Monday 15 October 2018

Horror Film News: The Tattooist

Horror Film News: The Tattooist

The Tattooist Poster

I don't have any tattoos, but it's something that I've often pondered. I'm just not sure a tattoo of any kind would suit me, and the thought of having to live with it forever (well, until death) doesn't sit well with me. Mind you, if I visited The Tattooist in the new film by Michael Wong, I don't think I'd have long to wait for death, if I wasn't happy with the tattoo I was given.
‘The Tattooist’ studio is renowned for its remarkably crafted tattoos. But during their visits, the customers have been drugged and imprisoned with other unfortunate victims that bear his prized masterpiece. They must fight their fears and race against time to escape from The Tattooist before ending up as a victim of his morbid obsession!
The Tattooist Screengrab

The trailer embedded below reveals the kind of film you can expect, the jaunty music that begins proceedings soon giving way to gore and sinister scream montages. After hints of people meeting a messy end, the trailer ends with the tattooist dancing to said jaunty music, adding whimsy and craziness to a scene that reveals the truth of what was really happening on the tattooist table.

The Tattooist has already won a number of film festival awards, including Most Terrifying at The Top Indie Film Awards, Best Gore at the Independent Horror Movie Awards, and Official Selection at the Midwest Horror Fest 2018. I wouldn't be surprised it if picks up more accolades as it roams the film festival circuit either, it looks like a cracking film, and one I'd certainly love to watch.

Check out the trailer below, and keep your skin clean in preparation for The Tattooist's needle:

The Tattooist from Michael Wong on Vimeo.

GAME REVIEW: American Truck Simulator: Oregon DLC

American Truck Simulator just got bigger in the form of its Oregon DLC, offering new roads and vistas for the virtual truckers who drive its roads. I take a look, and learn a couple of things about American geography along the way. You can read my review on Geek Syndicate at this link.

Saturday 13 October 2018

3 Ways That Rage Quitters Hurt Themselves The Most

3 Ways That Rage Quitters Hurt Themselves The Most

By Casey Douglass

Image used freely from the excellent Gratisography.

The game is barely minutes old, a blank canvas on which the victor will eventually write their dominance. Someone falls. A sound chimes, and an icon appears with a line through it. That person has disconnected. Your heart sinks. Your task is much harder now. Like dominoes, your teammates begin to fall. Another disconnects. The game seems already lost. You sigh.

If you’ve played any online competitive video-game, the previous scene will likely be familiar to you. Any game which sees people play against others runs the risk of being blighted by drop-outs, disconnections, and rage quits. Not everyone who leaves will do so in a rage, or even become a serial rage quitter. Sometimes games crash, and at other times, life gets in the way. It’s the serial rage quitters that I want to focus on here, someone who likely has no idea of the ways in which they are compounding their own misery.

A “satisfying” rage quit seems to involve a number of elements, but each contains a seed of misery that will eventually bite the quitter in the backside:

Hollow Victories

First is the idea that you are getting one over on your inept teammates or the other side, somehow depriving them of something or punishing them for a perceived misdeed. While this maybe true, they might actually come away from that game having had one of the best games of their lives. In my own experience on a variety of games, a rage quit on the team doesn’t mean the end of the game. It might make for a harder game, a game in which the odds of you winning are reduced, but there is still fun to be had in trying to turn things around. And if you succeed... you’ll probably be so satisfied that you’ll be beaming from ear to ear. This is an experience a rage quitter will likely never encounter.

Hair-Trigger Emotions

Another element to a rage quit is the changing of feelings in the quitter. Whichever emotion might have been slowly (or thunderously) building, such as anger, frustration or hopelessness, it will be replaced by the above mentioned feeling of smug satisfaction at “getting one over” on the remaining players. Okay, congratulations Mr or Mrs R. Quitter, you’ve just lowered your tolerance for any “unpleasant” emotion going forward, and set the trigger in your brain to engage at even milder situations.

Having worked through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I know a fair amount about thoughts, feelings, and the actions we take to alter them. One of the first things I mastered was the idea that if we give into one thought, one time, the chances are higher that we will do it a second time. This is due to all kinds of stuff like neural plasticity, habit forming and reward mechanisms etc. which is a really interesting Google Expedition if you fancy it at some point.

As far as gaming and rage quitting, if you rage quit after a certain thing happening, maybe you die to friendly fire in a first person shooter, the chances are reasonably good that this will trigger you again more easily next time it happens. While you are in this “games have to go my way” frame of mind, you will slowly expand your “Conditions in which I Quit” list, and if you don’t find some degree of self-awareness beforehand, you'll find that what you need to happen in a game to have fun will become an increasingly narrow band of possibility. Basically, rage quitters, by escalating their quitting behaviour, reduce the chances of finding any fun or enjoyment in a game that they really want to enjoy.

No Chance of Improvement

Finally, a rage quitter might justify their leaving as “I can get into a fun game more quickly” or something similar. Yes, this might be true, but even if this new game meets your growing criteria for fun, have you improved as a gamer? In so many competitive events, whether games, sports or even a quiz night at the pub, it is often possible to learn far more from losing a game than from winning. A rage quitter, by leaving the game early, kills dead any chance of improving their skills, tactics, or mindset, and simply lock themselves into the cycle of continuous annoyance at the game and the other people that play it.

Turning It Around

Is any of this what we want from our gaming hobby? To reduce our chances of enjoyment? To not grow or improve as gamers or even as people, to stunt our ability to be civil and to enjoy competition with others in a healthy way? That sounds like a very sad reflection of what gaming should be.

We can’t control how other players decide to play a game. We can control how we play and react to it. Gaming isn’t always fun and joyous. You can’t win every game, or even have fun every game, but what you can do is take the losses and the frustrations as part of the whole package, learn what you can from them, and enjoy the games that you can. 

If you see someone rage quit during a game, beyond the irritation and annoyance, see if there is a little sadness in your heart for someone who could soon find themselves adrift from their favourite game. 

If you are a rage quitter yourself, as an experiment, the next time you feel the urge to leave a game, stick it out and see what happens. You might come out of the experience pleasantly surprised, even if it is just at the way that your feelings may have changed or mellowed as the likely defeat played out. Who knows.

Thanks for reading :).

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Dark Fiction - River

Dark Fiction - River

By Casey Douglass

River by Casey Douglass

The first body floated past the town. It went unnoticed, soon lost around the gurgling bend.
The  second passed early the next morning and was spied by a fisherman. A host left the town, tracking the river in the hopes of retrieving the unfortunate soul. While these were away, a third body became entangled in the small jetty, the place where the children liked to sit and dangle their small feet into the gentle current.

More bodies appeared with every turning of the clock, the small warehouse behind the main-street soon turned into a makeshift morgue. Word had been sent for the coroner, but he was hundreds of miles away. Amateur sleuths tried their hand at deduction, many thrown off by the injuries that the bodies had endured during their watery journey. One person guessed right, and then the others saw it too: Suicide.

Crosses were sketched in the air with shaking fingers, tears shed for people not known, and tongues clucked about the state of the world.

The coroner didn't come.

A traveller did.

She walked into town with her garish clothes and laptop bag swinging from her shoulder. No one approached her, a state of affairs that always arose when people from the sinful world entered their haven. Broaching no games, she strode up to the mayor and showed him something on the glowing device in her hand.

A friendly alien invasion had taken place.

The town's folk didn't comprehend, but a meeting was called, and the traveller explained more, her gesticulations and enthusiasm at odds with the statue-like audience. It was a time of revelation, she said. They made us, she crooned. They’ve come back to elevate us to our full potential she gushed.
She moved on the next day, the town stifling in its silence. Even the dogs and chickens held their tongues. Minds weighed with doubt turned their thoughts to the towns upstream, the places the bodies had flowed from. Good places, pure. God-fearing.

The first suicide in the town came the next night, but no one saw as the body splashed into the river. The next was caught in the nick of time, the noose pulled slack with sweating fingers as colour returned to the skin.

A mass was called, the sermon reaching the ears of the shaking townsfolk. Suicide is a sin, and not the way to show your love for God!
A voice shouted that God didn’t make us!
Another yelled that he did, that Satan had come!
A third bellowed the query of who made the aliens? God of course!
The pressure cooker of debate smashed together the tidbits of belief and desire, until the township came to the decision to merely conduct themselves as before, observing their prayers to the Lord, and showing that their faith was strong enough to meet this challenge, whatever it may be.

The aliens did elevate humanity, a little bit each day, until hundreds of years later, humans roamed the stars with their new allies, their makers, dancing in the light of super-novae, skimming black holes, and enjoying a life without boundaries.

A taint pursued them though.

However far they went, whichever star they orbited, some were dogged by the phantom of a bygone age, by the thought of an unseen power whose hand stretched towards them wherever they might rest. These people withheld their awe, suppressed their wonder, and waited for the lash to fall, the lash of a whip that transcended space and time.