The Rant Preventer 2000!


Tired of losing time, money, friends, and sleep over the stupid things you’ve said on social media? Wish you hadn’t posted in the first place?

Finally there’s an answer!


The Rant Preventer 2000 is a small device that sits on or near your computer. Simply turn it on and it senses when you are drunk, medicated, or in a state of extreme emotional or mental agitation. When the RP-2000 senses one of these conditions, it automatically deletes whatever you are working on and cuts all communication between the computer and the keyboard. It will also display your choice of relaxing images and/or messages:

FlowersforSmelling OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OceanSeat CatNap


Act now! Buy one for yourself and everyone you know!



Order now and we’ll send you the mobile version, the RP-3000 Mobile, absolutely free! The RP-3000 Mobile works just like the home computer version, but when it senses that you are in a position to embarrass yourself, it shoots a cone of white noise in front of your mouth, preventing anyone from hearing what awful thing you were about to say and regret later.





BioShock Infinite Becomes My Perfect Exemplum on How to Unnecessarily Narrow Your Audience

Ever since I discovered that my school library had a small stock of Choose Your Own Adventure books, I have craved the experience of interactive adventures.

Stephen King has expressed his belief that writing is a form of telepathy. That he can think something, write it down, and that you can read it and hear his words a million miles away or a hundred years after he’s dead. As an enthusiastic writer and reader of fiction, I’ve always appreciated this view and cherished  how the written word has changed my life for the better.

When this sort of mental collaboration, this sharing of ideas and thoughts, takes place in real time, the experience gets even better. When I fully discovered pen and paper roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, I melded the real time storytelling with my experiences in improv theater. Ever since, my very favorite pastime has always been a good roleplaying game with friends old or new. There’s always something wildly unpredictable about it, a sense of freedom that can’t be found anywhere else. Many of these shared story experiences have stayed with me and affected me as deeply as any book of fiction I’ve ever read.

But sometimes you want to experience a story on your own terms. You want to experience that telepathy in solitude, but perhaps you still long for that interactivity, the ability to influence the story. Computer and video game RPGs seemed like the perfect marriage of experiencing a story at your own pace and still having a hand in its outcome.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic PC box coverI positively loved the RPGs I played in high school. I still remember some of the adventures I had in Baldur’s Gate II and Knights of the Old Republic. I didn’t just listen to the stories and interact with characters, I explored worlds and took risks that were my choice to take. Years later I convinced my wife to try Knights of the Old Republic and she loved it.

In recent years, however, the gaming industry has consistently let me down. More and more RPG properties have moved to the Massively Multiplayer Online model of gaming, something that doesn’t interest me at all because I find the stories bland and impersonal, not to mention the business model sickens me (that’s an entirely different article). In the middle of this blizzard of MMOs, the developers of my two favorite RPG games announced a new title: Dragon Age: Origins. Early articles discussed the game’s breakthrough story lines, gameplay, and choices. I was really excited about that game.

The first official trailer I came across for Dragon Age was titled :”Sex and Violence.”

Unnecessarily Cutting Me Out with Breasts and Blood

I was crushed. As I grew older and matured, so did the genre of video games that I loved, and not in a good way. As the 2000s rolled on and the video game generation grew up, the battle cry of developers became, “Video games aren’t just for kids anymore.” In my opinion, they seem to have painfully over-corrected into forgetting that there’s a whole population of people who want to enjoy games that aren’t all bright colors and kid’s pop, but also don’t want to jump straight into the seething cesspit of adult content. “Gritty” became the byword of the day.

In 2004 I stopped playing games rated M for Mature. I was working at blockbuster and every week, every week, someone came in with their pre-teen child to rent Grand Theft Auto, a series that teaches the player that if you make your character sleep with a prostitute, you can get your money back by killing her afterward. This was the same summer that the Playboy video game came out, tramp stamped with that little M in the corner. I decided to boycott M games from that time on, five years before I even had a child of my own to worry about.

In recent years, I sat despondent as a cavalcade of blockbuster games went by: Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Skyrim, BioShock. I could experience their critically acclaimed stories and expansive worlds only if I was willing to wade knee-deep in gore, get flashed with pixelated nudity, and have my ears warmed with the kind of prurient bad language I wish I had left behind in high school. Sex and violence have always existed in fiction but they don’t have a place in every story and I’m still dismayed that developers and marketers somehow find them so necessary in the stories they want to tell.

Official cover art for Bioshock Infinite.jpg

Now comes BioShock Infinite and finally I feel like my own opinions are being echoed in the
mainstream. I’ve always known there were others who shared my opinion, maybe even the silent majority of gamers, but arguments against excessive violence and the sexual objectification of women seem to have always been shrugged off or marginalized with arguments that, “We know our audience and that’s who we’re making games for.”

I don’t know if I can call it an outcry, but there are certainly a lot of people talking about the violence in BioShock Infinite and how it detracts from the beauty of the world and the emotional poignancy of the story. People who love the game are asking, “Do I really need to make all of these heads explode while I try to discover the truth about my characters and the world?”

While I’ve read that there isn’t an incredible amount of explicit sexual content in BioShock Infinite, the creator’s response to early online reaction about the game’s artwork is illuminating. One of the main characters, an attractive young woman named Elizabeth, is depicted in a corset-like dress with a low cut top. Much of the early chatter about the game centered on this character’s breasts. Creator Kevin Levine expressed dismay over this focus on relegating his painstakingly nuanced character to sexual object status. He laments about how much time he spent getting the emotion in her eyes just right and how he hardly gave a thought to the low cut top.


He didn’t think about how distracting it would be to have an attractive woman in a low cut top. He couldn’t believe how focused people were on it, either in praise or complaint. I guess this proves he doesn’t know his audience as well as he thought. This latter story highlights my question: If something distracts from the main elements of the game, why include it? Does anyone recommend a game to a friend based on how much cleavage it contains? If people do, they have to be just a tiny slice of the buying population that is in some inexplicable way being catered to. It’s mind boggling.

So I’ll stick BioShock Infinite up on my mental shelf of stories I would love to have experienced, if only game creators hadn’t cut me out by unnecessarily narrowing their audience.



A New Year, Novel Writing, and Failing to Live a Double Life OR “Too Many Hats”

Maintaining an online presence doesn’t come naturally to me. By that, I mean that keeping my blog, website, email, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ up to date is a task I find exhausting and difficult. Not to mention having anything to do with any of the many, many discussion forums I have joined over the years, a practice that I have all but given up as a lost cause.

I find online interactions rewarding and I’m constantly grateful to live in an age where technology allows me to reconnect with family and old friends, as well as providing a legitimate way to make new friendships. I’m afraid though, that my online socializing reflects the amount of socializing I get to do in the real world all too well, only on a far grander scale.

In the real world, when I get the rare opportunity to hang out with someone while I’m not working, writing, raising two boys, or spending time with my wife (sleeping counts as quality time, right?), I have to choose between dozens of people in my pool of friends and family. The reality of my online life is that during the course of my week, when I sit down to a computer, I am supposed to be:

A: working as a paralegal


B: writing fiction

It would be preposterous of me to pretend, when I am ostensibly doing one of these things, that I don’t occasionally peek at social media, look at pictures of things wrapped in bacon (usually as a result of peeking at social media), or play Torchlight 2.

When I get that chance to look at my social media feeds, I’m often utterly overwhelmed by the new information that gets uploaded by the minute. Maybe it’s a bit of an excuse to say I’ve been on social media less than a year and a half, but it’s still pretty daunting to me.

When the hierarchy of needs comes calling, things I want to do suffer unevenly and at different times. If you take a quick look at the two posts previous to this one, you can tell that my blog has suffered from this hierarchy of needs.

Other than the needs of work and family, the thing that has been eating most of my time is a new novel I’ve started. I wrote a novel a couple of years ago and then decided it was a glorious first attempt and I promptly trunked it to work on short stories for a while. Since January 1st, however, I’ve been back at the grindstone hard and I’ve already got 40k new words to show for it. Also, also, we joined the YMCA and really enjoying some healthy exercise.

In short, I’m still here, but busier than ever.