Hatpire makes some ridiculously cute-looking postcards. The one of Chell above is the newest creation, and perfect for this week's round-up.
Now let's move on to reading this week's best content, courtesy of us.
Jason Schreier offers some tips for playing the delightful Ni no Kuni. More »
Zoe Quinn gives us an instructional guide on how to make a video game, even if you know nothing about it. More »
Jason ranks his favorite Final Fantasy games. More »
Evan Narcisse compares the narrative role in two games, explaining why its so important to make you feel like you're the one writing the stuff. More »
Eric Jou ranks the Pokémon games in this latest pecking order. More »
Kirk Hamilton gives us a very thorough rundown of his preview experience. More »
Holden Miller explains how a traumatic experience led to his fear of flying, but gaming became his therapy. More »
Brian Ashcraft explains the cult of personality behind Nintendo and, specifically, Satoru Iwata and his famous gestures. More »
Luke Plunkett rounds up the best mods for PC games. More »
Chris Person found the best gaming-related six second looping Vine videos. More »
Jason is really in love with this game. More »
Tim Rogers reviews... football, just in time for the Super Bowl. More »
Michael Peck tells us what the CIA predicts for 2030. More »
Matt Cabral previews this Vita title and it doesn't seem to be half bad. More »
Matt previews God of War: Ascension. More »
Stephen Totilo loves the relationships in Fire Emblem: Awakening. More »
Billed as the "Tallest Robot Lantern in the World", the 12 meter tall, 2.5 light up statue was shown in the city of Shuzhou, China.
Remember when Britney Spears cut off all her hair? That was disconcerting. This week, Minami Minegishi, a member of Japan's biggest girl group AKB48, appeared in a YouTube video, apologizing and crying. Her head was shaved. Likewise, disconcerting.
Online in Japan, however, people wondered if this was some kind of sick punishment for a tabloid story about her spending the night with a boy band member. No, it was a public shaming.
On January 31, a Japanese tabloid published photos of Minegishi apparently leaving the house of a boy band member named Alan Shirahama. An article like this could destroy a young idol's career, with her losing fans or even kicked out of the group.
Minegishi is a member of AKB48, which is Japan's biggest musical act.
On the group's official YouTube channel, a distressed Minegishi appeared with a shaved head and repeatedly said she was sorry, but didn't go into detail. The video has nearly six million views. Minegishi's shaved head is even splashing in mainstream Western news outlets.
The singer also said she didn't want to quit the group and that she had shaved her head on her own accord (she apparently shaved her head with scissors). Her video apology is deeply disturbing. To add insult to injury, the group's management demoted Minegishi to a "trainee" role, pushing her to he lowest position one can hold in the group.
Minegishi is 20 years old. Shirahama is 19 years old. Whether or not they are both consenting adults doesn't matter much in the world of Japanese idols.
One of the rules of her group AKB48 is that members are not allowed to have boyfriends. Posing in bikinis or underwear for mags is okay. Boyfriends are not. For idol groups like AKB48, such rules are the norm. The reason why idols are not allowed to have boyfriends is that real world dating destroys the pure fantasy of male fans. The idol becomes just like any other girl. She's normal.
Thus, proof of how normal she is destroys the desire to place her on a pedestal.
Worse than being knocked off her pedestal, Minegishi is now forum fodder. Online in Japan, the country's biggest web forum, 2ch, has already created endless memes, using images from Minegishi's apology to paste her face on bald kung-fu monks, inmates, and soldiers.
Meanwhile, AKB48 fans are upset about Minegishi behaving in what they'd call an unfitting manner, and then shaving off all her hair to say how sorry she is. Then, to complicate things further, fans got upset after another AKB48 member tweeted a photo of a shaved-head Minegishi giving out dual peace signs and smiling. It was as though she wasn't really sorry and this was just a farce or a PR stunt. This cruel shaming became incongruous with happy-go-lucky photos. Something was up.
Idols fans everywhere buy into fantasy and lies. They like these young singers, whether they are male or female, because they seem perfect. In the West, Britney Spears' image was monitored much more closely when she was younger. Since then, it's been a constant unraveling of what people thought she was like. In Japan, a similar thing happens with pop stars, but in a far more concentrated form. Retribution for mistakes is swift and decisive.
Minegishi's reaction—the video and the haircut—isn't a Britney Spears style meltdown, which was a troubling cry for help. Here, it's Minegishi humiliating herself to show how sorry she was, or, depending on how jaded you are, an unsettling PR stunt.
Idol or not, why should grown women apologize for being grown women?
Pretty sure Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't in Star Wars: Episode I. That didn't keep Chinese bootleggers from slapping his mug on this pirated box.
It isn't only Schwarzenegger. Many of the boxes either have incorrect descriptions or feature actors who are not in the film. It's as though the pirates are just putting whatever is popular—whether that's Harry Potter or Apple—and using that to entice shoppers.
Though, imagine the soul crushing disappointment of watching Star Wars: Episode I and expecting the guy from Commando to show up. Worse yet, imagine watching Episode I, expecting it to be good. Brutal.
It's just... it's just so damn perfect. Especially since it reminds me of my old desktop wallpaper.
Morgan Freeman [GTA Mods]
I've been jamming to Sivu today thanks to this intriguing yet eerie video up above. It's data collected from MRI scans... while he sings. Weird contrast, too: heartfelt song, detached visuals.
There's also this video of a fish forming a thought by The Epoch Times, which, just... wow. What does our brain look like when it forms a thought, I wonder?
That's a whole lot of brains for a send-off to the weekend in today's open thread. Got any non-brainy plans? Are you watching the Superbowl?
Feel free to talk about brains, the Superbowl, or anything else in this post or in our Talk Amongst Yourselves forum. See you later!
Sivu - Better Man Than He (Official Video) [Sivu Signals]
What Do Fish Thoughts Look Like? (1) [EpochTimesSci]
What's great about her work is the life. No barbarian girls with overly-large chests, no dystopian sci-fi futures, no epic medieval battles... just strong characters and lush colours.
You can see more of Maria's work at her personal site.
If you're at all involved in PC modding, you probably frequent a Nexus Mods site. From Fallout: New Vegas to Skyrim, many games that allow for user-created mods have a Nexus site dedicated to organizing mods and bringing modders together. These sites are... incredible. And unless you want to pay for a premium membership, they're totally free.
A couple days ago, Nexus Mods owner Robin Scott posted this lengthy blog post in which he discusses server setup, the toll the sites' ever-increasing popularity has taken on stability, and basically how everything's been going lately. He also talks about the notion of bringing on investors and implementing ad sales in order to turn a profit:
The Nexus sites have remained completely independent; free of corporate interest and investment for its entire 11 years and it shall remain so for the very foreseeable future. The only investment these sites have had was the initial £10,000 I chucked in to the sites when I rebranded the sites as the Nexus back in 2007. I'm the sole owner and sole decision maker of the sites. There's no outside interest, board of directors or investors pulling the strings behind the scenes. Similarly no game developers have any influence or sway over me. The buck stops at me.
If I wanted to I could make a business plan (I don't have one, by the way) and go to Silicon Valley, pitch the idea to a load of private and angel investors, secure (potentially hundreds of) thousands of dollars in investment money and make a proper business out of it like many gaming sites and networks have done over the past few years. However, I then become answerable to shareholders and investors who are looking for a return on their investment as fast as possible. To be frank, F' that.
I use the Nexus sites regularly, most recently adding a drunken bear companion to Skyrim, and it certainly is depressing to imagine them becoming ad-laden or shareholder-driven, even while I certainly think the service they provide is worth paying for. So it's heartening to see Scott voice such full-throated support for the principles upon which he built the network.
"Avoiding private investment and direct ad sales is a conscious decision that isn't without its pitfalls," Scott writes, "but one that I think is worth it to retain the core values of what these sites were set up for in the first place; to provide mods authors with an easy platform to share their work with others that will stand the test of time."
Give the whole thing a read, and if you decide you dig what Scott and his team do, consider signing up for a premium membership.
Announced yesterday by publishers Paradox, Leviathan Warships is an upcoming game by Pieces Interactive. It's about...leviathan warships. Battleships, etc.
With a cute art style and a simple, deathmatch-style pitch, what could be most interesting is the fact it supports multiplatform multiplayer, boasting that a PC gamer, Mac gamer, Android gamer and iOS gamer can all face off against each other in the same battle.
There's a duel mode in Chivalry now, thanks to the latest update. And boy is it a doozy, or it was while in beta: take a look at Criken2 here, who shows us how to duel like a champion/idiot. For the presidents. You'll even learn advanced tactics, like psyching your enemies out and tricking them into pressing the self-destruct button.
Chivalry Beta: Dueling with Criken [Criken2]