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July Updates

Hey all,

I realise I didn’t write my Wednesday Book Review yesterday. I apologise for that. Instead I have been working on revamping my personal website: Nthato Morakabi.com

Here are the updates I’ve made so far:

Book Reviews

While this blog has been going strong with book reviews (okay kinda strong), I’ve been neglecting to update my personal website and it’s book reviews. My last review on it was Tales from Alternate Earths, on October 27, 2016. It’s almost been a whole year. So during the course of this week I will be updating as necessary.

Author Spotlight

I’m still taking book review requests. I’ve been contacted by a few authors so you’ll be seeing more of those books in future reviews. This includes David Meredith’s second book Aaru, J.T Lawrence’s two books Why You Were Taken and The Memory of Water. I was quite pleased to see these books in our local chain bookstore Exclusive Books. Really exciting to see Janita and her books grow!

Author Spotlight is an opportunity to acknowledge the amazing authors out there whose books I had been privileged to read.

Gamecca – Independent Game Developer Interviews

It’s been two years now since I started doing interviews with both local and international Indie Game developers. I’ll be cataloging every interview, studio and game in a new section of my personal website. Not a gaming blog at all, just an opportunity to thank and show off the talented game devs out there.

Gamecca Indie Game Developer Interviews

I’ve also been contemplating a separate game blog. Who knows. Maybe one day.

Writing

You may have noticed I’ve been sort of consistent now with my Friday Fiction. I’ve also been writing on Wattpad under a different pseudonym entering various writing challenges. I’m not participating in Camp NaNo this month but I am working on a number of stories.

Seeing all my writer friends and acquaintances making a name for themselves has been an inspiration.

Nothing else major is happening so far. I guess only the future will reveal itself. Until then, let’s all continue to push the limits of our capabilities.


Remember you can sign up to my SPAM-free monthly Newsletter for all updates here: Nthato Morakabi.com.

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Wednesday Book Review: Ready Player One

ready-player-one

Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Publisher:  Broadway Books

Book procurement: Bought online on Takealot.com. Also available on Amazon and major book stores! (or it should be!)

Release Date: June 5, 2012.

Synopsis:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Review:

I’m perusing all my old online gaming haunts, checking out tutorials on YouTube and playing online on my Xbox, PC and Nintendo 3DS all at the same time. Why? Because this book is just that life changing. I mean, I’d always considered myself a gamer (I write for a gaming magazine after all) and own a variety of gaming consoles as well as building a new gaming PC. But I was twenty pages into this book and I realized I’m a noob by all standards.

So when a book is able to make you reassess your life, you know it’s brilliant. It also plays on every gamer’s dream console – fully immersive virtual reality. You don’t have to watch the .Hack series, Sword Art Online, Log Horizon anime etc or see the Samsung Gear VR, Microsoft’s Hololens, Playstation VR, Facebook’s Oculus to know that we all want that OASIS experience. We don’t want to press buttons, or look ridiculous in front of the Wii, Playstation Move or Microsoft Kinect (even though to be honest that’s what we’ll probably look like in-game anyway). We want to get inside the game and feel like we’re part of the game and not just interactive spectators. And this is the world of Ready Player One. It’s a world where you can be whatever and whoever you want.

I loved Wade. Honestly do. He’s just the kind of high level gamer you find in forums and on MMOs playing solo yet willing to go on that really difficult mission/quest/dungeon with you. He’s not an egotistical jerk. And he has a great sense of humour. I feel like I could relate to him in the gaming world. And that’s a well written character. All the other characters are just as well rounded. No one is a demi-god with amazing good looks and perfect personalities, traits and gaming skills. They are flawed. They are regular folk like you and me. They are real and believable. From Art3mis to Aech (ha! I did not see that coming) to the brothers Shoto and Daito, and even Halliday, Ogden (Og) and the antagonist Sorrento. Just gamers doing what they do best.

The story flows really well. The writing is personal as it is descriptive. You are Wade and experiencing his emotions, thoughts, struggles, hopes, dreams – everything. Ernest Cline really did his homework on all these 80’s titles. I’ve never heard of quite a number of games, anime, movies and music referenced in this book. And yet it all falls under my favourites: anime, gaming, rock and 80s tv shows. There were so many twists in there. Wow. I just wanted to keep reading more and more and more. Between finding the Egg hidden away in the gaming world, and all the conflicts happening both within and outside of the OASIS, I couldn’t help but go on a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m still reeling! I’ll probably read this book again 400 million times during the course of my life. It was that good.

I don’t even know what else to say. It was just… wow. I loved it. Completely. From a story telling perspective to content, characters, ending and all things geekery. If you love games, anime, rock, movies and the like, you’ll love this book.

Rating:  Look it’s a 10 out of 5 okay? My rating system, my rules.


Check out my Bookstagram account: @ascribe_bookstagram

nthato morakabi - ascribe_bookstagram


earnest-cline

ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. His second novel, ARMADA, debuted at #4 on the NYT Bestseller list and is being made into a film by Universal Pictures. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

Ready Player One – Must Read

ready-player-one

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


Okay I have never been sooooo moved by a book like I was by Ready Player One. Have you ever stopped reading just to test your knowledge of gaming to see how you rank as a Gunter? Guess what? I’m not as amazing as I thought I was, which says a lot considering I write for a gaming magazine and have been gaming since back in 1996. 20 years of peripehral knowledge. Not that I need to know any of it by heart anyway, it’s not like I’m trying to find a rare Easter Egg in an immersive MMO that will turn me into an instant billionaire anyway. *crosses fingers*

earnest-cline

ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. His second novel, ARMADA, debuted at #4 on the NYT Bestseller list and is being made into a film by Universal Pictures. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

Living the Dreamfall: My Interview with Red Thread Games’ Quintin Pan

http://www.gameccamag.com/ - Interview with Quintin Pan

http://www.gameccamag.com/ – Interview with Quintin Pan

 

This is my exciting announcement and also a Gamecca Magazine announcement, regarding our latest endeavour hitting up the Independent Game Developer scene and the amazing people within that Industry.

Read the rest of this entry

Quiet Season

Surprisingly I find myself staring at the blank page of a word processor on whatever machine I’m using at that particular moment – Hashtag FirstWorldProblems, I know – and I can’t help feeling as though whatever I am about to write is inadequate. It’s a feeling I’ve carried with me for years, something I attempt to get over by writing anyway. I even feel it when I’m writing my previews and reviews for Gameccamag, that the piece of writing I have put forth will be scrapped and replaced with better writing from my Gamecca colleagues – who in my opinion are fantastic writers.

Occasionally I sift through old writing and cringe at the jumble of now nonsensical words and paragraphs filling the screen. Riddled with emotion I no longer feel, obscure ideas not yet fully formed and paragraphs ending in mid-air – as though I just rode an incredibly long escalator ending at a solid wall.

If you, for some obscure reason, visit my blog to see what I have been up to, you will have noticed that my posts have been non-existent these last five months. In fact the last post I put up was hardly even a post but instead a reminder to both myself and to you my *insert superfluous adjectives* readers, that I was not dead. That I was writing in Offline Mode.

Offline Mode writing involved a couple of reviews (Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Mario VS Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars and Codename: S.T.E.A.M) as well as a couple of previews. You can find them all here: GameccaMag

There was also some short story submissions I sent through for a new book compiled by the famous and still rising Vincent V. Cava. One of my short stories was published before hand in our previous anthology which you can find here: Dark Tales

 

Vincent Vena Cava presents Dead Connections

Vincent Vena Cava presents Dead Connections

 

In terms of my own writing, I have been slacking severely but have no fear, I’m back. With a vengeance. My quiet season is now behind me, it’s time to write.

Twenty Five-Seven

Good news — another hour has just been added to every 24-hour day (don’t ask us how. We have powers). How do you use those extra sixty minutes?

13hour_clock

In all honesty, I doubt that an extra hour to my day would change anything drastic in my life. I would love to say that an extra hour is all I need in my days to mull over World Peace, eradicate poverty or even have world changing epiphanies but I doubt that I would be engaged in anything of the sort with just a single hour. If we talk about a sudden 48 hour change…well that’s a different story.

So with NaNoWriMo coming up, an extra hour could very well be used to get a day ahead and squeeze in 1000 words or so. Could I squeeze 1000 words into an hour? Yes. Yes I can.

I’m also thinking how King Procrastination will probably sway me towards spending that extra hour playing “one more game” of League of Legends or watching “one more episode” of Naruto Shippuden rather than being productive.

In short, an extra hour won’t make much of a difference in the greater scheme  of things and would really just be convenient for everything else I normally do in life.

How would you use your extra hour in the day?

_______________________

In response to:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/twenty-five-seven/

Fan Boy vs Journalist

gamer2_flat I sat with my back against the cool leather seats of my usual bus to work, looking out the slightly dusty window towards the passing stream of people and the familiar grey buildings of the city. I have travelled this way for years now both as a scholar and now as a contributing member of society. It has been a great joy for me, as I spend at least an hour a day sitting within this somewhat empty bus, to be able to spend my time with my trusty handheld console. Over the years I’ve moved on with the times, no longer playing Pokemon Yellow on my Gameboy but now experiencing the modernized Pokemon Black 2 on my Nintendo 3DS.

It is as we approach one of the stops that I tense slightly, looking down towards the blue structure that is the bus stop, where my blonde haired rival stands with his hands in his jacket and large earphones plastered over his ears. He knowingly looks up towards my window as the bus rolls to a stop, and the tell-tale grin on his face tells me he has something to boast about. He steps onto the bus, casually sauntering his way towards me and shaking his earphones off his head so that they sit atop his shoulders. One hand within his jacket is already pulling out the shiny black console that is his PSP Vita. With a casual grin he parks himself next to me, without even a greeting he turns on his console and proceeds to engage me in conversation as though we’d been sitting here chatting all day.

“Yeah I downloaded this new game last night, oh man it’s amazing and it really utilizes the back touch pad of my Vita…I know the DS doesn’t have that but anyway…” I cringe slightly as I now sit here listening to this Sony fan boy belittle my beloved console, poking holes in its apparent childishness, and it’s recycled games

“…they brought this game out recently, you know, not like the same Mario and Zelda games Nintendo always brings out haha just kidding…”

It was at that point that  a single thought made itself clear to me; it was on. Trash talk Nintendo I’ll trash talk Sony. And so it was that yet again, for the umpteenth time in our longstanding friendship we engaged in Fan Boy Wars. AA040013 The question that one must ask themselves as they put on their ” gaming journalist” attire is: should I take off my fan boy suit or do I don it underneath like Superman? To be honest I wouldn’t know as technically I’m not a gaming journalist. I am a writer and a gamer and I’m privileged  in being able to do both as a Game Reviewer and News Editor for a gaming site and an online gaming magazine. However, I am required to do research, compile it and present it to readers, giving them a well written, well researched article, a review that is fair, concise and not riddled with personal opinion. And yet that is exactly the issue that I must address every time my editor hands me a game I’m either keen to play or dread playing: can I play a game and review it without letting some sort of biased opinion infiltrate my writing?

The answer should be yes, but I find my fan-boyism creeping into my writing when I’m reviewing my favourite titles and being a little bit more critical against the games I’m not so inclined to play. Shouldn’t honesty and integrity outweigh personal opinion and favouritism. Shouldn’t I review Pikmin with as much enthusiam as Pokemon (and no they are not the same game – I will go Crazy-Fan-Boy on you if you think they are hee hee ) and shouldn’t I fairly critique my least favourite game with the same mindset that I would my favourite game. Objective over Subjective.

Do I offer reviews that are fair? Well only through feedback will that answer really be given. You can check out my articles at:

http://Myxboxlive.com/gaming – where I write as a News Editor and Game Reviewer

or at

http://www.gameccamag.com – where I write Game Reviews and Previews (this online gaming magazine is for FREE! Yes FREE! )

#PS: I do not travel by bus nor do I engage in Fan-Boy wars with a PS Vita rival-slash-bestfriend…but I did play Pokemon Yellow back in the day and have recently played Pokemon Black 2 but the story was more for illustrative purposes than actual history.

*****************************

Image sources: http://coltongraphicspeak.blogspot.com/2010/12/gamer-health.html http://kevin.lexblog.com/2012/02/11/law-grads-opportunities-await-in-journalism-and-social-media/

Officially part of the Team

So I am officially writing for Gamecca, which is an amazing online gaming magazine. It was first published in July 2009 and has been going strong since. The editor, Walt Pretorious has been in the magazine industry for a long time and has been referred to as an “industry veteran”, and he was the man to offer me this grand opportunity. Thanks Walt! I feel very privileged to have become part of the team but this couldn’t have happened had it not been for one other integral player in this saga.

Somehow I found myself on the JHBGamers website a while ago as they were affiliated…somehow…to a company that was promoting the launch event of Prototype 2. I found myself at the event and enjoyed an evening of free food, drinks and gaming! I then made a point to add JHBGamers to my Facebook likes (as well as a bookmark on my web browser) and checked regularly for similar events. It took a long time but eventually the Resident Evil Launch Event was promoted with a chance to win a double ticket to the event by way of commenting how big of a Resident Evil fan I was. I of course entered immediately with the following post:

” The stench of flesh hung in the air, unmistakable, even under the cloud of dark smoke from the burning vehicle I’d just crawled out of. The last thing I wanted was to lose my only mode of transportation, let alone have an infested wound crawling up my leg like a dying spider… and yet there was a calm that reverberated through me, putting me in a state of tranquility. I wasn’t sure if it was the virus numbing my senses and hiding my pain and panic behind the delectable smell of flesh or I was in a state of severe shock… or hunger; either way, I knew I had to make it to the Launch Event. Not for the possibility of fresh meat..of course not…no…not at all…but for the thrill of putting my *dying* hands on a controller and sate the desire that the RE6 demo left on my *remaining* brain. Years of playing the game, from that first Resident Evil I laid my hands on – Nemesis – to the excitement of seeing that visual realization brought by the famous Mila Jovovich…ah joy. I must go…must go…must…”

Well that got me a ticket and next thing I know I’m driving to the Microsoft office building with much excitement and anticipation, wondering what was in store for me. Unfortunately I was unable to procure a “Plus one” to this event but that proved vital in my meeting of two brothers; Andrew and Kyle. They introduced themselves to me and became familiar faces in unfamiliar territory. It was these two brothers that also led to my meeting with Walt and the proposal to write for him was made. To be honest I did not think I had what it took to be a Game Reviewer and even with his prompting, I did not send an e-mail to find out more about this offer. It was, however, after I won another double ticket to the rAge Expo courtesy of JHBGamers (these guys are amazing!) that I again met Walt and he again suggested I send him a mail and that was when I thought “Why not” and sent it through. Now here I am, with an amazing opportunity at my hands and I intend to use it!

This post would be incomplete without giving credit where credit is due and of course all of this would not have been possible had it not been for the most integral part to any event that occurs in anybody’s life, and that is God. Indeed it is by His grace that all happened as it did and therefore I give all credit and glory to Him. The Sovereign One! Praise be to You, LORD, for Your provision.

Read, Sav, Read.

| B.A. in English. | Writer. | Lover of books. | 2017 Book Count: 61. | Currently Reading: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon. |

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