On Poverty

Disclaimer: I have been trying to write this for almost a year and I’m tremendously dissatisfied with the result. It is three and a half thousand words long and has been drafted and revised so many times that I give up and release it from this endless, painful gestation.

I have never owned a table.

Sure, the place I live in has a table. It’s a glass table and it’s considerably better than the slightly wobbly wooden table in the previous place I lived in but, being glass, I’m perpetually terrified it will break and then I’ll have to pay for it. Then I’ll have paid for a table and still never have actually owned one.

I couldn’t tell you how much a table costs, but I did buy the cheapest and most basic desk for £50 once. I have a feeling I’d be charged a lot more than that if this table broke.

That philosophy extends to everything around me where I live, where I have lived: I don’t own it, but I will be paying for it if something goes wrong. There is a special sort of added excitement to this, since most of the places I’ve lived in have had all sorts of things wrong with them already, things from faulty electrics to ill-fitting windows to no doors that will close properly anywhere, that are never addressed. I’ve feared these things as well because I’ve wondered if I’m going to be the tenant who is deemed to be responsible for them, particularly because landladies and landlords seem to be curiously divorced from the properties they own. They always live far away, or they’re out of town or they’re overseas again. One landlady looked around a flat I was renting from her with surprise and awe and bafflement, failing to recognise many of its features.

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I may have been dreaming.
Normal service may never be resumed. I’m sure I’ll have some more links to post up here soon, though.
For several hours now I’ve been trying to upload more photos to my Flickr collection, but Flickr doesn’t seem to like it when people use it as a website to put photos on any more (apparently this problem is well documented). So, while I was initially planning to link you to a few new images of places I’ve been, I… can’t.Here’s a picture Flickr doesn’t want. Maybe it will want it later.

I may have been dreaming.

Normal service may never be resumed. I’m sure I’ll have some more links to post up here soon, though.

For several hours now I’ve been trying to upload more photos to my Flickr collection, but Flickr doesn’t seem to like it when people use it as a website to put photos on any more (apparently this problem is well documented). So, while I was initially planning to link you to a few new images of places I’ve been, I… can’t.

Here’s a picture Flickr doesn’t want. Maybe it will want it later.

What is the RPS GDC BFFCast? It’s a bunch of people on a bed cramped oh so close together. This was good fun and a really good discussion. Thanks to John Walker for letting us all clamber upon his hotel room bed.

(The sound’s a little bit quiet at times. Listen carefully!)

Magic.

It was a while before I discovered proper wizards. When I was young, magic was a benign thing: lighthearted entertainment for early evening television. The magicians made things disappear or convinced you that the card you were holding wasn’t what you thought. In Magicka: Wizard Wars, you can cast spells that will make people explode into chunks of bloody meat.

It’s a kind of magic.

I’m technically on holiday right now and I wrote copy for this a little while back. However, I did do some proper video games reporting the other day, jumping at the chance to report on a particularly special story. I contributed to this reporting on the Pillars of Eternity Paradox/Obsidian partnership and then followed it by contributing to this news story, after a chat with Fred Wester and Feargus Urquhart.

Penguins.

I’m quietly optimistic about Age of Wonders 3 and after having spent some lovely evenings amidst its shimmering spires, creaking forests and flitting faeries, I’ve very much enjoyed myself, but I must make it clear to you that it’s a little bit silly.

I was a big fan of the classic (and terribly unbalanced) Master of Magic, something that has kept me interested in fantasy 4x games ever since. Not that many have come along. Not that many have appealed. I’m hoping Age of Wonders 3 might be what I’m waiting for and, boy, that AI can be pretty wicked. It’s given me the run around plenty of times.

An interview.

I have recently come into an excess of happiness, and I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with it. It was in little piles on the sidewalk, so I brought it inside before whoever owned it could take it back.

After writing yesterday’s post about Campbell, I was inspired to go back through old Pictures for Sad Children strips and also search a little wider. I forgot that this excellent Horse Master Review existed. Campbell’s blog entry on self-immolation and whether rejections of society do or do not get classified (or smeared) as mental illness is also very worthy reading.

Also, special thanks to Amy for providing this overview of recent events in my previous article’s comments. This, I think, gives a little more context.

On Pictures for Sad Children

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EDIT: I’ve been informed that PfSC’s creator posted a non-public update recently saying she now identifies as a woman. I don’t have access to this or know the full details yet, but I wanted to add that and say that I don’t mean to misgender. I’ve changed pronouns in the text below and will also change names as soon as I can.

I know pretty much nothing about John Campbell, creator of Pictures for Sad Children, and these days I don’t read webcomics anywhere near as much as I used to. I’ve only recently caught up with the news that her very successful Kickstarter has halted fulfillment and and his site has effectively closed.

But I wanted to write something.

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Banished! To somewhere cold.

I don’t mind that it’s a hard game, because it’s still fair, even if it can be difficult to fathom. I don’t mind that it’s slow, because it makes progress remarkably rewarding and it serves as a reminder to the gaming generation of the severity of subsistence living. It dispels the illusion of rustic, romantic medieval life, of the bourgeois novelty of poverty.

Banished is difficult, opaque and limited in its scope, but it’s also an original and intelligent game. Mods might be on the way, so I think this may well be one to revisit.

Infinite Crisis.

The power of the DC Comics license will have certainly contributed to Infinite Crisis’ profile, lifting it above many of its wannabe peers and giving it a strong head start. It’s also given it a quite unique selling point: it’s not so much a Batman game as a game with multiple Batmans (Batmen?). But no such license was ever necessary for Dota 2 or League of Legends to hook their millions.

I just want to be Bane and do the voice all the time.

I came across this talk the other day and I think it’s marvellous, as well as rather touching. As you might well know, I’m a big fan of Vonnegut and as well as reading his work, I’ve read quite a bit about his life and this has given me a lot to think about when it comes to how both tie together. See if the first ten minutes of this hook you. Vonnegut’s life itself was as astounding as so many of his stories. And then, close to the end, there’s Shields’ dream…

I’m afraid I’ve not yet read Shields’ book, but now I’m very keen to, not least because I feel he thinks about Vonnegut the same way that I do. Is that a selfish or arrogant reason? Maybe, but Vonnegut is such a personal thing to me that it’s no small deal.