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Reaching into my Grab Bag of Holding +5

Where I put you to sleep by commenting on multiple topics rather than boring you to death with just one.

1) The big gaming topic today seems to be Roger Ebert's follow-up on his 2006 article on whether video games are art or not.  In his latest blog post, he doesn't rescind his statement that video games can never be art, but he does agree that he shouldn't have commented at all without having at least some cursory familiarity with the state of modern gaming.  It's all rather long-winded, and I don't really care about his opinion anyway, but it's been the running topic all day on many gaming web sites (a couple of user blogs on Game Informer, a long Games Radar article, and I'm sure there have been many others).

Ebert says:

"I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place. I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn't seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself."

Yeah, Roger, you should have.

As I said, I don't really care about this argument too much, but I do have to say this.  If a room with the lights blinking on and off can win some kind of art award, then video games can definitely be art.

2) Downloaded Puzzle Quest 2 last night on my Xbox 360, and I've been playing the hell out of it.  Fans of the first game will probably love it, as it has everything the first game had, and more!  Once again, it's a beautiful mix of "Match 3" gameplay (think Bejeweled, for those who don't recognize that term) and fantasy role-playing.  When you fight monsters, you go into a Match 3 contest with the creature you're fighting, matching coloured gems to build up various coloured mana to cast your spells and skulls to do damage.  This game has gone a step further and created a lot of Match 3 mini-games to do everything from loot chests to bash down doors or unlock them.  There are four different character classes, each with its own strengths and weaknesses (I'm playing as an assassin, which specializes in poisons and damage spells).

I may post a review when I'm done with it, but for now, let me just say that it's a lot of fun, and well worth the $15.  Of course, if you didn't like the original game, then this game won't change your mind at all.

3) Games Radar has a hilarious post up about what video games can teach you about sex. They're right that even the most "mature" video games (and by "mature," I just mean games that handle adult content in a mature manner) are pretty stilted when it comes to sex.  Bioware role-playing games are considered the best examples of how to do video game romance, and even they can come off as extremely corny.

I'm currently in the middle of Mass Effect 2 (yes, I'm actually playing multiple games!  And I feel very strange) and you can tell immediately which characters you will be able to romance.  And the second rule on Games Radar's post perfectly illustrates how funny it is:

"If she repeats herself three times in a row, the conversation is over. You’ll have to go do something awesome before she has anything more to say to you. After leveling up, and maybe acquiring some new items and clothes, come back and try again."

There's nothing like exhausting all of the dialog options with a potential mate, going off to complete another mission, and then coming back with the hope that she's got something else to say.  And the crushing disappointment when she has all of the same dialogue options as before.  Good thing that's not how real life works...or is it?

Of course, you have to try and romance as many of the characters as you're allowed to, until one of them forces you to make a choice.  The funny one is Dragon Age: Origins, where you can actually have a threesome! (Don't worry, Moms & Dads, it's all very tastefully done, and any potential threesomes happen off-camera).

Of course, their last example is just kind of creepy.  Ewwwwwwww.

That's about it from this end.  My fellow Canadians, I hope you've had a wonderful Canada Day!

And yes, I realize that Bags of Holding don't have pluses, but I thought it looked cool

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