Thursday, June 30, 2016

Legacy of Bad Games - And That's Okay!

Vice contributor Mike Diver spent some time with a man named Sos. In the development community he's known as "that" guy. The one who doesn't care about making it big; touting a product that took millions to produce with fancy graphics and jaw-dropping story lines. He's in the business to have fun and make as many games as possible. All of them are playable, most of them are pretty bad. But hey! That's okay! Sos Sosowski is all about producing games for enjoyment. Even if you're frustrated by the nightmare that is DOOM Piano, your friends and the internet are loving every moment of it. Sos' website glorifies the fact that he makes terrible games.

The interview with Sos is refreshing, in that it's not the typical affair one sees with a game developer. Sos is blunt, dynamic, and stylish with hos he describes his work. He doesn't boast about the content or game play, but he knows people are going to have fun. They are throw-away games; good for a few minutes of entertainment and then you're done. Though I'm sure there are marathons of DOOM Piano going on somewhere in the world to see if people can actually complete the darn thing. But his games are also very innovative and utilize microphones, web cameras, and the like to direct characters on the screen. Back before the Kinect and Move, you could tell an NPC to walk with a Sos game.

The list of game titles he has produced over the years are astronomical. He boasts that he's created over 100, fully finished games. Games that can be played, but may not look the best, and that's okay! That's part of his style. From Shoot Yetis with a Machete in a Sewer to Pork the Hamster, the games are meant to make us tilt our heads and click on the button. That's some good marketing right there. A number of these games were created during timed development sessions, or the 0h Game Jam. So they may not look polished, but they are playable. So if you have some time to waste today, reading the Vice article is worth your minutes, to jump into the mindset of a man who doesn't want to be part of the "in-club" of game designers. He's doing his own thing and having fun with it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

I didn't intend for this to be a round up post, but my news sources were overflowing with some odd topics today that it would be a crime if I didn't do this today. So here is your wonderful, weird gaming and nerdy news for the week!

- Get ready, everyone. Twinfinite has it all figured out; the reason why video game movies don't succeed. Movies don't replicate our gaming experiences to be meaningful for us, as individual gamers. Captain obvious much?  Look. We get it. Movies based on video games haven't done well in the past, mostly critically, sometimes financially. And we're fully aware that movies can never be like games. Ever. It takes compelling stories and dynamic characters to make a movie work, but in any adaptation, stuff will get left behind. Once gamers and fans of games realize this (as many have with the onslaught of books to movies), they'll stop blasting the "okay" gaming movies.

- A professional cosplayer is running for a political office in Arizona. It's not a gimmick. It's a real thing. Going by the name AZ Powergirl, Cara Nicole has joined the Green Party and is looking to be elected into the Arizona legislature for the House of Representatives. Her goal is to give that "other" voice to this election cycle. "I want to give people the opportunity to choose something more outside the red-and-blue party system," she comments. Her platforms involve environmental reform and families - specifically supporting legislation that helps divorced parents (on both sides) and custody cases to allow for more fairness. Whatever happens with her campaign, good luck to her. Being a cosplayer and a model is going to open her up to a slew of attacks from those on the field.

- I wanted to post this article from Florida Today because of the headline: Research shows the benefits of video games, dogs, sex. I'm intrigued. Please. Tell me more. The article is a bit cobbled together, but it indicates that your bachelor or bachelorette lifestyle of playing games, owning a dog, and drinking is healthy. In moderation, of course. Getting sloppy drunk every day and binging 20 hours on games is not good for anyone at any time. But a drink once every few days, and gaming a few hours each week can help improve your mood, thus leading to a happier life and more sex. So...go forth a game!

- Blastr.com has an opinion piece on how future video games should take a page from Mass Effect and develop more female leads like Commander Shepard. I'm a fan of the game, and appreciate BioWare's attempt at providing content to all genders by allowing the player to make their own decisions, I don't think femShep is the best representation of female characters in games. Why? Because she's a replica of broShep. Choosing to play as female Shepard doesn't change the dynamics of the game at all (with the exception of one scene I remember from Mass Effect 2 and even that was just a passing "that just happened" and was immediately forgotten). You have the same dialogue, movements, actions, and choices presented to you, regardless of whether you picked male or female. The only choices that you won't share are companion relationships - except Liara and Kaidan. Spoiler. Otherwise, the two genders are indistinguishable. That's not part of the female experience. At all. I'm not saying that femShep can't exist, but she's not representative of what we want in our female characters. We want avatars that represent us - our highs, our lows, our quirks, our flaws, and be a bad ass all at once. femShep is a copy/paste of broShep. I still enjoy the game and customizing her to tailor my snarky needs, but she's not the dynamic character that other female gamers should look up to.

- For an unknown, strange reason, not even 24 hours after the event, some people are comparing the attack at an airport in Istanbul to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 mission "No Russian." The few similarities are eerie, but in the end it's just a coincidence. It was an act of extreme violence and blaming the game won't solve anything. It's just a band-aid for your brain so you can feel better about life and move on, knowing that you can have a tangible cause to associate the attack to (no matter how wrong or right it may be). Gamerranx and Observer have compiled a few stats to showcase how violence in games hasn't affected crime in the way the media likes to portray it.

- The Science Blog has posted a study that reports that the theory that women are crap at games is debunked, after a team reviewed thousands of gamers playing MMO's. Females make up 20% of the MMO market, which seems small to me since I tend to run into a lot of women in Final Fantasy XIV. According to the study, after looking at 9,000 gamers in Everquest 2 (that's still active? holy crap!) and 2,000 gamers in the Chinese game Chevaliers’ Romance III, the skill level between men and women was virtually the same. There was no variable difference, or the percentage level was so low that they cancel each other out. I'm curious to find out how they received the gaming data, but there you go. Science in action.

- The Games for Change festival, held last weekend, believes that VR can help spur social change in the world. The thought is that with the new technology, it'll be easier for the average consumer to jump in and explore, which is what a number of games and apps include with the simulators - climbing mountains, working at a car repair shop, etc. They hope that VR will become more accepted over the years and encourage women to play and develop their own games, due to the ease of use.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When 'Firewatch' Art Is Used for a Ford Ad?

It's just so easy to steal art in the digital age.

Firewatch developer Campo Santo is experiencing the aftereffects after a Ford dealership in Quincy, Massachusetts used their art to promote the Ford Focus without their knowledge. No payments. No inquiries. Not even a "hi, we're using this." They took the art and ran with it. Part of the Ford Freedom Sales Event, the huge image sent to customer's via e-mail is an exact copy of the promotional artwork used for Firewatch, with the orange and red mountain-tops among a landscape of trees with the infamous park tower in the center.

The home office for Ford has commented that they have no control over the marketing of affiliates. Dealerships are independent businesses. They also addresses concerns over a video ad they produced earlier this year that had a similar art-style (the colors are the same, but the design itself is slightly different) that the content was all produced in-house and is original.

Game Informer reached out to the dealership once the image started making it's rounds on Twitter. Initially, upon reaching their art department, they were informed that they did not check to see if the image was safe to use and hung up on the magazine. Later, they received an e-mail with clarification that they always use "DMCA compliant sites" and the image was a wallpaper on one such site. However, most people don't actually check to see if the image is really DMCA compliant. The wallpaper site allows anyone to upload images without a care about if the image is under copyright. People can submit requests to have images removed that violate copyright, but it's moot if there is no vetting system to prevent the upload in the first place.

Campo Santo hasn't responded to the incident, but some of their employees are getting a kick out of it. Including one who was avoiding Twitter for Game of Thrones spoilers, and instead found the Firewatch madness going down! The Ford dealership in question hasn't responded to follow-up requests by the media, and hasn't addressed the blatant stealing of content for ad promotions.

If Campo Santo wants to pursue legal action at this point they can, not only against the car dealership but the wallpaper site as well for not properly checking that the image was DMCA compliant. For the rest of us, always watermark your art and include a copyright claim in the notes. That's the best we can do for now until the laws of the internet catch up with art.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Twitch Creative and Their Big A Cosplay Prize

If you didn't know by now, Twitch is kind of a big deal. And since the launch of their Twitch Creative section, which focuses more on the artistic side of streaming and less on gaming, it has grown by leaps and bounds. I thought it would be more of a platform for game developers and figure/live drawing artists to showcase their work in a new format. It's opened up a new realm for cosplayers in streaming their costuming progress as they work. So much so that the top streamers on Twitch Creative are cosplayers.

To spur the fuel further, Twitch announced last week a huge cosplay contest to be held through Twitch and at TwitchCon 2016. They are offering over $63 grand in cash and prizes for the top 20 who qualify. It's kind of a neat concept and allows for more viewer participation, which is key to Twitch's success.

So how does this work? You have to be currently working on a costume, or in the process of starting one and stream a minimum of 15 hours of you building the costume via Twitch Creative. There's a hashtag you need to use so that your work will count towards the contest. You need to complete your costume before the sign-up deadline and provide a 60 second clip of your work. After that, Twitch viewers will have a few days to vote for their favorites and the top 20 will be given a travel stipend and hotel accommodations to attend TwitchCon 2016 in San Diego. They will compete head to head at that point and be judged by a team of cosplayers and gaming streamers. The top prize is $15 grand.

It sounds easy enough, but be sure to take the time to read the rules before you dive in. They are hefty. And remember that the $63 grand includes the $33k that will be dolled out for travel expenses. Roughly $1625 for each winner to accommodate 2 people (you and your handler). The contest is only handing out about $30k in case prizes while the rest will be utilized for traveling. That's still not a bad deal for a weekend in San Diego in October. The weather is worth the trip.

As a gamer and educator, I can't wait to see the results of this contest. I want to watch how people vote for their favorites and what the social implications will come from this.

As a cosplayer, I'm iffy. They have announced 3 judges already; 2 are professional cosplayers and 1 is a gaming streamer with no cosplay history. How is the streamer qualified to judge a contest focused on craftsmanship? I understand that Twitch wants to incorporate media personalities that will help boost viewers and interest in the contest, but when you have a prize pool this big, it cheapens the efforts of everyone involved if you can't have a solid judging team to support it.

I'm also concerned with public voting for 2 reasons: follower numbers, and craft vs. skin display/cool costume bro. While this could be a great opportunity for newer faces to get their work out there, if you don't have a large following, you'll be left in the dust. Someone with 500 followers and convinces all of them to vote will not see the same numbers as someone with 500,000 followers. Even if only 1% of those 500k vote, that's enough votes to crush the first stream.

Reason number 2 has to do with what I've seen with past contest experiences where public voting was the primary or only factor in a cosplay contest. And what ends up happening are the costumes that show a lot of skin, or those with really big mech suits end up winning and it's no longer based on craftsmanship. It becomes a contest of what appeals to the eye of the public. Which, we all know means, sexy costumes, skimpy skirts, abs, and Hulk Busters. It doesn't matter if the costume is held together with duct tape and safety pins. This is why you have a team of cosplay judges who know the craft, who understand construction, act as the deciding voice in who wins. For them to not have a say in the finalists concerns me. I hope that the Twitch audience will be adult enough to vote for the people who put their work into their craft, and not vote someone because of their boobs.

It's an interesting premise, overall. Curious to see the outcome.

Friday, June 24, 2016

How UK leaving EU Can Affect Creative Gaming Culture

If you haven't turned on any news station or morning show over the past month, then let me quickly catch you up on the hailstorm of damage that is the Brexit. A catchy title regarding an important vote among the people of the United Kingdom on whether or not they should stay in the European Union (EU). The EU dictates trade practices, and some people in jolly-ol' England decided they wanted to split up and work out their own rules. Yesterday was voting day and by a narrow 51%, the UK is going to leave the EU. Stocks have been going nutty. The value of the Pound is down. There are growing fears by many immigrants that countries in the UK will begin to close their borders. And even Scotland, who was overwhelming against leaving the EU, is bringing up calls for independence once more. It's a pretty big damn deal.

And even gaming companies are having to weigh in on the matter. TIGA, the network for game developers and publishers in the UK, issued a press release this morning commenting on the need to ensure the future success of the growing gaming economy. Following the EU referendum, TIGA outlined 4 things that will affect game developers, including access to finances and rights to intellectual property. The latter is an issue since the UK is a member of the EU's Trade Mark regime. Rights to a product designated by the EU may be removed once the exit is finalized, and vice-versa. I.E. a game that once had rights associated with it by the EU may no longer be valid, and any person or some other company could claim the product as their work. It also puts more burden on game developers to get multiple copyright and trademark patents throughout Europe instead of the 1 needed covered by the EU. These are just a few examples, but the press release goes more in-depth on how the exit will do a number of the development field.

Given that this is all taking place overseas, and most of you, my dear readers, are in the U.S., this probably doesn't matter. Right? Well keep in mind that Rockstar North, the kingpins behind Grand Theft Auto, are based in Scotland. Leaving the EU will affect how they do business, the talent they can hire, and trademark agreements.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

Dear Readers,

This week I am exhausted. Having to take over a co-workers job after he announces an impromptu retirement (and subsequently leaving the day of) has left me with very little energy. So today's post will be a Weekly Link Round Up to get the writing juices back into motion. Possibly tomorrow as well. We'll see how the news is treating me for the rest of the week.

I hope you all enjoy and commiserate with me on the best, and worst, gaming news on the internet.

Signed,

A really tired writer at The Geek Spot


- Rolling Stone Magazine must have a love for Quake that few of us knew, because they have devoted an article to the franchise, it's 20th anniversary, and how it changed gaming. Check out the history of Quake and the random tidbits you probably didn't know - Trent Reznor made his soundtrack debut with Quake. That's pretty cool.

- Looking for the indie games that were at E3 this year? Ars Technica has a video wrap-up of the games on the show floor, and highlights some endearing indie games that you probably didn't know about! Most of the video is meh. They are trying to do a US vs UK thing on gaming tastes, but the indie content is worth the watch.

- Kratos is growing up! And so are video games according to Tech Insider. If you haven't seen the new God of War game play released at E3 this year, Tech Insider gives a general overview of what you see, and how the new direction in the franchise is making the demi-God Kratos feel more human. The rest of the article is a complete wash since gaming has a long way to go in moving beyond tropes to tell stories, but the new Kratos is worth a look.

- WhatCulture is giving us 7 games that have confusing plots, but they make more sense then you realize. The problem with the list, other then it's from WhatCulture (hah), is that the games mentioned are plot lines that are not difficult to figure out. Eventually you get to the end and realize "it was all a dream" or some crap like that. Even BioShock makes a lot of sense when you reach the end. There are multiple side-stories in these games that may still be confusing, but the general story is pretty straight forward. Even their entry for Kingdom Hearts is pointless. Convoluted plot? Sure. Difficult to comprehend? Nope! If their wiki page can summarize the plot in a paragraph, you can understand it.

- The movie Pixels is still a running joke among movie critics and a number of gamers for being terrible. Not even laughably bad to the point where it could be on MST3K. It's just bad. And Honest Trailers really rips into the movie, and Adam Sandler's career. Warning: do not watch if you are a Sandler fan. The movie still turned a profit, and Sandler is posting some high numbers with his Netflix deal so...good on him for bouncing back from the negative reviews. At least he's doing what he loves.

- If you have any interest in the new Ghostbusters movie, Sony Pictures and Activision have teamed up to provide you a copy of the film for free when you purchase the Ultimate Bundle of the new Ghostbusters game for PS4. The bundle will include 4 DLC packs and 2 dashboard themes. The bundle will be released on July 12, 3 days before the film is in theaters nationwide on July 15th. Kind of cool if you're into that thing.

- Curious about that Death Stranding teaser by Kojima? The famed game developer responded to questions earlier this week to clear up some of the theories surrounding the trippy, Norman Reedus adventure. In doing so, more questions have been asked. But for certain we know that the baby Reedus holds is not him nor is it his child. The baby is also not a representation of Kojima's rebirth into the gaming world, nor does it have affiliation with Konami. Enjoy figuring out what it all means!

 - The problem with video game movies will always be a topic for discussion, even as Warcraft breaks international box office records. mxdwn.com (how the hell do you say that name?) attempts to review the problem once more, and provide solutions. BUT! The article isn't written from the perspective of a gamer, as so many others have. Instead, a pro movie critic and incredibly casual gamer, who admits to having a Steam library with a paltry 20 games consisting of Triple A titles, wants to dive in and look at solutions. Based on his past articles, he cares about the geek culture in a different way. He doesn't affiliate himself as being a comic book nerd, anime fan, or part of the Dr. Who alumn. His work reads as though he is a fan of fantasy transcending reality to appear on the movie screen. That's kind of cool. Take a look at the article on how video games can be better movies, from a film critic perspective.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tiny Build and G2A Butting Heads Over Fraud Purchases

There's a controversy over piracy and PC games brewing with the website G2A.com and the developer Tiny Build. G2A is a global, digital marketplace for video game goods from consumers to consumers. They work with some gaming developers, publishers, YouTubers, Paypal, even some Amazon affiliates in other countries to provide deep discounts for digital gaming products. For $2.99 you can get 10 random Steam codes for games. Their model is to take un-used codes from Steam and Humble Bundle purchases and re-sell them to customers who want the product below the retail price. It allows customers to get rid of games they don't want, and new players to join the fold. Though developers don't get a piece of this second transaction with G2A (unless they have a partnership), for the most part it seems harmless.

While it sounds great for the consumer, it's not so great for the developers that aren't involved and getting a slice of the profit (as small as it may be).

Two days ago, Tiny Build posted that G2A sold $450 thousand dollars worth of codes that were purchased with fraudulent credit cards. The thieves bought the codes with the cards, and then sold them to G2A for a fraction of the price. G2A then re-sold the codes to new buyers.

Information is still being pieced together and we don't know if G2A is working with Tiny Build to resolve the matter. Right now the blame game is taking place, with G2A not taking responsibility since they were a third party member in this situation (they didn't steal the credit cards, and their transactions were legal on their end). Tiny Build got a huge charge back list from credit card companies and can trace the codes to G2A. Having experience in this area with GameStop, it can get messy really quick.

Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman spoke to PCGamesN about the growing issue. This type of situation was bound to happen and, according to Hartman, there is no incentive for banks to take a stand against fraud of this level. The businesses affected are not their customers; the credit card holders are. As such, the businesses end up losing out in the end, and Tiny Build has $450k of profit out the window that could have been used to develop more games.

Part of the fraud prevention system that works is a multi-tiered process. Trion Worlds not only utilizes software, but data and human effort as well. Sometimes the best laid schemes are foiled by the humans crunching the numbers, not the programs running in the background. I can fully attest to this, and wonder how many hundreds of thousands I've saved GameStop by stopping fraud.

Harsman has some good tips to help people who don't want to contribute to the fraud purchases: if a price is too good to be true, it probably is. Don't buy unless it's a direct low-sale price from the publisher. If you ever have a question, ask! Truthful vendors are going to provide fast responses, and will give full details. If the info seems to gloss over the game content, pass it up. And if you want to support the developer, the best thing to do is to go to their website and buy right from them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

E3 and the Lack of Female Representation

Feminist Frequency released an overview of the gender representation from the developers featured at E3 this year, and of course it's making it's rounds on the internet by news sites and trolls. Because trolls will always be trolls. The wise words of Wil Wheaton clearly do not permeate into their existence, or they would stop being dicks. But the chart is something to look at and review, so that's what we are going to discuss today.

If you want to be a troll, go somewhere else. I have no problem hitting the delete button, or reporting you to local authorities if you threaten me. This is an adult conversation. If you want to be a little kid and rant, go to your corner and do that. It's not welcomed here.

With that out of the way, Frequency started this study last year, based on the games previewed/announced during developer presentations. While there are more games on the show floor, they are not always showcased to the audience at large, the millions of us who watch YouTube and Twitch streams of the developers conferences live. We may not know about these other games until a week or two after E3 has ended and journalists have time to write their thoughts. Last year, there were 7 games in these presentations that featured a female only lead. 35 allowed you to pick the gender of your main character, though Frequency points out that most of those games featured men as the hero of choice instead of women.

This year, it's pretty pathetic.

Only 2 games in developer presentations contained female heroes as the primary character. Those 2 games were shown last year, so they are not even new. Horizon: Zero Dawn and ReCore. That's it? Really devs? The issue of ethnicity aside (that's a discussion for another day), we can only manage to get two women into new games for E3? That's sad. 29 other games had the feature of allowing you to choose the gender of your main character, and a greater ratio of male to female main-stage options (41% compared to 32% last year).

What the heck happened?

Honestly, I don't know. Some of the games featured last year with a female lead were released in late 2015/early 2016, such as the Lara Croft games and Mirror's Edge. But no other games have taken their place. You are free to argue that Dishonored 2 and Mass Effect: Andromeda have female options as protagonists, and feature game play for both genders is a win in the "gaming girls" column. And it most certainly is. Mass Effect in particular had a very heavy-hand in advertising with broShep only for games 1-3; it's nice to see a change where both genders are featured equally on the screen. But that's about it! We still only have 2 games featured on the main stage with female only protagonists. Where are all the ladies?

Video games have long held this notion that it's a male dominated field, but it's been proven time and time again over the years that women are equally as invested in the hobby. Having heroes that are male only reinforces the notion that games are not for women, or that women are not allowed to be the hero of the story. (This is the core reason why I'm not happy with SquareEnix's direction for FF15. By removing female heroes from the core cast and sexing up Cid into a woman is the opposite of everything that Final Fantasy has stood for when it comes to diversity and sanity, in a fantasy world.) While more devs are getting on board by giving players the option of being male or female, that doesn't change up the advertising or the box art. Characters featured are male, therefore it's assumed that the male protagonist is the ideal choice over the female, as if the female is a lesser being. How often do you see commercials for a video game with a heroine on the screen instead of a male hero? Probably never, unless the game was developed with just a female hero, such as Tomb Raider. If girls and women don't see representations of themselves in these stories, or at least fictionalized super women, it further segregates us from the medium and limits creative output.

Having said all of that, here is my personal opinion. I'm a fan of male-centric games like God of War and Halo (just 1-3, though). The archetypes developed with these leading figures are dynamic, cunning, and intense on levels I rarely see outside of books that I'm drawn to these characters. But, I'm also annoyed that I can't say the same thing about games with female characters. Mostly because the options are incredibly limited. The few female-centric games tend to cycle between the same set of stereotypes: Mrs. Man, Macho Woman, and Mary Sue's. I don't like these type of characters. I like heroes with flaws. The ones who might not get up after a punch to the face, but still willing to fight for their cause in other ways. The ones who are not intentionally sexed up to show us boobs and butts (because that's what a female audience wants - impractical boob armor). I like the characters that feel real. The everyday person doing extraordinary things.

You can slap the template all you want on your alternate female heroes, but at the end of the day it doesn't make them dynamic or real. It just makes them another boring, boobed-out woman.

I don't want female-centric games because I'm a feminist. I want these type of games for something honest. They make for amazing content that can open up a new world of creativity for us to explore. Life is Strange is a vibrant example of this. (The irony of this is not lost on me. SE published Life is Strange and promotes the gender diversity, but has no trouble tearing apart Final Fantasy in favor of a male cast.) So let's embrace that reality and enjoy the diversity around us!

Monday, June 20, 2016

What's the Deal with "Remastered" Games?

Instead of making you wait until the end of the article to answer the question, I'm going to put it all out there.

The trend of remastered games coincides with Hollywood to remake past successes into new franchises. While it's not cheap, for many studio execs they see it as a guaranteed profit in a world where digital and on-demand viewing is taking up the landscape. How many of us go to the movies these days more then 2-3 times a year? Probably not a lot. Not when we have so much at our fingertips with computers, cell phones, and gaming consoles that we can have movie night in the comfort of our home at a fraction of the cost.

The growing market for home entertainment is putting Hollywood in a rut, so the movies they produce need to be sure-fire money makers. Unfortunately that means rehashing old content because of past and current trends from the movie-going public that reinforces the notion that taking something old and making it new will sell tickets. Original ideas have been relegated back to art houses. And that sucks.

Video games have been steadily doing the same thing. Think about the top releases over the past 2 years and your mind is probably honing in on Grand Theft Auto V, Final Fantasy X-X-2 Remastered, God of War III Remastered, and the like. Games that looked great on their original consoles of choice (PS2, PS3, and XBox 360) but have made the jump to the current-gen to sell more copies that are guaranteed sales. Why? Because even gamers are as predictable as movie-goers and willing to spend money on pre-existing franchises.

And that sucks.

Cultured Vultures has a good opinion piece about the subject matter, asking developers to stop releasing remastered editions of games. Particularly the ones that appeared at the tail-end of the PS3, XBox 360 days and are barely 3-5 years old. Games like Crash Bandicoot, which are being updated to revitalize the franchise that has been dead for a decade is one thing, they argue. Putting GTA5 on the PS4 when it was just as amazing on the PS3 is another matter; in that there was no reason for it to happen. You can argue that it's for better studio interfacing with updates, but the PS3 and XBox 360 versions seem to do well with patches and upgrades.

Ultimately, and I know I keep repeating myself here, it's up to you as the consumer to decide where you want to spend your money. If you like remastered games, then you're going to buy them regardless of what gaming critics may say. If you don't like them, then stop buying them. It's really as simple as that. Game developers will stop releasing remastered games if people are not buying them. Instead, they'll pool their resources and make new games. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the same ol' content. It's stale. It's boring. Remastered games are not helping the landscape, only further conforming to the Hollywood business model instead of providing the innovation we so desperately crave.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

Awhhhhh snap. It's time for the Weekly Link Round Up! And you know with this week it's going to be a fun one. All of the E3 news one could ever want...probably not here. I did my best to find some of the other gaming news hitting up the internet this week to give you a cornucopia of madness. Here is today's menu:

- The Seattle Times has a continuation of a discussion this week about gaming violence and the E3 presentations that hit the floor in the wake of the Orlando shootings. But it's not about bashing games, but looking at how this immediate need to find blame can detract from other causes to violence and aggression that have been studied more in depth (and have produced more valid results then the violent gaming debate). It's a start...but I still feel that the developers and companies did their best at E3 this week to pay respect to victims. Asking them to completely overhaul their presentations within hours before going live is insane. They did what they could and they did it appropriately. Let's leave it at that.

- There's an interesting art exhibit taking place in New York City called 'The Mystical Digital.' It's a space that invites everyone to come in and create their own video game, encouraging people to draw, design, write stories, or do whatever they please. The hope is to get people to open up their eyes, and minds, to the endless possibilities to the gaming world. And maybe we'll get some new people into the industry. The exhibit ends this evening so if you're in the area, see it fast.

- Prosthesis have been taking a leap forward with 3D printing, and now with the help of video games, designing them has become much easier. If you've seen the biotic arm from Dues Ex, some of the artist worked with a team of engineers and doctors to create a living replica that looks too good to be true. Science! And Gaming! Cool stuff!

- Video games may be the future of South Park? With a release date announced at the Ubisoft panel this year at E3, South Park creators Parker and Stone were on hand to talk about the game and the future of the TV series. The show is about to hit it's 20th season, a rarity for any TV series, and there's been speculation that the duo may be ending South Park after their latest contract runs out. Given the success of The Stick of Truth, could video games be where South Park changes direction? Parker and Stone didn't give much detail and said it's always a possibility. While talking about making a squeal to Stick they threw around the idea of making another movie. With South Park, whatever happens, happens.

- A father and son team recently won a $1.4 million dollar grant from the California Energy Commission to create a system for measuring energy use from video games. Not physical energy, but the electrons powering up your devices so you can game. California estimates that 5% of household energy use is going towards gaming (and may not include the power behind TV's, computers, and routers). They are looking to curb the rise in energy use for gaming rigs and emphasize the benefits of cooling them down, other then to help keep your machine from going kaput. This is a very lengthy, science article but a great read for today.

- Skylanders is coming to Netflix? That's the latest rumor, and until I see promotional artwork on the Netflix site confirming it, I'm not believing anything. Given the run-around of April Fools stories with Judge Dread and Legend of Zelda, it's understandable. So take this however you wish; the animated series is said to run for one season of 13 episodes. It's not meant to promote the game, but it's going to promote the game.

- International Business Times has an interesting look on how shows like E3 and the exhibit hall setting don't sell video games the best way. The hours of waiting in line to play a 3-10 minute demo, people crowding around to see the screens and watch you play, the loud music and battle cries from the booth next door drowning out the sound in your headphones so you can't even hear what's going on in the game you are playing - is this really how you want to remember your time in the booth? It's an interesting take on the E3 experience, and something I'm going to keep in mind when I travel to PAX Prime/West later this year.

- The new Batman game from Telltale Games is going to be all about Bruce! While there will be fighting crime in the black bat cape, Telltale wants the gamer to dive more into Bruce. Who he is. How does he think. Why does he still don the suit after all this time. The philosophical questions that we tend to pull from comic books, but not so much in movies. I approve of the direction!

- And after many weeks of being absent, WhatCulture has returned with a list of 10 games that only exist because of nostalgia. Because it's hip to be all about the 80's. Somehow The Evil Within is 80's because it's Resident Evil and Silent Hill mashed up into one? I'm not buying that argument, how about you? This list is a weird combo of remastered and re-released games mixed with new games that were inspired by other games, culminating in Broken Age which is not a nostalgia driven product. It's a game developed by Double Fine Productions. That might be the "old-school" feel of it? I don't know. Dumb list, but laugh at it's sillyness. That's why I'm posting it today!