Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My love affair with......a woman.

In actually, this post is not nearly as naughty or interesting as the title suggests. Like many a male gamer nerd, I admire this particular video game lady, even though she's not real (Of course, unlike many of those males, I actually realize that she fictional). She was an inspiration to me as a young blossoming nerd, and guided me to the gate of my locked potential as a female gaming geek. This particular lady is none other than Lara Croft, heroine of the Tomb Raider franchise.

My introduction to her is kind of fuzzy in my head. I can't really quite remember where I had first heard of her, when I was 14 and in the 7th grade. I just remember asking for the first game for Christmas. What I do remember is that I really liked the fact that she was A) An Archaeologist and B) Female. These factors appealed to me as my passion was in history and I was cultivating a dream to become an Archaeologist someday, two very male dominated fields. With that fact and the fact that most good video games were targeted towards males, Lara Croft seemed very novel to me. Growing up playing male dominated video games made me sensitive to the fact that most females in video games were either always in need of rescue, background fodder or just plain sluts. There were some distinct stand outs on this - such as Samus from Meteroid, but they were few and far between. Now, granted, Lara wasn't exactly demure in her dress, and yes her breasts were so large it was boarding on ridiculousness. But she had some qualities I certainly admired - she was smart, could take care of herself, and was incredibly bad ass. But most importantly, she didn't need a man to save her. In fact she was the one kicking the boys' asses.

Lara made the game fun for me, and made it easy for me to fall in love with the series because it made the game more accessible for me. Lara became a pretty good role model for me, not the best, but a pretty good one. In such a media centric culture that teaches young girls to use sex and not their smarts Lara was a welcome change in male dominated video games. I also want to point that here that Tomb Raider was the first computer game I really got into, and my interest was really sparked by Lara Croft's strength's as the game's heroine. I won't credit Tomb Raider with my complete immersion into video games, there were others, but this was a giant leap into the world of video games for me.

My admiration and love for the character did not diminish as I went through the series. With Tomb Raider II we had the fantastic Venice levels, with the excellent and memorable motor boat jump (which was SUCH a pain to set up). Tomb Raider III, still my favorite TR game of all time brought me into India, Antarctica and the London Underground (A side note, through TR I got into Neil Gaiman - I was checking out a walkthrough [shhh!], and the author had creatively made up little fan fiction blurbs based on other novels, games, TV shows etc and the London Underground section featured characters from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Neat!) Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was a turning point for Lara's story, as we gained some interesting insight into her past and brought us back into Egypt (my fave ancient locale). But it also gave us the "death" of Lara Croft. I was wondering where the series was going to go, when Tomb Raider: Chronicles came out. The game was based on her friends gathering to remember Lara in what she did best - adventuring. I enjoyed this game greatly, but not the segmented feel nor the fact that no questions were answered. I got my answers with Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Needless to say, it was a confusing storyline, with wonky control and just overall disappointing.

After in between each game, there were other games that I played an enjoyed. Tomb Raider was just left to the back of the shelf, as an IP that seemed to be dead after the last game. I lost interest as there were other games to play and explore. Females were getting more and more screen time in games and taking more lead roles. The balance was getting closer. Then, one day at the Game Stop, I saw Tomb Raider Anniversary Edition. I was seriously intrigued. I had heard about the re-release but never realized it would be that polished. My boyfriend ended up getting it for me for my birthday. The game was perfect. It brought me back to those days of first playing Tomb Raider, with some awesome additions, some new and some taken from the previous games. The game designers and marketers had definitely achieved their goal - the whole franchise was alive for me again. When we got an XBox360 one of the first games I picked up was Tomb Raider legend. I am not going to lie and say that when I got home I played it first thing. Truthfully, having a 360 was really novel and I went back to other games. Eventually, something else came out that really sparked my interest. Tomb Raider Underworld...

To Be Continued tomorrow, as I am tired and I need to wrestle the remote away from Ed. South Park is on the TV and I seriously loathe the show. It needs to go.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My affair with the Apple

I think it happens to every Geek at some point. For me, it happened in a Best Buy in July 2005. I was walking around with my best friend, Steve looking over the selection of computers, thinking of getting a new one. The computer I currently had was an old trusty built-for-me PC I got for Christmas in 2000. I realized I needed a new computer two years prior to that, as I lugged my huge unit and ever larger 17in monitor into my college dorm on move in day. With much embarrassment I hooked up my cream colored components as my roommate's boyfriend set up her sleek flat screen monitor and light slim cpu with wireless keyboard and mouse. I wanted a new computer badly, but I could never afford a new one and asking my parents was out of the question. Regardless, I loved my computer, because it was an extremely generous gift and it was faithful and ran well. I even named it Pen^2, after the penguin in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Never the less, with that embarrassment and the fresh memory of the damn computer crashing that morning in my mind, I began to seriously think it was time for an upgrade.

Then, I saw it. I was drawn to it, like the proverbial mosquito to the zapper. It was so cute, and tiny, a perfect little package of computer in a sleek snowy white casing with brushed steel trim. 6 inches by 6 inches and 2 inches high. The Mac Mini. It was perfect, and the price was perfect. I didn't care that it didn't come with a monitor or keyboard and mouse. I suddenly felt ready to break the ties of Windows and throw myself into the warm arms of a unix kernel. Of course, I didn't know how to use OSX, nor did I have any clue what programs would be comparable with my old windows programs. I called my Mac friend, Nick to ask him a few questions about the OS, while pacing around the computer section. As he explained the benefits, my excitement rose. I snapped my phone shut and made my decision. Mini was going home with me. It felt great as I swiped my debit card to pay for my new baby (and a wireless mouse and keyboard set!) all boxed up in a sweet little package. I felt cool and very savvy buying a Mac. I was suddenly in the elite group of people who used widgets and special programs, so indie and different.

My elation lasted a very short period of time. It's easy to say the nightmare started soon after that, but retrospective can be slightly blinding, you know? I did love the computer, despite the problems and disappointments, but really, it did turn out to be alot of problems. Some of them were my fault. The morning after I got the computer, I was purging the HD from all the silly little things they put on there, freeing up space. Somehow, I don't know how.....I deleted a file sent it to the bin and restarted the computer. There was a black screen. And then a sad mac. I paniced. What the hell was my beautiful new mac doing being sad!?! How does a computer end up being sad? A few frantic and tearful phone calls later, plus one drive back to Best Buy, I was placing new Mac #2 on my desk (the people at Best Buy were really quite nice, I got a new computer, with no charge).

Finally, I was settled in to set up the internet network with the help of my friend Jer. No one told me how hard it would be to network a Microsoft PC and a Mac. It was nearly a two day affair, and it was so hard to get things working right. But I had internet and I had my World of Warcraft. And that was it. World of Warcraft was the only game I could find in a store for my computer and much to my dismay they tended to be really expensive online. I still find it hard to believe the hoops I jumped through to convert my school papers from a funny little Mac word processing program into something Windows could recognize, so I could print them out at school. Which was pretty insane to me, considering how many files I corrupted, and how many important papers I had to convert this way (including my thesis, I shudder to think of what could have happened to my 30 page masterpeice).

My Mac and my fondness for the cool image I had faded away as the system seemed to deteriorate after a short period of time. It started to badly overhead and no matter what I did seemed to help. I tried a chill mat, sticking it half way out the window sill in January, and sticking it in the freezer (What? I don't cook, not like it was full or anything at the time). I was pretty devistated, I was out a computer and really unhappy. Compared to the 4 pretty good years I got out of my old PC, I was miffed at the 2 years I got out of my Mac. Pifft. My Mac. I think back on it, and to be truthful one of the few good things I got out of it was introduction to iTunes (before I used WinAmp, haha, I know....). I enjoyed using the OSX and liked the feel, and ease of use, but it just didn't work for me. When I looked again to look at a new computer, I had already made my choice for a PC. At this point, Macs had thier own huge stylish display, instead of one little Mini tucked away on a shelf. Everything seemed more expensive this time around too, and the display with GarageBand and instruments kinds of overwhelmed me in it's uselessness for what I needed. What I wanted - a computer that was portable, reliable, able to play my video games, and play nice with other computers and networks. I ended up getting a very affordable Compaq laptop, which has given no troubles (so far) and was about $200.00 less.

Now, I am able to play all my old video games that I missed playing on a mac. Vista, while really obnoxious at times, is not as bad as I thought and really I quite like it. iTunes works just same, if not better this time around. I am not sure if my not bad, but so-so expirence was because the particular Mac I bought or because maybe, Mac just isn't for me. So what, I am not one of the cool kids with thier pretty white lap tops. I have a Compaq, a decidedly uncool brand, but one that works for me. After graduation, looks don't seem to matter to me anymore. Performace, affordability and compatability are what I care about. So I pull on my wool coat and become one of the Microsoft sheep, with my shiny black laptop adorned in Iron Man stickers, nostaligically playing Deus Ex. And you know what? I'm okay with that.

Internet, Day 2

Last night, at the most ungodly hour of 5:00 am, my alarm clock goes off. Infinitely angry that I was woken up waaay before noon on a Saturday, I move my arm to start to beat Ed to go turn the alarm clock off.

A word of note on this. Beating Ed up in his sleep tends to be a nightly routine, sometimes not by my design, sometimes, like in the case of the extremely obnoxious alarm clock (which by the by was HIS IDEA) I do it on purpose. I as make the motions to whack him on the shoulder, I hit pillow. Now I am truly awake. When Ed is not in bed at 5am my spidey-sense tends to go haywire. I point to exhibit A. One night, Ed takes his brother Frank back home. I say bye to them both and Ed tells me he's going to be back soon. So I settle into bed with a book (Pride and Predjudice and Zombies) and soon I am dreaming of fighting zombies against a lush regency backdrop. 3am I wake up with a start. I roll over, thinking to be stopped by Ed and I almost roll off the bed. I get up and look out the window - his car is gone. I panic, run down stairs for the cell phone and call him. He answers, and in my most deadly voice, I say the words uttered by many a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or domestic partner..."Where ARE YOU?" Apparently, he got talking with Mark, his brother in law. So, as we can see, Ed not being in bed tends to be a normal thing.

Regardless, I lurch down the stairs and find him, still in his clothes on the couch (which is really quite a piece of narcoleptic furniture) snoring away, the TV on infomercials. I think about this for a minute and decide to leave him there. I turn the TV off and go back up stairs to read to go back to sleep again (this is a normal thing for me). I spread out on the bed and enjoyed my comfyness.

So, really I was kinda mad that he was on the couch, because it's not really good for his bad back. On the upside, I get to take over the whole bed :D

....he can stay on the couch.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The First

So, I finally got the internet after a dry spell of nearly two years with out it. I have always wanted to have a "grown up" blog, and be like all the big kids, but with out constant access to the internet there really was no reason to do it.

But now.....well, the internet will now have to be subjected to my ramblings, regardless if anyone reads it or not. Maybe.