Ambition (Sci-fi short film)

Stumbled across another short film that is just amazing, mixing sci-fi and magic. I have to admit, just like with Temple, I both love and hate it. I love it for being fantastic, but I hate it for being just a tiny morsel of ambrosia. Dear gods, I want this as a full length feature. Hopefully we’ll get that with Temple, but I want Ambition to receive the feature length treatment too, dang-nabbit! Not to mention that it features Aidan Gillen as the master mage. So, come on. Make with the feature length treatment already.


-Still a magical bastard-

That Dragon, Cancer

So, recently I played through That Dragon, Cancer, which came about as an attempt by two people (Ryan and Amy Green) to deal with the loss of their son due to cancer. It’s something I heard about a while back and got exited about from the very start. It seemed like a solid attempt to deal with a serious matter through the medium that those involved were familiar with, something which I personally believe that gaming needs to expand beyond the boundaries that tradition has put up. It isn’t as much a game, as the story of these two people trying to cope with what happened, told through a game that turns game-mechanics  into metaphors. Truth be told, without the story behind the creation of the game, it amounts to very little. It is mostly interacting with scenery, listening to audio, and taking in the wonderful scenes that the game presents to us.  It is by no means an amazing game from a technical standpoint, but then again, it doesn’t have to. It should be an unpolished, raw and personal experience for this game to work as a cultural artefact.  I admit, my eyes were watering over at times and I had a lump in my throat. The game plays heavily on emotion and vulnerability, so I didn’t expect anything else. A personal piece of art like this, about the death of a child and the grief that follows, is supposed to be heart wrenching. It is cathartic, vulnerable and a delicate exploration of a horrible situation, initially at least.


But, and yes there is a but, that is all it does. It begins well enough, with a sense of serenity and quiet afternoons, that are suddenly broken by a growing sense of wrongness. This part is executed rather well, wonderful metaphors created as game-scenery that you explore, but then the game begins to show its weakness as, well, a game. The story is at times broken up by segments of mini-games, like racing the baby around the hallways of a hospital on a cart while you collect items, and these mini-games are just bad. So bad in fact, that they draw the focus away from the story and the emotions that the game is trying to deliver. And after these segments, the game changes its tone radically, when religion enters the picture. There is nothing wrong with religion and faith (while I don’t partake, I have respect for those that do) but the sheer insistent manner that it was brought into the narrative cleaves it in two. The game goes from subtlety to heavy-handedness in the space of a single scene. The one saving grace is a segment where Ryan and Amy talk about hope, which was wonderful. But this comes after a mini-game segment that I had to skip past, after several frustrating attempts to figure out the what-why-and-how of what I was supposed to to, and the game then goes from a quiet discussion to a screaming match. Religion and desperation takes the center point of the game from this point on, leaving behind all the things that had made the game worthwhile and great up to that point.

I had high hopes for this game, since I love quirky little games that try something new when it comes to telling stories, but that uneven pacing and the bad game mechanics turned what could potentially be a wonderful game about a serious issue, into a incoherent mess. In the end, I was thankful that the game is as short as it is (it took me about 2 hours to finish) because the mini-game segments and the uneven and abrupt change of pacing in the narrative began more and more to destroy, for me at least, what the game was trying to deliver and had succeeded in delivering up to that point. It distracts the player from connecting with the story, and turns the story into a shambling mess.

That Dragon, Cancer shows wonderful potential, but it fails to deliver upon this. There is the chime of a great work, but it falters and ultimately looses its direction. It is important as the…lets call it testimony… of Ryan and Amy’s experiences, and as an attempt to portray a very serious matters through games as a medium, but as a game it is unfinished, unpolished and irrelevant. As I mentioned earlier, That Dragon, Cancer needs to be raw and unpolished. But there is a difference between raw and unpolished, and poor craftsmanship. More time, experience, and the help of an editor might have turned it about and created the work that it should have been, but ultimately it is what it is; a heartbreaking story, told in a novel -if unskilled- way, that will only appeal to a very narrow niche audience, something which I am sad to say. I had hoped that it would be a worthwhile experience, but it was not. It is simply uninteresting.

Temple (cyperpunk short film)

Stumbled across this new cyberpunk short from the people behind the glorious live-action trailer for The Akira Project. It looks amazing, has heavy vibes borrowed from the Deus Ex games, especially Human Revolution, and I hope that they will manage to secure financing to turn it into a feature length production. Check it out and spread the word! I really want to see a decent movie adaptation of the Deus Ex games, and this seems to fit the bill enough for me to be satisfied. The mood, the music, the visuals, and the actions; they are all pretty spot on for what I’ve imagined such an adaptation to be.


(The Akira Project)

(Deus Ex: Mankind Divided)

Still a cyberpunk bastard

The Summer Scum

Done with the thesis, ain’t got shit to do and it’s fucking me up. The sensation that I have something that needs to be done hasn’t left yet, which presents me with a strange and awkward mindset when I’m walking around town to soak up the sensation of the city that I’ve mentally been out of for the last few months. Summer is here, according to the calender at least, but not according to the weather. Thank god for the fact that even the hint of sun and warmth is enough for people here to head outside; it might not be a proper summer yet, but at least the sundresses are plenty none the less, bringing smiles and beauty to us bitter, coffee addicted iceweasels. There is a glimmer of hope that we might enjoy ourselves a bit this time around as well. Thank jeebus for that!

Last night was beer and people, same crowd as always; stressed out and trying pretend that they’re enjoying themselves, getting as drunk as they can before the bar closes and counting the hours until monday morning.It’s mandatory, you gotta laugh along with the idiotic shit shit that is stuck on repeat when you’re at a bar. Nothing new under the sun.

Speaking of which, the sun is out right now and there are free concerts around town and people are at least giving the effort to enjoy themselves. Some are trying too hard and it’s showing; like the murder of late 30’s women on a girl’s day out, pretending they’re 20 and still omg so random. You could swear that their smiling faces are plastic halloween masks of a duckface. One looks like she’s gotten a wee bit too much of the bubbly stuff. Her face is starting to crack and I can see the loathing that is hidden beneath. Good times in the summer indeed.

Ain’t too bad though; pretty girls walking by, cigarettes and some good tunes on the ear. Fake it ’til you make it works
after all; I can feel the sensation of stress and having shit that needs to be done is seeping ever so slowly away.

-still a bastard under the sun-

Sabaton: They brought a fucking tank

Last Friday I covered the Sabaton concert at Sentrum Scene, here in Oslo, for Eternal Terror, and I had an absolute blast. It was one of the most entertaining concerts I’ve been to in years, and also one of the best ones. Those guys know how to put on a fucking show, even bringing their own tank. Actually, the last time I was witnessed such an awesome spectacle was when I saw Maiden at Valle Hovin, a few years back when they were touring their A Matter of Life and Death album.

Sabaton was a blast, and judging by the faces of the band, they enjoyed it just as fucking much as the audience did. And the look on the vocalists face when, at the very end, the audience starts to chant “vis oss pattorna” (Show us the tits) to him… that, that was priceless. Such utter confusion and disbelief, it was magic, I tell ya.

Anyhow, here is a teaser of the shots from the gig. More will be put up  here after they’ve been posted in Eternal Terror.



-Still a bastard and rocking out-


The only reason why we have heard of this game is because they’re aiming to be controversial, they want to make a scene. They want to shock us with how edgy they are and how they’re not afraid to be politically incorrect, since, as the developer said, “it’s just a game.” Just a game. This has been repeated each and every time there is a controversy concerning games to defend them from scrutiny, and to those of you who love video games, yet keep spouting this as an excuse whenever someone points out something negative about video games: You’re doing yourself and videogames a huge disservice. You’re killing videogames. By continuing to think that games are just games, we stifle the development of games as a medium, both for entertainment and serious thought. By sticking our heads in the sand whenever someone points out a problem with games, or by exploding in a tirade like an angry child, we ruin every singly chance of growth and advancement of the medium. No, games are not just games. They’re a medium for sharing meanings and ideas, as well as a fun way to pass the time and be social.

But back to the case at hand, the aptly named game Hatred. I’m sorry, but no matter how much you try to pump up the fact that it’s just a game and that it’s  for the lulz, you’re still showing a trench coat wearing power-fantasy running around randomly killing people, both civilians and law enforcers, as violently as possible. As far as I can tell, or everyone else for that matter, that is the only thing that you’ve got going for you with this game. Seriously, do you have any sense of the medium and the history of it? You’ve basically made what looks like the best argument Jack Thompson could have wanted to use against video games. This game does not exist in a vacuum, it exists in correlation with all video games ever made and everything that has been said or thought about video games to this day. This isn’t bringing video games back to their rebellious roots. This is a blatant use of that history to gain attention, on all the wrong aspects. You want to make a statement about video games, but you don’t want any negative feedback because it’s just for the lulz. For fuck’s sake, it is the equivalent to getting Cradle of Filth’s “Jesus is a cunt” t-shirt just to piss of your parents at the family reunion. You’re not making a statement, you’re making a scene.

The fact that the game is violent is not the problem, video games are not strangers to violence, but the context and symbolism that is shown in this game plainly shows that the developers behind it either doesn’t understand their medium or that they just want to make as much of a scene and as much outrage as they can. I’m pretty sure it’s a little of column A and a lot of column B. A whole lot from column B.

This isn’t a call to censure the developers behind this drivel, but it is a stern statement that what you make will be critiqued, review, analyzed and interpreted by people who do not agree with you as well as those who do agree with you and even if you claim that there is no meaning behind the game, just pure fun and not an attempt to make something higher or, as you claim, to make entertainment and not art, people will still look at what you’ve made and they will judge it. By saying “it’s just a game” you are not exempt from critique. And please, everyone, try to remember this: Critique does not equal censorship. You’re free to spout your drivel, but nobody has to agree with you.

To be honest, I wish that this game hadn’t been pulled from Steam Greenlight in the first place, because then this thing could have passed by in obscurity and remained there, instead of giving the developers a ride on the “waah, we’re being censured”-pony. The fact that this game is a topic today is just plain annoying, there are more important topics that need discussing.


-Still a bastard-

OnklP & Slekta

Last Thursday I shot OnklP & De Fjerne Slektninga at Rockefeller for Eternal Terror, a Norwegian web magazine for rock, metal and punk music. It felt great to be back in the pit and to get the chance to shoot some awesome artists, every new shoot is a learning experience. I’ve got a lot of shoots scheduled for Eternal Terror in the months ahead, the next being Keep of Kalessin here in Oslo in February.




After returning from the Wyld after X-mas and New Year, I also got my hands on a nifty little gadget, namely the Riftlabs Kick, which I think I’m gonna have a lot of fun with. Haven’t had the opportunity to use it for a shoot yet, but I’ve got something planned to remedy that. It seems like a really useful little tool, though I had some problems getting it to work properly with my android right out of the box. Thankfully a firmware upgrade on the Kick itself seems to have fixed all the problems and I haven’t had any problems with it afterwards. Blues are blues and so pretty and bright they are.

-Still a colorblind bastard-

Happy New Year

The New Year is upon us, here’s to surviving this one as well. I’m still up North with family for a few more days, having celebrated New Year’s here for the first time in many a year, but I am looking forward to heading home and getting back to work. I’m surprised I’ve managed to keep my sanity this far, usually I’ve been walking on the walls after about a week, but now it’s closing in on three weeks. But I can feel that I am starting to weary of it, weary of family and weary of having other people around me. The Call of the Wild was canceled due to bad weather (seemed promising at first with lots and lots of snow, but then it took a turn for the worse with +3 degrees Celsius and rain, which ruined all my plans to roam around the mountains with my snowmobile and the camera)  and the Call for Home is sounding loudly. I love my family, but we’re starting to get on each other’s nerves, as I’m a night owl and they most assuredly are not… No they are not…



Just a few more days and I’ll be home where my heart is and the “vacation” that is needed after every vacation spent with family can commence. I’ve gotten some nice photos here, especially been trying out shooting the Northern Lights and fireworks, I even got a small drunken photo shoot with a few friends at a x-mas party, which was fun and got me some interesting photos, especially with the flash that I “inherited” from my step-dad, as he wasn’t using it anymore. It’s an old Nikon model, but surprisingly it works rather well on my Canon. All I need now is to get a off-camera solution in order and I’m good to go. I’ve been spending some late nights when everyone else has gone to bed looking for something that works, and I think I’ve found something usable. I’ve also been thinking about picking up a Kick light when I get back to civilization, as it seems like a wonderfully useful gadget that I can have a lot of fun with.


Still a bastard and loving it.

Silent Mountain

Been editing some pictures from this summer that I, well… I thought I was done with, but they had been bothering me. They were good, but I felt that they lacked that extra punch that they deserved. Mostly because the fog blanketed everything white/gray. Added a little texture to the images to enhance the gloomy sensation that it was walking around in the thick fog did the trick and I got the otherworldly Silent Hill-esque images that I wanted.


(HDR testing in Northern Norway, shot in the summer of 2014, with added texture layer.)



The Greater Picture: Gamer Culture and the latest scandal

I’m currently writing my thesis on the subject of narrative in video games, a crossroad project between literature theory and games studies, so it is safe to assume that I love video games. But there are moments where I loathe those who play video games, the gamers, especially when there are situations like the one that has been playing out lately, namely the “Zoe Quinn Scandal” (And no, you don’t have to tell me that it isn’t all gamers. But it is the most public and visible face of gamers and gaming culture.) An angry mob, hiding behind the anonymity and safety of the internet, attacking and spreading hate towards her for her personal life and the fact that she is a gaming media celebrity. Here is a short summary of the situation; an angry ex posts on his blog about her alleged infidelity and her relationships with several people in the gaming news industry, which re-ignites the hate-campaign that was aimed at Quinn earlier on, in connection with the release of her game Depression Quest. She is accused of using sex and contacts to promote herself and her work and for actively destroying other people’s work, of using friends in “high places” (i.e. forum mods) to silence opposition against her and more.


I can go further into the details, but I won’t bother, there are few facts and too many conspiracies and too much hate, and it all started with a biased post by a person making public what is their private life. Yet none of this actually matters; this blatant attack on her and her person is just a disgusting witch-trial. The focus should be on the state of video game journalism, not her sex- and private life. The focus should be on how the gaming-community handles the situation. I’m not trying to defend Quinn and her actions, I don’t care about them and I don’t really care that much about her; if you’re not her or sleeping with her, then it’s none of your concerns, simple as that. Her sex life has nothing to do with you; the accusations of corruption and the state of video game journalism are the only things that should be discussed. No matter the gender of those involved. Gender has no part of this.


The fact that video game journalists, and others in similar positions, open them selves up for such accusations of corruption (whether they are true or not) point to a need for change. While I am a firm believer that no one can truly be objective, it is a goal to strive for where it comes to journalism. Do not put yourself in a compromising situation, be open about the situation and make sure that your audience knows it. If you have a connection with the person or company in question, be upfront about it, so that no one can question your legitimacy. It’s as simple as that. It is journalism 101.


If the accusations concerning Quinn and the journalists are true, then that is a horrible case of corruption and a loss of integrity for all those concerned, both individuals and businesses. What Owen Grieve discusses here is rather important:


“There are campaigners out there who genuinely think that any friendship between journalists and developers is an immediate conflict of interest that illegitimises their reporting. I can sympathise with this sentiment, although I have to add that I think it’s kinda misguided. I basically see two sides behind this line of thinking – people who have no experience of game development or journalism (who simply don’t know what they’re talking about) and developers who are angry because they don’t know any journalists and feel unfairly ignored (which is a valid criticism of an unfair system, but I don’t consider it a sign of moral decay – people can’t write about you if they don’t know who you are, and sadly there isn’t some Meritocracy Fairy who will get journalists’ attention for you, which is one of the many reasons I hammer on about the importance of networking in Advice For Students).” [Source]


Connections and the use of connections lies at the core of journalism, it is how you discover content to publish, but the reverse is also true; connections with journalists and the use of those connections is necessary to get your own content (be it a product or an opinion) put forward. It’s all about working the angles. But there is a limit to how far you can go before you lose your integrity, when you end up in a conflict of interest.


Another interesting point to all of this has been put forward by Carolyn Petit:

Inherent in the statement that, by being an “activist”—which, here, I take to mean “someone who has attempted to raise certain questions and concerns about the meanings present in some games”—I’ve failed at being a “journalist,” is the idea that journalists don’t ever try to challenge existing power structures or political ideologies or give a voice to the voiceless or any such thing, that the role of journalists is always to simply dryly report the “facts” in such a way that never favors one “side” of an issue over another, but always presents both as equal, even when those sides are not equal at all.”[Source]


And I agree with her. Journalists can be activists; as I mentioned earlier, nobody can be truly objective, and you should not be. We need journalists to have a critical voice and to present causes and subjects to us. That means that they will have their own causes, that mean that they will be biased. There is no getting away from that. But I will also repeat myself: There is a limit to how far you can go before you lose your integrity. Petit goes on to say: Games are not politically neutral. Neither are mainstream romantic comedies, or action films, or any novel I’ve ever read. They may sometimes appear politically neutral if the values they reinforce mesh with the value systems of the larger culture, but our culture is not politically neutral, either, and it is not outside of the role of a critic to comment on or raise questions about the political meanings embedded in the works one evaluates.”


But the witch-trial against Quinn and against Sarkeesian? That has no place anywhere; if you are against their opinions and what they stand for, discuss it, do not attack them, and do not threaten to rape them or to murder them. Do not fucking force them to leave their homes because you make them feel unsafe. I’m surprised that this is something that people have to be told. Seriously. It isn’t Quinn and Sarkeesian that is ruining gamer-culture; it is gamers who do shit like this. Something that has become a rather hot topic lately, where several people have begun discussing the term “gamer” and gamer-culture.


I’ve written about this ugly side of gamer-culture earlier [linkie] and it hasn’t changed much since then, unfortunately. It also shows a side of gamer culture that is a far more serious situation than this scandal; it shows the ugly face of it. The fact that gamers are willing to attack someone in this manner, that gamers are willing to whip themselves into a frenzy over this. If we focus on Quinn, we see but a minuscule part of the greater picture. If the accusations put forward are true, her actions and those of the others involved are at best questionable and at worst critique-worthy. Quinn’s actions, if verified, are largely a domestic situation, the journalists’ actions are a question of journalistic integrity or business etiquette. But the outlash, the attacks against her as a person, the threats and the hate, this is at best deplorable, likewise in the situation with Anita Sarkeesian. This is the greater picture; how gamers react in the situation.


This toxicity that is running rampant in gamer culture, or at least what some people want gamer culture to be and who claim to have the power to define what gamer culture is and isn’t, what a gamer is and isn’t. This is the greater picture.


What I’ve seen so far shows this: People are conducting a witch-hunt against her, they’re not being critical or making a stand against her and her opinions, they’re building a fucking firepit in the middle of the town square and getting ready to put here to the bloody torch. Not because she did something wrong, but simply because they don’t like her. Though I’m sure some of those that feel struck by this will argue otherwise.


This is the filth let off its reins. The beast hungry for its spectacle. The mob smelling blood. This is the ugly face of gamer culture, and more and more its becoming the public face of gamer culture. Unfortunately. We’re creeping closer and closer to the ugly caricature that Jack “Games-cause-serial-murders” Thompson claimed we were.


Is it any wonder that people have begun calling the term “gamer” dead? [link] That people are beginning to see the way we describe ourselves as a pejorative? Personally, I’ve begun to disdain gamer culture because of situations like this; how we treat the new voices in our medium, how we treat those of our own that have the guts to criticize and to innovate, how we refuse to let others come into our playground, how we treat the Other and see ourselves superior to it. This disgusts me. We need debate and we need criticism.


If you are outspoken and critical about games, especially if you’re female, you’re a target. You’re not taken seriously, you’re attacked. You’re not debated with, you’re ridiculed. The angry, anonymous mob is attacking the messenger, not the message. This has to stop if games are to grow as a medium, we need to be able to discuss games and what games are if games are to evolve and not stagnate, as both an art form and as a form of entertainment. We can see it in both of the campaigns against Zoe Quinn and we can see it in the campaign against Anita Sarkessian, of Feminist Frequency and Tropes vs Women in Video Games-fame. If you say something negative against video games, if you criticize them, people will hate you and they will attack you. Why? Is it that they are afraid that someone will come and take their toys away? That they are afraid that they’ll have to share their toys with women and girls? Video games are not above criticism, nothing is above criticism. Personally, I think it is a symptom that video games as a medium and cultural product is growing up, becoming more refined, but that a lot of people are having trouble keeping up with this growth, seeing all change as a danger to themselves and their identity, their sense of self. Change after all, can be scary. Mind you, this is not a defense of these people and their antics, merely a hypothesis on where it comes from.


Video games and games culture have not seen as much criticism and study from within its own ranks as it has the last few years, and this is a good thing. We’re starting to see what we are and who we are and how we fit into the larger picture of the world, as nothing exists in isolation. We’re coming into territory where other cultural products, film and literature for instance, have already been living for quite some time. It hasn’t destroyed either of them and it won’t destroy us. We need more voices in gaming, fresh voices with fresh perspectives. Even if that scares some people. We need not only to allow other voices than those that have so far been dominant, both on the consumer end and the producer end, to have a go at the medium, but to actually encourage these other voices. Race and gender issues are amongst what we need these voices to bring. The rampant voices that shout that women can’t be gamers and that women don’t actually enjoy video games are horrifying.


This isn’t an attempt to censor content or stifle creativity; this isn’t the purpose of critique. Critiques are reflections on the medium and the content of the medium. Criticism is essential for further development; this is true for all aspects of human culture, we critique and review in order to evolve our culture. Criticism is not telling game developers what they can or cannot do, but it is giving them an opinion on what they do. Sexism and objectification of women is one of the headlights on video game critique the last few years, which are valid topics, especially as women are making a greater foray into gaming, both as consumers and producers. This is the foundation of Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency, for instance. It is both a thorough interpretation and analysis of video game past and an attempt to broaden video game future, to further establish room for exploration of the medium. Allowing new voices does not mean that the old voices are pushed away, but the medium is growing and there will come a time when old voices become irrelevant to the current situation. This does not invalidate them, be they opinions or content, but it means that the medium and the community has evolved to a different place, where what that voice says no longer is relevant. We simply need to look towards film as a medium, where there is now a long tradition of criticism and interpretations, where theories, interpretations and forms of criticism has grown and evolved, leaving some behind as new theories have appeared. Film and film creators have not had their creativity stifled, but their content and their message is open to criticism and we need the same situation with video games. But the important part to remember: Keep it civil.


I read somewhere that the average gamer is in their late 20’s and early 30’s, i.e. the Nintendo generation. We’re growing up and we need the medium that we love and cherish to grow up with us and we need to be open about this, open and upfront, public about this.


This is an open letter to the gaming community, from several game creators, from both triple-A studios, indie studios and academics:


“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.

If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites.

If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.”  

The letter can be found here

We need that those people who love games are vocal and make it known that those spewing this sort of hatred are not all there is to “gamer culture”, even if it might seem that the term has reached the end of its life. We need to be able to discuss and debate what games are and what games mean, both as content and to us as individuals.


People who play games are all ethnicities, all genders and sexual identities, all ages, all political viewpoints, all economical situations, and all nationalities. Games are a way to allow all these voices a channel in which to express themselves, where we can learn their stories and their ideas. There is room enough for us all. That means that there will be content that you, personally, might not agree with or like, but there is room for it none the less and even if there wasn’t room, we should make room for it.