The Professional Gamer - August 31, 2015

This has certainly been a good week for geeking.  I managed to watch some fun shows with friends, read a little bit of a good book, and play some video games.  If, like me, you have a limited amount of time to spend on your hobbies, you are likely to look for ways to maximize your enjoyment in the time that you have.  And that's what I'm here to do.  Tell you about my week so that maybe you can find something great to do in your own week.

Reading: During my short camping trip last weekend, I read some more of Pretty Guardian: Sailor Moon.  At this point I am well into the "Dead Moon" arc (Super S for fans of the anime),  So far, I think I'm enjoying this arc the most.  I love how each of the Sailor Guardians gets a story confronting their own dreams and doubts.  Although there is some character development earlier in the series, I feel that know is the first time that I am really getting to know all of the Guaradians as people rather than characters.

Also, some of you may have been following the results of the Hugo Awards.  Wired Magazine seems to have a good piece summing up all of what happened with Sad Puppy et al.  I haven't finished reading the entire column myself yet (because when I read about people behaving in overtly sexist/racist/homophobic ways, my blood boils).

Playing: My game playing for the week is either sparse, or intense depending on your opinions about certain types of gaming.  True, I spent a little more than an hour piloting my Space Van™.  It's a fun way to pass time and earn money in Elite: Dangerous, but since I've ditched the shield generator (that's valuable cargo space friend), I've been terrified of any pirate entanglements.  At this point, I've had enough space station entanglements to last a lifetime, and had to pay about 200 credits repair my hull from various bumps and scrapes.

Beyond that, I may have made the mistake of installing Fallout Shelter on my phone.  I tend to view games like this as time wasters.  I could just as easily spend the same amount of time browsing through Twitter or Tumblr, looking at cat pictures, and rage reading about the latest environmental catastrophe or human rights abuse.  But when it comes down to it, Fallout Shelter is fun.  I enjoy finding the sweet spot in expansion rate so that people aren't starving or without electricity or eaten by molerats.

Watching: Two of my friends passed a very important milestone this week when they watched the Steven Universe episode "Jailbreak".  For me, this episode marks a strong change in the tone of the series.  At the end of "Jailbreak", we are no longer in quite the same magical, but largely harmless world.  The Crystal Gems are no longer battling against savage, but not necessarily malefic gem monsters.  They have a nemesis, with the ability to plan and strategize.  Also, "Jailbreak" has the best song in the series.

In my own viewing, I've finished Series 8 of the new Doctor Who.  Since this is a recent release to the world of streaming, I'm going to put up the SPOILERS warning here.  If you haven't seen the entire series, and want to be more surprised at the reveals in the finale, steer clear.  

Now then, there is no doubt in my mind that the last few episodes of this series have been much better than the earlier episodes.  There seemed to be marked improvement in the quality of the writing with "Mummy on the Orient Express" that continued through to the end of the series (yes even with Moffat's work on the two part finale).  "Flatline" was my favorite and felt the most like Doctor Who to me.  I love when the Doctor is confronted with something new, when we as the audience get to experience the joy and terror of a new discovery alongside the Doctor and his companion.  Now, on to the finale.  Please note that my opinions are based primarily on "new" Who and that I am going to use female pronouns when referring to the Master, for simplicity.  I am not really a fan of The Master as a villain, because she tends to fall into the evil because I hate everyone trope.  The Master never seems to be fundamentally convinced of her "rightness".  The most compelling villains believe that they are behaving in the only correct way given the situation they find themselves in.  However, I do think that the Doctor's ace in this case was much better than his last major confrontation with the Master at the end of Series 3.  I feel that "love is more than an emotion" is a better theme than "wishing the Doctor back".  I wish that the show would have explored more about why there are all sorts of robots searching for the "Promised Land" and I find that idea that the Master was responsible for getting the Doctor and Clara together to be silly.  We are allowed to have things just be coincidence from time to time.  Perhaps Clara just got what ought to have been a wrong number for her technical support and ended up talking with the Doctor.  I could go on, but I'll stop myself here.  On balance, I think that Series 8 was better than 7, but it is likely still at the lower end in my rankings so far.