Obama Ads in Game?

In-game advertising are nothing new now. In fact, my very first experience with MMO games was with Anarchy Online’s Free Play program in 2004. It was one of the first experiments of this type and offered free accounts in exchange for being shown advertisement posters and billboards in the game. However, this is the first time that I’ve heard of a political campaign buying advertisements in a game, in this case, the console racing game Burnout Paradise.

As the site notes, it’s not sure whether this is legitimate yet and may simply be a case of good photoshopping skills. But if it is true, it speaks volumes of Senator Obama’s savvyness. He’s also bought a half-hour of network primetime to speak directly to U.S. audiences on the 29th October. What’s surprising is that I think a lot of Americans are going to tune in to listen to him. When is Malaysia going to get a politician this cool?

Financial Meltdown

This is as good a time as any to post a link to Sad Guys on Trading Floors, a photo collection of traders’ reactions to the continuing financial meltdown. The U.S. Federal Reserve just dropped the federal funds rate by 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent, while central banks around the world followed suit, and the markets still dropped. The U.S. Treasury stated that it might have to take ownership of U.S. banks and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just announced a proposal for yet another stimulus package worth US$150 billion to be spent in a Keynesian attempt to jump start the American economy. All of that is just today’s news.

Remember how AIG was bailed out by the U.S. government to the tune of US$85 billion just a couple of weeks ago and needed another US$37.8 billion yesterday? A report today details a week long “conference” organized by the world’s largest insurer for its top agents at a five-star resort in California costing more than US$400,000.00 just a few days after the first bailout. As the saying goes, we live in interesting times.

Continue reading Financial Meltdown

Purging of the English Language

Check out this list of English words that the editors of the Collins English Dictionary wants to purge to make room for new words and the accompanying article. As it notes, some words that are common in mainstream usage are nonetheless useful in particular communities. As a gamer, I’ve collected my fair share of Periapts of Wisdoms across many different Dungeons & Dragons-based computer games, so I should know!

Then again, while it’s understandable that a dead tree version dictionary wants to drop words because you can only fit in so many in a single volume and still have it at a manageable size, in the Internet age that we live in, these words will never truly be gone. Furthermore by singling out these particular words, the editors have simply given them a short-lived notoriety that will effectively grant them a new lease on life.

Game Grub

Spotted this on the Quartertothree forums. Gamer Grub, performance snack food for gamers! Available in four flavours (“Action Pizza”, “Strategy Chocolate”, “Racing Wasabi” and “Sports PB&J”) and laced with special health supplements designed to make gamers better at playing games! All that, and be edible without forcing the player to stop playing too! Ok, all of that is bunch of crock but at least the manufacturer’s website lists all the talking points with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humour.

This is nothing more than a novelty gag item, but give the creator props for daring to try something so wacky!

Racism and Nationalism in Medieval 2

I’ve been playing Medieval 2 Total War for a while now. I’d passed on it when it was first released in late 2006 and only bought the Gold edition including the Kingdoms expansion earlier this year. Easily the most popular choice of nation when playing the Medieval games is England, partly due to a combination of cultural familiarity, its easily defensible starting location and the excellence of English longbowmen. I tried my first game with the Venetians who start out with a great navy but whose provinces are actually separated from one another but couldn’t make much progress. Venetians get hemmed in too much by their Italian cousins, the Milanese and the Sicilians, as well as the powerful Holy Roman Empire to the northwest and the Byzantine Empire to the east, so I ended up having to restart my game as the English in which I’m handily conquering the whole map.

One of my favourite things about this new version of Medieval are the pre-battle speeches that your generals make. The speeches made their debut in Creative Assembly’s previous game Rome Total War, but they’ve been greatly expanded here. Each major nation now has a different way of insulting each other and the personality traits of the general making the speech also influences what gets said. Check out the YouTube video I linked to for a great selection of these speeches. Playing as the English, my generals have called the French wine-sodden and arrogant, the Germans pox-ridden, the Sicilians sons of Satan and the Danish “scrofulous”, whatever that means. It’s awesome and doubly hilarious when a drunken or even outright insane general spouts off some utterly nonsensical stuff.

On a vaguely related note, here’s an Ebay listing for what must be the coolest auction ever. For the princely sum of least twenty five thousand British pounds, you can own a full size replica of a Roman siege catapult. It was built for a television show and now doesn’t fire, but it would be the perfect lawn ornament if you happen to live in a castle!

Spidey All Tied Up

My wife and I have been experimenting with putting videos up on YouTube. Unfortunately since we’re only taking them using our old digital camera, the results aren’t really great, and they seem to be darkened after YouTube finishes with processing them. Here’s a video that we took when Spidey was smaller.

One of our worries about leaving for Kuala Lumpur was what to do with her. We wanted to put her in a dog boarding school here in Kota Kinabalu but didn’t have enough time to arrange for that. My wife’s parents happened to be here so we had to let them take care of Spidey instead. As expected, Spidey had to sleep outdoors for most of the week. She was naturally delighted to see us when we got back, but we discovered that she had developed some itchy sores on her belly.

The local vet here wasn’t open due to the Hari Raya holidays but we managed to call him and he said it might be a fungal infection. Since she’s back to sleeping in the room with us, the sores have dried up a bit, but we still need to be careful that her belly doesn’t stay wet for too long.

A death in the family

I’ve been away for a while due to a death in the family, the exact details of which are too private to elaborate on here. Suffice to say that the treatment of groups of people like the disabled, the infirm and the mentally disturbed in our country serves as a stark reminder that for all of our gleaming skyscrapers and highways, Malaysia remains very much a third-world country.

2008 has been a very tumultous year for me so far. I started the year by basically getting fired, having to adapt to a new life here in Kota Kinabalu (though that was on balance a positive development), having my investments pummelled in the current market climate and now this. I daresay that this will be a year to remember in history as well. Between the Chinese Olympics and the devastation of the earthquakes in China before that, and the ongoing blood-letting in the U.S. markets with the U.S. presidential elections still to come, there will be plenty to remember this year for.

The unexamined life is a life not worth living