Sunday, 2 December 2012

November 2012

November was one crazy ride due to me starting my trial run as MWEB GameZone site manager. It was a mad juggle of not just keeping my own content count, but making sure everyone else does as well. On top of that the added stress of learning to manage a site, the increase in social media I had to manage and the pressure of pushing up the site hit rate. Man it was wild and I loved it. Challenge accepted!

The one thing I am sad about is not having the luxury of extra time to do research and writing opinion pieces. Hopefully as I master the art of managing I will hit the sweet spot and more time will open up. Until then it will mostly be news reporting from my virtual pen, let's take a look at my November highlights.

A tribute to 8 years of adventure with World of Warcraft

Love or hate Azeroth, one thing is certain, we will never forget her. No matter how we try to ridicule her outdated mechanics, or scoff at her old worn-out world, we cannot erase her memories from our minds, because she left her digital imprint on our collective heart. I honor Word of Warcraft by sharing some of my fondest, most exciting and saddest memories from Azeroth. Read the full article here.

My fascination with offbeat games 

I have outgrown mindless shoot-em ups. Cradling a big gun in my hands no longer gives me the thrill it used to. I now long for a game that entices me with more finesse than the allure of a big arsenal, triple D breasted chicks and balls-to-the wall action. I yearn for games that are not only able to entertain me, but also challenge me emotionally and intellectually. I want games to take me on a journey and sweep me away because they strike a chord deep within my soul. Read the full article here.

Interview: Far Cry 3's Cinematics Director spills all about its dark new direction

I had the opportunity at this year’s rAge to interview Robert Purdy, the Cinematics Director for UbiSoft’s FarCry 3. Join me for a conversation about the changes from Far Cry 2 to Far Cry 3, the introduction of more mature content into the franchise and insight into the cinematics of Far Cry 3.Read the full article here.

The illusion of choice in video games vs Hitman Absolution 

Giving players the freedom to make meaningful choices is like pursuing the holy grail of gaming. Many seek it, some claim to have found it, but very few achieve it. Most games only offer an illusion of choice, or superficial choices that hardly affect the outcome of the story. The choice is a lie.
IO Interactive is aiming at delivering a head shot to that illusion with Hitman Absolution and prove that Agent 47 can make meaningful choices that impact the game environment.Read the full article here.

Review: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, it’s (not) simplicity itself!

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is a lesson in lateral thinking cocooned within a beautifully crafted turn of the century London landscape. It’s wrapped around a deeply layered storyline with more than a few surprises. The game demands a certain level of sleuth savvy from you and will keep its mysteries tightly locked away for those who fail to master the challenges set forth.Read the full article here.

Interview: Hoodwink, an adventure in a world gone mad

Hoodwink is a quirky adventure game series from E1 Studio. The game’s colourful graphics, snazzy jazz beat and handsome protagonist simply demanded my attention. Amir Irwan, the Managing Director of E1 Studio allowed me to poke around the wonderful world of Hoodwink. Join us for an arousing conversation about adventure games, community input and of all things, Blade Runner. Read the full article here.

First impressions: Doom BFG, up close and personal with Hell

I am no stranger to the hellish experience known as the DOOM universe. I used to play it back in the day when you didn’t have the use of a flashlight and a gun. When every dark corner was shot at before you even dared approach it. Back then, Fear was a being, a life-like presence and companion always skulking and flittering nearby as you navigated your way through the dark, flashing and bloodied hallways. Read the full article here.

Dear Esteban’s satirical reflection on Dear Esther

The oddballs at F**k this Jam have created a platform for video game developers to make a game in a genre they hate. The reason for this madness, “Through utter ignorance for conventions and hate for the established rules of a genre, beautiful things will happen.” I’d like to direct your attention to one such creation of ‘beauty’ called Dear Esteban.Playing it felt like walking inside a Picasso painting while being on a bad acid trip. Read the full article here.

Other noteworthy news

I have to add, the best video game trailer for the decade, check it out,

Sunday, 11 November 2012

October 2012

October was a madhouse of eSports, reviews and interviews. South African gamers celebrated the 10th anniversary of our biggest gaming and tech expo, rAge. I had the honour of covering the event for Bravado Gaming and MWEB GameZone. It was an unforgettable experience to finally meet up with the people I've been working with for so long. Gaming wise the highlight of my month was playing Black Mesa, I've been waiting for years to do that train ride again.

Let's take a look at the highlights for October.

Lola's free-to-play review: This is Black Mesa

 (Picture done by Stephanie Duchenne)
Black Mesa is a remake of the 1998 classic Half-Life, using the Valve: Source engine. It is a testament to the ingenuity, challenge and thrill that marks the first-person shooter (FPS) genre. It defiantly mocks present day triple A shooters with its outdated graphics, while delivering a game that is for lack of a better description, in a class of its own.Black Mesa is the perfect game and it was done by a group of fans. The passion of these individuals and their understanding of the sheer brilliance that marked Half-Life as the epitome of the FPS genre can be seen throughout the world of Black Mesa. They captured the soul of Half-Life, breathed new life into it, smoothed out its rough edges and delivered a game that demands respect and admiration. Read the full review here.

Review: The Walking Dead Eps 3/4: A fate worse than death

 (Original picture done by Odobenus adjustments by Stephanie Duchenne)

The biggest compliment I could get: "Thanks for playing, loved this review and so glad the game had such an effect on you!" Gary Whitta, screenwriter for The Walking Dead.

One of the more significant aspects of video gaming is the ability of a game to tap into a player’s inner dialogue. As with other art forms, a game possesses the quality to direct our thoughts, capture our imagination and take us on unexplored pathways. The Walking Dead masterfully and macabrely explores this potential.  TWD series is my game of the year. It's been more than playing a game, it's a profound journey. Read the full review here.

Cyberpunk – More than High Tech and Low Life

The essence of Cyberpunk has been summed up in these few words, “high tech and low life” by many. It sounds like a fairly straight forward genre, yet it is easy to misrepresent. It’s not only about future tech, sleazy cut scenes, and crooked cops. Many video games have paraded under the banner of cyberpunk but, missing the subtleties of the genre, have failed miserably to capture its dark heartbeat. Read the full article here.

Looking at video games through the lens of Ludographer

It’s a rare honor to talk to an artist about their craft; it’s even rarer to talk to one whose art involves gaming. I am therefore thrilled to introduce you to Jonathan Abensur, the Creative Director at Ludographer. Join me for an absolutely fascinating talk with him about video games, art and passion. Read the full interview here.

Do you have what it takes to survive Survarium?

Survarium aims to extend and broaden the limits of the human experience by raising topical questions of our time through the medium of a video game. By leading a virtual life in the aftermath of a massive ecological catastrophe on Earth, players will confront the questions of science, ecology, the interdependency between human and nature, the cruelty and inventiveness of modern civilization, and even spirituality. Survarium will provide a platform for realism unlike we’ve experienced within the medium of video games. The only concern would be if the developers can deliver a captivating enough world that will keep gamers in their virtual playground. I caught up with Joe Mullin, the Social Media and Community Manager for Vostok Games and Survarium. Read full interview here.

Noteworthy October news

NAG, 2012 rAge Expo coverage

That's it for October 2012. November I am facing a new set of challenges, I have been promoted to site manager for Bravado gaming, I've take on a stack of new responsibilities with MWEB GameZone and the TF2mixup kicks off. I'll be involved as community manager, working with the most amazing bunch of guys. Keep an eye on my twitter feed for info about the biggest TF2 social event of the year, the 5th TF2mixup.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

September 2012

September reads like a dedication to my love for Indie games. I had the opportunity to interview 3 Indie developers, for this I am extremely grateful. I also reviewed some of the most extraordinary games in September and covered exciting upcoming releases. I also did a few interesting opinion pieces. Come share the journey with me.

Opinion piece: Let’s play “What if” with video games

I secretly harbor this idea that video game developers are prophets in their own right. Now that my insane idea is out in the open, let’s play “What if” with video games. We might find that it isn’t so preposterous after all. I take a look at Deus Ex and Remember Me as examples of video game to real life applications. The realities in these two video games both have a shadow in the real world. The implications are exciting and scary at the same time. With technology one should never forget that it gives with the one hand and takes with the other. Technological advancement comes with its own price tag, be it an economical, ethical or moral cost. Read full article here.

Interview with Dan Pinchbeck: 3 Games 1 Indie studio

In all my years of playing video games there are only two that stand out as something more than just hours spend on my favorite pastime hobby; To the Moon and Dear Esther. Through these two games I was introduced to games as a medium that has more to offer than spectacular graphics and mindless action. They were catalysts for personal growth and both had a profound effect on me. I caught up with Dan Pinchbeck, the creative director of thechineseroom. Join us for a talk about the creations of this fascinating Indie studio: Dear Ester, Amnesia: A machine for Pigs and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Read full article here.

Opinion piece: The case of the “down(vote) syndrome” and other internet dilemmas

Why should we tolerate online behavior that we would never, ever tolerate in real life? Does “online” somehow give people a free ticket to behave amoral? Have you crossed the invisible lines in your own heart? Have you gradually pushed the boundaries of what are acceptable in terms of conduct, communication and interaction further and further? I know I have. It’s a frightening thing to live in a borderless, unaccountable world. We tend to set the demons lose. You are leaving a digital footprint, be careful how you tread. Read full article here.

Opinion piece: Medal of Honor: Warfighter pushes the boundaries of realism again

EA is going beyond the call of duty to add a frightening element of realism to the gaming experience. Up until recently I have always viewed games as completely detached from real life. It is an escape, a fantasy and nothing that happens in my virtual world matters. But isn’t it true that no matter what genre we play, a bit of our real selves joins in the journey? Could adding more realism to that journey actually add deeper value to the experience than just entertainment? I take a critical look at realism in video games. Read the full article here.

Interview with Hugh Jeremy: When an Indie game looks better than triple A: Natural Selection 2

Indie studio Unknown Worlds has kicked up a press storm with the release of NS2 and its AAA look. It seems impossible that a team of seven (henceforth to be called, the magnificent seven), could produce a game with the depth, quality and features that we see in NS2. If you know anything of the history around the Natural Selection universe, you will know that this game was in fact, not the creation of a few dedicated individuals. The phenomenon that is Natural Selection is a combined labor of love from the NS community and its staff. It’s a triumph, an anthem to celebrate the accomplishment of gamer and developer. Read full article here.

Opinion piece: Lola enters the erotic video games conversation

There are more important things to consider in the matter of erotic video games than just my right of choice. I take a look at distributing erotic video games through a public platform such as Steam, the purpose of violence in video games and how it differs from erotic content in gaming. Read the full article here.

Review Guild Wars 2: I played hard to get with Tyria

Unlike the rest of the internet, I had a very shaky start with GW2. When it comes to MMORPG’s I am set in my ways.Whenever developers of a new MMORPG scream for my attention with, “We’ve revolutionized the genre”, I am immediately doubtful. When GW2 therefore promised another revolution of the genre, my heart sank. But like a wise and patient lover, Tyria courted me. Indulge me as I share with you the remarkable journey I had with GW2. Read full article here.

Interview with Aaron Foster: There's nothing routine about Routine

Routine from Lunar Software is a game I’m keeping a close eye on. The reason it has me so excited is that for once a developer has the sense to NOT make a game that caters for the masses. Routine will be extremely difficult and challenging, in fact, it will probably not be to your liking. Read the full article here.

Review: I played a game that changed me, Papo and Yo

Stunned, heartfelt, shocked, compassion, terrified, empathy, despair, profound, anger, and courage: these are the emotions that stampede through my soul as the credits roll across the screen. I’ve just finished playing Papo and Yo, and I will never be the same. Before Papo and Yo is a game, it is an extremely personal story. Should you choose to share in this journey of addiction, betrayal and courage, you will find that your own inner world has been somewhat altered. One thing is for certain; you cannot play Papo and Yo and remain untouched. Read full article here.

Noteworthy news

Saturday, 1 September 2012

August 2012

August was such a hectic month; because of Gamescom I covered a bit more than my usual load for MWEB GameZone, I finally got around to cover eSports for Bravado Gaming and then we hosted the next 16Bit Team Fortress 2 competition. I totally got this journo thing down after Aug ;)

Herewith my article highlights for August

Review: A lesson in empathy from The Walking Dead

The game explores the most fundamental and simplest of human needs; the need to survive. Every confrontation, every decision and every interaction seeks to strip the player of the layers of morality that coats the mind with decency.  It hits you right in the gut with, “How far are you willing to go to live?" The Walking Dead takes the question of survival and escalates it to the point of complete insanity. Now, here is the catch. The game also succeeds in justifying the most outrageous and despicable of deeds in the name of living. It does this by eliciting empathy for the various characters you meet throughout the game. Read the rest of the article here.

An invitation to explore with thechineseroom

I invite you to take a journey with me through the creations of thechineseroom, an Indie studio whose games are changing the electronic playground. They looked into the hearts of gamers and correctly saw an ache for games that are able to tell deeply immersive stories. Dear Esther will leave you with an impression of profound beauty and wonder. Amnesia seems to be a celebration of terror and madness and with Everybody's Gone to the Rapture gamers can expect a game environment that is beautifully drawn, music that cloaks the player in the atmosphere of the game, and a journey that tears at the heart. Read the full article here.

Review: Get feared for free with Slender

Terrifying, nauseatingly fearful, diabolical, erratic, shat in my pants.This free-to-play Indie horror game from Parsec Productions had me in a grip of icy terror. The thickness of the fog, the dreadful noise and the ever present suggestion of his presence all becomes too much. It’s such a sudden bombardment of horror on your visual and hearing senses that you totally overload on fear. It felt like I was physically being cloaked with evil, and I screamed like a little girl. Read the full tale of my night of dread in the foggy woods of Slender Man’s virtual nightmare here

My Indie pick for the month: A horror filled space exploration with Rescue

I found this promising new game from Indie studio, Lunar Software. Routine is a first-person horror exploration game set in space, and it has me in a vice grip of fearful anticipation. Where AAA titles have ceased to impress me, Indie games seem to continue to blow my mind away with its ability to tell compelling stories, create immersive atmospheres and to well, just, be a breath of fresh air in the over saturated, stale playground of video gaming. The glimpse we see of the dreadful world of Routine hints at a game that will be on par with mainstream games on graphics and with a soundtrack that cloaks the player in absolute terror. Read full article here.

Understanding the deeply layered world of Beyond Two Souls

I am fascinated by Cage. What he aims to achieve through the medium of video games are both exceptional and immensely intriguing. To therefor understand Beyond, I propose we take a look at it through the eyes of its Maker. Beyond focuses on two themes; accepting who you are, and the question of what happens after death. The emotional quandary of finding meaning in death and the struggle of self-acceptance are two issues that we all face at some point in our lives. For a game to be able to reflect the inner conflict those two questions can cause, are absolutely fascinating. Cage understands the fundamental ability video games have to engage its users in a way unlike watching a movie or listening to a story is able to do. Read full article here.

The truth about the 3rd degree Mind Sports South Africa received

I've waited years to write this article. The way Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) and its president, Mr Colin Webster, have been treated by the majority of the South African (SA) gaming community, is something that has marred our image as a mature and respected sub culture within society. I took the most serious allegations from the do Gaming comments (Dec 2008-current) and posed them as statements for SA leaders that has actually walked the line with MSSA. Read the full article here.

Noteworthy news articles & interviews

Check out Living the game, Cape Town gears up for its own gaming festival, A look at the authentic war universe of Medal of Honor, Achieve moral excellence with Ultima Forever, Reinventing death with Dishonored, Capcom introduces memory bending with new game: Remember Me, le Broken Sword reappers, The argument for eSports.

Many thanks to all the readers for your input and support. I'm excited to discover what September has in store for us.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Writing in my own voice: July 2012

I went from 2 articles in June to 33 in July. My first month with MWEB GameZone was a thrill. A heartfelt thanks to the team, you guys are awesome. Every day brings with it the challenge of writing in your own voice and delivering articles that are worth reading in an industry flooded with better journalists than yourself. Challenge was accepted ;)

For this blog post I will focus mainly on my opinion pieces.

"All the world's a digital stage"

This article explores ubiquitous computing in depth. 

The Web is essentially a digital mirror of individuals, created by the interactions of each person on it. A sensor based digital world has replaced a senses dependent world. Just how much information related to you is available on the Web?  We interact on a real time, highly information based world with software that interprets all the data we feed it almost on a daily basis. You might think, but how accurate can these interpretations be? Let’s take a look at just how deep this rabbit-hole goes.

The language of music in games

I attempt to articulate the beauty that music adds to the gaming experience.

There are few things in life that can compare to the passion we feel towards music. It is the chameleon of the soul; because as a chameleon reflects the colour it touches, so music reflects the ever changing landscape of our emotions. Music conveys a clearer message than words, because it surpasses the barriers of prejudice and reason. It elicits deep response because it knows the path to our hearts. Its melody can serve as a teacher by clearing our minds and directing our thoughts along the message of its lyrics. It is the higher language because it surpasses race, intellect and outward beauty. It makes us all equals on the planes of feeling. 

About the male gaze and other holy cows

I take a look at the controversial subjects of the male gaze, and the inclusion of religious and sexual content in video games.

We are just scratching the surface of what games as a medium are capable to deliver to an over saturated, preached up, fed up, over educated and intellectualized humanity. I don’t know where we should draw the lines, we are discovering that together. What I do know is that I am listening, and what I hear, is that games have become a catalyst for mass critical thinking. What are you hearing?

Indie Games – A digital self portrait

I take a look at how the medium of video games didn’t grow with its audience, and Indie games as the new genre of inspiration.

AAA titles are audience driven, whereas Indie titles are essentially a digital self portrait of the developer, or at least a window into the mind and soul of the developer. In Indie Game: The Movie, Jonathan Blow says this about creating the Indie hit Braid, one of the highest-rated games of all time. “Making it was about me taking my deepest flaws and vulnerabilities and putting that into a game.” Just think about that a minute. How would playing a game that is at its core a deeply personal and intimate story of another individual, impact the player?

News, interviews and reviews
I did a fascinating series on role-playing games: An entirely personal matter, role-playing games and escapism, explore the magic that is role-playing games, and role-playing games, where to from here? I also did an interview with "The legend that is Ashkan Namousi."

Noteworthy news included: Apps that eavesdrop, Digital is changing the landscape, and Living the game.

Many thanks to everyone that played a part in making July a spectacular month of video games journalism for me.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

June 2012

I took a break in June in order to focus on my studies, which is going exceptionally well atm. Much to my surprise and delight, MWEB GameZone approached me to start writing for them. MWEB is an exciting company to work for and the gMz team are a fantastic bunch of guys. I will also still be working for Bravado Gaming.

I only published two articles in June, both were extremely unique and significant in its own way ;)

About Gamers, Sex and Questing ;)

 I decided to take a break from doing interviews and rather do an opinion piece. I was wrecking my brain to get something original to write about. When I finally hit a good topic, filled with excitement, I headed over to my boss. He gave my idea barely a second thought, and instead blurted this out, and I’m giving you the exact quote…

“[04:35:37 PM] Andreas Hadjipaschali: is sex better when u both complete a quest, cos ur both happy?” 

When my initial shock subsided I replied

[04:37:27 PM] Han Cilliers: ok so the impact of gaming on relationships?

Much to my relief, he quickly replied that yes, he would like an article about the impact of gaming on relationships. So, let’s jump right into the hearts, minds and beds of gamers and their loved ones ;)  Read the rest of this article here.

A time of reflection on e-Sports South Africa

Since I’ve started writing for Bravado Gaming, I have tried to understand the journey our small, competitive community has embarked upon.  With my “Bird’s eye view on e-Sports SA” I’ve covered the accumulated results of countless people’s efforts by showing our readers where e-Sports in SA currently stands and what we have on offer for our competitive community.

That series showcases what we have built so far; it is the ‘house’ so to speak. But what of the foundation, who were the individuals that pioneered and paved the way for competitive gaming in SA? My interview with Lauren das Neves covered one such individual. This article introduces you to two more people who have played a significant role in shaping competitive gaming in SA. Meet Johann von Backstrõm from Telkom do Gaming and Colin Webster from MSSA. Read the rest of this article here.

That concludes a very chilled June.  From 01 July I will kick it off with gMz.

Monday, 4 June 2012

May 2012

Much to my surprise I won writer of the month for April with Bravado Gaming. The month of May almost completely consists of e-Sports coverage. I have to admit that having to produce articles on just this one aspect of gaming is not shaping my writing in the way I would prefer. I will have to deliberatly push myself to cover the aspects of gaming that I am actually passionate about.

Here's a snapshot of my writing for May.

Education meets gaming

Ben Bertoli is a 6th grade teacher in Indianapolis, Indiana. His passion for gaming and teaching led to the creation of ClassRealm, a teaching method that relies on gamification to motivate learning. Children are shaped by the world around them. With ClassRealm, Bertoli has invented a teaching method that promotes intrinsic motivation (motivation that comes from within) by extrinsic motivation (motivation that is influenced by external factors, in this case, gamification). He pulled this off by drawing from his passion for gaming. He is an example of someone that desired a change and then he made it happen. Read all about this extraordinary young man and his adventures here.

Bird's eye view on e-Sports SA: LAN's

The LAN scene is like a “gamers-brawl”. We hook up to hang out with buddies, do some bonding and share e -love, but most of all we have fun and jam to our hearts content. There is a lot of potential in LAN’s to incorporate other aspects that can link to gaming, for example, OC that bring us Cosplay and other fun events. Organisers with rich imaginations and mind-sets that aren’t afraid to try new ventures head up the LAN’s. Read the rest of this article here.

ROCCAT and Bravado: Innovation & skill unleashed

ROCCAT is to gaming like Quicksilver is to surfing. Having gaming skill merge with optimized, top of the range gear is any gamers dream. The ROCCAT products aren’t good pc peripherals; they are products specifically designed to enable gamers to showcase their skills to the max. Your rig becomes an extension of your skills. Read more about the partnership between ROCCAT and Bravado Gaming here.

Bird's eye view on e-Sports SA: The rest

SA has a few small organisations that provide competitive play for specific games. The people who run these sites are fuelled by passion and a dedication to see their game of choice excel. The effort they put into the service they provide for their respective communities can only be labelled as a ‘labour of love’. We owe them much respect and gratitude. Here are a few words from them on why they’ve chosen to provide a platform for the specific game that they host competitions for.

Lastly we have the organisations, websites and individuals that provide other services to e-Sports in SA. They cover news, provide servers for competitions to run on or just a place where gamers can feel at home. Without their input, advice and passion for gaming, we would find our virtual worlds to be lacking. Here are a few words from them on what service they provide to make your gaming experience run smoothly.

The 3 musketeers of Bravado Gaming

We have a lot of very talented gamers in South Africa and a lot of people who are passionate about developing e-Sports, but just a handful of people who will stick together for however long it takes to see that dream realize.  Andreas ‘Cent’ Hadjipaschali, Dimitri ‘Detrony’ Hadjipaschali and Andrew ‘chaylek’ Cowley is the driving force behind Bravado Gaming – the most prestigious Multi Gaming Organization in South Africa. Join me for a peek into the minds and hearts of these three comrades in arms.

A driving force behind SA gaming

If I would ask our gamers if the name Lauren das Neves rings a bell most would probably say no. If I would, however, ask them if rAge and NAG do then almost everyone would give a definite “Yes!”  She is one of the puppet masters behind the biggest gaming event as well as the most successful gaming magazine in South Africa (SA). Join me for a first time exclusive interview with the woman who has been a driving force behind some of the key elements that have made gaming in South Africa what it is today.

This concludes May. A big thanks to all the people who took time of their busy schedules to do an interview with me. A special mention has to go to Ben B from ClassRealm because of the work he does in education. Please visit his website and spread the word about ClassRealm.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

April 2012

The highlight of April was that I started writing for Bravado Gaming, covering the e-Sports section. I have only been part of the very secluded Team Fortress competitive community, but as always, I cannot resist a challenge. Working with Bravado also meant that for the first time since I've started writing I had to meet deadlines and produce a certain amount of articles per month. This excited and frightened me at the same time. I also covered my beloved TF2 a bit and wrote an opinion piece. Let's have a closer look.

A birds eye view on e-Sports SA: Multi Gaming Organisations

Being involved in the management side of competitive gaming requires a different kind of animal, one that can handle the horde from hell called ‘Pro-Gamers’. A unique skill set is a must; the skin of a rhino, the roar of a lion and the shrewdness of a snake. In this first part of a series on e-Sports in SA ,I covered the MGO. These are the organisations that take care of us, the players. Here the nappies get changed, tantrums get thrown and players get the occasional pat on the back. It’s also where players share in common goals, get rewarded for their skills and belong to a brotherhood of gamers. People with balls of steel run these organisations. I asked them to share with us what they stand for and what it takes to run a MGO in SA. Read the rest of this article here.


Meet the WarMaster: Tim 'wm' Bagheri

This man’s gaming resume is as impressive as his willingness to throw open his resources to aid those who comes knocking on his e-door for assistance.  That having been said, any person can brag and throw around an impressive nickname. The true judge of a man’s character should be the impressions he has left on those who has been caught in the wake of his passing through their lives. Throughout this interview, you will find some of those impressions. Join me as I discover Tim ‘WarMaster’ Bagheri. Read the rest of this inspiring interview here.


5 Reasons to play Team Fortress 2

An assortment of classes that defy logic, gameplay that inspires creative thinking, clothing accessories that would make the macho’s of men giddy and of course weapons. Lots of weapons – you can fly, charge, bomb, burn, stab, scare and even mock your enemies to death.Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why you should be playing Team Fortress 2 (TF2). Read here why you don't have an excuse to not play TF2 ;)

The internet is a good mirror

The tragedy of the Breivik massacre and his many references to gaming did lead me to ask myself this question. “Are there any real dangers in playing video games and being involved in social media?" Are we as gamers so baised about gaming that we are making the same mistake that the people who blame gaming as a catalyst for violence do? The pitfall of confirmation bias (automatically searching for evidence to support whatever you believe, reasoning not designed to pursue the truth, but to help win arguments), forces me to rethink my position on these matters with every new outcry from society blaming violent or unacceptable behavior on gaming. In this opinion piece I take a hard look at possible pitfalls in gaming and social media. I cover esacapism, online behavior and internet persona's. The internet provides us with basically a regulation free world, how do we behave within that seemingly borderless environment? Read the rest of this article here.


A birds eye view on e-Sports SA: Organisations

In part two I looked at the organisations that give us leagues and competitions. The people who manage these events for us is the driving force behind e-Sports South Africa. Their dedication to gaming gives players across all gaming platforms, MGO’s and clans the opportunities to compete at the highest level of gaming in South Africa and even abroad. They have to not only ‘tank’ the endless complaints from gamers, but also the pressure from sponsors and higher ups. Join me for a peek into their hearts as I set out to discover why they endure so much for so little and what drives them to continue to give into e-Sports in South Africa (SA). Read the rest of this entry here.

"Suddenly a wild MGO appears on the TF2 scene"

The Multi Gaming Organisation (MGO), Xperts@Total.Chaos took the brave, unconventional step to add a Team Fortress 2 (TF2) division to their current teams. In my opinion this unexpected yet very welcomed joining happened because the manager of xTc, David ‘Machaven’ Olivier, a regular TF2 pubber, lost his heart to; unconventional clothing accessories, strange guns, gravity defying jumps and the most cheerful gaming community in SA. I caught up with the CEO of xTc, Kenneth ‘Slade’ Willmore and one of the infamous Severe players,  Tye ‘Tyelander’ Walker to investigate this joining of hearts. Read the rest of this interview here.

That brings me to the end of an eventful April.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

March 2012

So a lot happened in March, let's get right into it.

The girl with the dragon's heart
The dragon is a mythical creature. They are associated with wisdom, longevity and exceptional beauty. They often possess supernatural powers and some guard hidden treasure. Listening to Margaret 'Luperza' Krohn talk about gaming reminds me of just such an exceptional creature as the dragon. She possess an ethereal beauty, as if some hidden treasure pulses from within her heart. As she expertly steers her way through the interview, it becomes obvious that she has wisdom that extends far beyond her years. She enchants countless gamers with the fantasy worlds she creates and her legacy lives on in cyberspace.

The marriage of science and Starcraft
For years gamers have been looked down on as inferior nerds who have nothing better to do with their time than waste it away playing silly games. We either have to battle with biases, on the front of stereotyping gamers or we have to defend games as not being the cause for violent behavior.

But then something truly remarkable happened in 2011, science showed up for the party. The result: a match made in technology heaven between Starcraft II and the SFU Cognitive Science Lab. This partnership spawned SkillCraft, a study on the acquisition of attentional skills and expertise in Starcraft II players. Join me, as I sit down with Mark Blair Ph.D., associate professor at the Cognitive Science & Department of Psychology faculty at Simon Fraser University for a discussion about science, Starcraft II and being a geek. Read the rest of this article here.

"Raise you wrench"

I’ve been playing Team Fortress 2 (TF2) for over 4 years, and I cannot recall 1 pro engineer in African Fortress. In fact, the only thing I remember about someone playing engineer was when Crow, my teamie in ‘Cause of Death’ made this comment. During a clan match, I asked him to, “Please get the teleport up.”, and he replied, “I am known for getting my equipment up quickly’. That comment from him forever marred and set the standard for my opinion about what a good engineer is. A good Engineer gets his equipment up quickly. Read more about the Engineer here.

A look into the enchanted world of Dear Esther
I'm having some difficulty describing this game, because, in all my years of gaming, I've never played anything like 'Dear Esther.' There are no clear goals; no enemies, no tasks, you don’t even have a weapon. You cannot jump, run or interact with your environment. Instead, you wander around, you explore, you discover, you listen, and you feel. Read my opinion piece about this exquisite game here.

Extraordinary Fortress
Honoring some of the extraordinary people in the Team Fortress 2 international community, with Lazar 'Comedian' Jovic from VanillaTF2, John 'Agro' Irwin from KritzKast, Timothy 'wm' Bagheri from OzFortress and Rhys 'Greaver' Hudson from GreaverTV.

Oh my God, who touched Sasha?!
When the TF2 competitive scene started out the Heavy was the predominant and most feared class to face on the battlefield. Gameplay was much slower and maps were played that favoured this class.The players that mastered the Heavy remains well known to this day. I tracked down a man who still knows how to rev up the biggest gun in TF2,Will ‘Ruskeydoo‘ Segerman from Brighton England, read more about this Heavy here.

KLOC is here!
Meet the 12 teams and the shoutcasters for African Fortress' first KritzKast Lo-Fi Offlcass Cup. Read more about this event here.

A Sniper frenzy on Gullywash
The finals of the 16Bit TF and KritzKast Lo-Fi Offclass (KLOC) Cup was one hell of a show. Thanks to everyone who organised, played and supported this event.

That conludes a very busy March.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

February 2012

The month of February can best be described by my closing thoughts on my interview with Agro, "I feel like an adventurer that discovered a hidden treasure." Not only did we launch the 16Bit TF site, I had the honor of interviewing a few extraordinary people. Discover them with me.

'Someting big this way comes.' Meet John 'Agro' Irwin

“Agro – Not just a name; a state of mind.” – John ‘Agro’ Irwin

Grab the water buckets, sound the fire alarms, you’re about to meet John ‘Agro’ Irwin the Pyro. He will set your world on fire. Join me Lola, as I jump boots and all into the mind of this well known Arsonist from Team Fortress. Read the full interview here.

A new 3some is formed.

An interview with Matt 'fluke' Merks from PolarfluKe, Colin Webster from Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) and Lauren das Neves from New Age Gaming (NAG). These 3 organisations each took that which is their greatest strength and added it to the other's, forming a partnership that provides a professional gaming experience to its participants. They are taking competitive gaming in South Africa to greater heights, and I am excited about what the future holds for us. 

Come on baby light my fire!

 Pyro makes me fly. John Agro Irwin

16Bit TF and KritzKast threw African Fortress a TF2 party by hosting an Off-class competition (KLOC). So, in anticipation for this I’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the unsung heroes of TF2, namely the Pyro, the Engineer and the Heavy. In this article I covered the Pyro, a class known for its sexy asbestos-lined suit, its speech impediment and rockstar arsenal. 

This brings me to the end of February 2012.  Thanks to everyone who took time of their busy schedules to chat with me.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

2012 articles

So let's finish catching up. The first few months of 2012 have been challenging, exciting and full of surprises. I've met some extraordinary people and played the most exquisite games.

January 2012

When gaming partnerships work
In SA gaming partnerships are a rare occurrence. The story of Robert 'PandaTank' Botha, Colin Webster (president of MSSA) and Matt 'fluke' Merks (MD of PolarfluKe) shows us that if we put aside our prejudices it is possible to achieve what every competitive player wants – opportunities to compete at the highest level and recognition for achievements earned. Parts of this article featured in the International eSports Federation (IeSF) newsletter.

A Sith Marauder & A Trooper Commando
Star Wars the Old Republic (TOR), topped round the 1 million player milestone just three days after its launch, making it the fastest growing MMORPG. With this article I interviewed 2 Guild Masters, the trooper, Theunis 'Lillian Snowfall' Steyn and the Sith Lord, Alastair 'Tsaebgal' Bowman.

Bromance in the Theatre of Doom

I didn't know it at the time, but this would be my last article for TF2CSA as I moved over to 16Bit TF in Feb. I've had a very fulfilling and exciting time at TF2CSA, much gratitude to Razerfox and LikaLota. This article covered the finals of the very first Ultiduo for African Fortress.

Immersion in Games 
An opinion piece I did on 10 aspects of immersion in games. This piece explains why atm gaming is the fastest growing industry in the world. I did a massive amount of research on this subject, drawing from the collective knowledge of various experts in the field of gaming.

This concludes January 2012. Many thanks to Yolanda 'Lolita' Green from 'Altogether' for her editing and Chris 'Turkish' Smithard for being the most frustrating and challenging soundboard I've ever had ;)