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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for more slacklining, baby. Here’s the best writing about videogames from the past week.

Renata Price blogged about their experiences with both Valorant and gender transitioning, and how they intersected.

Viper as a character is a lot of things, mostly edgy and horny if we’re being honest. “I wonder if these one will beg. They all do… After a while.” Certainly has an energy to it. I love her voice though. It’s low, predatory, and, at times, deeply sad. This means it’s achievable.

I mimic her voice lines while I play, I try to make sure my mic doesn’t pick it up. When it inevitably does I try to play it off by pretending I think her lines are funny. I do, occasionally. But not enough to repeat them six times over the course of a match. Instead, I’m trying to build her like a house and move in through the door in her throat. I don’t want to be her. I just want to borrow her for long enough that someone sees it happen. Someone looks at her and hears me — and they don’t flinch.

Robert Yang blogged about how and why he made Hard Lads, a videogame that expertly recreates that video where a hard lad hits another hard lad with a chair, hard. Yang’s thoughts are wise, on point, and touching.

The chair lad holds his wounded friend in his arms. “I’m not doin’ that again, I’m not doin’ that again,” says the chair lad. “That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous… That’s ridiculous.” It’s a weepy sentimental promise not to hurt someone again, full of regret and pain, an extremely tender gesture, even more intimate than a kiss. THIS IS AFTERCARE! Yes it is a failure to be an invincible toxic manly man, which is also the failure to be cruel and uncaring. As far as failures go, this is a good failure. It’s OK to feel hurt and show vulnerability, and traditional macho masculinity allows little space for this.

For VG247, Connor Makar tried to track down the people from Turok: Evolution’s 2002 PR stunt, who ostensibly won a competition where they changed their name to Turok. A gripping yarn.

Official name changes in the UK have to be done via a deed poll. I phoned up the national archives in Kent as they have stores of all sorts of thrilling documents like death records, legal documents – and most importantly – deed poll name changes. This wasn’t certain to provide answers, only a fraction of deed poll name changes are stored in these archives, with the rest stored at agencies that destroy records of these changes after five years. I gave over all the information I knew to the bloke on the line and told him “all five winners legally changed their first name to Turok, spelt T-U-R-O-K”.

For Wired, Maria Konnikova wrote about her experiences with professional poker, and the psychology of uncertainty. Her arguments certainly haven’t convinced me that poker doesn’t constitute gambling, the tone is a bit eyebrow-raising, and even I think parts are a tad pretentious. But I DO like Bayesian reasoning (sadly not mentioned explicitly), and the world of pro poker sure is interesting.

But the misperception is ingrained in the popular mind for one simple reason. Unlike, say, Go or chess, poker involves betting. And betting involves money. And as soon as that enters the picture, you might as well be playing craps or baccarat—games that truly are gambling. And so I tell my grandmother the words that I’ve come to repeat so often they are like my own private mantra: In poker, you can win with the worst hand and you can lose with the best hand. In every other game in a casino—and in games of perfect information like chess and Go—you simply must have the best of it to win. No other way is possible. And that, in a nutshell, is why poker is a skilled endeavor rather than a gambling one.

If you vaguely think of yourself as “a creative”, here’s a grim but necessary read from Maris Kreizman about what capitalism has done to her ambition.

After the economy collapsed in 2008, we were told to get off the path entirely, to think outside the box but still inside the system. Ambition was no longer limited by traditional power structures. Don’t let yourself be defined by the role you have in someone else’s company—create a new role at your own company. Social media allowed us to carve out our own identities online, and quickly we all became managers of our own “brand.” We had to monetize our brands. We started to hear the adjective “entrepreneurial” all the time to describe what our aims should be, even those of us who just wanted to create, who cared very little about managing the business side of creating.

And here’s a good 15 minute extract from a podcast about revolution, why not. The guest is great. Russell Brand still annoys me even though he sometimes makes good points.

Music this week is Budding Trees by Nahko and Medicine for the People.

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Matt Cox

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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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