Tuesday, January 16, 2018

French Developer Accused of Harassment and Hostile Work Conditions

Remember 2 months ago when I posted about harassment in video games? The change is coming.

Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream is in a heap of trouble, with 15 current and former employees and 3 news sources reporting that it's a hostile and sexist workplace. Much of this culture perpetuated by studio heads David Cage and Guillaume de Fondaumière. A number of the employees claim that the lude and harassing behavior even occurred while Cage's wife was at the studio, and she was present during the alleged incidents.

The concerns first appeared last year, when the IT head brought a wrongful dismissal complaint to the Paris labour tribunal. The employee initially complained about inappropriate photoshopped images of employees in sexist or bigoted scenarios - all available on the company's server. Some were shopped wearing Nazi uniforms. Others in revealing clothing with homophobic slurs written on them. After the complaint was made, the images were claimed to have been removed, and so was the head of IT. Feeling that the firing was a retaliation, he went to the labour tribunal.

Other employees have commented that the environment is particularly hostile to women. Not only because of the 83% male dominated work-place, but the culture that has been cultivated there. Drawings of male genitalia are on a wall. Women are hit on, talked down to, and told smutty jokes. It's been noted that Cage has said inappropriate things about actresses that have worked on games with the studio. At company events and parties, Cage and other male colleagues would forgo polite greetings with female employees (the cheek to cheek air kiss), and go for lip contact and inappropriate touching.

There are also claims that employees are working up to 60 hours a week, including weekends, without compensation. A work-week in France is 38 hours, and employees can not legally work for more then 10 hours a day.

Both studio heads deny the allegations. Cage has been quoted stating "You want to talk about homophobia?" he said. "I work with Ellen Page, who fights for LGBT rights. You want to talk about racism? I work with Jesse Williams, who fights for civil rights in the USA... Judge me by my work."

Note: Working with people who fight for the LGBTQ community, civil rights, women's rights, and equality, does not absolve you of your bad behavior. See Harvey Weinstein. A producer with a very strong history of supporting multiple artists who have pro-equality backgrounds. But that didn't stop him from being a sexual predator.

Quantic Dream is based in France, and has become one of the larger gaming exports from Europe over the past 20 years. Their lineup of games includes Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls, and the upcoming Detroit: Beyond Human. The last game is one that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Needless to say, I won't be buying it nor will I be supporting a studio that allows such behavior. As of this posting, I'm going back to my previous post and crossing it out.

The developer will have a long uphill battle over the coming years as they work towards a resolution. Needless to say, this is just the beginning. I would not be surprised if we see more of these revelations occur in the coming year.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Don't 'Swat'

Good Monday everyone! Back from PAX South and still looking over my notes, so it may be a few days until can post my annual review. Instead, let's talk about 'swatting.' For the uninitiated, 'swatting' is a harassment tactic where a person or group convinces emergency personnel to send a response team to another person's address. This is done by creating a false report - such as a terror threat, bomb threat, suicide warning, etc. In the U.S., people can be prosecuted with a crime of 'swatting' as a federal offense for misuse of emergency services. California requires pranksters to assume the full cost of dispatching such services, up to $10,000 USD.

Unfortunately that has not deterred people from stopping the practice. Case in point, the recent death of a Kansas man. But we've seen it on Twitch/Mixer streams and YouTube clips. Police breaking down a door, storming in, and stopping someone from gaming.

Why do people do this? What's the psychology behind it?

It's hard to say for certain what people are thinking when they decide to 'swat.' Sometimes it's for payback - i.e. if you're playing against someone who is doing well in a game, and you resent them. Or you want to get recognized by your favorite streamer, so you send a fake 911 call to their door and disrupt what they are doing. It's funny watching them freak out that the police are ripping up their place...right?

It's not.

The rise in 'swatting' hasn't been helpful for emergency services. Instead of focusing their time on real criminal activity, they now have to waste their resources to respond to bogus calls. Unfortunately most police stations are not equipped in being able to determine which calls are real or fake. Part of their duty is to respond to every call. In the fast paced world of technology, a number of public services are still attempting to catch up. We've only recently established some cyber laws within the last 2-3 years, but they still lag behind on the robust system we need. Cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, cyber-defamation, cyber-anything is not punishable in a number of U.S. states. Police are not equipped with handling how to address people who have been threatened online. And that's why it's easy to pray on emergency services. Because they must respond to each call, 'swatting' is an easy prank with deadly consequences.

Here's the thing peeps: unlike the movies, your call can be traced within seconds. Thankfully it's fairly easy for police to trace a number back and arrest the prankster. In the U.S., that can mean jail time and a hefty fine for abuse of emergency services. But we don't do enough to show the consequences of 'swatting.' Usually it's reserved to the victim. People see it as a joke. The police back down. That's that. What you don't see is all of the property damage, the mental stress from having your house broken into and guns pointed at your face. SWAT is trained to treat everything as a real threat. They will investigate it as a prank, but it is a serious matter.

What can be done to stop it? For one, cyberbullying laws need to be current with today's climate. No more slaps on the wrist. No more apologies. Consequences for actions must be enforced. 'Swatting' laws need to be introduced and we need to start showing what happens to the pranksters. But we also need to teach kids, teens, and young adults that the prank is not funny. It's harmful. It's dangerous. And it can be deadly. The aftermath is on your hands, not the police/emergency services. We also  need to stop showing 'swatting' as a funny YouTube gag. We need to stop marking those videos with smiles and laughs.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018: What We're Looking Forward To in Gaming

Now that we are a little more settled into 2018, let's look at some of the games hitting the market. But I want to take it a step further and lay out some of my hopes and expectations for the industry. 2018 might be the year of change we all need - or at least the start of the change to come.

A big game I'm ready to play and see more then the demo is Monster Hunter: World. While the small taste left something to be desired, the game looks great, the matchmaking is much improved, and the controls felt a lot smoother than past Monster Hunter games. They've even made their Loot Box system one of the least controversial of the bunch by keeping it to cosmetic only. Weapons, armor, and items will all be obtained within the game without having to use Loot Boxes. Thank you Capcom for listening to your audience.

Speaking of Loot Boxes, after the fallout from EA and Star Wars: Battlefront II last year, you bet developers/publishers are going to be cautious about how they roll out future systems. My hope is that more websites begin factoring in Loot Boxes to their reviews, like OpenCritic. I'm aware that this means some reviewers will have to update their content after the games are released, or start a new review style with multiple mini-posts. Some companies don't ship their games in full to reviewers, leaving them unaware of the loot box system. But it's something customers want and need to know. Don't be surprised to see changes to how your favorite reviewers look at games with loot boxes.

Detroit: Beyond Human has also caught my interest. I like games that play out as visual novels. When you have the creators of Heavy Rain behind a project, you know it's going to catch people's attention. The neo-noi sci-fi thriller will be another branching story game, with a focus on humanity and androids in the future. A group of androids are rebelling against society and are fighting against the humans hunting them. It sounds like 'Blade Runner' but it doesn't look like it. Curious to see how the game will hold it's own in 2018's market (release date still to be determined...) As of 1/16/18, The Geek Spot will no longer be supporting Quantic Dream, in light of recent allegations of their workplace conditions and harassment.

And then there's Red Dead Redemption 2. The game people have been clamoring for since the last one, and RockStar being dead silent on it until late last year. I'm still under the impression that they are messing with us. With the exception of the GTA franchise, RockStar rarely does sequels. I was hoping for a new IP, but RDR2 is a good trade off. With a supposed release date of 2018, a posse is coming into town...and that's all I know. I'm not going to make assumptions about the gameplay or the story. There are so many websites spreading false information, and this will not be one of them. Let's wait until RockStar officially comments on the content.

Among these Triple A games, I am always excited to see what indie studios bring to the table. My trip to PAX South this weekend will give me a glimpse into what we'll see for 2018. InnerSpace is finally releasing, which I played at PAX South 2 years ago. I had a blast with this title and I can't wait to see it in it's full form! There's also Nour, a game about playing with your food. You slay monsters and cook them in a competitive environment. Monster Hunter meets Top Chef. We'll see more crazy ideas in 2018 with the growth of this market.

I'm also looking forward to some of the potential biggest bombs of the year. Metal Gear: Survive tops that list. The first Metal Gear title post-Hideo Kojima, Survive is...something. The demo showcased at TGS in 2016 got a surging negative reaction from fans. Survive takes place after MGS5 where, through space magic, you are whisked away into an alternate reality with zombies. It's no longer a sneaking game, but an open world co-op survival. Yeah. Strange. It's almost like Konami is trying to kill off the franchise by making this game nothing like Metal Gear. I won't buy this game, but I am very curious to see how it fares when it releases this year.

Another trend that I hope to see continue to grow is inclusion in gaming. Meaning more diverse protagonists and developers providing more tools to gamers to report harassment. Two prong concept, but both are in need of being reviewed, discussed, and resolved to help gaming move forward. And I don't mean having female or POC leads because we ask for it. The stories for them need to make sense. They need to have proper character development. Token characters will no longer work for today's audience. We have grown up, and so should our games. At the same time, we need to ensure that everyone can play without feeling threatened for doing so. Developers need to be involved in providing means to let people report bad behavior, verbal abuse, and threats of violence. AND follow-up on those reports. Too often the reporting tool does nothing and the abuser is allowed to keep playing. This needs to stop. Developers are just as responsible for this as gamers. This is a growing issue, and we are ready for changes.

Happy 2018 and happy gaming!

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

NVidia's New Game Streaming Service Set to Impress at CES

CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, is going on right now. Companies around the world are showing off their technical wares from televisions to electric toothbrushes. And NVidia may have already stolen the show by playing modern video games on a $200 laptop. Yep. NVidia is touting their new and improved GeForce Now, which has just launched on Windows platforms. A game streaming service that is so smooth that you can play on virtually any computer and get the same speed, graphics, and frame rate as a high-end PC rig.

Originally presented last year, the company faced some delays and push-back from gamers for the servers being slow. Stability with internet connections will always be an issue and one's streaming speed between the data center and their home computer will vary. But based on what we're seeing at CES this year, if you have an internet connection on a business line or 100 megabits, you're going to want GeForce Now.

While it is available now, it is still in beta testing for North America and Europe, after it was released on MAC's last year. It is free, but there is a wait list to access it. It will become a paid service eventually. The list of games that are supported will grow over time, but popular titles such as Overwatch and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds are there. Even World of Warcraft and Minecraft. The streaming service is still sticking to it's original promise regarding saved game files. I.E. if you install a game with Steam, Battle.net, or Ubisoft, your saved files can be carried over to NVidia's services so you can continue your same game on any PC.

It's cool that you can play PUBG on a $200 system, but that doesn't mean it's going to look great. The one thing NVidia will never be able to control is your monitor. If you don't have a monitor that can hold up to the quality and frame rate of the game, then the game isn't going to look nice. At the very least, if you're playing off a $200 PC, get a nicer monitor. Otherwise, for the cash-strapped gamer this is a great alternative! It will be interesting to see the pricing structure and what games are added down the line.

Monday, January 08, 2018

6 Hours Into FF15 and I'm Convinced It's a Bad Game

If you've been following my streaming antics over the past few Sunday's, you'll notice that I'm steadily working through Final Fantasy XV with my brother. It's been over a year since the title was released. A few DLC's are out and some of the glitches have been addressed. Even some story elements were changed. Multiple times. Has the game improved? Is it truer to the narrative that SquareEnix wanted to tell?

Well, I don't know. But I can certainly say that this is not a Final Fantasy title.

Sure there's Chocobos, Cid, a sword called Ragnarok, and even Iron Giants. But from what I've seen so far, this is not Final Fantasy. Why? Because if there are two things FF games do well it's story and character development. FF15 has little to none of either.

My disinterest hit around the 4 hour and 30 minute mark. We had finished a fetch quest that would allow us to travel on to a boat to our next destination. I remarked that we should go ahead and go, push the story forward. So we did. And we were treated to a bunch of plot nonsense that unhinged me.

Let me roll back a little bit and talk about the very basic plot. You play as Noctis, the Prince of a city called Insomnia. Charming name. You are engaged to an Oracle named Lunafreya to help solidify a peace treaty. But you've known her since childhood so it's all good. Your father, the King, sends you out to travel to the wedding with your 3 cohorts (bodyguards? friends?) with a road trip. Because...reasons? You stop to help out the people with random quests, figure out the battle mechanics (if you skipped the tutorial), and that's about it. Brotrip because the King is a cheap ass, clearly doesn't care about your safety or the alliance, and wants you to miss out on your wedding.

You learn a tiny bit about the distinguishing features of the main cast that you will probably be stuck with throughout the game. Noctis likes to fish. Another likes to cook. One likes to take photos. And the last likes to camp and do outdoorsy things. Very little story development happens here. When you reach your first chapter end, the dock that leads you to the boat, that's when the sh*t hits the fan.

You are treated to a cutscene that is a mesh of action, minus all dialogue and sound effects. A semi-somber song plays over the sequence. There's a fight between the King and some random guy in armor. The city (I think it's Insomnia, but the game never states where you are and you never see a full shot of the city like Midgar or Balamb Garden - you only see a small section of the techno-pimp castle) puts up a shield over itself, but then it's disabled. The King is stabbed and the scene ends.

Okay. Um...what the fudge just happened?

My brother had to explain to me that what we saw was from the FF15 Kinsglaive movie. He has seen it. I haven't. Whatever story happened at Insomnia in-between Noctis and his team leaving the city to reaching the docks, that's what Kinsglaive explains. Noctis finds out the news that his father might be dead, but he seems to take it surprisingly well. He whines for a moment, but then it's business per usual. In fact, the entire team is pretty calm about the attack on the city. The plot takes you back to the city gates to see what's going on, but you can't make it past the blockade. A cutscene triggers at one point with a news station revealing that your father is indeed dead, and the rest of the world thinks you and Lunafreya were also killed. Again, Noctis whines for a moment but then goes back to normal.

It was this point where I stopped believing that this game was worth playing.

First, the story. The intermission at Insomnia is fine but it needed context. It should not be assuming that everyone playing the game had already seen the movie. The gamer needed to come up with some grand conclusions to figure out what was going on during that sequence, where a bit of dialogue or a narrator could help clear up the story. Yes the King was killed, but why?

Heck, even showing that there was an invading army would have improved the context (this was noticeably absent in the cutscene). This didn't happen. It was a few close-up shots of the King fighting some guy, the city shield going up, and the King being stabbed. How were we suppose to understand how this affects the world of FF15? Who is this guy? Is it someone the King knows? Is it a rando trying to gain power? Who are the Imperials? Why do we care about them? Are they good? Are they bad? What does the city lose with their monarchy dead? How is the city still functioning?

It's lazy writing to assume that the gamer is going to gorge on everything FF15 before playing.

Second, the reaction of the team. If Noctis wants to be whiny and then cool about his father dying, fine. But the other 3 gentlemen? No reactions? No changes in their demeanor? Prompto seems like he would have shown some emotional response - even if it's surprise or horror and not necessarily sad. He's one of the few characters that shows a shift of outward emotions, and yet he never conveys any sorrow or concern over the King's death.

I'll take any response versus no response. One could argue that everyone processes grief in different ways. Where some may be weeping, others take the quiet and stoic route. That's fine. However no one else in the game changes their attitude. No one. Cindy is the same. Cid is the same. Sidequest Dave is the same. Everyone seems to take the news of their King dying pretty damn well. Even your 3 companions are chill with it. This is not normal, even in a video game. Barret showed more emotion when Aeris died then Noctis!

Third, this entire bit at the end of Chapter 1 made me realize that we were given no time to care about the King, Noctis, or their relationship. The only interaction we have between the two is at the beginning, before Noctis sets off on his road trip. It's a minute of communication and that's it. We don't know anything else about the King or why the marriage is important. We don't know about the Imperials or why they are bad/good and how they affect the kingdom. It's bland dialogue and off we go on a road trip! Yea?

Because of this, the gamer doesn't have a chance to imbue empathy towards anyone when the King dies. His death is nothing more then a plot device to force the story to move forward. It's not interesting. It's not sentimental. It happens and as gamers we're expected to accept it.

I don't accept it. 6 hours into this game and it has completely lost my interest. I am not impressed.

This is the grand story that SE has been wanting to tell? This is what we've been waiting for? This is the "perfect score game?" In 6 hours they managed to kill off a major character without providing any backstory or context to his being, didn't develop any relationships to allow the gamer to connect to the characters, and we are expected to have seen everything FF15 has to offer before playing it so we can understand the story.

That's not how this works. This is steadily turning into the game version of  'Jupiter Ascending.' Bland characters with little emotion. Sci-fi stuff and things blowing up because CGI. Inconsequential plots that require you to read them first before you play. I'm waiting on the ridiculous amounts of unnecessary exposition to begin before we go full-blown 'Jupiter.'

The opening screen where the game proudly announces that FF15 is a game for fans and first-timers is a farce. How are new gamers expected to approach this? How are fans? And to expect a gamer to understand all of the plots of FF15 that only exists outside of the game, that's downright bad story telling. My friend Dan said it best - it's like 'Lord of the Rings' bringing in Gandalf for a scene. Taking him away. And then telling everyone to go read 'The Hobbit' to learn more about Gandalf. Gandalf is a key figure in LoTR and you want to throw him away like a side piece? That's not how storytelling works.

Because I promised myself and my brother that I would sit through this until the end, I will. But I have to say, FF15, you have already failed me.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Weekly Link Round Up

Happy 2018 and welcome to the first Weekly Link Round Up of the year. A gathering of the best, worst, and sometimes weirdest gaming news on the internet. With only 4.3ish days into the new year, what has the gaming world brought us that's worth sharing?

- Nintendo is happily touting the fact that the Switch is the fastest selling console of all time in the U.S. If you're lucky enough to find one of these online or on store shelves, you'll know that it's a difficult system to come by. Still. The system has sold over 4.8 million units within the first 10 months of it's release. This beats out the Wii at 4 million units during the same window. Nintendo branded games make up the majority of purchases and console play as well. But again, it's only fun if you have one. It's still difficult to come by and once again Nintendo controls the chains of supply and demand with annoying success.

- Cloud-based gaming 'Shadow' is starting sign ups for customers in the U.S. to join their services and provide you with games to rent without you having to store anything on your computers. Over the past few years we've had mix results with other companies attempting this route, with varying degrees of success and failure. OnLive is probably the most notable. But the French start-up Blade hopes to make this a good gaming model by providing an online streaming service with little to no lag, all for a monthly fee. Everything is stored in a secure data center. You don't have to worry about a game eating up your hard drive space. It'll also allow you to play games at their best quality if you don't have the latest computer. As long as you have a monitor that can keep up with the FPS rate, then you're covered. How will this service fare? We shall see.

- GDC is around the corner, and this year will be the first for a film festival at the conference. The documentary and narrative festival will focus on the art and culture of video games. Screenings of the films submitted will be March 19 through the 21st. Also returning is the retro game play center and alt.ctrl.GDC.

- Wired would like to remind us that even realistic games like Call of Duty won't help us win real wars. No. Duh. Read this is you need a good laugh.

- Amazon released their list of the best-selling games of 2017. And it should be no surprise that a lot of Nintendo products are on there. Once again proving that you don't have to make M rated games to be popular. Only 3 games fall into the M category: Horizon: Zero Dawn, and the PS4/XBox One version of Call of Duty: World War II. That's it! Everything else is Nintendo, Switch and 3DS, and the latest Zelda ported to the Wii. And these are games for everyone. Kids are not the only ones grabbing up Super Mario: Odyssey and Mario Kart 8. We're all in on what Nintendo is offering.

- Our roundup isn't complete without a WhatCulture entry. This time it's a list of the 10 video games that are so bad, that they are good. And for once, someone did their research on this list! The entries include Two Worlds, South Park (the N64 version), and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. Yeah...remember when rapper 50 Cent wanted to have his own video game series? Bad call. These are games that suffer from technical issues, bad glitches, unfortunate voice acting, bad story, or low to no character development. South Park  (64) is probably one of the better entries since it's a series a mini games disguised as an action/adventure title. It's a horrible game to play, but you can't help but be enchanted by how awful it is. You want to keep throwing snowballs, hitting turkeys, and crashing into the residents of the town. Good job on this list, WhatCulture. Sometimes you redeem yourself.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Crowdfunding Favorite 'Star Citizen' Continues to Raise Ridiculous Amounts of Money

When video game Kickstarter successes are few and far between, Star Citizen continues to rub more salt into the wound. The crowdfunding project that has been years in the making, the developers claim that the game has raised more money then all video game Kickstarter projects combined. For a second year in a row. $34.91 million USD has been collected, wich Kickstarter projects at $17.25 million raised.

How did they do it? Where is that money coming from and where is it going?

Star Citizen has an interesting past with a very loyal fan base. From the mind of Chris Roberts, the creator of the Wing Commander series, the game is an MMO with a persistent world. Action. Adventure. The whole deal. It's been related to as The Lord of the Rings, but in space. It's taking all of those Wing Commander years and turning it into one big ass game. And it's been in production since 2012. The game even has a fan convention for project backers, 4 years and going. It even has Wing Commander fan favorite Mark Hamill on board.

Alpha versions of the game are in backer's hands, but the game hasn't officially released. Note the word Alpha. It's not even in Beta yet. This isn't like other MMO's that are out and are being constantly updated. Star Citizen isn't available to those who aren't backers. And Roberts is a great hype man who generally lives up to his promises. So people flood the company's website, spend money to support the game, and get their copy of a buggy title. Money goes towards subscription fees, in-game rewards, even purchasing digital land.

But it's also been in quite a bit of legal trouble for it's delays. One backer sued for a refund of the $25,000 he donated as he was not happy with the results of the project. Another high-dollar backer has also asked for a refund. And then there's Crytek, which has sued the developer for breach of contract. The game uses Crytek's CryEngine system, and Star Citizen has now been split into 2 games. The developer didn't up their contract to pay for the use of the system with the second game, and now here we are! It Crytek wins or they don't come to a resolution, Star Citizen's development could be halted and further delay the project.

The devs need whatever good news they can hold on to, and ensure people spend more money to help the project move to completion. The bounding success of their fundraising continues. Good for them. Hopefully the legal troubles clear up and they are able to provide a finished product to backers sooner rather then later.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Pokémon Go Entering Chinese Market in 2018

With all the hype around Pokémon Go, you might be surprised to find out that the mobile game is still not available in China. Or not, because it is China after-all. That will change this year as Pokémon fans get their first official taste of the game this year!

Niantic has partnered with China’s NetEase, which was also part of a recent investment in Niantic for $200 million USD, to help bring Go and future games to the country. While a number of users already play in China using cracked and illegal downloads, this official release will provide a stronger support structure for gamers. The biggest problem that both Niantic and NetEase will have to overcome is placing all of the Gyms and PokéStops. Pokémon Go utilized their other mobile game Ingress to map out these hot points. Ingress is not available in China. Niantic is going to have to place Gyms and PokéStops manually. That's going to be a very time-consuming process, all while keeping in mind China's laws - which are much stricter about mobile/game/tech use in some public areas, such as temples and shrines. One mis-step and Go could quickly be pulled from the country.

Between this launch in China and the Harry Potter mobile game releasing world-wide, Niantic is going to have another big year.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Geek Spot 2017 Year in Review

We're following up the worst year on record with the second worst year. 2018 is up in the air, but we will try to keep  things positive. At least 2017 was a great year for video games. Lots of new stories, some good sequels, and unexpected stories that may shift the future of gaming.

Continuing the long-standing tradition, let's take a look back on all of the posts for 2017. Using Bloggers stats as well as Stat Counter, we look to see what are the most popular posts of the year, favorite search terms, and so forth.

Top Searched Terms: violent video games, apb, anime classroom, anime, droopy dog

You people search for some strange things. However, porn is noticeably absent. Are we maturing as an audience to not search for such a thing? Probably not.

I'm still constantly confused on how All Points Bulletin keeps showing up as one of the most searched terms. It's an anomaly that I have yet to comprehend. The 'Reloaded' version is available to play, but none of my articles cover this version. Instead it's the beta and downfall of the original game (so much wasted potential). Something about it still must interest you all to keep searching for it.

As for Droopy Dog, I made a comment one time about how it appeared in a search term and it always manages to find a way to weasel back into the top 5.

Browser: Chrome is steadily taking over as the browser of choice with now 43% of the views for the year. Which is not surprising. More people are converting to Chrome and Blogger is under the Google umbrella. But Firefox is still holding on strong at 35%. Even better IE is at 11%. 11! How? It makes me feel slightly bad for Safari and mobile browsers since those are coming up dead last on the list.

Country: Given that I live in the US and mostly report on gaming content that happens here, of course views from the USA are going to be at the top. What interests me are the 4 that follow. For 2017 it's Russia, France, Germany, and the UK. That seems to be the trend for the past few years. Those 4 countries are constantly swapping positions with each other. Though Russia holds the #2 position with an extra 40k  hits this year, versus 10k last year.

Most Viewed Posts: Here are the numbers for 2017, and if you are a long-time reader of the blog, some of these should look very familiar.

The Feminist Stands on Bayonetta -15,450. Yep. This one again. And the trolls were viscous. I have blocked and reported spam comments on this post more then any others. My crowning achievement on the internet!

Academic Anime - Anime in the Classroom - 11,232. Again another one of those posts that will continue to be on the top. There are some things that will never change on The Geek Spot.

Kickstarter Video Games on Decline - 8,535. This is a story that I didn't expect to see make the Top 10, let alone the Top 5. After so many video games have been funded on Kickstarter, and the low return rate, 2017 was not a good year to start a Kickstarter for your game. Funding and pledges were much lower then in years prior. We're hit the cap! But table top games are still going strong.

EA and SquareEnix's Business Decisions are Freaking Gamers Out - 8,153. This was also a year where gaming companies were making some strange choices that concerned us. A lot. And this was before EA announced it's bombshell microtransactions for Batltefront II. Nope. This is when SE decided to sell off the developer behind the Hitman series. While some stuff has worked out for the best, a few months ago this was a head scratch.

Review Time: Horizon Zero Dawn - 7,864. I'm kind of surprised that of all the reviews I posted this year, and there were a lot more then usual, that this was the most read. I didn't get much of a chance to fully play through Horizon. With only a week and a half to get through the game before NiER: Automata was released, I did my best. But I think my perspective translated well in the review.

Have a Happy New Year everyone! Get out there. Make a difference in your community. And be excellent  to each other.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Weekly Link Round Up

It's the last post of 2017! 243 entries to the blog. How appropriate that we're signing out of 2017 with the Weekly Link Round Up. A collection of the best, worst, and weirdest gaming news on the internet this week. Here is what we have in store for the last week of 2017, and I'll try my best to not link a lot of "best games of the year" lists:

- The FCC has extended the waiver for video games to "improve in-game communication functionality" for those with disabilities. As part of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, laws created in the 1980's and 90's for the disabled were extended to digital content in 2010. These are things like game chat rooms, voice communications, and the like. For all of the poor decisions the FCC has made this year, this may or may not be another one. The ESA asked for an extension on behalf of it's developer menders. The FCC granted the waiver for a 1 year extension to allow developers more time to make the changes needed to be up to date with the law. What does this mean for you? Nothing right now, but don't be surprised if you see chat programs change over the next few months.

- Okay so there's one list on here for 2017 in gaming, and that's Polygon's mega post on the biggest stories in gaming for the year. This is more then the microtransaction/loot box debacle. This covers consoles, controversies, YouTubers and streamers, GamerGate, the works. It has all of the stories that made an impact on video games and our culture for the year. It's a great post to read through.

- The Wall Street Journal asks what would it take to disrupt Tencent from being the king of [mobile] games? My response is "a lot" given that the company is bringing a version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds to China, one of the largest gaming markets on the planet. They hold the mobile rights for dozens of the biggest games and have proven to turn a profit at everything they touch. They are also one of the first companies that have installed a "time limit" option for those under the age of 18. It allows parents to have more control over their children's play time and it's proving to be effective. Short of another company coming out of nowhere and doing the same thing that Tencent does, but better, it will be the mobile leader for years to come.

- Keeping our gaming past historically relevant has been on the forefront of many minds over the past few years. Japan is no different, with a society quickly moving through to new technologies and tossing out the pass. Kotaku follows the path of one man trying to keep Japan's gaming history in tact for the future to enjoy. This is a long read but well worth the time. It's incredible how detailed and efficient their preservation system is. It makes ours look like child's play by comparison.

- Speaking of preservation, the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment in Oakland, California has asked the U.S. Copyright office to ask for an exception of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to MMO's. The DMCA helps provide rules on what digital content can be saved and can include the coding of a game. MMO's have been not included since the creation of the Act as it did not apply to those that require an online server. Which all MMO's do. And there is just a need to preserve something like The Sims Online now more then ever as the growth of MMO's continues to boon. We don't want these games to become lost to age. They deserve to be remembered and accessible for future generations. The Museum has pointed out examples from EA on past MMO's they have made defunct and now rendered as unavailable as a reason on why preservation is needed.

Happy New Year to all and see you in 2018!