i've already seen a couple of the blockbuster films this summer.

So far this year i saw Avengers (3 times), Men in Black 3, Brave, and Ted.

plan on seeing Amazing Spider-Man, Dark Knight Rises, Total Recall, and Campaign.

now i'm sure people have talked to deaath about Avengers, so i'll leave it at that. suffice it to say i freakin' loved it.

Men in Black 3 - much better then MIB2, but there was a certain point in the story where it all *clicked* and i figured out how the plot was going to play itself out. That all said though the pop-culture references of the American 1960's was just really funny. Also love the character Grif, really was the highlight for me and i'll leave it at that.

Brave - probably my least liked movie of the year. It's not bad, but without going into spoilers, i felt like the first third and the last third were great. but then that middle third i felt "oh... i'm now in a kids movie. ok then". technically it's a beautiful movie, it seems Pixar is getting closer and closer to emulating realisitic hair, and i did think the character Merida was great. Also really loved the guys in the film, granted their lovable buffoons, but i always seemed to laugh out loud when the dad Fergis came into the scene.

Ted - i'm gonna say this, best comedy i've seen in a long time since Hangover Part 2. I seriously laughed hysterically at some of the jokes in that movie. if you know Seth McFarlane's comedy and recognize his Family Guy humor, and if you enjoy that you will most definently enjoy this movie. I don't really have that many comedies that have had me really laughing my @ss off. it's just been the two Hangover movies and Ted.

Tomorrow is 4th of July, and my brother and i are gonna go out and see Amazing Spider-Man, i'm gonna see it, looks decent. but between the big three superhero movies this year, i keep forgetting Spider-Man is coming. That's probably a bad thing i think. Seeing how Batman, Iron Man, and Spider-Man have been my favorite mainstream super heroes since i was a young teenager. The first Spider-Man movie hold the record for number of times seen in theaters, 8.

Other then that, i've gotten some TV shows to watch over this summer. Gonna catch up watching:


I watch the first two seasons, never saw how it ended. I only remember this being the ONLY thing actually entertaining on Nickelodean. With Legend of Korra out, i'm gonna start watching this then watch my way up to Korra.



watched only a few episodes, actually really liked it for a kids show. heard it got cancelled just to get rebooted again to match the art style and stories of the next show i'm gonna try out.


never even knew about it, until my friends - who are into comics - started telling me about it.


A lot of the friends i have that were raving about Game of Thrones were suggesting for me to check out season 1 and season 2 of BBC's Sherlock. gonna check this out.


Watched the first three episodes. and i actually really liked it. hope it didn't just get cancelled because it couldn't retain the old fanbase. I like the universe the series has set up, rather interesting. A few wtf moments, but i'm rolling with it.



Have not finished it yet, but i am really really liking it for the most part. The only way i can sort of describe it is, the first the time i played inFamous except add in the sort of Hayao Miyazaki art and style that he puts into his steampunk anime's. The character instead of just zapping electricity, bends gravity around her.

the combat i will agree is cumbersome and could of used a lot of work. but i am really enjoying the hell out of this game. like the character, like the landscape, story is so far keeping me interested.

Something Up in the Middle East

so today, after Friday prayer my facebook messages started lighting up from my friends and family in the Middle East.

Saudi media went on blackout apparently, Press TV (Iranian television) got a hold of an order King Abdullah putting the military in a high state of alert. Other reports are stating that Saudi military are amassing along it's borders.

This seems to corroberate with King Abdullah of Jordan calling for an emergency session of Parliment. The Jerusalem Post & Haaretz has also reported the Israeli defense forces are bolstering their defenses along the Syrian border. Turkey is amassing troops along it's borders with Syria.

obviously, tensions are high. I imagine mostly based on putting more and more pressure on the Syrian leadership to relinquish power.

I don't take Press TV or Middle Eastern state media all that seriously, but when you start to see all the big players scitter and move about. It definently makes me stand up and take notice.

Still i keep digging for non-Iranian, non-Christian sites, and non-Israeli sites for corraborating evidence for the stories that Saudi army is on the move, but i'm hearing rumblings from my family back in Saudi that something really is indeed up.

keepin' an eye out. the Action Group for Syria meeting failed, not a surprise there, for some odd reason Russia wants to be Syria's Assad shield, had Russia just played neutral party member they might of been able to maintain their military deals and keep their naval base (their only one in the mediterreanean sea). When Assad's regime falls, which is not a matter of if at this point, the role that Russia played in this will almost certainly make them an enemy in the eyes of the Syrian people.

Women in Games Part 2

-This part 2, my blog is too long, please leave any comments under this entry. -

I've read on forums that Elika is a bad female character because you have to save her near the end and that she is not the lead (despite being with you from start to finish), also she's becomes a love interest. The fact that the main criticism of the game was for being too easy (because you literally cannot die) it's because Elika saves YOU every time you're about to die. When people say the sidekick is never equal, usually they never are - the protagonist is the lead. That doesn't mean that the sidekick cannot be admirable. As much as some Batman fans hate it, Robin does get a lot of love (so does Batwoman and Nightwing). And in this particular case I'm willing to argue that Prince and Elika are equal, because they NEED each other to finish the adventure, without Elika the Prince dies for sure, without Elika you cannot cleanse the lands, without Elika you cannot stop the great big bad evil. That to me was cool, and while yes the game is stupid easy, it was really fun. I wanted a sequel to that series, NOT a retread to Sands of Time (which I really loved but felt it was complete).

The primary complaint I hear about the women in Uncharted is because Elena is the love interest, and Chloe used her sexual power to get Cutter to work with her. They are both not the lead character, and despite being excellently written by Amy Hennig. These are not good examples of female characters because they are only 1 dimensional tropes, nothing else to them and therefore awful and perpetuating sexism, stereotypes, misogyny, whatever added.

Bayonetta, a character that Anita Sarkiseen lambasts as the epitome example of oversexualized female leads, was actually designed by awoman. Mari Shimizaki, she was told by her boss Hideki Kamiya to create a lead character that was 1. Female, 2. Modern witch, 3. Uses 4 guns. And it's funny because the majority of my gamer friends (male AND female) really love this character. Funny, over the top, sexy, and completely fine with living in her skin.

And that's really my problem with a lot of the critiques, sure you are entitled to your opinion, but with few exceptions I think they're missing/ignoring context, looking at tropes in a purely negative light, mix it in with our cultural bias's of how we view and treat the genders and then you got magic - boom - everything is awful.

Now the next line would be "well your saying women should shut up" No, I'm not. Everyone is a critic, I'm criticizing those who seem to find anything and everything to be considered flawed about female characters in games and then considers it sexist, objectifying or misogynistic. In the critques I'm reading off those terms are being applied so broadly that they're beginning to lose their actual meaning. If you start calling 99% of all female characters victims of sexist, objectification or misogynistic intent, your either arguing how abysmal the state of women are in games (which I patently refuse to believe it's that bad) or you are reaching so far that you are diluting the very terms your throwing around. In general, games utterly fail at making in depth engaging characters, so is the focus on women primarily because of their under-representation? Because were not sex-positive? You cannot deny looking at the last five years that we have been seeing improvements in storytelling in general. So why not have a little bit of faith? I have no problem with the dialog, but it seems so much of the focus is that "everything is $hit and awful and here's why".

And finally my conclusion and what I want to drive at; As hard as it may be to believe after reading all that, I do want there to be more varied female leads in games. I'm right now as of this moment playing through Gravity Rush as Kat, and so far I actually really like it. It's the game that made me go out and buy a Vita. There needs to be more female leads in games, but here's the thing. These new female leads need to be iconic, and for that to happen they have to be outlandish in some way, and it doesn't or shouldn't have to be overly-sexualized. And I don't mean games where you can just choose your sex; I'm talking about games like Beyond Good and Evil, Heavenly Sword, and Mirror's Edge. Games, where the lead is fixed. I say iconic, because I can post a picture of Scarygirl, and no one knows about it or cares. Ironically all three games I mentioned I would really really like sequels for as well.

The crux is those triple A games don't seem to sell, get dropped off and forgotten and then we complain that there are no good strong female leads. But even if that were not the case, I truly TRULY think, given the nature of peoples criticism from game journalist to readers on this issue, that they will find fault and they will never measure up to peoples expectations.

It seems to me that we as a community have two problems on the topic, the gaming community - I'm willing to argue more so than within the industry - does have a huge problem with women in games. The sandwhich & get in the kitchen sexist jokes are really trite and top it off only strengthen the argument of the other problem - the group that is blind to possible good existing female characters in games. From my bias male 'privileged' perspective, there are quite a few good characters that are women in games, if only you are only willing to put your magnifying glass away. For the record, I really look forward to playing Aveline (AC3: Liberation), Jodie (Beyond : Two Souls) Lara Croft (new Tomb Raider), and seeing how Ellie and Joel interact in Last of Us.

However I gotta wrap this up and I'm going to end it with this.People who look to be offended will find things offensive, and will be offended.

I do not want to see the creative process be hijacked by overly-sensitive overly-critical people.


Anyways, whatever my opinion is to you, that's great. Feel free to leave a comment if you like. I however am gonna go bend gravity with Kat. Bye bye.

Women in Games Part 1

This is easily the longest blog I have ever written,

Tropes vs Women series for video games was shown off here. A lot of the discussion in the editorials seems to focus solely on her treatment, which is abhorrent, but in the midst of that, I only heard two sites. MovieBob's Big Picture special over at Escapist, and which is holding an entire month devoted to women in games relating to sexism, objectification, and misogyny. The rest only seemed to focus on Anita's treatment, which clouded and polarized the discuession.

Make note, if it must be said, I did not call her b*tch, cvnt or any other gendered term. But I also did not donate to her video, really primarily because I was considering the source. I saw some of her videos, and while I found her videos interesting at times, really they are slanted to look at it from one perspective. "What anti-female messages are being implied in media?" It's her job to do so, she's a writer at Feminist Frequency and a pop-culture critic. It seemed to me, that her critique was going to be just that, find negative portrayals of women. Even based on the pictures of characters used in the tropes vs woman, and the direction she was heading in her argument I didn't need to hear anymore. I no doubt believe people would spend on her cause, that's she'd easily get to her $6,000 dollars requirement. At last time I checked there is $160,000 she's received. That is about 2500% greater than what she asked, to make a 6 part video series, analyzing types of women most often seen in games. Something, which most online personalities (such as herself) can manage to do on their own just fine for free. Based on her asking video and her other videos, I did not feel she would be an objective analyzer. If your goal is to find flaws in something, you will ALWAYS find flaws.

During that whole explosion I was playing Fallout: New Vegas, and I was being hyper aware of the role of women in the game. What I found in this case was kind of interesting, in a lot, if not most of the smaller factions. Women were in charge, whether formally or de-facto. Trudy at Goodsprings, Mother Pearl for the Boomers at Nellis Air Force Base, Alice Mclafferty for the Crimson Caravan, Julia Farkas at the Old Mormon Fort for the Followers at the Apocolypse, Colonel Moore at Hoover Dam, and I know I'm forgetting a few others. It's not just good/neutral factions either, the one notable bad faction that is lead by a woman is Gloria Van Graff at the Silver Rush energy weapons store. Now I imagine that someone complaints would be "but they are not the main factions" "but they are not fully fleshed out" Or as I suppose Anita would possibly classify them as "background characters". Still, as I'm hearing people complain about this, and people will discount this, I had to taken notice in what I was playing. These are women in positions of power and respect in their towns/organizations. But the game seems to not get credit for doing so and is completely discounted and/or ignored.

Recently three big snafu's occurred with regards to women in games, Lollipop Chainsaw, Tomb Raider's sexual assault scene, and Hitman trailer. And here is my take on it.

Lollipop Chainsaw, to me this game doesn't interest me, but because of all the heat it's gotten I may just play it out of spite. You've got a blond cheerleader who wields a chainsaw (with a heart stamped out of it) with an androgynous body-less boyfriend attached to her hip slicing through zombies in a hot pink glitter rainbow world. Yes, truly a game that I look towards for deep thought provoking characters. Just like how I went into Transformers for a deep thought provoking story about robots who transform into cars from space fighting other robots that transform into cars from space. It's fvcking camp. It may be bad taste, but it's camp. When your character is not meant to be treated seriously to begin with, it's not NEARLY as awful as when your character is meant to be treated seriously and yet is blatantly sexist. Think about that. When IGN made fun of the Destructoid review that mentioned "just because it's dumb does not mean it cannot be brilliant" and IGN's response was "words to live by" I instantly felt that hatred for this elitist attitude when it comes to the different mediums. It's like saying "I only watch Oscar worthy movies/art house films not that gruel designed for the plebeians knuckle-dragging Neanderthals masses down below".

The Hitman trailer came out, again this game I was not interested in, as I've never been a fan of the series. When watching it, the only thing my head went "why?" was when the nuns undressed into the skin tight sexy outfits. That was my main complaint, I couldn't tell if that was a CGI trailer designed simply to advertise the game, was it something intentionally done so to create controversy, or is it something in the game? I have absolutely no qualms though about the close up scenes of seeing the beating the female assassins were taking. There have been shrill complaints from feminists that this promotes violence against women. This really is not that different from the argument about GTA and violent video game debates from the 90's arguing that violent video games promote real life violence. I had no qualms that it was an all female team of assassin's sent out to kill the protagonist. Because why not? No one in the world would have had kicked up a similar $hit-storm over a female assassin massacring a group of male assassin's out to kill her. Nor should they. It's called conflict, and in the name of equality - and hell - self-preservation the moment a woman points a gun at me and tries to kill me is the moment the socialized rule of "do not hit girls even when they hit you? goes out the freakin"window. The part I had issue with was how they were dressed, not as nuns per say (that is the disguise), but the overly sexy dress, because the subject material - unlike Lollipop Chainsaw - lends itself to be taken more seriously. And for that, by all means fire away.

With Tomb Raider, there is a scene where one of the pirates grabs Lara from the behind (sexual assault) and strongly alludes to threatening to rape her. The video-game internet went ablaze over it and then Crystal Dynamics got caught up in trying to retreat from it, or tried saying it wasn't sexual assault (when it is). At the same time though, if we're going to say that games need to 'grow up' (whatever this means, please look up famous C.S. Louse quote), then why is this topic so taboo? Is it simply because we de-powered her? Is it because it's Lara? Even though we hated her for having big breasts and a nice bum? Even despite that this game is supposed to be the journey that leads Lara from normal college lady to amazing world-crossing adventurer. I'll concede that had they done this with Nathan Drake that they wouldn't beat up on him as much. However that being said, I do like this sort of treatment of a previously got-it-together character, whether it'd be Lara or Nathan. Primarily because it feels more believable. My gut tells me that this rebooted version of Lara Croft could very well be my favorite of all the Indiana Jones inspired characters. It would tell a better story then any of the previous games (Tomb Raider or Uncharted), and be the catalyst story to forge an old icon in a different way. From getting your butt kicked hard to forging yourself into the mother fvckin Batman errrr Lara Croft! :D.From pin up girl to realized person.

As I said there has been a lot of talk on the subject, and usually what I hear as primary complaints are as followed:

  1. Oversexualized
  2. Plays on her sexuality (even if she does it in one case or one pivotal moment and not as part of their persona) or is simply comfortable with her sexiness.
  3. She is not the lead, she is sexy sidekick
  4. She is not the lead, she is a background character
  5. Damsel in Distress
  6. De-powered/Weaker
  7. One of the Guys/Just As Tough/Grrrrrl Power
  8. She never speaks/Has no background
  9. She is the villain/a b*tch/ unlikable
  10. She is devoid of femininity
  11. She was explicitly designed for X demographic......
  12. Bad by virtue of being written by men and only for pleasure of hetero men.. implying men cannot write non-hetero people or women.

And this complaints/criticism, without fail will be put against virtually all female characters in games by someone who needs to write an editorial about female portrayals in games. Literally without fail, one or more will applied to them. And before someone brings up "well you're just oblivious because you enjoy male privilege" no. first off that is insulting to my intelligence, it implies I cannot be self-aware of a situation, and I realize everyone is going to be a critic, but when we as a community seem to gravitate towards the negative criticism of women in games, it ends up looking like there are no or very few good female characters.

These are the positive characters I think are in games, just my thoughts, and not all of them are the lead role.


And I'm sure I'm forgetting a few others.

Now I know what someone here might be thinking. But x is sexualized, but Other M, but they're not lead character, but you have to save x, but she's a love interest.

First I'll answer Other M, no I did not like Other M. pushing back and looking at what they were aiming, I think it could have been good, but they're execution was just awful. I'm with the people who really disliked Other M for butchering Samus, but the past games? No I don't hate Samus or sneer at her, I think she's a great female lead in games.

As for the complaints of not being the lead, having to save x person, being a love interest, but being sexualized?. So what?

When I think of favorite LGBT (a group SEVERELY under-represented in games) characters I instantly think of Veronica (Fallout : New Vegas) and Steve Cortez (Mass Effect 3). Because I really loved the characters, and neither of them are the main lead characters. People complain about Steve being whiney and a bad example of gays in video games, I disagree strongly. He lost his husband to the Reapers, he's very nonchalant and open about his homosexuality, and it is obvious that he loved his husband dearly. If he was not grieving like he was (for no good reason), I would probably really dislike the character quite a bit, and you as the player can either fill that void or help him through as his friend. That I really liked, he had an arc in the story. When you're at the bar and he mentions how he's admires looking at the guys dancing (*objectification alert!*), you can turn him down without being an @ss, and better yet, he doesn't take offense to it, or you could agree along with him and go down the romantic path. It was his very easy and good nature that endeared him and Veronica to me, and that's why I remember them fondly. One of the few clear memories in Mass Effect 3 that I have was male-shep's scream "Steve!!!" when Steve's ship gets shot down at the battle for Earth. It's a simple scene, not much to it, but the pathos the Mark Meer put into that line really struck a chord. Because I liked Cortez and I did care for his wellbeing. A great example of feeling enraptured in the games universe.

Also why is it bad if the female is or becomes the love interest? games cannot explore or have this aspect? or are we going to only look at this from the lense of "female only there to satisfy male lead/player". Because if you think i got a problem with a female lead and having a man fall her. lol... nope.

Why can't there be a tapestry of women in games? Some are really unlikable (b*tches if you will) who do really evil things (why is this bad? When it's appropriate for male villains to exist?), some are kick @ss heroines (Faith), some are not beautiful (Scarygirl, Fat Princess), some are not even human (okami), and yes even some are princesses that need saving (princess peach), and some realistic women kicking @ss (MMA Supermacy, Rainbow Six : Vegas). Really there is a rich tapestry there if you even bother to look.

Part 2 is above.

Fallout New Vegas DLC review and commentary

so recently i wrapped up Fallout New Vegas again this time with all the DLC.

and i must say. Obisidian really are up there as the master's of story telling in video games. and i mean that in the most positive way, no backhand comment on the status of story telling in games intended.

Now i'm only gonna touch on the DLC here. Fallout New Vegas alone is just an awesome game, and replaying it seems to highlight all the things that were improved upon Fallout 3. and don't ge wrong Fallout 3 is still one of my favorite WRPG's, but New Vegas just trumps it on a lot of levels.

Finally below are SPOILERS

Dead Money


Really, this surprised me a lot, i heard a lot of bad things about this DLC. but to be brutally honest, it was thrilling. yeah i'll admit at one point in time, near the end of stealthily walking through the villa (it's a giant maze basically) gets really tedious. That tediousness though exaserbates the dreadful feeling i was getting. the music was just terrifying after a while, and the ghost people gasping and shifting through the hazy cloudy avenues of the villa. it took me 6-7 hours to just finish it, as i skulking around and trying to get by them. and often when i had to fight each fight felt like a fight to the death.

At first when you arrive you are really lost, you meet Father Elijah (Veronica's adoptive father/mentor) who seems like he really has fallen off his rocker. you meet three other people, each of them really interesting in their own way and their own story. I really was sort of quietly terrified when i initially met Dog/God the schitzophrenic super mutant. God has this quiet intentional subvertive malicious tone and nature about him that it kinda scared me. the first time i've ever met a companion in any game that i felt like "this person is a loose cannon, and i'd be an idiot to have this person around me". Dean Domino i initially didn't recognize him, until i saw his name on the poster, and that - i thought - was pretty awesome. Christene at first is mute, and i do genuinely feel bad for her, but her story ties into Father Elijah as she's been hunting this guy down.

If Ghost People were not bad enough the armed holograms kept spooking me as well. like the ghost people, they can't simply be killed by conventional means, you have to find the sensor to knock them out. the noise they make when they're alerted just is spooky as hell. has the same effect that the Reapers have when they blair their noise all of the sudden when it's quiet.

Couple all of that with having to be slow, because radio frequency's can blow your collars. that part of the game i see very much so intentional, because if it wasn't there, it would of been very hard to build tension when traversing the Villa.

Honest Hearts


This is the first time i notice some new things for the Fallout universe. first off the water is not irradiated, which frankly is new in the Fallout universe. Joshua Graham aka the Burned Man is a big figure in this. It's also the first time religion ever shows up in any sort of really big way. Joshua Graham and his friend Daniel are definently devout Christians, granted they are - as best as i can tell - Mormons, but nontheless religious. Usually games are so coy about it as to not even bring it up, or turn the religious folk into either 100% devout pacifist, or 100% crazy religious nut job. They do have that duality here with Daniel and Joshua but they don't ramp it up in that way. They just lean one way or the other. Again, something i have to give Obsidian writers credit for.

Also while Joshua and Daniel are religious, they do touch a little bit on the beliefs and superstitions of two tribes you deal with Dead Horses and the Sorrows.

Another thing to note if you wanna be an ass to any of them, make fun of their beliefs, it's right there in the dialog options to do so, if that's the way you wanna play it out.

It's also the first time we see rain in the Fallout universe, and fertile trees.

Again this whole place, called Zion, is a giant allegory about the Promised Land. there is no place in the Fallout universe thus far, that is this big, this fertile, this clean.

and on top of that, there are loose ties that tie into the other DLC packs.

Old World Blues


This is perhaps my favorite of the DLC packs, and it is by far the funniest of all of them. your little AI companions that you have to venture off and find their AI routine's i highly highly recommend doing those quests and getting them.

my only real problem with it is in the beginning when you first arrive has an extreme amount of dialog. It was getting to the point of "get the fvck on with it!". The Think Tank cast is varied, and each one has some neurosis or something mental about them. One still has a huge problem about some girl in high school who wanted the high school jock. One is basically a perverted woman easily turned on (which is interesting, because there is no woman on the original think tank picture before they turned themselves into machines..). they never explain that so perhaps it's transgender character?. dunno, just a thought. one think tank named dr. 0 is voiced by the same guy who does Dr. Venture. their leader dr. klein is the 50's stereotype of a scientist "for SCIENCE!".

the villain is ripped right straight out of classic bad sci-fi mad scientist, which is just awesome.

the DLC has a lot of humor, plays on a lot of B sci-fi tropes and cliches, and explains quite a lot about what's going on in the Mojave. like for instance, the Cazadores and Nightstalkers, which they swear are sterile animals and have never escaped the facility :P and the Securitrons.

Like i've said with the previous 2 DLC's, they all link up in some fashion or another.

figured i'd share two favorite AI buddies, and see what i mean by the humor. they are just 2 minutes long.

Lonesome Road


As you might of known from playing Fallout New Vegas, there is hinting of a courier who didn't take the job that you took. in Dead Money, Christine worked with another courier. Father Elijah makes mention of him as well. Honest Hearts mentions him briefly as well. Old World Blues is by far out of the three the one that does the most foreshadowing "he asked some questions, it was an uncomfortable discuession, but... i don't really remember anything else".

so Lonesome Road you head to The Divide, a place where the earth is scarred with a massive earthquake fault, which coincedentally is a nuclear missile site (classic Fallout universe logic, perfect place to be nukes).

This DLC is perhaps my least favorite. Ulyssus - the courier who has been tracking you and is now waiting for you. Has some interesting philosophy, but his ultimate goal is something i imagine an angsty 16 year old version of myself would buy into. and i gave a warning of spoilers so here goes:

apparently a long time ago you brought some machine to the Divide (which was a town at some point) and the nukes went off killing everyone and ripping a deep scar into the Earth. this 'lesson' to Ulyssus is that you proved that one man can destroy and entire nation. but, he believed in the Divide, he doesn't believe in the NCR or Legion (who he was once a part of). So his solution is to nuke both out of existence and clean slate again.

Kevin VanOrd's review is pretty spot on about it, in the beginning your really intrigued by the dialog and where it could go, then it just devolves into rambling and doesn't seem to go anywhere.

and that's what sucks, because there is so much foreshadowing about this guy, and in the end it's like some angry emo kid with philosophical tone of speech - as though to make him sound more thought provoking. His character - to me - just falls on his face.

Other then that narrative, the locale is interesting, you see the extreme amount of devestation that was wrought to the place, still relatively fresh. the Marked Men never go further then simply being irradiated soldiers you shoot down, never understand why they stick around this place or anything else about them.

In the end, when you can choose where to send the bombs or just deactivate them. i figured, what the hell... nuke Legion territory, break the back of the Legion for good.


But even with my criticism of Lonesome Road, all four DLC really are well worth the purchase, and with all four added in, it is - in terms of hours of gameplay - a whole new game actually.

I loved how each one loosely tied into each other, making it feel like there was a much bigger story told, and your place in it. Granted it does boil down to the you are the "chosen one" but it does it in such a nuanced way that you don't feel like it always. people will remark on your past actions, and that's how they treat or mistreat you, helping giving you further access or becoming your enemy.

That said after having played them, if you liked Fallout New Vegas, these DLC are totally worth your time.


in other stuff. i've been writing down my thoughts on portrayal of women in games, it's been a hot button topic lately on a lot of video game sites and a lot of editorials based around it. but i've been editing and refreshing it, about 2 pages long. just trying to make my point, at least how i see it. it's not simply 100% im with one viewpoint or another, but i do find myself leaning on the side of seeing people finding fault - however small, implied or imagined. That said, even with that perception, yes i'd like better and more varied female characters. i'm still thinking of whether or not to post up my thoughts here or not, or just leave it on the virtual shelf. but it's just my thoughts.

Anyways gonna boot up Gravity Rush.

adios hermanos y hermana's

Graduation, Laptops, E3, and the Forums

Allright, been a long time since i updated my blog.

been gone for a while, been busy as hell. on May 12th, 2012, I graduated with a Masters of Science in Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety. Basically can create, and implement a safety program for any number of businesses, general industry or construction. I also got my 30 hr Construction Safety Card from OSHA, a construction safety professional certificaiton, and occupational ergonomics certiifcations. graduated with a GPA of 3.77, as well as a summer internship under the belt as well. couple all of that with a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering with a special interest with the material sciences.

Have sent job some 15 different job applications around the world, from Minnesota, to the Arab Gulf States, and Southeast Asia. places i know of or friends who've been helping me out. been applying to engineering, safety, and a mix of the two positions.

Waiting for Arabia and Asia could take a long while, Saudi Aramco (worlds largest oil company) could take as long as 4 months to reply to me and if they want me, they'll want me within a few days. which leads me to the next thing.

i'm back home with my folks for the time being while i'm waiting for a response from anyone, and in that meantime, i've basically been living out of my suitcase, as i got all my possessions boxed up, just waiting for the phone call so as to go ASAP.


well around the time i was graduating my 5 year old laptop was finally on her last legs. actually about two weeks before graduation, I had no personal laptop, meaning i had no PC whatsoever. So i was finishing up my papers by hopping around the college's computer labs using my personal e-mail to hold the next updated version of my papers.

In that meantime i kinda struck it lucky and got an Alienware m14x laptop for just over 800 bucks from the Dell Outlet website coupled with a 20% off coupon. so i've been playing a little bit, not much, with games i've had sitting on my Steam account because i couldn't play them at all or on full settings on my old laptop before.

Before someone says anything, i needed a laptop, not a desktop. I need mobility, and i don't know where i'm going in the next few weeks. Whether i go to Saudi (even if i have an apartment and car there), or Asia or somewhere else, i cannot simply grab all my PS3 games with me. and i do put a high value on mobility, but i find tablets to be very limiting, so it was laptop. mobile with some processing power to it.

been playing Battlefield 3 on this thing, looks gorgeous, but really only two things i guess i'd complain about it, is 1. I can't seem to compete, not that i suck at the mechanics, it's just that the game is way too frickin chaotic. and 2. given the mouse and keyboard set up, i can't seem to get the hang of flying anymore. I'm a boss when it comes to the PS3 version (especially with helicopters, you don't wanna go toe-to-toe with me when i also have a gunner).


Been watching E3 this year, really this is the first year i've ever felt like "yeah we need next gen now". Some great titles that i'm looking forward to. From E3, i'm excited for:

  1. Assassin's Creed 3
  2. Dishonored
  3. Watch_Dogs
  4. SimCity
  5. SimCity Social (really the first ever browser Facebook game that has ever peaked my interest)
  6. Last of Us
  7. Star Wars : 1313
  8. Tomb Raider
  9. Prey 2 (didn't show up at E3 but still excited for that one)
  10. Bioshock Infinite
  11. Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation
  12. Battlefield 3 Premium

There are other games of course that i'm interested in playing, like Crysis 3, Splinter Cell, but not quite gonna run out and pay 60 bucks for just because they look good.

BF3 Premium, is pretty much my modern shooter for the next year or two. Now what platform to get those maps on, that is a good question. on PS3 I could still be able to enjoy all of it, but everything is smaller maps. but on PC i got the larger fuller maps, but i can't fly worth crap (something i'd like to do) and i'm not nearly as free from stray bullets.

Really a lot of good software i guess, just not many surprises, and while i didn't think any of them were THAT awful, the big three shows seemed to give this air of "we don't know where we are going so lets show you... SmartGlass/Wonderbook/WiiU Gamepad" sprinkled in with games that mostly played it safe, and more importantly were already announced, and some of which were already shown.

Perhaps it's for preparing for the next gen, that this E3 felt a lot more dull and colorless then the previous years one.


As some of you might notice, i haven't really been posting on the forums at all. Mostly because i've been busy, but everytime i come back i'm disguested with what flies for comments on the forum. especially for when it comes to religion. I get it the forum is mostly inhabited by Atheists and different types of non-Theists. and i'm not about to even dare say the forum should or ought to change. wouldn't even bother. but for the forum that is made up of members such as these, i don't want to be a part of that community. please, don't patronize me and say "i'm against Islam, but i have Muslim friends" because to me that's roughly equivalent of "i'm not racist, i got lots of black friends, but...". I'm not a big huge devout guy, or even one who is an extremist, but it does carry value for me and it is part of my identity, to insult my religion then turn around and try to be friendly is really kind of crazy no?. It would be like if i were to make the claim that Atheists are amoral people (no i don't believe that, but try and follow me) then turn to an Atheist friend and be nice to them. But i didn't just say it once, i say it multiple times in many different ways. At some point, you stop giving people the benefit of the doubt (of not being bigotted).

It is a bit of my own fault though. See i tend to carry myself on the internet, in much the same way i do in real life. I don't intend or try to insult, as it doesn't accomplish much of anything, except insisting on trying to prove a point. It makes more adversaries then friends as i see it. I've been accused of being a smart @ss clairvoyant. and that's not it at all. on my profile i have7,046 posts, and have read 4,041,624 messages read. I lurk around and read far far far more then i post. after a while you see familiar faces with the same position and line again and again. At some point you can give them the answer before they give it. You don't even need to bother asking the question.

Which leads to the next thing i gotta say, before someone says "i hate it when people b*tch, nothing worse then when people b*tch about stuff they don't like". STFU this is a personal blog, you don't need to read it. Please let me vent just this once, without having to open up a new salvo of 'debates'. I've already taken off several people i used to track, as i don't really need to hear it anymore. I don't wanna deal with someone who is friendly to me, but is hostile to my country to the point where it would be determintal to myself and family, or is so hostile to my faith or beliefs that you would have to naive to think we could be friends (virtual or reality).

No, i'm not running run to Islamic blogs, like Dracula_16 did. It's got the same problems as the Off-Topic forum has. a bunch of likeminded individuals. hell i've tried it before, just the same business there as well.

and believe me i got a pretty thick skin for this stuff. But a Rhino also can't swim in a sea of constant insults and attacks. either.


Ok all that updating, talking and b*tching...

I did say i'm done with the forums for the most part, especially with Off-Topic. As far as my internet surfing usage goes, i come mainly to here at Gamespot for my gaming news, Youtube, and Facebook. With the people that read this blog, or even care in the slightest to having me around, let me know. As i've been thinking about starting a blog somewhere else to put down my thoughts, or perhaps keep writing here.

wonder what your thoughts are.


-peace out.