Where I stand on the issue of feminism in video games

The following is a post I made in Patricks' topic, E3 needs to grow up. Posting here just to keep it somewhere.

I totally get what this is about and care. I hope more people do too.

Too many times have I felt the need to pause/switch off/divert attention from some game that is on my screen when a family member walks in. Not just because there is nudity or sexually explicit content, after all these things appear in legitimate, serious artistic ventures, of which I include games.

The reason for the embarrassment is when it serves absolutely no purpose other than to stimulate a male audience. When my partner asks me why that woman is dressed like she's on a beach in Rio during a "serious" encounter or situation e.g. Zombie apocolypse, nuclear holocaust etc. and the best answer I have is "because video games", it's just embarrassing and I get why people do not respect them as much as they perhaps should. They understandably see them as some adolescent kids pastime.

Aside from that, there is the anger I feel at being treated like some emotionally devoid sex fiend male that will only like a game if it has scantily clad woman and boobs. It's not the case and it's insulting.

I would re-iterate, I'm not a prude. These things in a contextually relevant scenario are no problem whatsoever, however uncomfortable the topic. It's the insinuation that we are all idiots that really irks me.

I don't think the fact that the vast majority of advertising for any product or service does this is justification, or at least it shouldn't be. Wouldn't it be great, if this industry could stand proud and be all "Yeah, we don't need that shit. We sell our stuff on it's quality". A lofty goal perhaps, but something that could happen should we wish it.

The thought of trying to play a DS or it's games whilst it is strapped to some attractive woman is frankly absurd at best, deeply offensive and hurtful at worst.

Anyway, that's my input. Let's talk.


Sennheiser HD650s - Review

Sennheiser HD650 Review

Hello all, thought I’d do a little review of some headphones I got a week ago, the Sennheiser HD650s.

For some background on my headphone experience, I own Sennheiser 485s, 595s, PC 360s (the gaming ones) and the Grado 325is (the goldies). I listen to these through a Little Dot Mk III tube headphone amp or while I’m gaming through an Astro Mixamp. When listening to music, my source is my iPod Classic connected through a Pure i20 dock (it takes the digital straight from the iPod and converts it with an onboard DAC) which feeds the Little Dot.

So, that’s just so you know where I’m coming from. I feel like I know good sound, but I’m not some super-demanding audiophile –the cheapest in ear ‘phones with the poorest quality rip can still elicit an emotional response from me, depending on what’s playing.

I’m sure you’ve seen the headphones if you’re reading this so you either like the looks or don’t, I won’t go into it. I think they look sleek and classy, and have a nice profile when worn.

The build quality on these you can’t feel from a picture, so let me say that they feel extremely sturdy and well built. Compared to the 595s or the infamously flimsy feeling Grado 325s, they are in another league. Things pivot and swivel with a satisfying authority – these cans got your back.

They do clamp harder than my other pairs, but it’s not uncomfortable because the ear pads are covered in a luxurious velvety foam, much like the 595s, and very much unlike the Grados which I honestly can’t wear for extended periods of time. These are the sort of headphones you forget you have on.


All well and good, but obviously all that plays 2 fiddle to the sound and my goodness, what a sound.

I’m not really going to describe the sound, you’ve read other reviews no doubt. Instead I’ll try to compare and contrast and just come at you from the “normal” person viewpoint – like I said, I’m no audiophile, I just know what I hear.

The 650s are the most spacious, presence defining, sound-stagey headphones I’ve ever heard. What I mean by that, is that when you’re listening to a song you can really hear the separation of the instruments in their individual spaces. This gives a wonderfully spacious sound that feels dynamic and alive.

Shit got real
Shit got real

The effect is noticeable on almost anything, but does sound best on well recorded/produced material (e.g. Rammstein) or quieter pieces with fewer instruments (Ryan Adams).

I’m sure that you’ve heard these headphones are “laid back” in their sound, or “veiled” and that this is the Sennheiser way. This is true; compared to the Grados, the sound is very different. The Grados are absolute detail monkeys – you hear everything in great detail in this wall of sound. It’s fantastic, especially for the hard hitting rock, dance, techno stuff but does the quiet stuff amazingly well too, they’re just so damn uncomfortable and they can get somewhat fatiguing with the wall of sound.

What I don’t want anyone to come away with however, is that the 650s are bad for the “hard hitting” stuff. Oh no, quite the contrary.

Literally what happened to me on first listen
Literally what happened to me on first listen

My music collection is varied, but certainly sways more to rock and metal, and I can wholeheartedly say that the 650s sound fantastic with all types of music. Listening to Metallica chug out riffs or Ice T spit game can be a spine-tingling experience, same as listening to Paul Westerberg or some classical music or Skrillex. Bass hits hard (more than the Grados I feel, certainly more refined), the mids are lush and detailed, and the treble soars (although not quite like the Grados).

When it comes to gaming, it’s kinda needless to say I think they perform fantastically. The gaming PC360s are some great headphones, probably on par with the 595s, however the bass on the PC360s is pumped up. Whilst this is pretty cool for games, it’s not really needed (audio engineers often push the bass up at mastering) and sounds far messier than the 650s or the 595s.

Battlefield 3 in particular with its already great audio, sounds simply sublime (sibilance!). The level comes to life around you, with distant effects and noises being placed exactly where they should. I realise that the BF3 sound team need most of the credit for that, but these headphones really let you appreciate the work.

I think you get the idea. These headphones are astoundingly great for pretty much anything you throw at them. I would say that you need a headphone amp as the 650s are hard to drive – they’ll sound fairly quiet through your iPod headphone socket and you can’t pick out all the extra juicy detail. The good news is, that some very decent cheap headphones amps can be had in many forms.

That's some comfort right there. Foamy.
That's some comfort right there. Foamy.

The Asus Xonar DG or whatever it is has a headphone amp built in, sounds great and is very cheap – around £20 here in the U.K. Likewise, a little Cmoy amp will do the job (despite what other say) and is again very cheap. I’ve heard good things about those Fiio ones as well.

Thankfully, the higher up you go/more you pay (never forget the law of diminishing returns however) the 650s will stick right with you, just getting better and better.

Thanks for reading – if you’ve made it through all that, go and treat yourself to a nice new set of headphones!

p.s. I’ll maybe do some A/Bs if you guys want, let me know in the chat.


New PC time

I recently got a new job that has given me a little bit more cash than I used to have, so I thought "what to buy" ? Perhaps it's time to update my venerable PC which has been with me for some amount of time. 
I'm pretty set on this idea and have been doing a tonne of research.   
To fill you all in, here's what I'm going to be moving from:  Pentium IV 2.6GHz 
       2 GBts of RAM 
80GB hard drive! 
7800GS AGP graphics card 
So that's the important stuff.  I know what you're thinking, "holy crap, that shit is archaic!" and you're right.  That said though, it's done me proud pretty much up until fairly recently.  I was able to play STALKER with reasonable settings and FSX. 
So, after loads of research and swaying, here's what the new system will be (I think):  Phenom II X4 BE  (possibly X6 if the price is right) 
   80GB Solid state drive & 1TB storage drive 
           4GB DDR3 RAM 
    ATI 5850 
So, those are the important parts.  Windows 7 as well.  It's pretty exciting as I know that I'm going to see such a phenomenal speed boost and gain.  PCI express/USB 3/ SATA 2/3 all didn't even exist when I built that old system.  Games I'm super looking forward to are Call of pripyat, Anno 1404, ArmA 2, Empire:Total War, Dawn of War 2 and a few others. 
Let me know what you think of the system and any other recommendations you guys have.


E74 error = Epic Fail

So the other day whilst playing Battlestation Pacific, the screen goes kinda funny and bizarre graphical glitches appear.  I'm not that bothered to be honest because I understand computers and realise that they do what they want, so I let it do its thing.
I started to pay slightly more attention when I went back to the dashboard and found it in pieces and moving of its own accord.  Again, I understand that it does what it likes but it felt like liberties were being taken now.
So it seemed my Xbox was broken.  Again.  And it was out of its 1 year warranty.  Again.
Thankfully, 5 towel wrapped xbox hours later, I get the E74 error message on my screen, meaning that I can send it to Germany for repair.

I have to say I'm thouroughly annoyed with Microsoft.  The Xbox has serious issues that still haven't been figured out (mine was a new version as of mid 2008) and it's pretty much unnaceptable. I am, of course, accepting it. 
If I had the money though I wouldn't hesitate in purchasing a PS3.

What number of Xbox are you guys on?  I've heard rumours of people still rocking launch 360s...


Another Bravo to GB

Hey everyone,
so I just synced my achievements to Giantbomb and, looking through what I can do, what they've done, is just wholly impressive.
Keep it up Giantbomb, truly this site is the best site for gamers out there.


Far too many games...

Hello all you people not reading this (and to you people that are).
Why do I greet the people not reading this first?  Is it because I have three friends on the site, or because of the thousands of other more interesting things to read? No! Those reasons aren't true anyway (4 friends and counting).
It's because the majority (everyone not reading this) are playing games son.  The only reason I'm not is because my eyes were going funny after staring at the screen for 12 hours, so I decided to stare at  a different screen  Yeah.
I've been playing Fallout 3 for about 5 days now and, just like its' spiritual predecessor Oblivion, I am 100% hooked.  Now this is a great thing.  Of course it is, a great game I'm playing constantly, I love it.  The problem is the games I'm overlooking whilst playing Fallout.  We're talking seriously good games here.  Fable 2, Race Driver: Grid, Gears of War 2, Far Cry 2, Saints Row 2, Dead Space, Command and Conquer 3: Red Alert and I'm sure there are more.
Now I know that I have all the time in the world and can go back to them, but it just isn't the same and you know it.
Damn I hate this Christmas rush.  You have nothing for like, 6 months and then all of a sudden, bam!  Time to empty your bank account and start trading in those games (sorry Soul Caliber IV).
What do you guys think of this "Release everything now!" policy?


The force is strong in this one...

Been looking through the site for a couple of hours or so now, seeing the people adding all this content, the forums lighting up and I have to say: I think this site has the potential to be not just the best site on the net for gaming editorial content and what have you, but the best site on the net for the gaming community at large.
I can imagine how stoked everyone that worked on it is to finally see it out there and doing what it was made to do, and I have to confess to being a little excited as well just to see how it turns out.
Congratulations guys, go get yourselves some celebratory drinks and fluffernutters (I don't even know what fluffernutter is but it looks interesting).