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Games with a meow.

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The Good, The Bad and The Italian – Mafia II PC Review

Posted by catgamer on November 2, 2010

 The feel of Mafia II is that of a more uplifting, Hollywood-style Godfather with Elvis Presley for a soundtrack and GTA San Andreas as the obvious main inspiration. Add countless bribes, some joyful car crashing and messing about with the open environment and you have the gist of it. Entertain it will, but don’t expect this one to smitten.

The gentlemen were puzzled as the social services rejected their applications for childminders.

Lately released and violently anticipated, Mafia II had me becoming Vito Scaletta, a poor boy from Sicily whose family migrated to the fictional city of Empire Bay in search of financial stability, but found themselves in the same state of poverty they knew from Italy. Over the years, Vito transforms from poor boy to bad boy as his involvement in mob-related activity takes over. Other than such deliciously cliché stereotypes about the Italian mafia activity, this title manifests some interesting plot aspects, but does little to please enthusiasts of more storytelling oriented masterpieces such as Psychonauts or Half Life 2, gems which manage to tell a story behind their technical value. Furthermore, despite being placed in a 1940s – 50s time period, Mafia II seems to ignore the potential of this setting, staying away from historical context or references. Entertain it will, but don’t expect this game to smitten.

     The technical side of the game is relatively more pleasing: the game runs smoothly on pc gear which is hardly top-notch and the graphics look surprisingly more than good on an integrated graphics card. This allows to speculate that on a beefy pc most pc gamers dream of and some possess, the gaming and visual experience must be quite stunning. As in this type of fast-paced titles, the action is quick and exciting – but the repetition and concentration of it means exciting gradually becomes less exciting, less exciting a bit repetitive, and so on. Mafia’s typical campaign consists of driving to one of the many locations on the free-roam map, then following through a task that could be anything from assassinating a target or protecting one but always involves using a gun and a tough head; add countless bribes, a few RPG elements, some joyful car crashing and messing about with the open environment and you have the gist of it.

     Though Mafia II is not a title of purely one genre, the above average, well designed shooting system which is the most recurring device during campaign establishes it as an FPS more so than anything else. Thanks to the designers sensibly sticking to standard controls and moves, playability is one hundred percent awkwardness free – sinking into the game is quick and effortless. The only drawback is that for some, the urge to pause the game may be as fast as the urge to play it. Without a doubt, Mafia II offers hours on hours of light-hearted fun. Meanwhile, variety is sparse, as could be the checkpoints for some players and lack of attachment to characters means not everyone will be tempted to stay in front of a computer for longer.

     I don’t want anyone to think that I didn’t like Mafia II. The game is plain fun. Individual characters, though of little substance, make a pretty adorable bunch altogether. And if I can have some good time with an Italian Mafioso (however wrong that may sound), what more should I ask for? Still, something about Mafia II made me a bit unenthusiastic and no, it wasn’t the blokey feel of the game as I have played games targeted at men before and thoroughly enjoyed them. I think this particular title is just a bit of a letdown only because it didn’t stand up to the large hype; it’s the re-heated Panini everyone expected to be a duck rillete. Try with caution.

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Release of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood Delayed For PC

Posted by catgamer on October 22, 2010

Motley Crew’s hairspray days were definitely over.

I feel a bit shattered. Which is better than feeling my life is over, a state I was profoundly submerged in a few days ago as I realised these news. Looking to pre-order my own copy of Brotherhood, I noticed something was not quite right. It wasn’t the price and neither was it the fact that Ezio looks suspiciously young on the cover (assassins obviously age well). Ubisoft announced the release date earlier on in the year as 19th of November, which I wrongly assumed to be, well, the time the game will be available to purchase. Apparently, my logic is flawed; the overall release date is not the same as the pc release, which has to be announced separately (why, I still do not know).

     Though Brotherhood is still available to pre-order (which gives you the creepy jester advantage in multiplayer and some exclusive content), its PC compatible version will not be out until the 26th of March of next year. On the contrary, console users get to slit a few throats from the latter half of next month onwards and will annoy us with their cheerfulness for the next 5 months as the version we’re awaiting remains unavailable. Which alternatively gives us more time to whine about the DRM and dramatically storm out of gaming vendors as our impatience will reach its crescendo next year’s  March.

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5 REASONS WHY: Monopoly is Bad Stuff

Posted by catgamer on September 27, 2010

I don’t have solicitors. I don’t even have a solicitor. But in the frequent cases when companies were a bit too eager to dig into my pocket anew, the “let me consult my solicitor” argument works wonders – especially when the employees know they are asking for something unnecessary – or not neccesarily legal. Then again, if I’m left with no option but to persist with a software or a retailer unless I want to be stripped of a group of products altogether, what good will my fictional elite squad of tuxedo-clad Oxford law graduates possibly achieve?

 

Capitalism pre-facelift – the less advertised appearance.

 

  1. We are left with no choice.

Venturing for products in a monopoly-driven industry is a question of choosing between a retailer offering a few very fashionable pieces and a shop where you have heaps and heaps of all kinds of clothing. I realise the increased risk of committing a fashion faux pas in Primark, but I also have the pleasure of that choice, even if it shall resolve in my looking like a hooker.

     Though we often complain of too much choice, I am convinced too little choice would ultimately pose an even worse situation. Human beings have always been obsesses with novelty – there’s no better example of this obsession than the pleasant sadistic pang in one’s stomach when our friends state they had no idea about “this new [insert band name, trend or book]” and we feel oddly content because we may now subtly, but effectively bully them into admitting they don’t keep up with today’s innovations. That is why a game industry limited to only the most popular releases with the most successful advertising and sponsors would very quickly bore us to death – or at least, its own death. In this process, computer games would also become prone to seasonal “fashion”– something that would seem impossible a decade ago when for hormone-driven teens, gaming was a rebellion against the superficial and judgemental lifestyles other people from this certain age group often practice. Traces of this are already evolving, and the character of the gaming subculture is slowly crumbling. The very concept of everyone playing the same games and hitting the shops for the “popular” big-money titles is an antonym of why the games industry is constantly developing, morphing and seeking new ideas – or at least claims it is.

      2. A monopoly can request anything.

Assuming a situation where we are left with one exceptionally superior game provider of new products releases that successfully dominates an industry, a Monopoly in its crystallised state, our prospective is rather miserable. Though we are not slaves to any market (though many people would argue that in today’s “Buy this!”, “No, buy this!” culture we are), we also have no alternative should we be unhappy with the services provided. We cannot scoff at the unqualified Tech Support from a further unidentified Asian region, or say, “Fine then, I’m afraid I have no choice but to move to [insert name of a rival company].” Finally, even my personal favourite fails and I’m deprived of the pleasure of announcing: “In that case, should I contact my solicitors or will we be able to sort this out?” Now, I don’t have solicitors. I don’t even have a solicitor. But in the frequent cases when companies were a bit too eager to dig into my pocket anew, this argument works wonders – especially when the employees know they are asking for something  unnecessary – or not neccesarily legal.

    Then again, if I’m left with no option but to persist with a software or a retailer unless I want to be stripped of a group of products altogether, what good will my fictional elite squad of tuxedo-clad Oxford law graduates possibly achieve? Certainly not my personal satisfaction. In the end, in a monopoly driven games market, if I want to stay in the game – so to speak – I have to put up with any inconvenience. Along with the unpleasant fact that those may multiply like fleas.

     3. Underground stays underground – and the industry becomes a very tightly sealed box.

This particular point I feel very strongly about because my own ambition is to achieve a Bachelor degree in Games Design, a craft I see as the compromise between art and an actual income which is probably not probable any time this century with just art itself. But predominantly, I am an observer and a gamer – I believe a varied market divided into bigger and smaller companies, but still sensible enough to give smaller and more experimental projects a chance to break through, is probably most gamers’ idea of heaven. Though neither money nor public attention is ever evenly distributed in capitalism, we can talk about a normal and desired situation within a market only if smaller enterprises have a chance of commercial success with enough luck, patience and hard work.

     “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” you may think. “Portal was a small project, and look at it now!” Well, yes – there is no denying that it was not a fully developed game and neither was it done by an amount of personnel usually needed for larger projects. However, let me remind you that Portal was indie in its most superficial layer of appearance only – it was developed in collaboration with VALVe, one of today’s largest and most commercially successful companies, then advertised and sold through Steam and Orange Box, the first being a property of VALVe and the second, a pack of games all developed and owned by – oh, this is getting repetitive – also, inevitably, VALVe. And indeed, it was a good game, a fair game with some uplifting freshness, but its primary objective was to awaken a positive response to a domineering software and company – to present that a market slowly dominated by one group is opened to unconventional projects, to less commercial means and new, fresh designers.  

     Meanwhile, I remain unconvinced.

     4. The magic is gone.

In the same way I love Christmas, I love the memory of unpacking my first-ever game; the rattling of the CD in the enigmatic packet, the curiosity until we open the box and the mystery is released into the air. Jolly good show. I even remember what my first game was – The Sims, and no, not The Sims 2 or The Sims 3, but the vintage classic itself. For a young kid I was at the time, who never played, let alone held, a computer game, this was an absolute first, and like all of those, possessed the same impatient quality of unwrapping Christmas presents, while finding someone who played the same game – a brother in arms… er, games – was always a curious occasion, too.

     Today, gaming isn’t reserved to a certain group of in-jokes and its own rituals, neither is it represented by any real community and the industry lacks the new, thick substance it possessed in those earlier years. There are still great events out there organised so people with the same weirdness threshold can discuss newest releases, dress up as anime characters and bond through killing each other (on Xbox, of course). Nevertheless, though these groups are certainly not shrinking, their quality is. I’d even risk going as far as saying that because the industry is globalising and commercialising like everything else, the advance of technologies and graphics may be growing, but the class of story-telling is contracting. To game enterprises, and most importantly, to those financing the game enterprises, we have become just another target, a clientele with average needs, average expectations and average budgets they are aiming for and ticking off on the planning sheets. We are a marketing target worth big bucks – everything about our needs is estimated and every new project is optimised to suit these needs. The problem here is that never, ever can you attempt to please everybody without creating something deprived of that little, special word – magic.

     5. And if the monopoly falls…

Imagine you only have one grocery shop in your town – and that you cannot travel anywhere else for your food. The very restriction and loss of variety would drive you mad and your fridge quite empty, but the real bad news would approach if the shop was to declare being penniless and the restriction rules would still apply. The only thing left to do would be to dig out the rosary beads and give out rations.

     Hopefully, we will never have to face this problem in Europe or America as we have enough food in those regions to feed the starving nations three times over – or at least, much more food than we sensibly need. Meanwhile, we are already under such restrictions in other areas – as the recession progresses, more and more business juggernauts announce bankruptcy, many of which own large companies which, in the meantime, own smaller firms, and so on. This is a pattern incredibly difficult to change as the long history of capitalism with decades and decades of tradition behind it assumed such structure for maximum profit – it’s also quite destructive at worst and monothematic at best. Even if we are not in danger of a fall of the gaming empire anytime soon as it’s an industry worth billions and millions, one that wouldn’t be easily allowed into ruin, the dictatorship makes us completely cut off from having any influence on today’s quality of products, even though they are made with our money. In the future, we may be facing major quality issues, both from distributors and creators.

     But of course, we may be facing them already.

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STEAM(NOT NECCESARILY ALWAYS)WORKS: WHY I’M NOT BUYING

Posted by catgamer on September 12, 2010

There were games like Resident Evil 4 for PC which needed a patch and updates just to come close to running, a gem of an example of what happens when the development team works hard for the first 6 months, and then, for the rest of their funds, orders pizza everyday for the rest of time until deadline. If a game needs a patch to run acceptably, or indeed, to run at all, then that game is more hassle than it is worth.

Disclaimer: despite the craters, volcanic landscape and steam in its logo, Valve has nothing to do with Iceland.

As strange as this might be to admit, I think the title of my own column isn’t necessarily all that clever. Of course I’m not buying – Steam is free. Not only that, Steam is charitable – the application is freely provided with every PC game I buy these days and kind enough to save me the bother of asking for it. The trouble is, if I had even a glimpse of choice, I’d probably say, “thanks, but not thanks”. Steamworks’ very structure and insistence to be generous – which, paired together, is not necessarily such a good thing anymore – reminds me of certain Christian activists whose life mission seemed reduced to handing me one of their presentational handbooks despite my efforts to ease them off such an idea: “Free Baptist Church will help you realise your relationship with Christ the saviour, his grace and spirit.” “Thank you, not today. I’m really busy.” “And may we know why you would not know your relationship with Christ realised?” “I’m not Christian, so please excuse me.” “…but you are aware that in that case, you are heading to hell?” “…”

     Though there is a multitude of other, colourful comparisons building up in my head – and the perspective of sharing them is so tempting, I can feel my hands itching – they would sadly erase any meek chances I may have of being friends with any accidental Steam employee or a Baptist activist or Iraqi truck drivers, for that matter (just bear with me, please). Never to mention the fundamental right to choose is any client’s right, it is Steam’s dependence on other factors and how it affects the market that starts my stress hormones going. I remember the magical days – and having said that, I am not in my twenties yet – when to play a game, you’d place disc in the driver, install the contents and could cheerily play away. Then, by mu understanding, someone decided that such process is too simple for the 21st century and in order to successfully progress into technological development, we must make life even harder for ourselves.

     Now, on the objective side, some people like Steam for what it is – a library to organise their (not necessarily so) little gaming Mecca, and some love the sustainability from the environmental perspective as our rooms are not invaded by CDs any longer. The problem with such solution is that they would be truly great, if they also happened to be as close to flawless as possible. Steam, like any DRM-driven device, will always have its problems – and that’s acceptable, by my understanding. What is not acceptable is that we are not allowed to choose whether we want the benefits, endlessly accompanied by the problems, of a DRM application, and with this deprivation, others follow: like the lack of access to the game we bought for at least £30 – and anticipated for months – because the servers are too clogged up (interestingly enough, in offline mode). Ultimately, the game you’d play whenever you wanted to 5 years ago is nowadays equivalent to a game you play whenever the servers clear up – which is further translatable into “whenever” and then, “whenever the first snow falls”. The real nuisance here is that the scenario predicted by the creators of Steam is too naive to work, as if all the programmers who gathered on the project paraded about wearing pink lenses in their glasses. The prognosis is that of a 100% disc-free, all-time-accessible, flawless device that stores our games anytime, anywhere, for us to play anytime, anywhere. And from my personal experience I can tell that more often than not, this is not the case. A Performance Laptop was my gaming gear of choice – the mobility was part of the appeal. Being a person who moves about and is on the other end of Europe a few times a year, I appreciated the perspective of playing my games wherever I please. Right?

     As I discovered, not necessarily – gaming on a long flight is not going to be likely anytime soon with Steam. And no matter how many times its authors will reassure us about the offline mode, I am not fully convinced – probably because it unpredictably results in a dubious “please check your internet connection” message, causing me much confusion about how exactly the term “offline” is understood by Valve’s programmers. In any case, an application aspiring to the reputation of reliability while being dependent on something as unreliable as the internet, is a very strange affair altogether, bordering on the abstract. What if the zombies attack? Then what? Okay, let’s adopt a more likely scenario: a worldwide crisis in internet connection. Less dramatic and definitely more probable from a scientific point of view as everyone should still remember what happened to the internet when Michael Jackson died and hordes of fans invaded Google in search of reassurance. I’m going to try again: then what?

     Well, in such a scenario, Steam would have you believe internet isn’t necessary to play your games – only to register (or, as the Steam site puts it, “just bring the computer to a possible location of internet connection”). The damned pink lenses spring to mind again – as if people without internet connection have the opportunity of moving their desktop to a friend’s house with broadband every time they buy a new game. The assumption Steam is making here is that in this time and day, everyone has good quality internet which has now become a necessity rather than a luxury; or that anyone who can afford a gaming platform can also afford broadband. Once more, Steam is wrong – on average, internet good enough for DRM managers costs at least £15 a month which translates into an additional expense of a minimum £180 a year, while a good gaming desktop is an expense of maybe three hundred something pounds with, usually, no further expenses. Am I cheap-skate? Not necessarily. If I could be accused of anything, it’s the lack of ability to understand why I have to have something that puts me into further expenses and never before was essential to gaming.

     There are two classifications of what the application itself is – the official one you will find on Wikipedia and the one I definitely prefer, my personal definition. From day one of release, Steam boasts a name “Game Updates Manager”, which to me means it will add a “be even more badass! Shoot with a tank three times as feckin’ massive!” feature to my game. Am I impressed? No, but at least I am amused. Then, there’s the matter of Steam adding updates that are not made to entertain but to actually make a game playable. I can understand updates downloaded to fix an annoying bug, the cause of which being a coding error no-one could predict at the time; what I do have a problem with is games that need an updates pack of its own which takes up as much memory as the game itself, to even run because if we go down that way, it’s a green light to make half-hearted games to then fill with half-hearted updates. This is a purely ideological matter of a raw perfectionist – there were games like Resident Evil 4 for PC which needed a patch and updates just to come close to running, a gem of an example of what happens when the development team works hard for the first 6 months, and then, for the rest of their funds, orders pizza everyday for the rest of time until deadline. If a game needs a patch to run acceptably, or indeed, to run at all, then that game is more hassle than it is worth.

     However, what I see Steam to be is a still-in-development Facebook for gamers and when you put it that way, it reflects how unappealing Steam can be. The very simple point to be made here is that if you are the kind of person who couldn’t care less about updating your Facebook status after work then it is in addition unlikely you will be a person happy to be nagged by an annoying friend to play Call of Duty with him after work. Gaming is a typically introvert activity; after 8 hours of being herded into a tiny space with a lot of other people you most often pretend to like, what any person with a normal patience threshold really needs is a time made for themselves. So no, I do not want to play Call of Duty with you. Or with you. And no, I won’t reply to your chat during my game. Or access the Steam community. In fact, what even is a Steam community? A group of people who are usually clueless about how Steam ended up on their computer, because they are pretty confident they never ordered it? In all truth, games existed for long, happy decades and were played for the same period of time and not one tear was shed because Steam wasn’t there. We never had a problem with DVDs swarming our floors because we swapped with friends, traded them into shops or sold them on eBay. It required some creativity to manage our games for ourselves, but it was simple and accessible, and we weren’t dependant on any undependable factors. If something worked so well for years, why would we change it? You’ll hear me saying such a conservatist statement when it comes to Steam, and I’m not even a Tory.

The things you can find in Google, after typing in phrases that have nothing to do with them, continue to amaze me.

     Having said all that and written exactly 1, 765 words so far all for the sake of illuminating why I think Steam damages modern PC gaming, I will continue using Steam. Not because I particularly want to. Not because it was my decision to use it. And not because I was ever particularly impressed with what it can do. Quite frankly, I have been using Steam and I will continue to do so until PC gaming is alive, because there is no other choice to be made.

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Geek Revival: Lara Croft, G. I. Jane and the movies

Posted by catgamer on August 30, 2010

Some radical feminists accused miss Lara of being a yet another walking proof of deeply rooted sexism in our (pop)culture – a woman oozing sex appeal, apparently strong but of course looked at mostly due to her incredible physique and looks. To those feminists, I therefore announce: doing acrobatic fifty feet in the air with an MK assault rifle, with a large behind is an inconvenience, to say the least. Do reconsider, ladies.

 The strut puts the photoshopped background to shame.

With a strut like this, it’s okay to have a photoshopped background.

I am a gamer (perhaps not a confession you should come to in a group of friends who decide what’s en vogue in your area) and I disagree with how this particular kind of Homo sapiens is portrayed in the media and general conversation: that is, pitifully or not at all. 2010 Anno Domini is just another year in the constant flow of surprises in the last decades, some unimaginable to our grandmothers without making  their cheeks flush a deep purple – gay rights, organic food, continuum of investment in nuclear power despite the fact that Chernobyl has become a radioactive jungle of mutated unicorns and lizard people, and – wait for it – the genesis of guides to better sex and instructions how to find your very own g spot, comparing to which globalisation of Victoria’s Secret isn’t quite as shocking anymore. In short, the world has changed and the one thing that has remained the same for decades now is the fun-poking at gamers and the understatement of the influence the gaming had and has on popular culture. Too wordy? Let me re-word: we don’t suck. Video entertainment doesn’t suck.  We were just told we do by the same people who wore their polo shirt collars shamefully popped up in their teens.

     I don’t comprehend why the games industry is so dramatically underrated – its status incomparable to the films’ industry even though it has just as much good, bad, masterpiece, crap. And icons, symbols – the films have James Bond lately played by Craig David (and for years, quite unfortunately, now Mamma Mia’s Pierce Brosnan), Michelle Pfeiffer and a 3-metres long avatar (pardon me: na’vi). The games industry boasts Tom Clancy instead of genius directors, Cloud Strife as the sexually confused Disney teen idol with a Schwarzkopf-stylised haircut, and Alma as Lindsay, as despite all the respect I have for the F.E.A.R. series, Alma’s hobo look does make a compulsive painkiller addict spring to mind. If the graphic artist’s effort to make these characters’ visage look perfect even in a middle of the most murderous ambush – an unrealistic trait games share with films – isn’t enough to seriously reconsider the importance of games nowadays, I’d wonder what is. Never to mention the absolute A-lister in all this, a (non)domestic goddess many millions of dollars’ worth, silicone and restylane included.  

     Miss Lara Croft – posh British accent obligatory – is still as ripe as she was years ago. But cynicism aside, Lara was a very important character to me in my gaming path which inevitably led me to writing about gaming, and one of the few female protagonists in the industry who, when in threat, do significantly more than cry in the corner and poke themselves in the eye with their mascaras in a masochistic punishment. Lara is a symbolism for today’s strong, liberated woman. While she fights the mercenary snipers in the rain forest jungle and could easily out-spiderman Spiderman if there ever was a liana contest between the two, we fight the urban jungle alongside the annoying Starbucks guy and usually still have to shout twice as loud as men to have our opinions heard in the workplace. Croft is everything most women aspire to be today: she’s brave and individual, she’s agile, self-assured, beautiful, and her confidence doesn’t end with her workday. It goes without saying, Lara impresses us with her ability to survive alone. I have never witnessed as male counterpart she was especially affectionate towards in any of the games; in the films, there were allusions to sexual tension and to some relationships in the past, but this particular woman seems above anything as trivial as pouring her sweat in efforts to make a relationship work. Decades on, she remains single and perfectly okay with that – though her reasons for prolonged singledom are perhaps different than ours as I doubt Lara would put on weight post-breakup and not wear that pair of jeans again.

     Still, there is much more to Lara that just a well animated character in a well animated series – what she presents is a state of being. She became a real and almost touchable idea, a way of life. Some radical feminists accused miss Lara of being a yet another walking proof of deeply rooted sexism in our (pop)culture – a woman oozing sex appeal, apparently strong but of course looked at mostly due to her incredible physique and looks. To those feminists, I therefore announce: doing acrobatic fifty feet in the air with an MK assault rifle, with a large behind is an inconvenience, to say the least. Do reconsider, ladies.

     I appreciate Lara Croft. I appreciate the idea the creators of Lara Croft had in their minds when they put her to (her computerised) life. The reasons behind this – which everyone’s thinking they know right now, but not necessarily – is not her promotion in a healthy body image, or at least, not primarily that. Sure, there was the whole “look like a heroine junkie, dress like one” waify trend that emerged in the 90s and was quite popular since then, creating hordes of pole-straight, chest-flat and unsexy models. And yes, it almost became a crime to have a normal woman’s body while the nearest person starving and in need to have food pumped into her stomach is no longer the Ethiopian child from the Oxfam leaflet but the painfully brittle Kate Moss, who not only followed the “look like a heroine addict” rule, but took the fashion a step further by actually becoming one. Yes, sure, I’m positive Lara makes a positive contribution because her body is realistically rounded where it needs to be – but I won’t even get into that, because to me, anyone who doesn’t think a woman should have a woman’s body is a bit crazy, finite

     The much more important detail of Lara’s mission as an icon was not that of a normal-sized woman; it was, most significantly, that of a strong woman. The only people who would claim women were made for staying at home and live their lives baking and putting icing on cupcakes to the joy of their money-making husband after Tomb Raider hit the sales must have been people living on a deserted island, who ticked the hairbrush option in the one-item-you’d-bring application, rather than a laptop with broadband. Anyone can argue that she’s just a fictional character – without realising, these folk are actually strengthening my viewpoint. Some of the strongest, most influential characters that inspired people in the real world are fictional. Ask anyone who did English Literature in school.

     I don’t want to get into the tales of the sexual revolution of 1968, of how women’s rights have changes since then, of how much more freedom we have then. It’s all too much very sophisticated information for a modest column like mine. When focusing at the role of females today, I like to think that we’re ¾ of the way there: at the basic army training at the ATR, women might have the same sit-ups entry requirement as men, and except for certain upper body strength exercises, much the same effort is expected of them. Still, despite the fact we are no less capable in many ways, and we have been proven to be more resistant to pain than men ( past studies have shown that if it were men who gave birth to the daughters and sons of the nation, we’d have an infant death rate 6 times higher), upon considering joining the army I find that most of the combat posts are opened to men only. To be honest, I have no idea why that is – as long as I accept that a woman would never make a superb pack mule, that is the only argument that really convinces me in the chaos of nonsensical rants about “tradition”. One of the arguments I had thrown at me (by a guy slightly younger than me) was that in a situation when a woman is hurt, say, in the chest area, it is “imprudent” to treat the wound in a company of males. “Oh, honey,” I wanted to say, “I think when a bullet goes between your ribs with the strength of 800 fps and you’re pretty much done for if you don’t get help quickly, showing your charms to the world is probably very low on your lists of concerns”.

    Now hold on a second. Is this crazy woman trying to tell me Lara Croft had input in women’s rights to join armed forces? Uno – you haven’t seen me crazy yet. Due – no, that’s not exactly what I’m saying. I wouldn’t say Lara Croft is directly the reason women were allowed in the military. At the same time, Lara Croft, alongside G. I. Jane and Charlie’s Angels, belong to a very elite and rightfully praised society of female icons who very subtly, but very efficiently, influenced women and the mainstream culture. Every time a woman, especially a young girl (like myself at the time of my first encounter with Lara) witnesses a character like this, a head-strong and robust woman who fights like men, keeps her stance like men, but is one-hundred-and-fifty percent of a woman, you’ll find her pupils dilute, her eyes glitter, and cheeks flush deeply. No, she doesn’t fall in love (well, some women do) – she’s shown an icon that makes her realise that she can say, “Oh yes, I can”, which can be applied to a lot of areas of life, not just being strong in the primary, physical meaning of the word. A character like this starts of a process of realisation – and everything starts off with a realisation.

In the midst of her frivolous youth, Catgamer sets out on a mission – to out-Croft Lara Croft. Succes rate so far: poor.

     I was visiting my grandmother not so long ago. Because I’m a pretty assertive and hearty young woman, and I freely admit to having physically beat up a young man who dared to walk into my room while I was changing and comment my bust, Grandmother was very fixed on the idea of calming down my attitude so that I don’t have a problem finding a boyfriend (though I can’t say I noted any difficulties so far). Her advice was to be quiet, humble, not talk back and agree with what my ideal future man says, for the sake of making him happy with himself. The problem was, my ideal future man would understand that I never was this kind of a person, and probably never will be. Sorry, Grandma. It seems I’ll have to find a possible marriage material my way, when I decide to do so. But I don’t blame Grandmother for her thinking. After all, she never owned a computer. And she sure as hell never even heard of Tomb Raider.  

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