An Ethical Boycott: Shadow Complex

August 24, 2009 · Posted in Activism, Equality, Video Games · 2 Comments 

A bunch of my pals have been quite enthusiastic about Shadow Complex, which looks like a pretty nice action game. Last weekend someone pointed out that the game has been marketed using the name of Orson Scott Card. There was a quiet chorus of “oh fuck” type of comments, a few people cancelled their plans on buying the game and today I heard that one former colleague who had bought the game made a donation for ACLU “as a carbon offset”.


So, who is Orson Scott Card? He’s a scifi writer, who is responsible for such classics as Ender’s Game, which I really liked when I was little. I’d like to re-read it, but unfortunately the title makes me think of its writer, which makes it too hard to enjoy the book itself. Why? Mr. Card is also an extremist Mormon and his views of homosexual rights are less than enlightened (be sure not to miss this hilarious leap of logic: “Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law.”) I’m not going to go to details about Mr. Card’s opinions, since they can be found all over the net and I don’t want to spoil my day going through them again.

There has been grumblings about using Mr Card as a marketing gimmick for Shadow Complex, which has gone unaddressed by Chair Entertainment, it’s owner Epic Games and the other parties involved in the game production and sales, until now. In a Kotaku article we got treated to the following comments:

“Gears of War was made by Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and even a few Canadians like me. It takes all kinds to make great creative games”
-Mark Rein / Epic Games

“If anyone wants to boycott the game and thus damage me or Chair while doing nothing to change Orson’s opinions, that’s naturally their right. Or…They can display the sort of tolerance for someone who is different from them that they feel is lacking in Orson and thus prove they’re better. Your choice.”
-Shadow Complex writer Peter David

So, the bottom line seems to be that from the point of view of the game studio and Microsoft you should ignore the personal opinions of Mr. Card, who is used in marketing the game, because personal preferences like that don’t come into play in creating a game.

Fair enough. I would just like to ask Chair Games, Epic Games and Microsoft this: would you market a game using the name of a scifi writer who’s a well known and vocal Klansman and a board member of an organization whose agenda is that black people should not be able to marry white people and they should not have the same rights as those of the caucasian race? I mean, these are just personal opinions and creating a good game takes all kinds of creative people, be they fundies, NAMBLA-members, Klansmen or Canadian!

So, I’m going to boycott Shadow Complex, since in my point of view every penny going to Orson Scott Card is a penny for organized bigotry. For me this has crossed the line. Obviously a game company doesn’t have to (more precisely SHOULDN’T) screen its employees for their political opinions and no sane person gives a toss if one guy in the coding, graphics or writing credits has an extreme political view. Then again, it’s a completely different thing if the guy who is the face of the game and a major marketing point is a known organized bigot. It’s also naive to think nobody will pay any attention to a choice like that.

A game journalist in me finds it interesting that it took this long to have a moral outrage over a game that didn’t originate from the “games are murder simulators” nutjobs, but from the other side of the coin. The gamer in me is disappointed, since the game did indeed feel worth checking out.

“Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”
– Orson Scott Card


Utö / Park Victory – Wrecks, Fortifications and Toads

August 24, 2009 · Posted in Diving, Geocaching, Urban Exploration · 2 Comments 

Last weekend I and a number of people from our diving club went for a two day trip to Utö to check out the Park Victory shipwreck. Utö is the southernmost inhabited island in Finland, it has some military presence and a population of 50 or so. The island has been inhabited from the 16th century and in addition to a lighthouse, a radar station and a military watchtower there are some old fortifications in the southern tip of the place.

(The Full Flickr Photoset)


The main event of the trip was to go diving on Park Victory, a massive steam ship that sank in 1947. It’s the largest wreck in the Finnish national waters and a popular, although challenging dive location weatherwise. Additional challenge is provided by the fact that the ship is in military waters, so you need a permission for every person who dives there.

The history of the Park Victory’s sinking is quite a melancholy one. On the Christmas Eve of 1947 the 9000 ton ship was approaching Finland in a severe snowstorm. The ship’s crew had skipped the Christmas party, because the captain Zepp had arranged a money collection amongst the crew, and the money was to be used to buy socks filled with candy for twenty Finnish children (this was after the war and times were very lean). The children and their parents were expected to board the ship when it docked and join the crew for a Christmas dinner.

The winds were high, so the ship docked to wait for the weather to calm down. The anchors didn’t hold, and quarter to one in the night the ship drifted to underwater rocks. The crew managed to free it using the ship’s engines, but it drifted back on the rocks at 2:15 and got caught on the midship. The structure didn’t hold, so the ship broke in half and sank in twenty minutes. The rescue ships got on location in the morning, when out of the 48 crew members 10 had died.

For more information in Finnish, check out


As it happened, on Saturday the wind was too high to even think of diving. The waves were over two meters high and the wind was calming down, but not fast enough. I hadn’t been feeling that well during the morning and the day, so I went to sleep off the achy feelings. After we met at the boat in the late afternoon to decide that an evening dive was out of the question too, I went to explore the island.

All in all Utö is ridiculously idyllic. There are small red and white houses, boathouses all along the waterline, an old lighthouse and so on. In addition to that you have a couple of military structures, which break up the idyll a bit.


I had a fun afternoon jumping from boulder to boulder and photographing stuff. Of course my camera battery started running out right when I found the abandoned fortifications on the southern end of the island, and I didn’t have my flashlight with me. After a dinner and a sauna I simply had to go back properly equipped.

Yes. A stormy dark night on an island with an history of shipwrecks and drowned people, me alone exploring abandoned fortifications with the sea pounding the rocky shore nearby. No, I have never seen a horror movie, why?



On the next morning we got up before six and by the time the sun was rising, we were already on top of Park Victory wreck. The waves were still quite high and the only sensible way to get to the buyoy and the rope leading down to the wreck was to pull ourselves there with an another rope – swimming was too difficult. I almost fucked up and forgot to set my dive computer for nitrox (again). Luckily I caught the error when me and my two dive buddies were only five meters deep, so I could come back up to fix the situation. Unfortunately trying to set the computer with the waves rolling over me and my brain still foggy from too little sleep was too difficult, so I had to drag myself to the stern of the ship and back again, before diving down. How’s that for a morning exercise.


We did three dives around the wreck that day and it was worth every dime. The visibility was 10-15 meters, which was excellent because the sheer size of the ship is one of the attractions of the place. Lying on the sea floor, looking up at the bow of the ship you could only imagine the racket it made when it slid down the rock wall. You can still see the gouges it made.



All in all, an excellent weekend. There was good food, sea air, sauna, geocaching, light urban exploration and obviously diving. Right now that makes up at least 3/4 of my favourite activities in one weekend, so not bad at all!


(The Full Flickr Photoset)


Geonewts, Particle Accelerators and Boat Squats

August 16, 2009 · Posted in Geocaching · Comment 

Last week I spent two more or less beautiful summer evenings looking for geocaches and just enjoying cycling around the Helsinki area. It was nice to notice the five hours straight cycling on both streets and off road, climbing trees and clambering up cliffsides didn’t make me terribly tired in the end. Apparently the plan of “exercise by accident by diving and caching” is starting to work.

I took a bunch of photos, which can be found in my Flickr gallery, but here’s a couple of examples.

On the first day I went looking for a geocache next to a particle accelerator lab in a thunderstorm. Yeah, no superpowers and not even a small tear in the fabric of time and space – what a disappointment. My plan of getting superpowers by hanging around particle accelerator seems not to work. This is the second time I tried something like this. The first time was me getting a splinter of wood in my finger in the radioactive material storage room of another particle accelerator.

The photos is taken with iPhone camera, which tries to process the photos somehow on the fly. If you move the camera while taking the pics, funky results ensue. When I SMS’d my pals about what I was doing Ville asked me for photos of the last moments in this reality. This is what he got.


Didn’t find the cache. Found a newt instead.


The next day, which was sunny. The Kulosaari church area is ridiculously beautiful, especially on a clear weather like that.


The weird houseboat I found last year.


A detail on the wharf.

(The full Flickr photoset)


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