Friday, February 29, 2008

History of Gaming in South Africa

Just over a month ago I started writing for a technology based website
So far it has been a very fruitful venture. I'd like to highlight my most popular article from the website.
History of Gaming in South Africa
Before PC fanboys start snarling - this is purely a console only expedition.

In 1972, The first Home gaming console, The Magnavox Odyssey was released in the States.
In 1976, Television was introduced in South Africa

OK. So we missed the first generation of gaming (Game Consoles are broken into 7 chronological generations - I’ll highlight them in this piece)

The second generation, also known as the Atari Generation, started in 1976. Space Invaders, Pong, Pacman and Pitfall pushed the fledgling medium into many homes. But back in South Africa, you had to be an Oppenheimer to get your hands on one.

The third generation introduced gamers to a fat Italian plumber named Mario. Finally, gaming had come to South Africa. The only problem was that most South Africans bought knock offs, instead of the Nintendo Entertainment System. These knock offs (or nes clones), known as Golden China or more simply T.V Games, were extremely popular here, with many gamers owning them along with a variety of compilation cartridges. We all remember blowing the cartridges before inserting them in again. Aah - fond memories (I found six facebook groups dedicated to this activity) Who can forget Super Mario Brothers, Islander, Snow Brothers, Excite Bike. The Sega Master System had a tiny support base, which was reflected in global preference to Nintendo.

This however changed in the fourth generation as South Africans flocked towards Sega's Mega Drive system. Sonic soon replaced Mario as the mascot of choice. This was probably due to a lack of Interest in the African market on Nintendo's behalf. A mistake that Sony would capitalise on when they released the PS1.

Ster Kinekor, the distributors for Playstation in South Africa released the PS1 with virtually no competition. Nintendo's N64 and Sega's Saturn never saw our shores. Those of us who wanted them had to rely on importing them, or getting them from specialist game shops that often charged much more than the market price. Sega didn’t launch the Saturn in South Africa, allowing the Playstation and its successor, the PS2 to have a monopoly control over the South African market for almost a decade.

Riding strong from the success of the PS1, Ster Kinekor and Sony launched the PS2 in South Africa and suddenly, gaming became cool again.(Microsoft didn’t bother to market the original Xbox here, and only Makro and a few other retailers burnt themselves with the Nintendo Gamecube)Sega's Dreamcast wasn’t launched here (some might say thankfully) Even now, as we watch the seventh generation unfold - Sony's PS2 is still shifting machines across the rainbow nation. The sixth Generation came and went and like the generation before, Sony were still the Big dogs in South African gaming.

All this looks to change now, in the seventh generation. Microsoft came in with a bang at the end of September 2006, and since then has slowly built a sizeable fan base with more and more gamers appreciating franchises like Halo, Project Gotham Racing etc. The Xbox 360 launched at the same price in South Africa and the U.K (one of the prime indicators that it was looking to make an impact in the country. The Playstation 3 launched in March last year, with less fanfare than the Xbox ( a few top Billing presenters playing motorstorm doesn’t make for a convincing launch) and a price tag that resembled a down payment on a car as opposed to a new videogame system. Sony it seems, have gotten too comfy at the top and let down their guard. Sony launched the PS3 at R6500 making it wildly inaccessible for most consumers who wanted to upgrade from their PS2's. Then out of nowhere, the Core group got the rights to distribute Nintendo’s revolutionary new console, the Wii. Finally, after three decades, South Africans are now included in the global gaming market like never before. Where to from here? Here's hoping to more 'localisation' in games, and even some South African developers making it in the big leagues.

Concerning Dinosaurs

i've just acquired over a 120 movies from my mate. From old classics like revenge of the nerds to current blockbusters like die hard 4. Amongst the swag are various box sets like back to the future, nightmare on elm street as well as the matrix trilogy and jurassic park. This basically doubles my collection

So here's my master plan. I'm going to watch every movie i own with my wife. Lets ignore the little obstacle we have now. Wouldn't. It be cool , albeit cheap way to to spend two nights a week. I'm watching jurassic park at the moment. Spielberg is a legend! This movie is over a decade old but they could release it tomorrow at the cinema and you would still appreciate the amount of detail and realism in it. Its very important for me to have form follow function. Its one of the reasons why i love the lord of the rings movies so much.

When they designed the nazgul, or the cave trolls, weta worked out little things like whether wing span would allow the beast to stay in the air etc. That is, they created creatures that were realistic. Now that the allure of dinosaurs is not that strong, i can appreciate the detail that went into designing the dinosaurs. I really think that industrial light and magic did an amazing job with the dinosaurs. I mean, we haven't really moved on past their design. Look at night at the museum with ben stiller (mmmm- good day) the t rex there was identical to JP'S one twelve years before.

Did you know that samuel l jackson was in jurassic park. That dude has got one of the best filmographies in hollywood history.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Concerning Dads

My dad is much older than he looks. Right now he is at that age when he makes foolish decisions. If you ask my mum he has always been ‘penny wise pound foolish’. Thing is, he got too old too quickly it seems and I guess I just try my best to overlook his blemishes. He has given me more than I could ever wish for, and never a day was I ever in need of anything. At the same time he never spoilt me, and if there was one thing I could pass on to my kids is that one must not chase after brand names for status sake or be driven by material gain. My dad could have afforded to get me a fancy German car, but instead he got me a Tata Indica. I love my car. I don’t care that its only a 1.4 litre engine or that every second person has one.

The other thing about my Dad is how he used to drag me to the musjid (drag is a strong word but you get the point) and how he made me stand next to him for Taraweeh – at the time I felt it was so unfair as the other kids were all having fun outside, but as I grew I began to appreciate these little things. My dad has built his business from scratch and now it is a household name that is international.

When I started University, I was one of the few muslim students to choose Media and Communication Science as a field (after 9/11 though, it became really popular) and not a day did my Dad ever tell me to get into Commerce or study Medicine (OK – I wouldn’t have got into medicine but why spoil a good moment with a little thing like a fact) He was always proud of me, and he and my mum pushed me to get involved in different organisations.

So why the sudden post about my dad? Two reasons actually – firstly – I’m listening to a lot of Dawud Warnsby Ali and one of his tracks is called Duty to Parents and it has this widely quoted ayat

Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. Surah Al Israh 17:23

And while I have come across it many times, it stood out this weekend for some reason when I heard it on Dawuds CD. The second reason is that Dad was in the backyard on Monday, getting Papayas off the tree (I’d say orchard but I’d be lying) and as he reached to grab one, he cut his finger on the razor wire of the fence. That little cut just brought home his mortality . We always think that our parents are invincible – they aren’t.

I used to see so many of my friends parents in tears, helpless, because their sons were on drugs and were throwing their lives away. And I could have done something about it, but I didn’t.

Then one day I did. Sure, I ‘betrayed’ the code and all that shit, but I look at my friends now – clean, married with kids, and when I see them now, we both realize that there was a large possibility that it wouldn’t end that way.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Concerning Quizzies

It appears only my 'facebook friends' can access my quizz, and I think its sucks (i'l leave the reasons to myself) So - here is the first MJ quizz. If you want a better quizz - Waseem just put up one.

Question #1
If MJ wasnt a Media Lecturer, what would he be?
Chartered accountant
Guy who cleans turtle pool at Ushaka
Video game Consultant
Mr Price Salesman

Question #2
Whats Mj's favourite Movie?
The Lion King
Emanuelle 2: The anti Virgin
Lord of the Rings: Two Towers

Question #3
What is MJ's favourite game of all Time
Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Super Mario Brothers
Pro evolution Soccer 5
Rainbow six Vegas

Question #4
MJ is stranded on an island, He is allowed one item - what does he want?
A Hustler

Question #5
Whih instrument does MJ want to learn how to play?
Music is Haraam!

Question #6
What is MJ's current phrase?
There is no spoon
fat Chicks Try Harder
Word up to your madhab
pull my finger

Question #7
What does MJ want before he is 30?
To see Malaysia
A street named after him

Im in a Nesquik phase of late - I guess Ive never been a breakfast person before so this is transitional meal - think of it as a gateway drug

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Concerning Passion 2

I started a new job this week.

I was offered a position at the Durban University of Technology (formerly D.I.T...formally formally Natal tech City campus) last week. Originally I didnt want to blog about it just yet as I wanted to tell a mate first, but now that I think about it - its no big deal.

So MJ is now a Media Studies Lecturer in the Journalism Department at DUT. I lecture first and second level media studies. I still have my ties with UKZN, and will continue to work as a researcher for the Culture Communication and Media Studies department. I'l also be giving a few guest lectures for the Media and Cultural Studies dept so look out for me there.

I'm going to get into advertising again, but work freelance with two companies. MYDL has been really good to me, so i'm going to write much more for them. Also signed up a few MC gigs. And finally do a bit of consultancy work with Nintendo. I'm putting my PHD on hold this year - I need to save up my money for that dream honeymoon in Malaysia, or Drakensburg.

What else? Oh Yeah - I need to cut my toenails.


MJ'S new office.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Concerning News Values

A few hours ago a breakin story emerged on CNN.

DEKALB, Illinois (CNN) -- A gunman dressed in black walked from behind a curtain at the front of a large lecture hall Thursday at Northern Illinois University and shot 22 people, four fatally, then killed himself, authorities said.

I wonder how long it will be before they start blaming videogames for this nutcase.

'Mario made me do it.'

No he didnt - you are psychotic!

Other news networks have been slower in reporting this story (Ok, so i only checked seven. Two have it up - Al Jazeera and Fox News. I think Immortal Technique said it best when he said

"Word nigga, fuck John Ashcroft! Nigga, fuck Fox News! Fuck those snake-assbitches Tryin to manipulate your opinion, tellin you what to think. Word the fuck up, like "we invaded niggas 'cause we want to free them"You racist motha fucka, you don't give a shit about those people. You can suck my dick!!"

Immortal techniques view on the Iraq war and Corporate Journalism.

It will be interesting to see the newsworthiness of this story in the morning. It brings up a few questions.

A - How newsworthy is it?
B - Will it be given more prominence than other news stories from around the world?
C - Over a thousand people have been killed in Kenya in the latest unrest. Will this story push the Kenyan story down?
D - If a hundred people die in a bomb blast in Iraq today, or if twenty people are killed in South Africa how does one determine the newsworthiness of that event contrasted to the Illinois Shooting? Is a life not worth a life?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Concerning Spoons

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
I love this Matrix Quote. It really encapsulates what MJ has been feeling recently. Everything is relative to our Reality (Big R) and realities (little r). When we realise that emotion is something that we create in our conscience, it helps us understand it. There is no spoon - it all exists in our minds. When you master this, please let me know.
Second Matrix Quote which I love
Oracle: I'd ask you to sit down, but, you're not going to anyway. And don't worry about the vase.
Neo: What vase? [Neo turns to look for a vase, and as he does, he knocks over a vase of flowers, which shatters on the floor]
Oracle: That vase.
Neo: I'm sorry...
Oracle: I said don't worry about it. I'll get one of my kids to fix it.
Neo: How did you know?
Oracle: Ohh, what's really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn't said
This quote explains Taqdeer (predestination so well)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Concerning Broadband

MJ finally got ADSL at home. First thing I did was I went on youtube and typed in the name of this nasheed to see if they made a video - i'm so thrilled to see that they did. I love this track - it makes me grin like an idiot - Zain and Dawud are two awesome guys ( lets not forget native deen - man i wish i could rap half as well as he does)
OK - dear Concerned readers - for the second time - MJ presents to you Zain Bhikha and Dawud Warnsby Ali's Nasheed - Cant take it with you when you go.

Check out Hi Fi Corp in the video - and dawud and zain trying to act cool when Native is rapping - too awesome. I did my own variation of this track with masood and we performed it for Zain two years ago - we changed it to 'You cant get poonani while on haj' - good message there as well

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Concerning 2007 (Movies)

Todays post - Movies.
Best animated movie
I'd say Simpsons but I feel it doesnt belong here, so I'm going to go with ratatouiile
Worst Animated Movie
Ant Bully
Best Bollywood Movie
Salaam E Ishq (OK - so I havent watched tere Zameen Par or Om Shanti Om)
Best Adaptation
tough one - between Harry Potter, Spiderman 3, Simpsons and Transformers. I say Transformers
Best movie most people will overlook
Shooter (watch this movie)
Crappiest Sequel
Pirates of the Caribbean 3
Best Sequel
Bourne Ultimatum
Most surprisingly awesome
28 weeks later
Worst movie Shiraz picked -
Seeker:Dark is Rising
Best Comedy
Worst Adaptation
Ghost Rider
Worst Popcorn
Best Popcorn
Worst Movie
Dead or Alive
Movie of the Year


The Nicholas Cage award for crap acting
Its a tie between his shitty Next and his equally shitty Ghost rider.
OK, so im typing this at 6:52 a.m. I havent slept yet. But i'm happy with my picks so far.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Concerning Excess

Snapped this up at Pavilion the other day. Cute wooden hanger, pretty little dinosaur on it. Only R139 each... R139 each. What is wrong with these people? I asked the salesperson how many came in a pack - half a dozen would be reasonable (everyone has to pay the rent), but I just got this weird look instead. Who buys such expensive hangers. Hangers are purely functional anyway - I dont think Paris Hilton has gem encrusted hangers (I use her as my yardstick for excess) its like buying ... you know, i cant even think of any examples. You cant even show it off, like how'd you show off a car. Whens the last time you heard someone say, "Mariam, open my wardrobe - I Have to show you my latest Hangers - Its all the rage in Milan."

Its not all bad though - it actually made me a better Muslim, because everyday I make dua and say 'Oh Allah, please do not give me a wife that buys 139 rand hangers'.

p.s - I just did a post concerning the history of video games in South Africa. It can be found here