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Kotaku, Regular People, and Knowing When To Shut Up

8 Jul

I suppose there’s no harm in tossing in an extra comment on this. I do read (and, God help me, occasionally enjoy) Kotaku, so I’d rather it matured and improved rather than burnt out – even as a result of an internet-wide criticism bombardment. That said, this is a particularly inflamed scrote-wart of a news article, and listing all the ways in which the pus is seeping out would be a waste of everybody’s time, particularly when much deeper and more heartfelt rebuttals can be found elsewhere. I will, however, summarise my main two issues with it:

1) The use of ‘regular people’ as an umbrella term for people who aren’t normally into e-sports was a mistake, but it wasn’t Schiller’s to begin with. Bizarrely, though, instead of challenging or even ignoring the interviewee’s use of the term, she ran with it – thus twisting the mildly unfortunate choice of words (which even then had self-deprecating, rather than outwardly insulting, undertones) into something that felt snobbish and condescending. This was a chance to say “Hey, come on now, we’re all game fans here” and she blew it.

2) There’s a time and a place for first-person stuff, and this ain’t it. Why someone who boasts about their lack of interest in a community has been assigned to cover it is beyond me, but Schiller’s sheer determination to insert herself into a news piece, consisting mostly of someone else’s interview, is anecdotal writing at its worst – arrogant, narcissistic, but worst of all, irrelevant.

To be clear, I love what people like to call New Games Journalism. Done right, it’s funny, dramatic, haunting, incredulous, exciting, vivid and a great way to demonstrate a game’s strengths or weaknesses. Done badly, it’s a waste of good typeface. Some people are all too aware of that, and there’s nothing these puritans – who think their archaic, stony-faced, back-of-the-box style is the only way games writing can ever be – like to see more a piece like this. I’m still learning, to be perfectly honest, but it seems like the best thing to do when writing in the first-person is knowing when to shut the hell up and get back to the information you’re meant to be conveying. Jen Schiller crossed that line, mouth still moving. Both her and the quality of her article have suffered for it.


Oh why won’t you just go away

21 Jan

I’ve only suffered Twitter’s new ‘Who is this?’ non-feature for less than a day, and yet it’s sufficiently irritated me that I feel the pressing need to post a short yet disproportionately angry blog post about it. In case you don’t use Twitter (or do, and are just unfairly lucky), it looks like this:

The way I see it (which is indisputably correct, wise and fair at all times), this box utterly fails in three different regards:

1) It asks me if I’m wondering who it is, then makes no effort to tell me despite being very easily able to do so. Instead, if I DO want to know who it is – in the unlikely event that the name or picture doesn’t give away the famous comedian, Guardian writer or chat show host – then it’s up to me to find out. There’s nothing wrong with user agency, but to pose such a question then expect the answer to be anything other than “no”, “yes, tell me” or “no, I don’t care” is folly. The final of the three possible answers brings me on to…

2) If I’ve either stopped caring or never cared in the first place, there’s no visibly apparent method of making the stupid damn little box go away and leave me to microblog in peace. There’s the Close button, sure, but this tells terrible lies: the box will reappear as soon as you reload the page. I’ve had ulcers that were less irritating and buggered off quicker than this box.

3) It covers up part of the page – specifically, a part that has nothing to do with the contents of the box or what the box is referring to. Twitter has parked itself, clad in an afro wig and gibus, in the cinema seat directly in front of yours, and no matter how many times it agrees to move it returns to that seat every five minutes. It’s obviously a bastard.

At least when Facebook rolls out each new, increasingly pointless profile redesign it gives you a simple yes/no switch to let you choose when exactly it becomes forced upon you, which then disappears. I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but maybe other websites could stand to be a bit more like Facebook.

Addendum: this is the first post on this blog I wrote while under the influence of something other than a multi-hour game marathon. As far as I can tell there is little difference, except I made curiously fewer spelling errors.

“Kill meeeeee”

20 Jul

My hard drive is filled with in-game screenshots where ragdolls have got bent, caught, or impaled in a variety of rather entertaining positions – the kind where their legs point in directions God did not intend legs to point, that sort of thing. Every single one of those has just been outdone. The impossibly angled bones and hideous elongated limbs in this picture are enough to raise a smile, but it’s the face that gets exponentially funnier the longer you look at it:

I may update soon confirming whether or not this image will forever haunt my dreams.

(via I Get Your Fail)

Facebook assumes I like things, is sorely mistaken

28 Jun

I haven’t had a good argument with nothing in a good while, and I was planning a variation on this post anyway, but urgent things are occurring: Facebook, without my knowing consent, slapped a “…likes The Chris Moyles Show” on my profile.

I can’t feel any real disgust over what is most likely a technical glitch, and if Facebook is going to accidentally cite my enjoyment of something it might as well be a harmless if uninspired radio show rather than, say, this. But this “Like” feature – it’s a bit shit, isn’t it? At best it’s an incredibly lazy method of adding to your ‘About Me’ section, at worst it’s a profoundly annoying cause of spam. Blame mainly lies with Facebook for not being able to differentiate between an interesting piece of new information about someone (they like the same band as you? Great!) and a hopelessly mundane, utterly pointless statement of belief they partly share, usually related to sandwiches, the phrase “I was shocked when”, sex, or romantic advice gleaned from the diaries of fourteen-year old amateur poets. There is not a single one of these “I agree with this” groups that isn’t either equal to or worse than the average status update in terms of networking worth, which happens to be back-breakingly low as it is. The only difference is that someone might update their status once or twice a day, whereas people ‘Like’ hundreds of these profiles – the person who I nicked that example group above has declared her love for 121 Activities, 37 music pages, and 3021 in the Other category. Three-thousand and twenty-one!

Even worse than this nightmarish adaptation of the hateful ‘Become a Fan’ (a truly awful few months for the Internet – millions of people holding content ransom to join numbers and page views) is the ability to ‘Like’ specific comments and updates. I genuinely wonder why people who use this feature are on Facebook – the apparently incomprehensible concept of actually communicating with friends is fucked arseways until it looks like a tiny fucking thumps up symbol, an absolutely meaningless substitute for saying something  – anything – relevant or interesting. A stupid, value-deficient note conveying little other than “I READ THIS.” Imagine trying to have a conversation with someone who willingly and consciously does nothing but nod his head whenever you speak. It is like that, only it is impossible to slap both sides of their head rather hard at the same time.

Internet Monstrosities: Windows Live Messenger ads

29 Aug

I don’t have an adblocker. Whilst some internet ads are oversized to the point where they sandwich the actual content, as long as they stay in one place as part of the layout they never feel particularly intrusive. And if it’s an Evony ad they can be unintentionally funny as well.

So why, then, do the advertisements of Windows Live Messenger have a habit of making themselves so at home on my screen they sit inmy favourite chair and put on a pair of slippers? The position of the taskbar and the location of the ad (bottom left corner) makes it nigh-impossible to casually open the window and mouse into it without skimming over it, causing it to suddenly expand to what I estimate to be eight or nine times it’s original size. It’s like one of those foamy dinosaurs that expand when soaked in water for 24 hours, only instead of a badass tricerotops it’s a pop-up for a lame off-road driving game with the fucking Cribs on the soundtrack.

Normally moving the mouse pointer away from the ad would make it die and leave me alone. No dice. Surely closing the entire window?


That right there is an advert I don’t want to see, for a game I don’t want to buy, involuntary blown up to cover a fifth of my screen, obscuring a window it’s not a part of.

One time I was playing Fallout 3, since I was so pissed at these things I wanted to shoot people’s limbs off in slow motion, when a flickering rectangle advertising Transformers 2 appeared. Apparently not satisfied with planting itself on top of Firefox like an unattentive fat man sits on his cat, WLM was infecting my games as well. And since Fallout 3 installs itself in such a way that you have to press Ctrl-Alt-Del just to switch between it and your other windows, and since doing so carries a likely chance that it won’t let you back in for no apparent reason, I had to stop playing, close the window with the hateful ad, attempt several times to return to my game before giving up and having to ‘End Task’ it away.

You pricks, I had already seen Transformers 2.

Internet Monstrosities – This Muse ticket thing I saw on eBay

14 Jul

Muse fans are the biggest bunch of whiny, over-entitled spunktwats I’ve ever had the misfortune to be associated with, however tenuously. I know because I am a Muse fan, and as such am one of the first to hear about crap like this – one of the few things capable of uniting the warring factions of fans that heard Supermassive Black Hole in Twilight and the ones who pretend they saw them so early that bassist Chris Wolstenholm wasn’t even born yet. It brings people together with its atrociousness.

Like the flagship Internet Monstrosity, HOW TO GET FANTASTIC MUSE TICKETS FOR RESISTANCE TOUR (or HTGFMTFRT) offers a dubious solution to a problem you didn’t know you had – you can’t get tickets for an event that hasn’t gone on general sale yet. Rather than the tedium of getting up before 9 and buying tickets from Ticketmaster, HTGFMTFRT will hand to you the only true alternative – pay a fiver to some bloke, wait a day or two for a book to arrive, read the 24-page guide to doing something with tickets that is so secret that only those with the gift – the ability to pay a fiver to some bloke – can ever comprehend it. After that you might get some tickets from a different site. You win!

Of course, today is Thursday and tickets go on sale (and will probably sell out) tomorrow on Friday. So his guarantee – in big bold red text so you know it’s extra-guaranteeny – that you’ll get the info in time is both an outright lie and a total waste of everybody’s time (except the guy making £4.99 from chumps) – how useful is this guide going to be if you’re waiting for it to be delivered whilst everyone with a functioning central nervous system is buying tickets from a safe and reputable retailer?

Why pay to see Muse when you can look at this nice picture from Google Image Search?

Why pay to see Muse when you can look at this nice picture from Google Image Search?

And like Driving Test Secrets, this pitch is not complete without fonts designed by a fucking six year old with Pizza Hut crayons. Any word of more value than the verbs or anything in past particple is bolded to hell and lit up with eye-immolating primary colours. I know eBay isn’t the place to go for typographical integrity but I just want tickets, not epileptic seizures. Though I guess when you consider the approximate intelligence of his buyers (choice quote: “great thanku! got front row tix!! yippeee!“) then bright colours and shiny objects are probably going to be the most appealing thing on the page.

I don’t want to talk about this stupid listing anymore. I’m tired, you’re probably bored, I’ve got an exam I haven’t revised for tomorrow afternoon) which I’ll do after failing to get Muse tickets, due to not buying this BRILLIANT GUIDE) and, most importantly, it’s physically painful to read. He boasts that he’s never failed to get tickets (neither have I, you don’t see me flogging lame MS Word documents for cash. You can get them here for free), and after numerous promises that you can be one of those attractive, highly aspirational people that go to gigs and shit, writes that there is OBVIOUSLY IS NO GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL DEFINITELY GET TICKETS. Yes, he even puts it in bold.

Leave. Now.

Non-Internet Monstrosities – BNP campaign leaflets

14 Jul

Update: Haha. Hahahaha. Ha.

Landing on my doormat with a terrifying paf (it’s only a one-page leaflet) the other day was a piece of fairly glossy paper geadlines with the words “The NEW Battle For Britain” (caps lock not mine) which had me worried for a minute because I thought we were back at war with the Nazis. Fortunately, I ended up only being slightly less worried – it was a pamphlet trying to convince me and my family to vote for the BNP in the EU Parliament elections this summer. I don’t know how they got our address, but they must – at the very least – know we’re white.

Immediately failing to grasp a word that might be described as “comparable to iron”, this publication –  which, as aforementioned, aimed to get the BNP into the EU Parliament – bellows “NO to EU rule”, which I guess is along the lines of Charlton Heston trying to win a Soylent Green cooking contest. It also makes the rather puzzling promise to put British people first, as if all the other parties are insisting on putting Hong Kong first, which would certainly give party boradcasts a bit of the element of surprise about them.

Speaking of those, I’ve only seen two – the Conservative one and the Christian Party one – but the latter had a black dude in it so I think I’ll vote for them. Y’know, just to piss off the BNP.

There’s plenty to analyse about the front of this leaflet – and by analyse I mean point and giggle – but it’s the back that really brings the laughs. here it is in all it’s less right-angled glory.

More pictures of whitey, obviously, because the BNP is smart and knows it can win massive elections by targeting the extremist minority of a single ethnic background, and not bother with all those useless ‘politically correct’ voters at all. Harr harr! Gordon CLOWN (do you get it it’s funny because it rhymes with Brown which is his name) should watch his back, they’ve got a fucking DOCTOR. And three builders. An some old people.

“I’m voting BNP because I see what immigration has done to the NHS”, says a creepy anonymous man in a white coat. Though since the NHS is short-staffed and migrant Doctors and nurses provide some much-needed manpower as well as the skills required, I can only assume he’s not so much a doctor as someone who took the coat of one of the men who came to put him in the van with the flashing lights. Vroooooooom!

Not that this leaflet suggests the BNP are particularly economically-minded, warning the poor pricks like me who consent to reading this shit on ‘cut-throat foreign competition’ that are, as a non-brown person once said, “taking our jobs”. If British workers can’t do the same work as migrant workers or don’t have the same skills, then maybe they SHOULD be taking ‘our’ jobs, and if they’re willing to do the same job for lower wages, then tough shit – you got undercut. That’s the free market for you, I guess – though I hear North Korea ain’t down with that, maybe you should go live there. Oh wait, that would make you immigrants, and would instantly void all your benefits and potential contributions to society. Also, what he hell is with the line about globalisation dragging down wages? Wages rise with inflation, which pretty much carries on except in a depression, and the Minimum Wage is a part of the EU Social Charter.

The crown jewel of this polished turd (the paper feels quite nice if I’m honest) is that red banner, which smugly lists some battles that people from the same landmass as members of the BNP fought in, and somehow allow chubby builders who weren’t even alive for most of them to not have to converse with dem immee-grents. I mean, motherfucking D-Day? I don’t recall any history books saying Nick Griffin was at the Normandy landings, and even if he somehow was, then I doubt it would be on the same side as the ones climbing out of the boats.