Rule of Rose-coloured glasses

The ‘family’ lobby is at it again, with calls for Australia to follow the lead of the Europe in forcing the removal of the game “Rule of Rose“, which puts the player in the shoes of a girl whose world is shaped by a bunch of other girls, the ‘bullies’. It’s a twist on the survival horror genre, but otherwise appears to be entirely devoid of truly original content or technological advance. In summary, were it to have been released without any fuss, it is likely it would have quietly flopped without a trace.

What angers me each time there’s a call for games like this to be removed is the catch-cry of those baying for the blood: won’t somebody please think of the kids? The assumption is obviously: it’s a game, it’s played by kids. The truth is, however, the average age of PS2 (the platform the game is published on) gamers is around 21, last I heard – some years ago at that. And we already have a hugely restrictive censorship regime which judges games far more harshly than movies. The interactivity makes the case for this to occur in some instances, but if the existing system were to be applied to movies, many of the current ‘MA’ rated movies would effectively be banned. It’s a double standard which will increasingly get even more glaring over time as games approach movies for style, graphics and general flair. If the classification system isn’t working because parents are getting kids the games anyway, then it’s not really the games or the classification we should be blaming, but perhaps the parents.

Rule of Rose was pulled by the publisher following bad publicity in the UK and Europe, where the mayor of Rome called for the game to be banned. The media’s comments suggested the game was full of torture, brutality, s&m, and among other things generally encouraging of bullying. The family lobby here has seized on this, and the pulling of the game, and twisted it pleasantly in their own direction. However, you play as the victim, so your goal can only be to free yourself – something I can only consider a good thing. Clearly, without investigating it one iota, they jumped a passing bandwagon and hope for the best. This frustrates me very, very much.

Rule of Rose would probably have gone unheard of in my neighbourhood, but since it’s been highlighted as something controversial, now I want to try it – giving this game far more credit than it deserves. The “family” lobby needs to grow up with its views on gaming and understand that those kids who were showing off their Ataris have grown into mature adults, but still want to play games occasionally.

Baking Summer

A haze hangs over the city, and has for the last three days. The smell of smoke pervades, as bushfires in the Blue Mountains have burned for the last 3 days. It’s almost a constant of summer in Australia to have bushfires, but it seems that this year it’s going to be particularly fierce. Twice we’ve been close enough that there was some concern for the house, and it would be lying to say I wasn’t worried about it again this year round.

This all reminds me vividly of the summers of my youth, the baking heat and dry wind making it feel like you’re standing just outside a furnace. All the plants wilt in the heat, save the ever-hardy eucalyptus, and the chirp of cicadas plays on into the night. From tomorrow, even more appropriately, the cricket will be on, and then there will be no question of summer. I think it’s the first one I’m going to be working through, which will be different for me.

It’s going to be a long one.

Thanks!

Thank you one and all for coming to the party! I had a great time, even if I didn’t eat or get to spend the time with each and everyone that you thoroughly deserve. I still have many a tale to tell from London, so there’s plenty of talk to be had.

Note for next time: (a) arrange DJ myself, and (b) organise after-thing beforehand, rather than expecting to come up with something on the spot.

ed: need photos from anyone who took them… I didn’t take my camera out nearly enough =(

Europe Review

Most Expensive City: London, hands down. Accommodation in Venice? 55 Euros. Almost equivalent accommodation in London? 55 Pounds.

Most Overrated City: Milan. It’s not that bloody special, and the shopping district is pretty average actually. City felt dirty, unsafe and just out-and-out sucky.

Most Overrated Museum/Monument/Art Gallery: The Louvre. The Mona Lisa specifically. Honourable Mention: Buckingham Palace.

Most Overrated Attraction: The Changing of the Guards. So very pointless.

Worst Restaurant Service: Paris. Rude French waiters are not a rule – some of the best service I had was in Nice – but Paris seems to have a very distinct style.

Coffee So Good You’ll Never Want To Leave: Rome. My oh my was it good coffee – grungy little cafe just behind the Colosseum.

Hello Vertigo: Top of the Leaning Tower. Honourable Mention: La Saguardia Familia, Barcelona, and The Eiffel Tower.

I Ate Too Much: Florence. But the food was sooooo gooood.

Sunsets to Silence Even Obnoxious American Tourists: Nice. Sunsets to make your inner artist cry at their beauty.

Great Value Award: Spain/Barcelona. Cheapest place in Europe that I went to.

You Know We Ain’t In Kansas Anymore: Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

Bass That Makes Your Stomach Hurt: Ministry of Sound.

Most Bizarre Pub Name: The Snail and Cabbage.

Rollicking Good Time: Revolution bar, Soho. 6 shots of flavoured vodka for 10 pounds: Excellent Value.

Most Maddening Place in the History of Humanity: London Heathrow. There was an hour’s wait to get through security after check-in. If this place doesn’t get on your goat…

I Never Want to Eat It Again: Pizza. Honourable Mention: Ham. What is it with all the ham love?

I Need To Come Back Here Award: Monaco. Preferably with a Lamborghini underneath me.

(I’ll add more if I can think of any)

I think it’s me

The suitcase was put away today, the contents having found their way to the spin cycle. I’m still not out of the traveller mindset completely, with many things scattered across my bedroom awaiting proper organisation of some sort. Jet lag appears to have waited for a day, finally catching up yesterday and delivering a right thumping to my ability to stay awake at work.

So much has happened over the last 10 weeks at work; while it’s not totally unfamiliar, it’s certainly something of a reset from the comfortable groove I had found myself in before I left for London. I’m re-learning all those little shortcuts that you invariably pick up over time. A couple of faces have gone in the (relatively) short time I was away, which is a little sad. The sun is still up when I leave work, which is awesome, but feels somehow wrong.

Home is no less different. Dad’s been living up here in Sydney for the most part, and he’s brought his touch to the place. The whole house has been painted afresh, the garden is suddenly looking a lot healthier, and things are slightly moved or reordered. It’s home, but then again it’s not quite, which puts me back in that traveller’s mind. I’m flying to Melbourne on Thursday night, for the weekend and the party, which also reinforces that.

My boss more-or-less said, first thing when I came in, that I can probably drop plans to go to New York for work next year – a more useful and challenging position is likely, and that’s in London from April. I almost wanted to walk out the door and start packing again, rather than getting used to home for another 6 months.

The sense of not-quite-being-there is also evidenced by this post, which has taken nearly 3 days to write anything marginally cohesive and/or coherent. William Gibson once described the condition of jetlag as “soul-lag”, that basically your ‘soul’ doesn’t travel at the speed of an aeroplane, and so it’ll take a long time for your soul to catch up. I find that particularly insightful at times. Being stuck in a metal tube for nearly a whole day which is seemingly forever static and forever awash in white noise makes a person more inclined to believing such things as ‘soul-lag’.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Speaking too Soon

Perhaps it was the cold, or my friends having left, or maybe it was just one of those days, but it seems like the previous post was an age ago, none of its words entirely relevant anymore…

As my train came down on Saturday night from the heights of Milan, I made my first attempt at broken Italian small-talk with the lady in the same cabin as me. She’d talked for most of the journey to another passenger in the cabin, but now that it was just us, for the next hour, I couldn’t well bury my head in my book and ignore everything else. She spoke not a word of English, and I only spoke some phrasebook sentences, concoctions of words that work on paper but never quite roll off your tongue the same way when speaking. Still, I managed to extract that she was from Milan, on vacation and heading to Cannes for a week, explaining that I myself was from Australia, had seen much of Italy over the previous week and from Nice I would be heading to Barcelona. And then the train turned, and the sea appeared out the window.

I was entranced.

The sun setting over the Bay of Genoa dropped my jaw, and instantly all thoughts of throwing in the towel were forgotten (thoughts harboured even after buying tickets to Barcelona and booking accomodation, €420 total). The lady chuckled, and the only word I understood from the remainder of her babble was “bella”, beautiful. I continued to repeat this word over the next half hour or so as we went from Genoa to Nice, along some of the most spectacular coastline I have seen. When I reached my hotel that night, I dropped my bags and ran to the shore, a minute away, walking along the Promendade de Anglais at 9pm, loving the sea breeze and the lap of the gentle waves. It was twice as nice the next morning, the gorgeous blue Mediterranean touching the blue, blue sky.

I have a theory going on this sudden reversal of mood – you can’t take me away from the sea for too long, or at least the idea of an Australian seaside. Venice was by the sea, true, but this was much more like what I was used to – sweeping bay, open water, lovely sun. Sure, the beach was rocks instead of sand, and there were parts of it sectioned off (sacrilege!), and there weren’t really waves as such (much more like Port Phillip Bay).

I have another theory which basically follows the idea that I’m a sun & summer lover, and Milan was too cold and cloudy, so my mood dropped through the floor. Plus I posted at night after wandering empty streets alone, and that could only detract further. Nice is nice, no other way to put it.

Either way, this place is gorgeous beyond doubt. I could well live here if I learnt a little french, and if I found a decent bloody restaurant somewhere around here. It’s gorgeous.

Onwards, to Barecelona! Olé!