Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weekly Link Round-Up

I don't know what's going on with the news today, but we have some oddballs in the mix with the cool stories. So here is your Weekly Link Round-Up!

- There's a game called Soda Drinker Pro. You walk around and drink soda. You can drink it on a bench. You can drink it while standing up. That's the game. Some creative modders have altered the game to help in physical therapy for stroke survivors. The repetitive motion of the game play allows those in rehab to regain movement in their arms or legs, typically after the nerves and tissue are damaged from the stroke. Very interesting read on how the game was re-purposed.

- Need some games this weekend for a soiree? GamerRant has 9 party games for all ages that may just fit the bill. Some new options are on the list outside of Wii Sports and Mario Party such as Nidhogg and Tower Ascension. Games that will start fights between couples...but are fun. There's nothing more satisfying then stabbing your pixelated enemy and they turn into a puddle of paint goop.

- Razer has officially purchased Ouya. While the hardware division will remain closed, Razer will be taking Ouya's name, software, and licensing, and be rebranded. The first step is with the Ouya App Store, which will now be called Cortex. Razer is looking to play the long-term game with this deal. Ouya has made great strides in bringing new developers and Triple-A groups to mobile devices, and will continue to go down this path as more people move away from consoles and to their phones. A new journey is starting for the small company that was.

- A non-gamer wrote an article on Tech Daily. I'm not entirely sure why or what the purpose was. The headline reads that we're all a bunch of addicts, but that it's not a bad thing because that's where the business is going. More people are gaming. Less people are going outside, but they're still being healthy with their gaming habits. It was an ambiguous headline that made me ponder way too long, because it's a dumb article. So if you need that today, here you go.

- Elite Daily looks at the concept that video gamers are really not bad people. It's the games that make them sound so much worse then they really are. "Nerd Rage" really only happens when we game. We throw out F-bombs and a few racial or sexual slurs, but only during game time. The rest of our lives? Not a peep. James Ivory, a Professor at Virgina Tech's Gamer Lab has been researching this. People are more aggressive and vulgar for 3 reasons: anonymity, lack of face to face interaction, and competition. Add them all up and you have a hostile environment in video games, and people feed off of it. Now it doesn't say if his study included women or if this was strictly focused on male gamers. But the findings are worth a read.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Goodluck Trying to Convince Me to See Pixels

This is the year where Adam Sandler will get picked on by just about everyone, and maybe some of his fans.

With the release of Pixels, the reviews have not been kind. But I don't think many of us were expecting a different outcome. The plot line was unimaginative and throwing in Peter Dinklage was not going to save the movie. Critics have panned it. The movie attending audience is raging against it. Some reviewers are trying to combat the hate by giving the movie a higher score because they feel bad for all the flack it's taking. Which, by the way, not a great idea if you want to be taken as a serious reviewer.

A number of people are pointing to Adam Sandler as the culprit for the movie being so bad. He not only produced the film, but helped with writing the script and casting choices. I realize that the hate train for Adam Sandler is running high right now after the Sony hack, where leaked e-mails included those talking about Sandler and how people in Hollywood don't like working with him. But he sells seats in a theater, so they put up with it. And it's true. For those of you who don't like Sandler, enough people still do to bring in box office numbers that make it worth having him stick around. But there's a change going on here. Fans of the man-child are starting to grow up, and they're not finding the actor/comedian as entertaining as he use to be. 

Comedy is growing in an ever-changing medium. There are some staples that will always work, such as fart jokes. But you look at movies like Trainwreck, and how far they are pushing the genre, audiences are waking up and seeing that they want more in their films. And Sandler's brand of humor may no longer cut it.

I personally have not seen the film. And I'm not a fan of Sandler. The only "comedy" movie of his I can sit through is Happy Gilmore, where he as adult enough to take on responsibilities and didn't act like a boy through 99% of the film. The other is Punch Drunk Love, which is not comedy. Dark comedy if you want to make an argument. An awesome script and cinematographer helped make that a great movie.

And even though I have spent over half of my life studying films, I know I'm not immune to reviews and critic responses. It's how I'm able to process content efficiently at times. Because I don't have the ability to watch every movie or tv show. Or read every book. Or see every play. I rely on reviewers whose ideology mirrors my own, and take a cue from them. It doesn't mean that I won't see Pixels, but I'm less inclined to do so when my reviewers of choice pan the movie. Or when Vanity Fair publishes a piece on how Pixels really is a "boys only" movie, and failed to capture that audience as well.

I've read a few reviews defending the work, saying it's not bad and could have been better if the concept was given a chance to develop. Initially when I saw the promotional images, it reminded me of the episode of Futurama where the Professor invents a machine that allowed the team to ask it questions on how their life would different "if." One of those scenarios was from Fry and "what if" life were like a video game? Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong all took center stage...just like in Pixels. The idea works for an animated show. Not so much a real-world movie. 

Do I care about Adam Sandler? Not really. No. And maybe he doesn't need to change his career path. Maybe this is the one misstep, but his next man-boy movie will do well? I don't know. But when one of my favorite reviewers uses the term "ball pit" as a comparison to the plot line of Pixels, I know it's not worth spending the money on. But if you enjoyed it, great! Glad that you did. It fits your description of a fun movie, then by all means enjoy the crap out of it. I'll sit over here with the Director's Cut of Blade Runner where my kind belongs.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cosplay In the U.S. Media - Shock to Resume!

Today will be a cosplay post. So gaming nerds, try again tomorrow. But hey! There are video game cosplays in this session to, so it's not all doom and gloom.

Seeing my news feed over the weekend, I was surprised to find cosplay on the front page of Forbes Magazine's website. Yeah. Forbes Magazine.

We've hit the big time! Woo!

The World Cosplay Summit held in Japan is underway this week, as an officially unofficial gathering of cosplayers around the globe in an attempt to take home the title of best cosplayers, and represent their country for a year of glory. It's also a free trip to Japan, so sign me up.

With the success of Heroes of Cosplay and SDCC hitting international levels, conventions and expos are becoming the beacon of nerdom with costumes. Fans showing off their love for a series, movie, or book by creating a costume and bringing a character to life. And now we're on the main stage with news stories and interviews coming out on a weekly basis. It's kind of cool to see.

Before the super nerds of the community start crying foul with the exposure focusing on the negatives, there are some good things to take away from this. Such as opening up the eyes of onlookers to see that we are more then weird people in costumes. That we are REAL people too. That notion still seems to be lost on many. And it can bring new people into the fandom. Individuals who thought they didn't fit in until they saw a costume and realize that they can be just as dorky as the rest of us. (What...we're dorky? Live with it.)

The story on Forbes is just okay. It reads like the writer went to the WCS website and copy/pasted information from last year after the page was translated by Google. But at least they took the extra step to get photos of the teams for 2015, with USA front and center (yea! Go Ladies!).

Still, this notion that cosplay is now out there for public consumption is a big step forward for geeks everywhere. We're being noticed. We're getting sewing patterns made just for us. Stores are being developed to focus on our needs. It's pretty damn cool.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Frankly, I'm Okay With How Most Women Look in Video Games

Since this was linked numerous times on my Facebook page and my feed, and subsequently hidden because I didn't need to be attached to every posting - seriously guys, too much - people have been seeking out my opinion. What about? Bulimia.com, and yes that is a real website to help men and women with eating disorders to seek help, did a reverse photoshop of video game characters, women specifically. In doing so, they are letting the world know that not being a size 0 is perfectly okay. In fact, it's pretty darn normal given the current waist size for men in the US is nearly 40 inches, and almost 38 for women. But women portrayed in the media, real and digital, have unrealistic body proportions. Longer legs, thin waists, hefty busts, essentially Barbie - which is not anatomically possible. You'd have health issues your entire life.

So the website took it upon themselves to address the concerns that they have with video game women. In developer's attempts to make characters look more "real" they are still displaying them with impossible body standards.

I know what some of you are thinking. That as a feminist I should be on board with these changes. That they are perpetuating stereotypes and images about the female body and gaming devs should be ashamed of themselves.

Honestly? I'm passive about the whole thing. I mean, yeah, great. You took some known female characters and tried to make them more "real" to what a woman in the US would typically look like.

Altering the looks of the fighting characters is just silly. I realize that athletic women come in multiple shapes and sizes, but the ones who had muscles were removed. The women who had healthy bodies like Jade from Mortal Kombat after the reverse photoshop now no longer hold the figure of a martial arts expert. And I watch a lot of real-world tournaments to know how men and women look in the arena. She may be busty, but Jade has the form of a black belt who trains daily.

Even shopping the bikini clad woman on the GTAV cover seems a bit silly. She wasn't overkill on the standards to begin with. She looked healthy. Her chest wasn't busting out. She had a bit of thigh and butt fat, but looked happy. The altered version isn't bad either, but I didn't see an issue with the original. You could argue that my brain has been warped by the media to think this way, but I've been studying film and television for 16 years. It's amazing how little I can be persuaded by a 15 second commercial. Instead I'll sit there and critically review it to determine it's affects on the population at large. Also shopping Nabooru was poor taste. She's not even human. Yes her body is completely unrealistic for a HUMAN female, but again...not human. So we'll ignore that attempt to photoshop.

My other concern is that this could send the wrong message to the women who are naturally thin and whispy. Who have bodies like Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2 or Cortana from Halo, because yes - those women exist. I'm have that figure. And it's just the way that my body was built. I've TRIED to put on weight. I have been for years. But it's incredibly difficult. Maybe that'll change in a few years when my metabolism slows down, or they find a fix for my digestive problems. I don't know. But to call out the men and women who are healthy and have those types of bodies can only do harm.

Many people may not know this but an eating disorder is not just about the loss of weight to an extreme level (where it can cause irreversible damage to your body or death). The easiest way to explain it is, an eating disorder is an unhealthy view of food and your body. That includes over-eating. If a young man or woman with a body like the biki-clad woman from GTA5 were to come across this site and see that their body is not "right," and they have to be like the photoshop version, it could cause an eating disorder to form.

That may sound silly to a few of you, but it does happen. I have been picked on since I was 8 on being too thin. Yeah. Eight years old. I was too thin at eight when I was still growing up. When I started modelling. Go fig! And I've been teased about my thin arms and waist ever since then. "Eat a hamburger," is something I commonly heard throughout high school. Today I make fun of my size because I know I'm thin. I like food. It's the way my body is. Your words don't affect me. I eat healthy and I make choices that work for my body. That's how I was taught by my parents: to not let others influence me and do what makes me happy. But as a child or a teenager, hell even as an adult, if you don't have that mentality starting off to love yourself no matter your size, you're going to be affected by messages like the ones Bulimia.com was attempting to convey. Thus, a negative impact on the thin folks.

From a gaming perspective, I look to these characters as fantasy representations. They're not real people, or animals, or aliens, or whatever. If the game were on Earth with human beings, okay having "real" bodies would make more sense. But when you're on another planet, time period, with aliens that have 3 arms, purple skin, and big noses, I'm not going to expect "ideal" body proportions. Let's pick our battles in the appropriate frame-work. And let's not dismiss the developers that are providing us with awesome characters that fit with today's body. Horizon: Zero Dawn which premiered at E3 this year looks glorious. And all the humans look pretty darn real in size, shape, colors, you name it. It also helps that the story takes place on a future dystopian Earth.

As a feminist, I don't really have too much issue with how women look in video games. Yes most of them could use a breast reduction because ZOMG you would have back problems for life with some of those boobs. My problem is with how men, women, gay, straight, black, white, Muslim, Catholic, and everything in between, are emotionally and narratively portrayed in games. Stereotypes. That's what should be the central focus. We can worry about the boob size later.

And pants that go below the thigh. Real pants would be nice to see every once in a while.


Update 7/27/15: Some additional reading - Forbes sees where I'm going with this one.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Windows 10 Changing How We Work on Gaming Consoles

Could the XBox One be our future personal computers?

I'm going to say no, but Matt Weinberger at Business Insider seems to think it'll happen sooner then we expect it. And it's all due in thanks to Windows 10. The updated operating system that seems to be already well received by many, though still not fully available, is considered a massive upgrade from the failures of Windows 7 and 8. The latter in particular centered around touch-screen PC's and was incredibly difficult to tweak to work with standard computers. The touch-screen phase did not catch on. People like to keep it on their phones and their phones alone. Not to mention the numerous amount of compatibility issues with programs, including other Microsoft products. I spent extra money on my laptop to ensure it was equipped with Windows 7. Over $150 extra. I didn't want my machine to have any knowledge of 8.

Windows 10 is a new start for Microsoft. Instead of rushing out a fix and releasing another half-ass OS, they took the time to listen to their consumers and try to craft something that would benefit the home user and the work environment.

What does this have to do with the XBox One? Part of what makes Windows 10 stand out is it's cross-platform communications. If your computer has the OS, and your phone, and your tablet, and your gaming device, they can all talk to each other so your content is always at your finger tips. You don't have to turn on everything to experience the stuff you own digitally. While other consoles like the PS3 have tried this, it was within limited capacity. Microsoft wants to make it so if you have an Excel file on your PC, you should be able to pull it up and work on it through your XBox.

And soon the XBox One will be able to support this. Eventually the systems will update to the new OS. There isn't a set timeline on this, but most people are predicting that it will be sometime late summer, or early fall. On Tuesday Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's XBox division, announced on Twitter that they were working on a keyboard and mouse for the console. Because using a controller to type anything is cumbersome and pointless.

It's a great idea to have the communication, but I don't believe the XBox One is going to be a revolutionary platform for computing. Not when some PC's and laptops are under $300 with the basic programs needed to provide content to the users. For businesses and users to seriously consider a gaming console as their new PC it would require an overhaul on marketing the product, and providing it for a price-point that is on the ball with cheap computers. Because remember, you're only getting the system with this. That doesn't include the TV or monitor, accessories, cables, or soon to be sold separately mouse and keyboard. The system would also need to have restriction functions for administrators to control on the network to prevent gaming or accessing content that could affect job performance. Employees can't spend their day surfing the internet and playing games. They need to be productive.

Having an XBox that you can't game on seems pointless. But maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Weekly Link Round-Up

After yesterday's post, I think we need to have a bit of a break from the serious discussions. So let's round up some of the gaming news around the internet that may break our sanity. Joy!

- Metro UK did a round up of 18 things that today's kids could never handle with 90's gaming. Big emphasis on this article coming from the UK because there are some quirks with gaming overseas that we didn't see in the 90's in the U.S. While some products were universal such as Mario and Sonic, the magazine GamesMaster threw me for a loop. I didn't know it was a thing, and I use to collect gaming mags.

But yes kids of today. Nintendo Thumb is a thing. If you'd like proof, head to my YouTube channel and check out my Extra Life stream from last year with Super Mario RPG. I pulled out my SNES controller for it, and had hard-core thumb soreness for the next day. My thumb still hurts sitting here thinking about it...


- A study posted on PLOS ONE, which is an open academic website to allow public use of scholastic content for free (about damn time too!) looked into how a man's status and performance in a video game can alter how they interact with other people, women in particular. Since it's a long arse entry, I'll sum it up for you: if you're sucking at a game, you're more likely to be hostile to women. If you're good, you're more likely to be a gentlemen.

That pretty much goes in conjunction with my theory that all gamers are dicks until they start winning. You get the good vibes, some happy endorphin's, and everyone benefits from it. But you're still a dick. You're just a dick on a winning streak. :)

(Please note the high amount of sarcasm in that last paragraph.)


- Business Insider dives into why classic video game series die, and are rarely resurrected. Though I wonder if he's been looking around and ignoring the reboots. Tomb Raider and Hitman I'm talking to you. While the premise of the article is interesting, the writer never actually dives into the "why." He drones on and on about these cool reboots of Battlefront and how fans are bringing back favorites like Shenmue, Okay. Then why are other series not returning from the grave? Why are these games specials and not the others? Is it all just about dollars and figures? Some researching and explaining would be great. Thanks.


- The College Fix (and I truly don't know if this is a satire sight or not - it's listed as a college student driven editorial board for the political "right," pulling articles from around the U.S.) re-posted an excerpt that medieval imagery is being pulled and reformatted for video games by the "far right" to legitimize white male supremacy. Um. Okay then? The example used was the image of Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur. The British National Party (BNP) uses the sword to promote "Englishness" according to the original writer. Because it's patriotic, and symbolizes justice, courage, and fighting for the wrongs of the world. And it's in a story that features white men, and one white woman - Guinevere, Arthur's wife, who doesn't do anything in the original tale. Feel free to take this with a huge grain of salt. Maybe some vinegar too.


- Finally, because no idea is too crazy in video games, there's a dating simulator for orcs.

Yeah.

I'll just leave the link here and go about my business.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Comfort of Video Games

No silly stories or mocking bad articles today. I'd like to link to Kotaku's latest piece by Patrick Klepek and talk about how video games can help victims. And I use that word to cover pretty much every and all forms of abuse. Whether you have survived a shark attack, a mugging, mental attacks, or anything else, there's something to be said about video games. They are more then just coping mechanisms. Video games help victims confront their past and steadily work to overcome the pain. Not by reliving the moment of the abuse, but through in-depth story-telling and thoughtful character development. It's a slow process, just like any method of therapy. But it offers people an opportunity to feel whole again in a way that conventional methods have yet grasped.

For all that the media focuses on with video game violence, it's good to see stories about hope come from our neck of the woods.

The problem that I've run into with my posting is finding related articles. I know they exist. I have seen hundreds of personal stories on forums, and have talked to people at conventions as they relate why video games mean so much to them. Sadly, these stories are not deemed worthy of newspapers and local media stations. But if you've ever joined a gaming forum, you have seen one of these tales. And most of them are likely to be true. There's no fame by lying. There is not pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is comfort and closure by letting your past come to light - so that is a gain. It doesn't make them famous. It makes them human.

It took me a while to admit it and seek help, but I do suffer from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. It stems from mental anguish that I received in middle school and high school. I was ostracized, humiliated, and degraded by other kids and teachers and staff members as well. I still don't feel comfortable getting into the details, but it completely changed me as a person. And it didn't get any better in college. I had a full on mental break down after I graduated with my Bachelor's degree. The person that I had turned into wasn't me. It wasn't who I wanted to be.

My doctor prescribed video games to me. No really. She did. I'm still working on getting her to write it down so I can shellac and frame it and show off that I have an awesome physician. She understood that the environment I was in wouldn't allow me to speak up. When I did, I was further shamed by people around me (Parents excluded. They were the only ones to listen to me for the longest time). And her response was to play more video games. It was an outlet to allow me to channel my fears, anger, and depression into an activity that wouldn't bring harm on myself or others. Through video games I learned about the power of creativity. It allowed me to confront my past and develop into the person I always wanted to be.

There are still moments where I can't play a game or go online without concern that something will trigger a memory. It happened to me just a week ago, when people made fun of me for something I didn't know about. I'm still new to the game. Everyone is new at some point, right? But it was enough for them to degrade my skills and I'm incredibly thankful that my internet connection opted to die on me at that moment, else I would have left under my own accord.

And how did video games help? By giving me unique stories to get lost in. By providing characters with their own mental, physical, and moral dilemmas that pushed them to still move on and save the world. By providing me with a community of like-minded people who, mostly, don't shun me for being me. Mostly. There will always be trolls and asshats, but they make up a minute portion. I didn't have to feel afraid in a video game. I could control my character's destiny. And through games I learned what it takes to have a fulfilling life. That it's not about what everyone else expects of me, but what I want.

It doesn't seem like an Earth-shattering revelation, but for many it can be a life altering experience.

If you have a story to share, or a link to others, please post them in the comments. I'd love to be able to get more of these moments out on the web and let the world see just how important video games are. Not because we're fans, but because they help.

Monday, July 20, 2015

SGC Indie Game Wrap-Up

This weekend I had the pleasure of being invite to experience SGC, the ScrewAttack.com Gaming Convention. It's three days of video games, video games, and more video games, but with a small con feel. ScrewAttack is a gaming website with a formula that sounds familiar: news, reviews, and miscellaneous YouTube videos. They use to hold a convention years ago, but after low attendance rates, they cancelled it and opted to focus on other projects. It returned in 2013 and has been steadily growing since then.

The convention itself was okay. I'm a panel person, so I found that there was a lot of downtime between events. They hosted only 2 panel rooms, one on the main stage and a secondary Q&A room. At most then were 5 panels a day. Needless to say, the convention expected you to game, and game a lot. And you can get burned out on too much gaming. Seriously. You can. There's only so much a person can play on the arcade cabinets before it becomes too much.

But! What I wanted to talk about with this post were the independent games that I found in the Dealer's Room. I was a bit surprised to see that SGC opened it's doors to developers and allow them to show off their wares. It wasn't on the level of most big-name gaming conventions, but it was humbling to see that care is given to the indies. I was able to try out pretty much every game on the floor. Here's what I liked:

Super Slam Dunk Touchdown. Created by Tipping Goat, it's 2D mayhem with a 3D engine. I could easily see this being a great party game, and cause a lot of relationship issues if you play with your spouse or significant other. It's a 3 vs 3 sports match. Your goal is to get the ball into the opponents net and score points. However your players are a mis-mesh of different sports figures, with unique abilities. One team can be comprised of a Baseball player, a Basketball player, and a Roller-derby player. The Roller-derby player has a speed boost because they are on skates. While the Baseball player is able to hit the ball further across the field with their bat. With this weird team combo, you have to make it work and score points.

You can also beat up people in the middle of the field. That helps too. The matches are short and a lot of zany things happen on the field. It's quick. Fun. And I can easily see this being picked up by people of all ages.


We Slay Monsters. This title is currently on Steam for beta access. It's a turn-based RPG that utilizes standard playing cards for attacks and abilities. You play the cards like Poker. Pairs do more damage then a single card. A Flush ranks higher then the pair, and so on. The story is you are the headmaster of a school for Dungeoneers (aka Monster Slayers). Your goal is to make your school one of the best, and that means sending out your students to crawl around in a few dungeons, level up, and bring their rewards back to the school.

As you progress in the game, your school is ranked on a leader board, and you are given marks for how well your students perform at their monster stabbing tasks.

I found this game to be quite addictive really quickly. It was very easy to jump into for inexperienced gamers, and still provided a level of difficultly in completing the objectives of the dungeons. You do a lot of clicking. A lot of it. Each dungeon is randomly generated with tasks that can vary from 'find this item' to 'save this person.' And your students have a one time use. They are only good for the dungeon and that's it. All of their levels, their equipment can not be transferred back to the school. You get to send out new kids in their wake. Which definitely adds to the challenge as the dungeons become more arduous.

It also has ducks. That explode. And cows. That fart. It was a lot of fun. I'm considering it a purchase while in beta, and give them time to work out the kinks. It was a good twist on a classic RPG model.


Grumblebugs Jugglin'. While I'm not a fan of the title, I think this has big hit mobile gaming potential. In fact, it's out right now on Android phones for free. The premise is very simple. When you start the game, a blue Grumblebug appears on the screen. And your goal is to keep it in the air by juggling it. There is a "juggle" area at the bottom of the screen that the bug must reach. Tap the button at that time and the bug will bounce back up. As the game progresses, more bugs are added in. There are bonuses, power-ups, bombs, and birds that you have to flick away in order to keep your bugs safe.

Timing is crucial. In the beginning I noticed that there is a bit of a learners curve to get you accustomed to the set up, before the taps require you to be more precise. My one complaint is that the music in the game can be distracting. Initially I thought that the taps were timed to the music after my first few clicks, but after letting nearly all of the bugs died, I found out that I was completely wrong.

Other then, this is a really fun game. Easy to pick up during work breaks. And the visual style is easy on the eyes. Playful and colorful!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Shenmue 3 Breaking Kickstarter Record

Is anyone really surprised that Shenmue 3 is now the most funded game in Kickstarter history? Probably not. After the Sony E3 conference this year, where they announced a Shenmue 3 in the works and it would only continue with the help of gamers, fans flooded the site and were able to raise $1 million within the first day. Since then, the game's backing has steadily climbed and is well over $5 million. With 11 hours to go in the campaign, as of this posting, will it surpass $6 mil?

Needless to say, the developers are probably incredibly surprised that people still love Shenmue.

Originally released on the Sega Dreamcast, Shenmue was one of the first open-world, 3 dimensional action adventure titles we had seen in video games. It interspersed quick time events with dialogue, combat, role-playing, and a day and night system. This was 1999/2000 kids. Completely revolutionary for it's time. What attracted people to the title was the depth of the plot. Players maintained, and obviously retained, deep connections to the characters. You play as Ryo Hazuki, a teenage martial artist, who returns home to his family's dojo. He witnesses a confrontation between his father and another man. After his father dies, Ryo swears to bring justice and revenge, as it is the martial arts way. But as you progress through the story, you see Ryo's pain as he copes with his father's unexpected death. You can feel his anguish, and emulate sympathy through the NPC's. It was really compelling at the time.

Part of the reason the game series did not continue is that the developers deemed it an expensive failure. Only a million copies sold on a $70 million budget. Ouch.

But it's been a fan favorite for nearly 2 decades, and it was enough to prompt a response. Creator Yu Suzuki has wanted to continue the story for this long, but no one would back him with the resources. Sony has, but only if the fans would support it.

I know a number of people complained about a major gaming company essentially "begging" for money to build this game. But I'd like to point out to the last budget and low sales. That's why people were not willing to pony up the funds. They'll do it if the fans want it. So, Kickstarter it is.

The game is projected to release in Q4 2017. If you're interested in supporting, $29 will get you a digital copy of the game at release. Not a bad deal. Good luck to you Suzuki-san. We'll be waiting patiently for your masterpiece to be complete.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Game Development for Britain

For all of the crazy political things going on in Britain right now, the Culture Minister is doing some fine work in championing video games as a source of artistic development. Ed Vaizey was appointed the position in July of 2014, and he's still pretty young to the game. He first entered politics in 2005. He also loves movies, so thumbs up for that.

As the keynote speaker for this year's 'Develop:Britain,' a conference for developers and technology business leaders, he commented that video games are just as important as films for British culture.

Games are taking their rightful place alongside the film industry as one of our most important assets.”

Starting out as the Culture Minister, he saw the potential video games had at allowing Britain to be one of the leading countries in the world that produced this form of art. But all of his colleagues saw was violence and anti-social behavior (all predicated by inclusive studies and stereotypes of gamers), and that games would never amount to anything. Vaizey wanted to change that perception. He helped create tax credits to bring new studios into the country, and allow start-up developers a chance to explore, unburdened. He has also helped start a protype fund with University Abertay, which will be used to support game products and provide new jobs within the game business.

Vaizey has also had a hand in the Next Gen Skills Academy. It's a virtual resource for 16 to 18 year olds who want to be in the game industry. The cool part is that it provides apprenticeships directly with big developers like Ubisoft, Sony, and Pinewood Studios, along with university course work.

It's good to see a few politicians here and there that want to bring video games up in the world. I know it's mostly for monetary reasons, but when has something not been about money? Everyone's got to get paid. But it's also good to point out that our age group is coming into our own. We're starting to take on more roles that can affect nations. The children who grew up with Mario and Sonic are getting ready to take political offices, and can put their stamp of approval on everything to do with accelerating the growth of gaming.

It's a pipe dream, I know. But it just takes a few of us to make a difference. It's good to see someone campaigning for us. Even for business purposes.