Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In the Middle of it with Maximus #1 - Religion, Is It Really the Great Bane of UC?

Well you always no that the CANTA editor is desperate when he asks a CD (and recently a party) reviewer to write a column…but thanks Matt I needed to keep up the writing!

Now before I launch into an obscene rant about crap I need to say a rather shameless plug - Friday 22nd of August at Bentleys Bar Echoic, Socks Off, Grafton Zoo and Millionaire Debrofski will be playing and for only $5!! W00t!

Ahem yeah but now that's outta the way time for to actually get back to writing something...

It seems the other week someone wrote in to CANTA complementing an article of mine but then the twat destroyed his integrity by launching into a rant about getting pissed off at punters around the campus trying to drag us kicking and screaming to their faith (predominantly Christian in orientation). Well first off, let's have a look at a few things that might make Canterbury Uni an easy place for religious fanatics to recruit people.
The first is that, unlike any other major city in New Zealand Christchurch was established with a very strong Christian base, hence the name. So it's surely a given that with the sheer amount of churches we have in this city that they're needing to be used instead of sitting there all pretty-like.
The second is that many aspects of our university were established based on Christian principles, the halls for example are testament to this: Bishop Julius (no shit) and the mighty Rochester and Rutherford (can you guess I stayed there?). However this does not mean that Christian theology will be rammed down your throat, quite the opposite in fact, while at R'n'R I only ever went to one compulsory chapel service in which we got told about the lamb of God and given a stone. At the time I was a bit confused by this for a few reasons, the first is for the simple fact that I was giggling to myself because Lamb of God is one of my favourite bands, the second is that I wasn't entirely convinced the usefulness or the meaning of a pebble in signifying Christianity. After spending a good week or so gurgling down Speights and JDs (this was Orientation after all) I finally found a use for it in the form of being a pet rock named Pete the Paperweight.
Though it is argued that in the last hundred years or so education has replaced religion as the basis for being cultured (thanks CULT 202!) and with New Zealand being such a multicultural society as well as our exposure to other cultures through the media and internet, it's not a great surprise that religion's begun to take a back seat in our generation.
The point I'm getting at, and I am believe me, is that religion has become so diluted in our culture that I have a bit of respect for those trying to recruit us to their faith, but really we have so many choices and so many ways to interpret the meanings of these faiths. For example, yesterday I was given a flier by someone outside the UCSA informing me that this week (I think) is Islam awareness week, after returning to my flat and putting it under Pete I began to think about how much crap Islam gets in the news. In Australia the 'wogs' are barely allowed to open up new mosques or Islamic schools in case they train up future t-words, in China they're portrayed as evil separatists (Taiwan has rivals!) and of course in America they're second-class citizens to the patriots and Jews. In fact I read somewhere lately that in once mighty England that the most popular religion is no longer Anglicanism (a type of Christianity to my red-neck compadres out there), but instead it's Islam.
So is Islam the new black? Will a new fashion trend soon emerge where women cover up their faces with burqas and guys grow beards? No, well maybe in winter for warmth.
I'm happy to see Islam being promoted in New Zealand, I'm also happy to see Christianity promoted on campus too, but not so much so when someone stands at the top of the library steps and begins preaching to the masses - you know who you are.
Finally I'll leave you all today with something the great Bill Hicks once said "What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take, into my body - as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?"

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Advertising in the Game Industry (07/07/08, another old rant I forgot to post)

Recently it was announced that Sony had signed a deal with major global advertising company IGA Worldwide that would lead to advertising being increasingly seen in Playstation 3 games, this has led to opposition by fat pimply blokes in their mum’s basements groaning that this will over-commercialise the gaming industry.

You know what? It might actually be a good thing.

As an avid gamer myself (which I am not ashamed whatsoever to admit) I have noticed advertising in games: Axe deodorant in the Burnout series always comes to mind. My point is that it is not a new thing. Advertising is such an important part of our culture whether punters like to admit it or not. Seriously, on your commute to Uni or work sitting at a bus stop, behind a bus in traffic or listening to the radio consumers (i.e. you, me and Dupree over there) are constantly exposed to soul-less yuppies from marketing departments trying to shove this new product down our throats to be happy, popular consumers.

Also with money from advertising companies going to the development teams behind games it could result in better quality game play because of advertising funds going towards pushing the PS3 further graphically etc, not to mention cheaper retail prices.

To be honest increased in-game advertising may in fact be a fairly entertaining thing. Think about it. You just screwed up that final turn on Gran Turismo and you want to take your anger out on something in-game. Sit at the finish line and wait for that pesky Powerade-sponsored car to complete its victory lap and do a spectacular head-on with it and send it skidding into the wall. In fact why not do the next race as an unofficial destruction derby ramming into the more soul-less sponsored cars on the track “Take that Coke, and that Maccas ya golden-arched bastard!”.

Also imagine it in FPS games. You’re in a post-apocalyptic city with zombies roaming the place looking to get blown up by your shotgun. You turn a corner and there’s a dirty blood stained advertisement for Burger King. Now this can be taken in two ways: Firstly it can tempt you into some late night drive-thru munchies at BK for that new meaty-mc-man-stein burger which those lovely bikini-clad ladies were eating. Orrrr it could have an opposite effect: one could see it as that with an increase in advertising in this futuristic cityscape has driven a scientist mad enough to ‘accidently’ release a virus to plague the city. Plus when you send a shotgun shell into a zombie’s head its guts nicely adorn the advertisement giving the BK crown some nice zombie guts shading.

Though I have got to say that while ‘dynamic’ in-game advertising could be a surprisingly entertaining thing it could also turn sour easily. For example if they somehow work into the script of a game “Yo Tommy hit me up with that Coke” I’d be kind of annoyed because it’s no longer somewhat subtle like advertising should be. Marketing puppets in my opinion are comparable to flies. They’re annoying as fuck in numbers but they serve their purpose in the natural swing of things.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this ‘dynamic’ advertising in PS3 games will affect the gaming industry but so long as the mad scientist’s virus isn’t released to wipe out society’s marketing departments I think we’ll be okay.

Sex, It’s in Rugby Too 08/07/2008 (old rant I forgot to post)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to watch more rugby. It’s not because I find it exhalerating to watch, I can honestly say I’d rather watch milk curdle in the sun than watch rugby. It’s not because I feel pride in watching my favourite team win, I’m an Aucklander studying in Christchurch, no matter who I say I support, Crusaders or Blues, anywhere in the country I’ll get the piss taken out of me. And it’s not because I like sports, I’ve always been hopeless at any sport I’ve played dropping catches and missing goals.

I need to watch rugby on television to be rewarded. I understand that Prime have now begun a not-so-secret reward system to entice the people to watch their programming on Sunday afternoons, it’s called porn. At about three o’clock on Sunday afternoon, while I was debating whether I persist on watching da Vinci Code on Sky movies or go into town to buy CDs, a scene from a pornographic movie interrupted a grassroots rugby game on Prime TV shocking gruff men from the Waikato and Canterbury called Fred and Jeff.

Honestly I think that Prime have just uncovered a new way to appeal to the hard to reach young male market who may not necessarily be interested in rugby. Think about it, why go to the trouble of sifting through all the pop-ups on the internet or the mild embarrisment of buying a Penthouse from Jay at the corner dairy when you can get your weekly fix from the subliminal erotica while watching the most manly of games. It’s like knocking down two birds with one stone: combining porn, which us guys dig, with a sport that’s supposed to define a kiwi male identity.

Also Prime will be able to charge more for advertising slots during what is normally a fairly dull and therefore not very profitable period of the week. The teams could be sponsored by dildo and condom manufacturers providing them with increased funds to make grassroots rugby better looking. I’ll be expecting to see soon the mighty Marquis Waitakere take on Albany Glutterdongers next month.

Coughing and Hacking Away

Winter brings many things: snow, rain, misery for those pansies who get depressed by the weather, and for my body an excuse to go crook. I don’t know who’s suffering more me lacking sleep, my flatmates with my coughing in the kitchen (sorry), or people in my lectures having to deal with me dying slowly in the corner.

The other day I was sitting in a two hour Cultural Studies lecture when I began to feel the beginnings of another courageously loud coughing fit coming on. With as much gusto I could muster I tried fighting it, as a few seats along from me was a wee lass I’d been eying for a while, but all this resulted in was a very uncomfortable throat and then one almighty burst out loud of hacking which managed to stall even the seasoned lecturer. In another lecture two girls sat next to me and one of them proclaimed to her friend that she felt “soooo sick” because of her cough which she then showed off. For the first time since attaining this cough I actually found a positive use for it, shutting that slapper up: less than five minutes later I managed this (proudly I must add) while also shutting everyone else up in class. Yep the sick guy has some silencing power.

But there is an upside to coughing so much, for the first time in my life I have abs! So yeah send the ladies my way and I’ll razzle and dazzle them with my looks but for fucks sake don’t let me open my mouth otherwise they’ll be showered in spit. It’s gotten to the point that I’m hacking so much not only has my diaphragm strengthened (abs fuck yeah) but I’ve also discovered some muscles in the back of my head I didn’t know were there. You know the ones at the very top of your neck? Yeah me neither.

I was chatting to a flatmate who began to compare my hacking fits to his whooping cough he had when he was in high school. Apparently he was coughing so badly that he started to have bleeding noses and throwing up...I’ve got to say I hate him now. To combat my suffering throat I’ve consumed an entire bottle of Robatussin, an icecream every night, half a pack of panadol and multiple cups of tea and milo, despite me being slightly buzzed while writing this because of the combination of these student remedies and a bit of whisky I’m still struggling to last five minutes.