Saturday 30 September 2017

Gaming Therapy: Using Dead by Daylight to Let Go of Approval Seeking

Gaming Therapy: Using Dead by Daylight to Let Go of Approval Seeking

Written by Casey Douglass

For a long time, I’ve kind of avoided playing online multiplayer games. In large part, this was due to the chance of running into toxic people who always seem to know when to turn up and ruin a good game. I know that a good proportion of people playing games are absolutely fine and lovely, but the ones that aren’t... really aren’t. By this, I don’t mean that I don’t like being beaten by them at whatever the game may be. I might be many things but a sore loser isn’t one of them. In fact, I learn more from losses than I do from wins, so I value what they can give me. When other players lose however, you sometimes need a dustbin lid to hide behind, as there will be quite the number of baby toys flying your way, often with dog shit and other lovely items thrown in for good measure.

It’s just banter you over-sensitive noob!

Yes, sometimes it is just banter, but banter has become a word that is used to excuse some stuff that really isn’t okay. You know when some gobshite spouts something stupid or ignorant in the media and gets slated for it, and all the “political correctness gone mad” brigade appear when they are sanctioned for it? The people that think freedom of speech means freedom from consequences? Well imagine coming across a foul-mouthed keyboard warrior who thinks death threats are just ‘banter’ and you might see the angle I’m approaching things from. That isn’t okay, and I don’t think most level-headed people would think so either.

I have an anxiety disorder and other health issues. It means my fight-or-flight system is extra sensitive, always ready to pump adrenaline into my body at the merest sign of threat or conflict. The moment I see something aimed at me that is harsh or nasty, my body is already reacting and it’s too late to stop that rush, even if logically I can dismiss whatever the words mean. Bodies are tricksie. After the FoF adrenaline rush, my fatigue level hits the roof and I have the pleasure of at least fifteen minutes of a racing heart, tense muscles and other lovely side-effects. I’m used to this, I get through it and it doesn’t scare me. It just really sours whatever I was doing. With this in mind, avoiding any kind of confrontation helps my mental state, but of course, you can’t live that way forever.

It’s just a username / avatar you cry baby twat!

It’s funny how much meaning and connection we feel with our digital selves. Even if we join a game service, create a nickname, and are able to game without ever having to enter any more information, the moment someone insults us, we still feel it, even though they, and we, are just two, probably quite silly sounding, nicknames above rocket cars / warriors / sport players or whatever.

When we make our nickname on a new game or service, it is ‘us’ in a way that logically, I find hard to pin down. I guess it becomes the filter through which we interact with said game, and someone bashing you via that name, rather than your own real name, doesn’t do much to blunt the attack. Then again, our real names are only labels given to us (or sometimes chosen later by us) too. A nickname is just another label we choose to latch on to. Logically, people know it’s just a nickname and that the arguer or troll knows nothing at all about you, but they still find themselves reacting to the bait, whether by getting angry and arguing back, or getting wound up and irritated.

Where does Dead by Daylight come into things? You suck and your writing is bollocks!

A lot of toxicity seems to come from the way that different players have different ideas about how a game should be played. Add this into the four Survivors Vs one Killer dynamic of horror survival game Dead by Daylight, and you have the perfect beaker to mix up a lumpy, salty dose of conflict. You only need to read the first page of the game’s Steam forum to see the kind of topics being raised: Killers giving up because of Survivor behaviour, Survivors complaining that a certain killer is OP, posts moaning about camping, pallet looping and tunnelling, the list could go on. I know this kind of thing happens with any kind of competitive game, and it can sometimes help the developers balance things if they are truly amiss. Dead by Daylight is particularly interesting though, for the ways that people play and the reaction these get from those on the other side.

The developers of Dead by Daylight, Behaviour Digital, seem quite liberal when it comes to the actual rules of the game, I.e. don’t do x or you will be banned type stuff. These mainly fall into the no hacking, no griefing and no sending abuse type things, but as far as how a Killer or Survivor plays, you can pretty much play how you like and do what you need to do to achieve your goals. As a Killer, that means if you need to camp your prey, you do it. As a Survivor, if you have a Killer on your tail that you can’t shake, you can loop around walls endlessly until one of you gets bored or makes a mistake. I think that’s more than fair, but it seems a good number of people don’t.

I’ll still beat you however you play, after I’ve fucked your mom hahaha!

I play as Killer mainly, but I do spend a lot of time as a Survivor, as I find both sides of the game enjoyable. The chat window at the end of the game is tremendous for touching “good game” sentiments, uneasy silence, or enough anger and bile to piss anyone off. Put it this way, as a Killer, if you have a bad game for some reason, such as failing to sacrifice anyone, you will often get “gg” at the end, or mocked with “ez” etc. If you had a game where you dominated and thoroughly beat them, at best you will get silence, at worst, a whole heap of abuse. That’s if they are all even there. As a Killer, some players will disconnect from the game the moment you are about to hook them, to deprive you of the blood points you’d have made by doing it. Thankfully the game does punish disconnects and awards the Killer enough “goals” to still account for that loss, but still, how very petty.

What it boils down to is this: if you play as a Killer and don’t play how survivors think you should play, you are the worst human on the planet. I don’t mean to say all Survivors think this way, but the vocal teeth-grinders I’m talking about here certainly do, and they will let you know it. I play my Killer role in what I feel is a sporting way, because that’s how I like to play. If I hook someone early in the game, after a quick look around to see if anyone is hiding behind a wall waiting to rescue them, I will often leave the area, as there is every chance of catching them again later. If another Killer decides to hook someone and stay very close in the hope of capturing any would-be rescuers, they are more than allowed to do so. Tactics vary, but what the take away lesson seems to be is: use whichever tactics you want to use and play how you want to play.

Killers are easy mode you wankstain! Fuck you!

As a Killer, if I play the way the Survivors want me to play, it’s no fun and not really fair on me. I don’t expect a Survivor to offer themselves onto a hook just to help me, so it’s only right that Survivors don’t expect me to go easy on them or allow them to run rings around me. Right?

So my options were: only play as a Survivor where you get less abuse, play my Killer in a way that will please the Survivors and so avoid the abuse, or play my Killer in the way I choose and change how I frame the abuse. I went for the last option.

I decided to write down any abuse I got and convert it into a Wall of Saltiness. You can read about that here, although the Wall isn’t complete yet, it’s just about the idea. Instead of avoiding abuse, looking at with humour and the satisfaction of a game well dominated, serves very well in taking the sting out of anything that is said. It’s quite amazing how, if you can do it, re-framing something you don’t like into something that you are hunting for with a purpose can actually help. Even in the week or so that I’ve been salt-prospecting, my attitude to the insults and abuse has changed in a positive way, which I think can only be a good thing.

Get cancer and die!

Well-done, you’ve made the cut and are heading to my Wall of Saltiness! Hazzah!

TLDR Summary: Being clear about how you would like to play and re-framing online toxic comments into something fun can help take the sting out of playing with unpleasant people.

Thanks for reading, and have fun in whatever your game of choice is today.

Friday 29 September 2017

Dark Music Review – The Faceless One

Dark Music Review – The Faceless One

Review by Casey Douglass

The Faceless One is the second part of Ruairi O'Baoighill’s Rueayn Trilogy. I reviewed the first album, Walpurgis, a few weeks ago, and found it to be an occult-infused dose of dark goodness. The Faceless One, takes that mantle and runs with it further down the lane, dishing up another six tracks in a similar vein, along with a couple of bonus tracks thrown in for good measure.

Each track contained on The Faceless One sets the scene for some kind of ritual, whether of conjuration or devotion, and sets the focal sounds in soundscapes that seem to be scraping the edge of hell or purgatory. The first track, Invocation, begins with a maelstrom of buffeting wind-like sound, and it doesn’t take long for the air currents to bring blood curdling screams to the listener's ear, bringing to mind an etheric tornado holding the souls unlucky enough to be inside it captive. The words of the titular invocation begin around the midpoint, but whether the rite is aimed at one soul in particular or the thing that controls the tornado, I don’t know.

Track two, Veil, begins with a single drum beat that rhythmically echoes as it fades. It sounds again, and fades again. An up swell of sound follows, a reaction maybe from whatever is circling nearby, like baiting the sea with chum and seeing a distant fin move closer. That’s quite a good analogy I think, as the sound, besides the hint of whispered voice, sounds a little murky and muffled, a little like being underwater. There are other tones, and the odd chime sounding, that balance the darkness a little, but this felt like a probing, stretching track, the audio equivalent of a face pushing out through a rubbery wall.

Incantation is next, a track that starts with the vigorous sound of some kind of horn. It sounds a number of times before a host of echoing, sacral chanting begins. The tone of the voice rises and falls, seeming to reflect back from unseen corners and strangle angles. There is a hissing sound, snake-like, and a rumbling that creaks around the soundscape. The other stand out sound to me is what sounds like someone breathing, particularly in those moments when the rest of the soundscape falls quieter, a watcher waiting to see the outcome of their actions maybe.

Procession is track four, a funereal soundscape with the sonorous sound of a church bell tolling for who knows who. There is a scratchy string-agitating sound and the occasional gong/cymbal being crashed. The track certainly brings to mind what it might be like to see a host of dark-robed figures wandering deserted streets, the smoke from their censer’s vanishing into the darker shadows around them. It’s the longest track on the album, which further adds to the feeling of going from here to there.

Trancendence is the penultimate track, another gong/cymbal featuring composition, that, along with chanting, seems to feature the mewling of something trying to sing along with the singers. This track brought to mind an old cathedral, the rite happening down below, a strange and twisted thing up in the bell-tower mocking and mimicking the sounds it is hearing. This is one of my favourite tracks, purely for this pleasing idea.

Ritual is the final track, a soundscape that begins with a deep voice chanting, and slowly builds to what sounds like more joining. It sounds a little devotional, and later, the atmosphere of the track seems to react to them, a swarm-like malevolence builds, with thumps and angry energy.

The first of the two bonus tracks is Ceremony, another ‘windy’ drone-led type of track, again featuring a chant, but this one is reedy and hollow, the soundscape itself higher-toned and shimmering. It also features the same sensation created by Trancendence, the notion of something trying to sing along in the distance.

The second of the bonus tracks is Faceless One, a track with a swelling, booming soundscape, the tones and sounds creating a mirage-like shifting effect. It also features a deep guttural voice that sounds clipped and dialled down, suggesting that something is communicating from another realm. Scream-like sounds hang in the air, and the whole thing sounds like the Faceless One is coming to see you. Great stuff.

The Faceless One is another darker than pitch, dark ambient album, one steeped in the miasmic realm that seems to lean so close and yet so far from our every day one. Twisted cries and ritual elements all blend to bring into being something dark and wholly satisfying to enjoy, contemplative and aggressive in equal measure. If you’ve yet to listen to any of Ruairi O'Baoighill’s creations, I urge you to check them out, particularly if you like your dark ambient with occult themes.

Click here to go to The Faceless One on Bandcamp to have a listen and for more info. You might also like to read my review of Walpurgis here.

I was given a copy of this album for review purposes.

Album Title: The Faceless One
Album Artist: Ruairi O'Baoighill
Label: Cursed Monk Records
Released: July 11, 2017

Sunday 24 September 2017

Dark Music Review – Child of Rage

Dark Music Review – Child of Rage

Review by Casey Douglass

Album Description: The inspiration for this concept album is quite dark and disturbing inspired by the 1992 film of the same name which you can read about here. If you put the phrase into google, you can even find the movie which is recommended watching to further get a sense of what I hope to convey with the 7 tracks on this album. This film invaded my psyche for weeks, even haunting my dreams and it was at that point that I felt that I had to create my own interpretation of the movie. At first, I was going to go for the noise approach but after some attempts, I didn't feel that it worked out so well so I scrapped what I had done and went back to the drawing board and came up with the tracks you're about to hear. Track 4 was inspired by the original music composed for the movie by Gerald Gouriet. Track 5 was inspired by the music of Rasalhague, in particular, his Rage inside the Window album.

I’d not heard of the film that inspired Scott in the creation of Child of Rage, but a few minutes spent searching the web soon showed it to be something that would likely stick with anyone. Unlike a good number of people though, rather than just shrug it off as time passed, Scott created something that channelled his own feelings and ideas, re-framing it with his own take on the subject, and that’s always a very cool thing.

Child of Rage is a dark ambient album that, to me, evoked a kind of 80s horror aesthetic, so even though I know what inspired it, most of the tracks conjured up images from those kinds of films. It makes great use of various tones to create sinister soundscapes that wax and wane, like the light of a full moon might when battling with a heavy fog. Piano notes add melody too, sometimes giving lightness to the mental vistas created, and sometimes adding a hint of chaotic madness as well.

The first track, An Evil Shadow Lurking in the Night, is one of my favourites and typifies what I mean in the previous paragraph, creating and growing a swell of subtle threat that taps into that old school horror vibe. Pulsing bass, high tones, and piano notes stretch the soundscape into something in which you can almost taste the mist and detect the shifting shadow of a silhouette that wasn't there when you last looked. The piano notes turn frenetic and discordant later in the track, keeping a rhythm but adding lashings of mad energy to things. The last part of the track holds a high tone, like a hang-man’s noose waiting for a neck to choke, before quietening into a quieter state of menace.

Rage That Can Kill, the third track, is another I wanted to mention specifically. It begins with a pulsing vibrating drone, a bit like the insane idling a strange kind of hell-machine might make. A resonant tone builds to a fairly steady ‘ahhh’ like sound, a hollowness entering into the mixture shortly after. The crashing of cymbals grabs the attention more tightly, and a high pitched sound pierces the soundscape like a moth being impaled by a pin. This track gave me the notion of a killer finally getting the victim, the subtle lightness that emerges after the violence of the cymbals seeming to hint at the ‘peace’ the victim might now have. This lightness dimmed or soured a little near the end though, so maybe they didn’t find the peace they were looking for.

Track five, Uninhabitable Conditions, is another track with a dark, vibratory opening, but also has a buzzing swarm-like tone. What I most liked about this track was that the whole thing seemed to be underpinned by a relatively fast pulsing effect, every swell of tone or rumble of bass imbued with this energy. It gives the whole track a pace and punchiness that rocks the brain. I enjoyed this immensely.

These were the tracks that I wanted to be most detailed about, but the others on Child of Rage all fit and expand on the themes and textures that run throughout. I will give a little shout out to Dark Repose for its creepy and warped music-box tones though.

Child of Rage is an atmospheric and moody album that, if your brain was a nice bowl of cereal, would pour over just the right amount of rich, hair-tangled blood. Not enough to make the cereal too soggy, but enough to make it something that seeps into the mind in a most agreeable way. Visit the Child of Rage page on Bandcamp at this link for more info and to have a listen.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Child of Rage
Album Artist: Scott Lawlor
Released: April 21, 2016

Saturday 23 September 2017

Turning Online Gamers’ Tantrums into a Wall of Saltiness

Turning Online Gamers’ Tantrums into a Wall of Saltiness

By Casey Douglass

The end screen on Dead by Daylight when you wipe the floor with the survivor scum. That was said in character, obviously. I'm sure they are lovely people just having a hard time of things, and my axe was the cure. Ha ha ha.


The word flashes up in the after-game chat and I fist-pump the air.

I’ve been playing Behaviour Digital’s multi-player horror game Dead by Daylight, a game that sees four survivors and one killer trapped on a map, one side needing to escape, one side needing to bathe in the blood of the ones that don’t. It’s very good fun but my word, there are certainly some very toxic people playing it. To be fair, a lot of games have their share of tantrum throwing keyboard bashers, but there is something about the Killers vs. Survivors setup of DBD that throws fuel on those fires. Just check out the game's forum on Steam for a taster.

The problem, as with many games, comes down to people having different views on how you should play the game. I remember playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and seeing the vehement condemnation of anyone that sat in a corner or used cover for more than a second. ‘Camper!’ was a frequent insult thrown around, more than likely by people who felt you should play every first person shooter as if it was Quake or Unreal Tournament. Add into the mix people who seemingly have no idea what camping actually means, or with differing opinions on what camping is, and arguments fly with regularity.

Of course, this type of thing isn’t just limited to camping. In Battlefield 3 I was accused of being a Kill:Death ratio player, just because I was having a good game and had something like 21 kills, 5 deaths. It was whined at me by someone in a tank who couldn’t get it through his or her head that a big tank can be hit from many different angles, and just because you can’t see me doesn’t mean I can’t see you. I think I was called a coward for firing and ducking back into cover again too. I obviously didn’t fit into their view of how my character should be dying easily at their hands, rather than serving up a punishing arse kicking that they were squarely on the end of.

In Battlefield 4, I played as a sniper quite regularly. Oh the cries of ‘Camper!” as I made someone’s head spray red. I could have pointed out that I wasn’t camping as I barely stayed still the whole match. If I did stop, it was only until I got a kill and then I changed position, as snipers are vulnerable if people know where they are and can get up close and personal with them. Instead I took the high road and said something like ‘Booooo hooooo!’ That’s not to say I’m down on campers either, it’s a valid tactic in many video-games, particularly war-based ones. You can bet your backside that if I was being shot at in real life, I wouldn’t be running in circles tea-bagging in open ground, and nor would even the most zealous anti-camper.

By way of a slight trip down memory lane, we come back to Dead by Daylight, a game in which both killers and survivors tend to bitch and moan about how the other side plays. There are lovely people playing too of course, but for the purposes of this post, I’m focussing on the screen-lickers who give fiery verbal at the end of a game.

I play both sides of the divide, as the game lets you have a separate Killer and Survivor Rank, but my heart lies on the Killer side. As a killer, it really does seem that however you play, it isn’t the right way for some survivors. If you hook a survivor on one of the many hooks around the level (your main goal), you have to absolutely run away as fast as possible or you will be accused of camping the hook. Even if you see their three teammates skulking around behind it. You have to practice a kind of unthinking and unseeing that Orwell’s 1984 would be most impressed by. There are other whiny things that get dragged out by both sides, but the crux of the matter is, I was finally called a camper last night, having not even camped, and I always feel accepted by a game community once I’ve had my first cry-baby chat message. What took you soo long DBD?

I’ve decided I’m going to write down any insults that come my way from now on (not who said them, I mean, who cares?) and I will try to collect enough to make a nice image, maybe with one of the DBD characters in the middle, the sniveling words of dejection ghosted behind it. Something like that anyway. I will call it my Wall of Saltiness and it will be tremendous to look at and think of all the gaming experiences I’ve ‘ruined’ for a host of bad losers. I particularly look forward to the really bad ones like ‘get cancer’ and ‘die.’

I don’t mean to say that I will play in a way that will troll people or piss them off. I will just play how I usually do, in a balanced, sporting way, and see what barbs will be flung at me after the match is over. I’m quite looking forward to it, and as my killer ranks up, I’ve been reliably informed that the saltiness after games increases muchly. Tremendous!

If you play any online multi-player games, maybe you could create a Wall of Saltiness too, something to remember your past victories with. Good luck if you do. I will post my own when it is complete. I don’t know how long it will take, but it will be worth the wait I think.

Thursday 21 September 2017

Dark Music Review – Walpurgis

Dark Music Review – Walpurgis

Review by Casey Douglass

Walpurgis, or ‘witches night’, is a brilliant idea to create some dark ambient around. Ruairi O'Baoighill, a dark ambient/drone artist based in Ireland, has done just that, and it’s certainly a riveting listening experience.

There is a starkness to Ruairi’s tracks on Walpurgis, often seemingly just a few elements interacting or alternating with each other to create dark soundscapes that clutch the mind. He makes great use of vocals, whether in the form of guttural gut-clenching chants or rhythmic invocations to who knows what. He also uses drones and lone drumbeats to puncture the dark bubble that his music conjures, in my mind at least. Throughout the whole of Walpurgis, any mental images that came to me revolved around a small fire, a robed figure nearby and an immense and crushing darkness filling every other part of the space. The effect might be a bit like looking at a photo of the Moon in space, but zooming out until it’s the size of your thumb on the screen. I’m strange, I know.

Walpurgis contains five tracks, each titled with a simple Roman numeral. They all gravitate to around five minutes in length, give or take, saving track five which reaches seven and a half minutes. I felt that each told its own stage of a tale, or rather suggested one.

Track I seemed to very much be an invocation, the pacey vocals and guttural sounds seeming to interact in some kind of battle, the speaker entering into occult conversation with a dark entity at the fringe of the small fire.

Track II seems to be full of whispers and gong-like sounds, maybe containing the aether’s response to the ritual, the performer gaining the attention of the keepers at the gate?

If track II is the response, track III seems to be a reversal of some kind, the banishing of the thing that was called forth. Single bashed-drumbeats and what sounds like shattering metal is joined by ghostly cries and screeches. I saw the fire spitting sparks into the blackness above, and heard a guttural chuntering that hinted at the banishment hurting the thing that is lurking unseen.

Track IV seemed to be a period of respite, the starting drone joining with shimmering notes that rise and vanish again and again. Maybe the caster is waiting to see just what the result of the rite will be.

The last track starts with a warped gong and a muted rumbling, a bit like you might hear underwater during an earthquake. A guttural chant reveals the thing is still there. Ghostly sounds meet with guttural tones (how many times have I said guttural in this review!) as if building to an unleashing of the wrath of something that shouldn't have been called. The more rhythmic invocation begins again near the end, the robed figure trying once more to control the uncontrollable. At this point, you could happily loop back to track one and listen to the whole thing again, seeing it as the figure's second attempt, an attempt doomed to follow the same course. Or maybe we are joining the events mid-loop, the figure and adversary already locked in a sinister struggle for millennia. I don’t know, but I like the thought of it.

I enjoyed the time I spent listening to Walpurgis. I found its various elements conspired to create a surprisingly dark soundscape that grew stronger as time progressed, the twists and variations of these elements seeming to reinforce the feelings of dark energies and abyssal meddlings. Great stuff indeed.

Walpurgis was originally self-released by Ruairi in 2012. This version is a re-mastered release being put out by Cursed Monk Records and comes complete with new artwork. It comes ahead of Ruairi’s new album To See Without Eyes. Visit the Walpurgis page on Bandcamp at this link for more info and be sure to give Track II a listen below:

I was given a free copy of this album for review purposes.

Album Title: Walpurgis
Album Artist: Ruairi O'Baoighill
Label: Cursed Monk Records
Released: March 15, 2017

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Half Way Pitstop on a Dead End Highway

Well, I am about half way through what, awhile ago, I said might be my last business year as a freelance writer. So far, it's been more of the same: struggling to find anything that pays more than a few dollars per hour, or that is something I feel I can do. I've not been able to turn things around so far, and I get the feeling I won't be able to.

I'm trying to find enjoyment in my writing, just for its own sake, but I don't seem to be able to manage that either. I don't really enjoy much of anything at the moment. The best I can hope for is something takes me away from myself for an hour, but of course, when I come back to myself, things just feel worse afterwards. There seems no point to anything anymore.

I didn't share this post on social media, so if you read this, chances are you are one of the three people that read my site, so thank you for reading. The idea behind posting it at all is that I am usually less harsh on myself if I think someone else might read my words.