Oh Captain, my Captain: A Eulogy for Gaming Culture.

This is something that has been on my mind for a while now but I’ve never been sure how to put it into words. It’s past time that I wrote this so here we go.

I would consider myself a gamer. I’ve been playing video games since the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in N. America) and have owned a console from every generation since. I align myself with other gamers and invest far too much time into playing games or watching game related content. I was always strangely proud of the title of gamer as the things that I enjoy have always been considered uncool but the gaming community was full of like-minded people who even socially awkward rejects like me could have a good conversation with.

The stereotype was always that we were fat, unsocial nerds who never left the house. Gamers were seen as a subset of society but at least we were happy. Over recent years though there has been a large slide occurring throughout the gaming spheres and changers are happening that has really brought down my faith and made me question the community that has been my home for almost my entire life.

I remember when the Xbox 360 first came out and Halo 3 was the biggest thing out there. I would play the multiplayer for hours every night and made several friend though it. I had fun and everyone shared a common enthusiasm for the game that was refreshing to hear. I’d play in open matches with the general chat on and my microphone ready as I talked and laughed with strangers. Yes there was often the much feared twelve year olds with high pitched voices who’d swear and insult you until the cows came home but they were the minority and were easy to tell apart for a quick mute.

As time went on though, the chat seemed to grow more hazardous. I started to keep my mic turned off and then eventually muted chat completely. The talk had become sexist, racist and just generally foul. I tried a few times to get back into that original spirit in multiplayer games but never succeeded. Halo 4 was my last multiplayer experience and that was a very short play time. I haven’t gamed with others in over a year now and have not renewed my Gold membership.

But as I spent less time actually playing games, I spent an increasing time watching Let’s Plays and gaming news. I still very much considered myself a gamer and kept with the community, only I stuck to single player experiences. The Youtube comments always had its disgusting streaks but in general it was an interesting place to be.

Now go onto any gaming relevant Youtube video and read the comments. They truly are a wretched hive of villainy and scum. Hate fills the comments. There is no other word for it but pure hate. Hate against women, hate against change, hate against other gamers and hate against the people providing their entertainment. Having an opinion is okay. Giving constructive criticism is okay. Threatening to rape and kill women is sure as hell not okay. Telling someone to kill themselves is NOT okay. It is bullying, plain and simple, and as gamers we should all know what it is like to be bullied. ‘Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you’ is BULLSHIT. Words do hurt. Words can make you depressed and alone. Words can scare you, make you feel threatened. Someone said something you don’t agree with so lets threaten to burn their house down? Pathetic.

Only recently, Notch, the creator of Minecraft, left the company that he founded because of the gaming community. In his own words ‘the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with’. There it is again, that word ‘hate’. Notch is hugely respected in the gaming world yet the miasma of gamers still hit him hard. His closing sentence is very haunting and sums up the current state of the industry well: ‘It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.’

I thought that gaming becoming more mainstream could only be a good thing but I was wrong. It doesn’t feel like a community anymore but rather a warzone as messed up as any conflict in the Middle East. Guess what, those extremist also rape and kill women, torture those who don’t agree with them and use words to inflict fear. Congratulations guys, you’re on par with terrorists.

I can no longer justify things by thinking ‘Oh its just some kids who are too stupid to understand their actions’ like I did in Halo 3. The hate is too wide and too great for a few misguided children. More kids are certainly involved in gaming now but if all of this hate is coming from kids then I truly fear for the future of the world and not just gamers.

The venom is too much for me. I’m now near the point of being ashamed of the title of gamer. Video games were held up to the light of society and given a chance to grow and flourish but instead we have done nothing but show the community as a monster. We wanted games to be taken seriously, to be seen as art, to be valued by the world. Until we ourselves accept games as something serious and artistic this will never happen. Complaining like a spoilt child at having games be inclusive achieves nothing. Games are predominantly sexist, it had to be with the industry’s roots. Should women be given fair representation? Yes. Does that mean that we can no longer have violent, masculine games? Hell no.

The industry and the community needs to change. If we continue this plummeting nosedive into the depths of hell then games as a whole may as well rollover and die now. We could have been great but instead we chose to fester.

Dark Souls 1 Theory: Seath is the true master of Anor Londo.

I realise that Dark Souls 2 is out but I don’t care. People haven’t really had time to sink their teeth into the darker mysteries of the sequel yet but DS1 content is still going and as brilliant and thought provoking as ever. This is my opinion on a key part of the game and has been formed from what logic and knowledge I can apply to the story.

Most people have reached the consensus that Gwyndolin is the master of Anor Londo and is the one who pulls all of the strings from behind the scenes. There is plenty of evidence to support this but it just does not add up in my head.

Firstly, would Gwyn have really left Gwyndolin in charge of his capital? There are no statues of Gwyndolin and nor is there anything to suggest that Gwyn valued him. We know that Gwyndolin was always trying to please his father so we can assume that Gwyn looked down upon him because of his feminine nature. He is not a great warrior like his father and older brother and nor does he inspire awe or trust like his sister. He was, for all intents and purposes, an outcast hidden away in the shadows. Would Gwyn really leave his city to an unproven pariah? Gwyn seems to respect strength and prowess and Seath certainly proved himself by betraying the dragons and fighting against them. He was made a Duke for his services. Would steward be to large a step after Gwyn’s departure? The fact that he was a duke shows he had Gwyn’s respect and his land consisted of the Duke’s Archives, either within Anor Londo or at its border. A duke could easily fill the role of the lord if the need arose. Plus let’s not forget that Gwyn did not pass on any fragments of the Lord Soul that we know of to his children. Instead he gave them to Seath and the Four Kings.

My next point revolves around Gwyndolin’s power. As stated above, Gwyndolin is no warrior yet wanted the respect of his war-hero father. From this we can assume that Gwyndolin learned the magic that we see him use in order to prove himself. Where would he have learnt this magic though? Seath is the “Grandfather of sorcery” and was likely the one to teach Gwyndolin the art as he is both powerful and respected within the kingdom. This means that everything Gwyndolin can do, Seath can likely do too. Why is this fact important? Well, something that I had always wondered about was why the illusion of Gwynevere and Anor Londo do not fade if you kill Gwyndolin. Some people believe that the Gwyndolin you fight is nothing but another illusion and that sits okay with me but the illusions could also be Seath’s doing. Why would he do that? I’m not sure. All I am saying is that it is within his power and this point will become relevant in a moment.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Gwyndolin himself. He is described as having a “repulsive, frail appearance” and we see him as a feminine being with a mass of snakes instead of legs. Let’s be honest though, people are not just born with snake legs. It doesn’t make sense at all. If it was just regular tentacles you could put it down to deformity but living snakes isn’t biologically possible. Also, yes the game is fantasy but most of the creatures have explanations. The daughters of chaos are half spiders but that is explained. Gwyndolin isn’t. I believe that his repulsive looks reference the simple fact that he is transgender. To us, this is a little strange but is widely accepted. In a medieval setting, to be transgender would have been something that disgusted the masses. Snakes at least present an image of cunning and power but the transgender aspects represent nothing but abnormality and weakness. Again, some say that the snakes could be another illusion to provoke fear but it doesn’t seem a big enough effort for that. Why keep the frail appearance and feminine frame if his intention was to intimidate?

Let’s take this a step further. How else could Gwyndolin possess snakes? Well, Seath is known for experimentation. Seath himself does not have legs, instead having three tails. He created the Pisaca who are snakelike creatures who were once human, and the Moonlight Butterflies who share the same boss music to Gwyndolin. Are these coincidences? They could be, but there would be a lot of them if so. On that note, bear with me while I explain something that I have never understood until I linked it to Seath: Sen’s Fortress. It is described as “an old proving grounds built by the ancient gods” but it has never really fit with the rest of the game. It is inhabited by Serpent Soldiers who are never explained or given an origin of any kind. They, like Seath, are a throwback to FromSoftware’s previous game series but have no real stated lore within DS. But wait, the Serpents are not only wondering the Fortress but are also in the Duke’s Archives guarding the prison and the Pisaca. Does this mean that Seath also created the Serpents or simply used them for his own plans. Either way, we are left with yet another link between snakes and Seath.

So I’ve explained the connections between Gwyndolin and Seath but I haven’t really touched on the why. I said somewhere above that I don’t have any real idea what his goals could be but there are some reoccurring themes that could offer suggestions to his intentions.

What is the fan-favourite theory about Seath? That Priscilla the Crossbreed is Seath’s child. This makes sense as she is half dragon and has white fur and scales. For those who say she can’t be as she has scales, you clearly don’t understand genetics. Seath is a dragon, scales are in his DNA, they just didn’t manifest themselves. This would be like a human being born unable to grow hair, their child has a chance to inherit that trait but could be born perfectly. Most people assume that the mother is Gwynevere, making Priscilla half god. I have a slight problem with this though in that a physical relationship between Gwynevere and Seath seems unlikely and impractical at best. Remember that both Gwyndolin and Gwyn are not giant sized and that the Gwynevere we see is nothing but an illusion. If the gods at their full power are bigger then human such as Super Ornstien/Smough or Priscilla, that still is not Seath size. Plus cross species mating very rarely produces children. Again, while not impossible, it just seems unlikely to me. We know Seath experiments ant creating life so I believe Priscilla to be the results of an experiment combining Seath’s and a god’s DNA. What god, according to my logic, does Seath have access to? Gwyndolin.

Think about it, Gwyndolin is also very pale, near to being an albino. His hair is almost white, he wears white and has pale skin. We never see his eyes so I could not say one way or the other but he certainly shares many properties with both Seath and Priscilla. It could be because of his ‘affinity with the moon’ or his constant lurking in the shadows but I thought that I would throw it out there.

I want to focus on Seath himself for a moment. The consensus is that he went crazy during his search for immortality. I may be wrong here but I do not recall any items actually stating that Seath has lost his mind. Correct me if I’m wrong here. He might be insane in the sense that he obsesses over immortality and has no morals at all but I feel that he still retains his intelligence. His Crystal Golems still wander the world and capture test subjects for him and the archives still function. If he had completely lost his mind then I would have thought that his entire network would have begun to unravel yet we see him as having the furthest reaching web of minions in the game. It all speaks of a grand plan and nothing suggests a disruption of that.

Seath’s obsession is with immortality. He researches the creation of stone scales and presumably discovers the crystals that cover his body. With the Primordial Crystal he was able to achieve immortality but he was still nothing but a deformed dragon. He had no legs to walk freely, thin wings that struggle to fly, poor eyesight and albino skin. These are all constant reminders of his weakness and his past and are all things that prevent him from belonging in the world. He is the last true dragon yet is nothing but a twisted parody of his kin.

He experiments on humans/humanoids and creates new creatures. Why would he do this? Humans have nothing to do with scales and are certainly not immortal and so should have little to do with Seath’s driving motivations. A genuine question to the community: are the gods immortal? If the answer is yes then this could explain everything. Seath practices on humans to learn what he can from lesser beings then experiments with gods, resulting in Gwyndolin’s altered appearance and the Crossbreed Priscilla. If he can unlock the essence of the gods then he could unlock the secrets he seeks.

I am going to go out on a limb here: Seath wanted to be a human/god. ‘That’s a big assumption’ I hear you shout disbelievingly at the screen. This is true but think about it. He experiments with the human form for seemingly no reason. Another thing that could support this is in his presence in Darkroot Basin. He has a large force here yet there is nothing specially about this area barring its history as a part of the lost land of Oolacile. There are only three defining aspects of Oolacile: its sorceries, the Abyss and the primeval human, Manus. The sorcery is all healing or non-offensive in nature and probably has its roots in Seath’s own teachings. No spell described seems worth going out of the way to get. The Abyss could be a potential source of power but why Oolacile when there is New Londo? It could be to avoid the Four Kings I think that if Seath had an intrest in the Abyss then Kaath would have already set things in motion to spread the taint to Seath’s lands. This leaves Manus, the being that the citizens of Oolacile dug up only to anger and invoke the Abyss. This makes sense as the Broken Pendant, which is the item that Manus longs to find, is in Seath’s possession in the Duke’s archives. If we follow the belief that Manus is the Furtive Pygmy and that he broke the Dark Soul to create Humanity, then we can guess that perhaps Seath seeks to create his own Humanity to give himself a soul. If Seath could create the perfect body, give it a powerful soul and then magically port his essence into this new body then he would no longer be a deformed relic of a bygone age. This would fit beautifully into the DS story two as it stands in ironic contrast to Logain’s quest to become like Seath.

*Cough*. Well, I’ve gone off of topic quite a lot here. What started as a quick theory that Seath ruled Anor Londo instead of Gwyndolin evolved in my head even as I was committing it all to the page. I’ve discussed a lot, more than I ever intended, and hopefully the community will have a lot to say on it. If Vaati, ENB, SilverMont or any of the other brilliant Youtubers can throw in their two cents then I will be pretty happy with myself. Again, none of this has any evidence in the game but nothing to my knowledge definitively proves otherwise either. All that I have said follow my knowledge of the game and the logic that I personally can apply to it. It all makes sense and will hopefully spark people to take a fresh look at the beautiful game that is Dark Souls.

Check me out on Twitter: @MatthewRoys
Buy my book from http://www.matthewroys.ninja

That’s all for now guys. Peace out,

– FireWolfFred, AKA Matthew Roys

Sword Summoner. You should buy it.

Hi everybody,

Guys, guess what? I have a book! Well I have hundreds of books but I finally have one written by yours truly. That’s right boys and girls, you are reading the words of a published author. Oh yeeeeeah.

“So what is this wondrous book that you speak of” I hear you ask. It is a Young Adult Fantasy story titled ‘The Sword Summoner – History repeats’ and is the first in a trilogy, (because who doesn’t love trilogies?). It follows the boy Trey Sted (not very fantasy sounding I realise but it sounded cool to my thirteen year old self), a lazy fourteen year old living a boring life in the once great city of Pastrino. The city has left behind its fantasy roots and is becoming more modern, something that we might recognise now with a focus on schooling and growing the economy. That is until long forgotten demons turn up and kill or enslave the populous. Trey and two of his friends are able to escape and travel the land, seeking aid to free those that were taken.


A simple premise but still pretty good if I do say so myself. It is filled with dry wit, humour and the occasional moment of thought provoking content set to the backdrop of an adventure filled with trials and battles. Sound cool? If you answered yes to this question then I think we can work out a business deal.

What you need to do is forget the money leeching guys at Amazon with their 75% take and instead go to http://www.matthewroys.co.uk and buy a copy. £7.99 for a signed copy and free postage. Pretty good deal right? But maybe you have given up on the cluttering books of the material world. Well then you will be happy to hear that ‘Sword Summoner’ is also available as an ebook from all good ebook stores.

So what are you waiting for? Would you kindly purchase a copy and help a young writer out? Just think, in a few years I could be successful and you would have a First Edition copy of mt debut novel. That’s not a bad prospect, eh. I hope a few people might be tempted by this little conversation and if anybody does read it, I sincerely hope that they enjoy it.


– FWF (Matthew Roys)

Wheel of Time Review

Today I will be reviewing the book series: ‘The Wheel of Time’ by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I am writing this from a sheer compulsion (no pun intended) and a need to put these thoughts onto paper. I finished ‘A Memory of Light’, the fourteenth and final book in the series yesterday and just want to share my feelings with the world at large.

I stumbled into this series accidentally about three years back. I was in a charity shop and one shelf was entirely taken up by these thick tombs bearing Jordan’s name. A quick glance told me that they were of the Fantasy genre. There were books 1-12 and the prequel ‘New Spring’ and the staff offered me all thirteen for just £6, (that would be about $8 for you Americans) less than the price of a singe book bought brand new. 

Now I have to admit something here. When I first started on ‘The Eye of the World’, my initial impression was that the book was a ‘Lord of the Rings’ clone. It starts during the preparation for a celebration, focuses on youths from a near-forgotten farming community and the first item of trouble is a black rider. Add to this terms such as The Mountains of Dhoom and the Dark One/Great Lord (Dark Lord when together) and the initial similarities are unavoidable. Hell, in both series it is a magic user who takes them from their old lives and serves as a wise guide.

Once the journey began though, Jordan stepped up and provided content that never ceased to amaze me. The sheer scale of everything that is in the stories makes me as a writer want to curl up in a corner and cry at the thought of trying to ever reach that level of depth and detail in my own work. There are fourteen books worth of story, each individually about the size of three average stories and yet nothing feels like a waste. Tolkien stood out because of his dedication to history and culture within his fantasy worlds and Jordan took that idea to the next level.

Something that comes out of this that is not seen in other fantasy novels is the growth of this world. Tolkien presents us with a carefully crafted world but it never really changes. sure things get darker and we know of lands falling but we never really see anything like that in ‘The Lord of the Rings’.  In WoT we see borders change, cities fall, settlements rise and grow stronger and and the land itself is changed. Everything feels somehow alive. We watch as the events of the story and the actions of characters make physical and lasting changes to the world.

And speaking of change, perhaps the thing that Jordan excelled at best was character development. WoT takes place over the course of a few years without any time skips. This means that we are constantly with the characters for a good chunk of time. We see them grow, discover their pasts, fear for their futures and watch them as the world changes them. Boys become heroes, rulers crumble and work to forge new lives and everyone struggles with a changing world. It all feels natural though. The protagonists Rand, Mat and Perrin go from country lads to unparalleled warriors and leaders of grand armies yet it is all believable. It never feels rushed or thrown together but a series of logical steps and small but meaningful advancements in themselves. We see the young boys that they were still but simultaneously they are whole new men forged in chaos. We see their trials, their doubts, and we see them overcome them all. Taking it back to Tolkien, do we really witness any major change in the characters in LotR? Yes they are more mature, more experienced, but at heart none of them go through any noticeable change, (at least in my eyes. Not that I am criticising Tolkien, mind).

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the chapter, or entire books, can feel long winded. Politics play a huge role in the series which can leave characters doing nothing but talking for long stretches but anyone who has taken a history course based around any subject of war will know that it was the politics and lead-up events that shaped and influenced the battles. There are also so many characters that you would need to be a mastermind yourself to keep up with who everyone is and what they are all doing in your first read through. Often we see things through minor or even throwaway characters’ eyes which can feel like a step away from the events of the main story but it all lends itself to crafting a believable world. Most of it will make so much more sense with the context and appreciation of a second read through, and you know what, you will genuinely want to re-read the series, likely immediately after you have just finished it. 

I started WoT three years ago and it has felt like a very real part of my life for that entire time. For the folk who have been reading it for the past two decades, I can only imagine that this feeling is magnified for them. I was so attached to the characters that even I, an unfeeling cynic, was moved to emotion by events in the books. When characters triumphed I felt happy and when they died I had manly tears in my eyes. Now it is over, it feels like there is a hole in my life that will not easily be filled.

It has ended, and it ended as well as anyone could have hoped for. ‘A Memory of Light’ rounds everything off well and leaves us with a good sense of closure. I won’t go into spoilers in case anyone is reading this and thinking of starting the series but we have a satisfying ending that does not let the series down for a moment. Nothing is given to us about after the war, despite the tantalising setups we have in the epilogue but I cannot fault the book for ending when the story ends. After all, there never truly is an end and if we were to see how the world rebuilt itself and how the characters coped with their new lives we’d be in need of a whole other book.

So yeah, if my ranting hasn’t given it away yet, I thoroughly recommend this series. It is, in my experience at least, the most detailed and heart-capturing series of books on this fair earth. Jordon was a creative genius and I am saddened by the fact that I will never get the chance to meet him. Sanderson did a brilliant job of finishing things off after his death and together they have created something truly wonderful.  

“The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend.”

The Spirit of Conventions.

Society is an interesting melding pot of ideas, races, creeds and morals. Everyone is distinct and yet everyone is connected by social bonds. With this in mind, I am confused how these bonds restrain us and force us to become clones with a mob mentality.

If the title of this entry drew you in then you are probably in a similar mindset to me: a geek. Whether this is anime, games or movies, we likely share a passion and choose to go to conventions to vent that passion. We choose a place to gather and ‘geek out’ because in our everyday lives and regular society, we are misfits, outcasts shunned by society because we are not ‘normal’. 

So we flee, venture to distant places under the promise of acceptance. A mecca of like minded individuals who revel in what the rest of the world has demonized. There are special guests who we enjoy and respect, friends to talk to and merchandise to buy but that isn’t what a conventions allure is. 

What makes a convention a heaven compared to the hell of home society? Mildly famous people, merch and a few friends still wouldn’t have that effect on your doorstep. Conventions have a special spirit to them, a strange zone of freedom. They bring out the very essence of the people who attend and allows them to be their true selves without social restraints. 

Where else do people of all shapes and sizes dress up in costumes without a care? Where could a 20+ year old pull out a Pokemon game or Yu-Gi-Oh cards and not be ridiculed? 

The Spirit of a convention is the spirit of belonging. It is a close-knit society removed from society itself. The thought of what people will think doesn’t even register; you just do it and enjoy yourself. For a few wondrous days, you are your own man or woman. You can be yourself until you return home to become what your parents, teachers, boss, neighbors expect you to be.It is a zone controlled by hearts instead of heads.

You may find this hard to believe but beyond my confident words, satirical humour and obvious intelligence as shown in these blogs, I am a shy, beaten down soul with confidence issues. I can’t talk to people, work a shit job and have little motivation to even get up in the morning as there are so few prospects for a successful future. You know what though, I went to my first conventions last year and felt like a new person for those days. I talked with people, I woke up eager to get back to the halls and enjoyed every second. the insecurities were still there but they no longer mattered. Me and my friend sat down in a room and started to have a few games of Yu-Gi-Oh and within ten minutes the room was filled to capacity with duelists. If you sat down alone with your cards out, someone would join you in no time. This year I have a cosplay and it will be the first time I have dressed up since I was about eight. Conventions give me confidence that will hopefully rub off on me in the ‘greater society’.

Conventions mean something different to everyone; memories, passions, possessions, experience and community, but everyone can agree that it offers you acceptance and that is what we all surely strive for in life.

UK censorship

So here we are again. How many times must I put finger to key in order to call our government a set of utter idiots?

You all may or may not know that our dear Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to impose censorship upon us by means of forcing internet providers to filter ‘pornographic content’ as their default setting. This, in simple terms, means that no UK household will have access to any ‘Adult content’ without asking their provider to allow them access.

While this is not a heavy handed full on block against porn or our rights, it is certainly a step toward that. They are dictating our internet usage and that is something that is bad.

Ethics aside, this plan has several rather glaring flaws, and by glaring I mean the glint from a crocodile’s eyes at night as you shine your torch down just in time to watch it bite your bollocks off.

For starters, who decides what is considered ‘Pornographic material’? There are the obvious examples of pornographic websites but where do you draw the lines? Will message boards or forums like Reddit be blocked because they can contain pornographic images? What about certain anime/manga/Japanese art as some of those can blur the line between fun and indecency, especially to old rich snobs outside of those spheres who happen to control all of this? Hell, what about mature rated literature online? I don’t condone it in the slightest but ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, something that to me is pretty clearly pornographic, (or erotica if you are of the female persuasion), originated online. Would stories like that be banned? Would it be known websites on a selective basis that are blocked or would it be simple word filter blocks?

Word filters are already a major problem. I laughed to hear stories of people on ‘protected’ computers being denied access to any websites discussing this porn filtering topic because of the use of the word ‘pornography’. Educational institutes are particularly bad. In my first year of A Levels I studied Government and Politics. Our subject for the term was political parties. We visited several party sites until we reached the British National Party (BNP) which was blocked for racism. So much for fair political representation, however big of a donkey prostate they are.

Another thing that the government doesn’t seem to consider is that people are very tech savvy now. Just because something is blocked does not mean that people won’t find it. If a man wants to watch porn, then stubbornness, determination and pure force of manly will cannot be stopped. When I was in Year 10 I was sat next to a big lad in IT who made it his personal mission to view porn every lesson, and by God he did it. The things on his screen that I caught glances of where enough to make me blush to this day. Yet I couldn’t search for political parties. Congratulations, the system works. To try and block anything that has a high enough demand is just a simple waste of money because people will find ways to it faster than any company or government can stop them.

As to their stance of ‘protecting children’, if parents can’t monitor their own spawn then why should the country as a whole suffer? It is their jobs as parents to ensure that their children are safe. Bad parenting should not lead to a stronger government. Again though, the term ‘child’ is pretty subjective. The teenage male population must make up a good 70% of regular porn viewers and that fact cannot really be ignored. Its a fact of life. Boys will be horny, sticky boys. It used to be dirty magazines found in the woods, now it is the internet, (because kids are so wrapped up in cotton wool now that they can’t fit through the door to play outside or find forest porn).

So to round off: is pornography moral? Hmm, is human nature moral? Probably not but tough shit on that count. Me, I am pretty emotionless and am not big into watching porn. To be honest it bores me mostly. Not enough story to keep me invested I guess. Oh the curse of an intellectual mind. Let’s be honest though: the question isn’t ‘Is pornography acceptable?’ and nor is it ‘Does the government have the right to censor us?’ (Which is a ‘No’ just to be clear). It is: ‘Doesn’t our government have anything better to do than randomly deciding to stamp out porn? You know, like fixing our bloody economy! Hey Cameron, here is an idea: stop wasting time and money and invest them into giving us some sodding jobs.

How far do you push your dreams?

Time and time again throughout our childhood we are told to follow our dreams; to work hard so that we can achieve anything that we set our minds to. Funny then how we all tend to end up in a shit, dead end job, pulling ourselves through each day simply to earn the money to keep us alive for another mind crushing day to repeat the process again and again. 

We all had dreams as children and I’m sure that most people tried to follow them up so how did so many people lose sight of those ambitions? You get a job to keep you going while you push for your dream and simply become complacent? The world constantly oppresses you and knocks you down each time you try to stand on your own two legs? The childish naivety and hope days to be replaced with a reserve to do what is necessary to keep yourself and your family comfortable? Likely it is a combination of all of these factors and more.

So my question for today is: At what point should you give up your daydreams of fame, fortune and happiness and submit to reality?

If you have read this blog before then you will know that I am an aspiring writer. To make it as an author is my dream. The idea that I could live well by doing what I love has been my lifeline now for many years. All the time of my teenage years where my peers were out socialising, I was locked away writing. I studied hard to get into university and take Creative writing to hone my skills and make links in the business. Now the boat that I find myself in is that I am a social reject, I hate university and feel that it is a pointless waste of money (despite achieving pretty top grades) and I have had zero success with publishers or any avenue of making money from my skills.

Despite having a cold, dejected outer layer, I am an optimist at heart, or as stated in one of my stories “An optimist with a negative disposition”. This means that I haven’t given up on this dream and still invest the majority of my time into it. But like everyone does eventually, I am at those daunting crossroads in life where a shitty part time job is no longer good enough. Society expects me to step up, get a real job, make money and try to set myself up as an independent adult. Current economy and lack of jobs aside, if I had a full time job, that would drastically reduce the hours left to invest into my stories and the hours that I did have would be compromised by fatigue from a full day’s work. I realise that this is how many starting out writers worked but it does involve a lot of willpower and effort. 

In another five years if you have still achieved nothing, do you give up and stop wasting your time or continue to spread yourself thin in the vain hope of a better life? How many times can you be told your not good enough before you start believing it? Self will is all fair and good but friends, family and society at large want you to do the logical thing to make money. They will WANT you to succeed but the expectation is often lacking. Get a job, meet a partner, settle down, have a family, eventually retire then die and fade into obscurity within a decade. That is the average expectation of life. 

I have literally watched as friends have had dreams taken from them and have slowly been whittled down to hollow shells of the characters that they were. After the dream is gone, what keeps people going? To me, dreams are hope and what is life without hopes for a better future. I sure as hell don’t want to clean tables, make sandwiches or answer phones for the next thirty years.

So my concluding question to you all is: What are your dreams and do you feel like you could ever achieve them or do you feel betrayed by the system? Have you had dreams in the past but had to leave them behind to move on with life? If so how do you feel about them now? If given the chance would you try for them once again? 

Dreams are the light of the world. Dreams lead to aspiration, aspiration leads to invention and invention leads to the dawn of a new day.

Review: the Skulduggery Pleasant series.

Remember that first post I made about doing constructive things like reviews and creative writing? Well while I am sat here in my comfy chair with a cup of tea the pessimism has taken a back seat so what better time to release my first review.

Being ever strapped for cash as I am as a struggling writer, I didn’t have the money or interest to buy any new games. At the same time though I didn’t want my first review to be something that is now old and irreverent to the public at large.Then, after checking through my email I found my pre-order for book eight of Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series.


Skulduggery Pleasant is a series of books based around the title character who is an undead detective and his new investigative partner, Valkyrie Cain. The universe is set in our world yet with the addition of a secret society of monsters and mages who operate under the radar of everyday life. Throughout their adventures they fight Vampires, other mages hired killers and even the dark gods themselves.

So why out of all of the games, movies and books in the world did I choose this? Well, all pretense of cynicism aside, it deserves it. Why? Because it makes me laugh. yes me, the bitter soul jaded with the world. Landy writes with a dry wit and sarcasm that would make the  most cynical of gentlemen proud. Skulduggery is unflappable with a dark sense of humour and has a satirical remark whatever the circumstances. This sinks through into many of the characters to create a colourful and witty cast yet never gets old or feels out of place. Valkyrie grows more dark homoured with every book after over exposure to Skulduggery and the interplay with words between the two never fails to warp my face in this strange phenomenon known as a ‘smile’ to the rest of the world.

But it’s not all fun and games, and that is the glorious part. Skulduggery Pleasant is a children’s book that has won numerous prestigious children awards but only someone with a very narrow view of the world could ever say it is for children. Yes it is a fantasy story, yes the lead character is a teenage girl, there is no swearing or sexual themes and it is certainly written in a simplistic way that is easily accessible to children but when we skim past that we see a whole pile of morality, choices and violence, all soaked in a delectable darkness that runs through every character and story. No character is a simple ‘good or evil’, the fights are quiet often descriptively brutal, exemplified when certain characters start ripping each others heads off while describing the popping of the spinal cord, many characters have a depressingly dark past while others have grisly futures ahead and death isn’t something that is shied away from. Lovable characters do die which leaves you as a reader never being complacent about what will be around the next corner.

That is not to say that the books aren’t suitable for children. Kids love the dark side of narrative. No popular children’s story is without that certain bitter twang or terrifying undertone that causes the depths of the bed covers to become a personal fortress. Children are drawn in by the dark and are held on track by the short chapters and simple narrative style.

Some big authors spend pages describing every place that the characters find themselves in pained detail. In real life, assessing your surroundings takes a few seconds and then you move on but by using up ten minutes worth of reading to tell us about a dingy little room you are taken out of the moment and pulled away from the story. Settings are important but in the end they are simply a place where something happens to the characters. Landy understands this and doesn’t waste unnecessary time with elaborate descriptions. He gives you a snapshot to hold in your mind then moves straight on with the story so that the intense pacing never grinds to a halt. The way that most of his cast communicate doesn’t waste time either. After all, why use long, intricately written paragraphs of carefully constructed speech when one witty remark conveys everything just as well but in a fraction of the time?

The combat is always fast paced, action-packed and stylish, the character interactions are meaningful and can easily be believed while the plot is imaginative, engrossing and filled with twists and turns that reduce you to having to place the books down and ponder existence for several reflective moments before jumping back in.

There are some negative points as you will find with anything. It suffers from the usual fantasy trappings of large casts of characters with difficult to read/pronounce names and occasionally a little bit more detail in the descriptions wouldn’t go amiss. Sometimes the line between humour and serious becomes blurred to the point where I’m not sure if Landy is trying to set up a genuine plot-line or if it is just a stretched joke. My main example of this was the ongoing love triangle between Valkyrie, her boyfriend and a brooding vampire love interest.  At first I thought that it was parodying Twilight but Landy invested a lot of time to it and developed it, stretching out out to create emotional growth in Valkyrie’s character only to then throw it aside in a dramatic way.

The main thing to take away from the series as a whole though is that it morphs to fit you as a reader. I picked up the first book as a rosy cheeked lad just into his teenage years and loved it. I have bought every book since and still love it. Landy isn’t held back by the genre of ‘children’s fiction’ like so many other authors. As a Kid I loved so many programs, Pokemon being one such show but it is hard to watch it now because nothing has changed. Ash is the exact same character, is the same age and still sucks at the thing he has devoted his life to. Valkyrie ages, she develops as a character and the world changes around her. There is enough within Skulduggery Pleasant’s pages to enthrall children while keeping an adult audience just as entertained.

My dyslexic little sister never read anything until I introduced her to Skulduggery Pleasant then she devoured the series and drastically improved her reading skills. My friends who have gone through twenty years of life without been interested in books read Skulduggery under my recommendation and enjoyed them so much that they used them as a diving-board to plunge themselves into the fantasy worlds that literature has to offer. And you know what? Remember my rant on the educational system and how they shove dry literature like Shakespeare down the kids throats? Well if the government rubbed their collective dozen brain cells  together then they should realise that people need something that they enjoy to encourage them to continue reading. In my opinion, Skulduggery Pleasant is that something. It may be a bold statement but I would bet my masterful writing skills (hahaha) that if Skulduggery was introduced into the syllabus instead of centuries old plays or social commentaries from decades past then we would have a more literate generation of children and a generally better society for all.

To give my rating, I’ll start by saying that my system is 0-20 scale of epicness since 1-10 just feels too limited. For all of the reasons stated above, I deem the Skulduggery Pleasant series as a solid 18/20. I’ll be surprised if I rate anything that high again for a long while.

Review – 18/20 – Because who doesn’t want to read about a skeleton in a spiffy suit punching people in the face very hard then offering a witty one-liner?

Physical Vs Digital – Let the fight commence.

For a while now we have witnessed the slide from owning physical media to buying everything as a digital copy to put on our electronic devices. It is often said that we now live in a digital world; something that sounded very cool to my childhood self after watching obsessive amounts of Digimon. It isn’t as fun as my innocent mind imagined. Hell, if I cant digivolve my dog into a giant monster then what’s the point?

I will be examining the pros and cons of both mediums but I will state here that I am an old-fashioned kind of guy who likes to actually own what I lay down money for. I still buy physical CDs, I will only buy physical games and I own over 300 paper books that are proudly displayed in my bedroom/library/personal junkyard.

Starting with digital, it is easy to see why it is so appealing to so many people. You can own everything that you want without it taking up any physical space at all. No selves and cabinets filled with cases that house disc to content that will rarely see the light of day, no untidy stacks of books, no mess what so ever. Just a laptop and a smart phone. But guess what, there is no personality either. If a house removes all DVD and CD cases, all books and games then what is left. Our photos are digital too now, images on a digital camera saved in files on a computer. How often have you looked through a modern photo-album that you could hold in your hands? It doesn’t leave a lot to fill a house with its owner’s presence, with a soul.

I do understand the ease and accessibility of digital content, don’t get me wrong. My 300+ books that take up an ungodly amount of room could all fit onto an E-Reader like Kindle which is a library that can fit into my pocket. A single book is a bugger to carry if you don’t want creases. 

People will also argue that It is harder to lose digital media as you can back it up or store it on multiple devices or even keep a memory that something has been purchased to re-download it at will. While all of this is true, as a pessimist, I can’t avoid the over-dramatic thoughts of a time when technology fails us and we are left without the privilege of electricity. We do only have limited power resources after all. On a less apocalyptic scale though, I simple power-cut can remove us from many of our files for the course of the power-outage’s duration. If you factor in viruses, corruption of files and general blunders then things aren’t always as secure as we would think. I lost all of my Xbox files simply because Microsoft introduced new security checks and because of some mistakes during creation I could not produce the details required to access my account of five years. Yes you can also lose or destroy physical objects, probably easier than digital, but then you can only really blame yourself. As a person who loses everything on a regular basis I more than understand this. 

So what have you taken away from this so far? That I sound like a ninety year old with a hoarding compulsion while digital media is better in all but the most extreme circumstances is the most accurate answer to that question. I will get to the main point of my argument now. Do you really own the digital media that you have purchased? With a physical disc you buy it then can do with it what you will. I could give it to a friend, use it on as many devices as I wanted and when I am done with it I can sell it for what money I can get. Is any of this legally possible with digital media? DRM puts a strict limit on what you can do with most modern digital media because, guess what, without it, digital media is easy to copy and sell illegally. Currently of all the consoles it is WiiU games that are pirated the most because Nintendo don’t believe in using DRM to limit play. Look where that got them. People beg for things to not be restricted then abuse the hell out of it the second that they can. This was why PC gaming was slowly dying until the arrival of Steam. 

Can I sell my Itunes library? Can I sell games on demand for the Xbox? No. Can I let my friend borrow a Steam game? No. Can I link multiple consoles to my Playstation account? No more than two. I won’t argue that these measures protect the companies’ rights and properties nor will I say that people wouldn’t abuse the system without these measures but it shows that when you buy digital media that you are actually only paying for the ability to use the product and not to actually own it.

Going back to my Xbox account difficulties, I had bought a lot of downloadable content (DLC) for my games over the years. When I was forced to create a new account, much of that DLC was no longer available to me. I could see them saved to my Xbox but they were tied to my old account and were not available to other profiles on the same Xbox. That left me with the choice to go without the content that I had paid for or to re-buy everything a second time.

In the end, yes I have the mentality of an old man and yes I enjoy to hoarde possessions. But I also like to see what my money has bought, to be able to hold it. A Kindle can’t offer the smell of brand new paper or the scent of decades as it drifts from yellowed pages. You can’t smash a downloaded game when you decide that it deserves a gruesome death (Fable 3 anybody). Most of all, when the shit hits the fan and we are left cold and alone in an apocalyptic world, will a Kindle burn to keep you warm and provide adequate toilet paper? I think not.