Saturday, February 28, 2009

Post Apocalyptic Gender Issues

I received my copy of Caitlin R. Kiernan's short story collection, A is for Alien, in the mail yesterday. I bought it quite some time ago--I'm not sure why it took so long to get to me. Not that it matters, since it'll be a very long time before I have a chance to read it, but it's a nice looking book. I see there's an afterword by Elizabeth Bear, which I'm sure is filled with insight.

I put coffee in my oatmeal this morning. I've been eating plain oatmeal for breakfast for several years now, and every now and then I reflexively try to spice it up. I ought to've known coffee wouldn't have much impact since I drink coffee with breakfast anyway.

I've finally gotten the chance to play a bit of Fallout 3 at Tim's house, and I'm enjoying it so far, though it's still not as fun as Fallout 2. But its speech skill and dialogue so far are enormously better than I'd hoped--instead of Oblivion's ridiculous and tedious colour wheel, Fallout 3 has different dialogue options for charming or provoking characters.

Oblivion and Fallout 3 are both made by Bethesda, so there are a lot of similarities, including the game engine. Oblivion looked better than Fallout 3, mainly because it took place in a fantasy world filled with forests, meadows, and grasslands while Fallout 3 takes place in the blasted landscape of post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. But both games feature extremely large and detailed three dimensional lands to explore.

Unfortunately, with Oblivion's game engine comes all the problems Oblivion seemed to have on the computer I use at Tim's house once the weather starts to get warmer; random restarts of the entire system that corrupt saved games in extreme and often hilarious ways--I'd load up games and NPCs would be missing random articles of clothing, doors would be missing, day would turn to night, my character would be invisible, and some people would start falling through the ground. This was particularly funny early in the game when guards escorting the emperor voiced by Patrick Stewart are engaged in a battle with some assassins. Sometimes, the whole melee would drop through the floor into a grey void where everyone would start swimming around, still trying to kill each other.

In Fallout 3 last night, my female Asian character turned into an African American man in his underwear in a completely different location. He also didn't appear to have a name. This could have presented some interesting gaming opportunities in itself, but who knows what else was missing.

The game also has Oblivion's somewhat unrealistically proportioned violence, as in my next attempt to play the game, I was a small blond woman in a leather jacket who went around beating to death cops in riot gear who were firing pistols at her at point blank range. My character was wearing nothing more protective than a cool, 1950s style, leather jacket and wielding nothing but a baseball bat or sometimes just her fists. Which is a lot of fun, especially since, like in Fallout 2, you're able to cripple specific parts of your foe's body.

Sometimes you wish life worked that way, as you might if you watch this sickening video of cops beating up a fifteen year old girl in Washington. Careful watching that video, it'll make you sick. There's no ambiguity about it--the girl kicks her shoe off towards the cop, and he responds by punching her in the face before he and his cohort throw her to the ground.

This cop's defence?

Schene told investigators through an e-mail conversation with his lawyer that once he was assaulted by the girl kicking her shoe at him, he entered the cell to "prevent another assault," according to court documents. Schene also said that the girl failed to comply with instructions in the holding area.

What a fucking scumbag. And who knows how much of this behaviour isn't caught on video. I remember a girl from Seattle several years ago telling me about even worse treatment she'd received from police, and of course they'd told her she wouldn't be able to report them and expect to be believed. Gives you the feeling this is institutionalised brutality, guys making each other feel better about being inhuman.

I watched the seventeenth episode of Battlestar Galactica's third season last night, which I mostly liked. Again, focusing on Starbuck's personality is the show at its best, and it was nice to have a scene between her and Apollo that didn't make me cringe. If I were in charge of that show, those two would've never even considered having a relationship or having sex with each other. I hate the notion that this is the inevitable course of events between men and women who happen to be close. But I guess most people keep their brains between their legs, as Morrissey said.

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