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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for watching some kind of everlasting conflict, probably.

This week’s Papers are heaving with absorbing personal stories, and Steven Messner’s account of EVE Online’s first all-woman pirate gang for PC Gamer seems a good place to start. It’s basically a truism at this point, but the day interesting reads stop coming out of EVE is the day all of society crumbles.

In its first few months, Hellcats made a splash in New Eden. Word spread quickly of a gang of badasses roaming through pockets of low-sec like a Mad Max-style biker gang. But in a universe dominated by men, the fact that a few ‘yarr girls’ had banded together to cause chaos was met with a more ‘that’s cute’ attitude than actual respect—or so Mynxee believes. “I think they just thought we were a novelty,” she speculates. “We had some respectable kills, flew respectable ships, and we were pretty skilled. But I don’t really know because I didn’t ask or care. We were who we were. It wasn’t about fitting in, it was about having fun and having our own self-identifying group and culture.”

At Eurogamer, Alex Wiltshire wrote about the joy of discovering a game by yourself in the algorithmic age. It’s a measured take on the pros and cons of living in a time where good games are in abundance, while the twin forces of the internet and algorithms robs us of a sense of discovery that we had in our youth. Well, not mine, obviously.

I’m not sure you can feel that sense of ownership for many games today. They exist in a lattice of all their other players, across their Steam Community Hubs and Twitter accounts. There’s a guide for everything. There are guides for Scavenger SV-4. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing. The truth of my experience as an indie kid was loneliness. I held those few games I had tight because there was nothing else to them. I’d loved to have been able to access more, to see screenshots and read walkthroughs and watch videos detailing their Easter eggs. And Steam is great at finding games I like.

There are some good anecdotes in Rob Zacny’s BattleTech review for Waypoint, but I’ve grabbed the quote below because for me, reading it crystallised why I’ve got little desire to play the game at the moment. I could probably overcome the fiddly UI and annoying wait times, but the tactical game beneath sounds deeply draining.

At their best, these battles start to feel like prize fights as exhausted combatants circle toward each other, weighed down by the history of old scars and the knowledge that the bill collectors will come knocking, win or lose. Every new hit means more time and money spent on repairs, every lost component is something new to be replaced, every wound means additional weeks in the hospital for your pilot. Again: It’s all about attrition. Even if you win, you’ll still lose… but at least you’ll be alive.

Also on Waypoint, Danielle Riendeau wrote about how she spent her weekend playing heteronormative 60s board games marketed to young girls. Mystery Date does not sound great, but seeing the actual “dud” does present that bit in the Simpsons in a whole new light.

The game teaches excellent values like, if you dress right, you might get a man and be ok in life! And also: watch out for the dud! (The “dud” is the cutest boy and dude just looks like he hangs out in Brooklyn, so, idk man).

It was released in 1965 and marketed to girls 6-14, so, you know we’re in pretty nasty territory here, in terms of strict gender roles and the way those are communicated to children through toys. I mean, we still are: toys are still marketed heavily through gender stereotypes. And here’s another disturbing thing I noticed in the 1965 edition Mystery Date: everyone appeared to be white. Woof.

For the Washington Post, Tom Jackman wrote about a recycling innovator who’s facing a 15-month prison sentence for selling windows restore disks. The long and short of it is that Eric Lundgren is being punished for helping people to extend the life of their PCs in a way that could only be viewed as unethical from a twisted commercial perspective.

Lundgren pleaded guilty but argued that the value of his discs was zero, so there was no harm to anyone. Neither Microsoft nor any computer manufacturers sell restore discs. They supply them free with new computers, and make the software available for free downloading, for those who have paid for the software and received a license – typically a sticker with a “Certificate of Authenticity” number on it. Lundgren said he was trying to make the discs available again for those who needed them, and that they could only be used on licensed computers.

Here’s one more legal story, even though it’s a Wired article that you can only read if you’ve paid or haven’t clicked on two other articles this week, because it’s riveting. Brendan I. Koerner wrote up the story of some teenage hackers whose activities started innocently enough, then spiralled into the distinctly immoral. I’ve highlighted this bit not because it’s the most shocking thing Pokora got up to, but the point at which I stopped being on his side.

For an extra $50 to $150, Pokora and Clark also offered “infections”—powers that players’ characters would retain when they joined nonhacked games. Pokora was initially reluctant to sell infections: He knew his turbocharged clients would slaughter their hapless opponents, a situation that struck him as contrary to the spirit of gaming. But then the money started rolling in—as much as $8,000 on busy days. There were so many customers that he and Clark had to hire employees to deal with the madness. Swept up in the excitement of becoming an entrepreneur, Pokora forgot all about his commitment to fairness. It was one more step down a ladder he barely noticed he was descending.

‘Nimbus_Nought’ (a friend of mine) somehow knows the details of every character’s potential death in Mass Effect 1-3.

Music this week is Back it Up by Caro Emerald, because enough weeks have gone by for me to link to another of her tracks.

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Matt Cox

Staff Writer

Matt is the founding member of RPS's youth contingent. He's played more games of Dota than you've had hot dinners.

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