Friday, March 30, 2012

Banning Words From The Children

The New York Dept of Edumacation yearly list of proposed words to remove from standardized tests was released. Whether willingly or unintentionally, it’s raising questions. Mostly why. Are we really that much of a sensitive society that we can’t use words such as “dinosaurs” on a test?

This isn’t a new thing. Schools have been doing this for decades. You have the obvious swear words and racial slurs (removing the N word from Hucklberry Finn at it's most extreme case).  But I bet you didn’t know that “magic” and “sorcery” were banned in some school districts. My old high school and middle school (public schools mind you) have forbidden Harry Potter from the campuses and library because they teach witchcraft. Seriously. That’s what the article says. I saved it because it was just that silly. And it apparently goes against the teachings of God. So you can have the Old and New Testament in the school library, but not Harry Potter, a book series that got a lot of kids into reading. So much for separation of church and state.

As the CNN article points out, California tests try to keep “weed” even the normal non-medicinal kind out of tests. Florida doesn’t like to use “hurricane” or “wildfire”. The reason for dinosaur being on the NY list? They want to avoid certain words that are controversial topics amongst adults, the topic is overused and deemed boring by students, or the topic is biased against a group of people.”

So somehow dinosaurs are boring. Since when? When I was a kid I was all about the dinosaurs. I remember when I was 11 and visiting family in Virginia we went to DC, as we always do, and to the natural history museum. It was a really quiet day, and this was back before people were freaked out about flying and terrorists. We were the only ones in the dino wing and we saw some of the staff moving things around and prepping to put up a new piece. One of the tour guides asked if we wanted to watch and could go into the back where they clean and scan new bones, so of course we did. I got to touch a dinosaur bone. How many kids, let alone people, get to do that in their lifetime? And we spent half the day just watching them erect one of the dinosaurs. Totally boring, I know. -_- Though I’m sure it offends the creationists.

Amongst the other words are “birthday,” “Halloween,” and “rock n’roll.” Because clearly, they are affecting the youth of New York with corruption.

There is a tie-in to this with video games. I promise.

What’s to stop the government from imposing these limits onto video games and educational games?

They’re already working on potentially slapping a warning label on every game, much like with music CD’s and cigarettes. The ESRB has been fighting against them to keep their system and not have the government become the regulator of video games. If you ever wonder why movies are as repetitive as they are, a lot of it is due to the MPAA and the govt. And the rest is because people like the same old boring stuff. We get that enough with video games (Call of Duty anyone?), we don’t need for it to get worse.

But imagine being unable to play a game that didn’t use the word birthday. You character stops into a pizza shop but there is no pepperoni available because it’s a banned word. And all of those vampires, witches, goblins, and ghouls? Well no Halloween so we can’t use those things ever again.

I realize that is borderline absurd, but the essence of these rules has been happening since the birth of the MPAA. I keep referencing the Hayes Code in my blog posts, but it’s a big chunk of Hollywood history and helped shaped the current rules. And yes, there are some things that cannot be shown in a film. The rules are much better then what they use to be, but the sensitive nature of people can be…overkill. Take for example the bullying movie that Justin Bieber has been lobbying to have mass released. It had an R rating because it showed children being mean to one another. Sure it’s shocking, but it’s not someone getting their head cut off. Those action/fantasy movies might get a PG-13 rating. The movie is being allowed to release with an unrated label, but because of the content, no matter how drummed down it is in comparison to big budget action movies, it’s “too real” for the MPAA.

It could happen to video games. When you slap an M rating on Katamari Damacy (yes it did happen when it was first imported into the US. It has since dropped to T, but I have a copy of its original M rating) for “violently using a large object to roll up living creatures” with no blood and in a very humorous way, we know there’s a problem with our society.

How have we become so hypersensitive? It’s not the end of the world if your 10 year old child hears damn, hell, and maybe the f word. I’m not encouraging them to say it, but is it really that bad? As bad as saying “Happy Birthday” or “Pepperoni Pizza?”

I realize that I am rambling at this point, but it’s something to think about. At what point does our right to free speech and common sense becomes repressed by the fears of society?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reviews Dwittled To One Word. Brilliant!

The academic medacritic inside of me loves the concept of One Word Reviews. How twitteriffic. It embraces the concept of “limited attention span”. So much so that it says it right there on the front page. You’ve just spent 60+ hours (probably more like 15 with games today) playing through this game and you want to share your thoughts to the world. Most forum hoppers will give it a one to two sentence note and move on. One Word Reviews capitalizes on this concept, allowing all gamers to give an opinion without writing out an ass-long review that turns into gibberish. I know I’ve done it a few times.

You can use whatever word you wish to describe a game. The top 4-5 based on uses are shown, and from there it dog piles as to how high you can get those percentages. Easy to assume that if you’re one of the first to pick a word for a game that your word will stick around. New words tend to not be seen and will get buried under the mess.

As such, it can be easy to persuade the word selected for games. If you have enough friends (irl, Facebook, Twitter, or other) you can campaign to get a game off of the “Casual” list and onto “Groundbreaking”. Or vice versa, as is the case with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

I like Kotaku’s view of the website:
Browsing a site like One Word Reviews is like looking at the collective psyche of hardcore gamers. Passions run hot and there's a fever to either canonize or demonize the games that people love.

There’s also no backlash for individuals. No publisher can jump in and scream at gamers. One Word bathes in the anonymity of the internet. As such, people are much more vocal about their love or hate of a game. It’s clear that the lackluster ending for Mass Effect 3 has ticked off a number of gamers according to One Word’s top word. Sh*t.

For a game reviewer, I would take this website with a grain of salt. It’s there for entertainment purposes. It may sway a person’s purchasing power, but if they wanted the game that badly they were going to get it anyway. But as the academic, I find the website delightfully fascinating. It’s a spin on twitter with graphs. What’s not to like about that?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When My Life Mirrors The Gaming Industry

Have you ever had one of those days or weeks where it feels like the entire world is conspiring against you? It’s been one of those months for me. The universe is clearly out to get me and ensure that I fail, but I keep pushing back with the intent to succeed. So suck it universe! I will win. -_-

I bring this up because I feel the gaming industry is having one of those months as well. February wasn’t so good on the sales. People are pressuring the business to figure out how to make it work, because once entertainment goes down, the no one else stands a chance in retail. A few companies have went out of or, or in the process of going out of business. Mobile games are kicking ass. It just hasn’t been a good month to be a traditional game dev.

I really have no point to this article then to point out the comparisons and how my life is always tied to video games in some form or another.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Game Group May Be Out Before April 1st.

While I don’t know of this company, probably because it’s based in the UK, it’s always a punch to have a company going under and people losing jobs. Whether you love or hate them, it’s not something you wish upon people. Unless you did, then you’re a heartless a-hole. :)

Nearly 6,000 staff members for Game Group are facing firing. The Game Group has over 600 stores titled Game and Gamestation. The group is hopeful that the company could be sold (and I’m sure GameStop would be interested in the retail space). The company has fallen after some bad trading over the past few months, causing gaming manufacturers to not want to send them their products. The joint administrator, Mike Jervis, has also stated that high fixed costs, and a plan for international services has damaged the capital the company did manage to accrue. When EA and Nintendo are not willing to stock your store, you know something is wrong.

So people of UK, be prepared to have those Game stores turn into EBGames (parent company GameStop). You know they’ll pick them up on the cheap. At the very least, some of those people might be able to hang on to their jobs.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Display Your Geekdom!

How to you proudly showcase your fan boy self to the rest of the world?

Be honest. You know you do it. You just don’t admit to it. Or you do and become the forum troll.

We all have our own little niches. Some people will buy the t-shirt or the jewelry and are very happy to wear those pieces. Others will get the action figures and plushies. I know I do. And then there are those of us that do the cosplay thing, which is like the clothing and t-shirts business but more expensive and flashy. Of course there are the artists who draw and paint, and the writers of fan-fics. We each have our own section of the nerd universe that we enjoy discussing at length about and love to show off to those who are willing to listen.

I’m always curious to find out how people represent their fandom. And that there are quite a few of that are still closet geeks. Didn’t you hear? Geek is the new chic.

Yes that’s a TBS commercial for The Big Bang Theory. No I wasn’t intentionally alluding to it. It was a happy accident. (And for those catching that second reference that was intended.)

So here’s my question, why are we still hiding our geekness? Being a geek isn’t a shameful thing like it use to be. Those days of wedgies, name calling, being shoved into a locker, are over. Sort-of. It happens but not for the reasons that most of us in our adult age would remember it being. Geek is much more widely accepted. Even glasses are cool…but only for those people who ACTUALLY need them. Not those hipsters. That’s just silly.

I display my geek at work with my plushie Disgeia penguins. Purple and blue of course. And my Final Fantasy pillow that works very well as a back rest. It doesn’t have to be flashy or completely cover my area, but I’m not ashamed of it. Why should I be? It’s a part of my life that I enjoy and I want to display it with some bit of pride. There is nothing wrong with it. It’s not disrupting my job nor preventing me from doing my work. It’s allowing me to be me.

If you work at a location that has strict desk rules, I can understand. But to completely hide that part of you from others seems pointless. Especially in this digital age where 5 seconds online and everyone will know that you’re a gamer.

Be proud of it. If there is one thing that I have learned after years of public school torment is that being yourself is the only way to stay sane. All of those years trying to fit in failed like a rock. When I was me and stopped caring about how others think, life was a lot better. Including work. Because really, the work people don’t influence life at home or my hobbies.

I guess this is a PSA to allow yourself to be a geek and don’t shy away from it. Explore it in your own creative ways. And to find out how others geek it up. Outside of Because while that website is awesome in so many ways, there are other outlets available. xD

Geek Team Assemble!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Don't Give The Death Sentence to Japanese Games.

Where would we be without

I have to applaud this writer, not only for originality on the topic because so few people discuss it, but his candidness about the current gaming market.

He goes by the name Justin on Not an official reviewer, just a casual blogger. But he brings up some good points about the need for game devs to not jump on the “Westernization” band-wagon.

I am not shy to admit that I love Japanese video games. They have a flavor to them that you can’t find anywhere else. People may try to imitate, but can never replicate. And while yes, the past few years there has been an increasing demand for more Western games, Eastern developers shouldn’t cave in to the hype. Why? Because they are losing a piece of their cultural identity by attempting to emulate another region’s style. All of the awesome and crazy and weird things that make Japan, Japan will be removed, and do we really want that?
Take my beloved Katamari Damacy for example. That is a crazy ass game that only the Japanese could make. But think about it. With Katamari, we wouldn’t have the oddball creations that are Little Big Planet and Minecraft, both utilizing the cultural and unique system Katamari created and turning it into their own pieces.
And then you look at developers like Nintendo. Clearly they have world-wide appeal, but what makes them so loveable is that they have stuck to their values. They do the things that only Nintendo can do, and do the things that are distinctly Eastern in traditions. What’s wrong with keeping things the same, as I’ve said once before?

There also isn’t anything wrong with trying out new things. Moving a franchise such as Resident Evil (where you can now walk while you shoot, oh my god!) to tweak and add new things that may appeal to more a more Western audience is fine. It’s this believe that Japanese games are dead and we should focus solely on Western appeal is a little backwards. Last I checked, Dragon Quest, a strictly Japanese game, is still one of the best selling series. I love it because it does all of the things that you don’t get from Western games. It has charm, humor, action, and honor that you won’t find in Mass Effect. Not saying that you don’t get that in ME, but there’s a method to the madness that is DQ where you can’t get that type of game anywhere except Japan.
There needs to be a balance between the cultures to produce content that doesn’t destroy one’s identity while allowing them to progress forward to incorporate new concepts. What that balance is, I’m not sure. But to outright state that the Japanese gaming market will die would be an exaggeration.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What to Do With a Cut Scene

Other then the writer needing a teaching lesson on what “bait and switch” really means, and to not use it more than once in an article, I think there are some interesting and valid points to take away from the piece.

Are we being overloaded by cut scenes that remove the immersive aspect of playing the game? RPG’s would probably be the first game to come to mind, but FPS like Gears of War are equally as guilty of this.

You’re knee deep into some alien bug killing action. You’ve just pressed the Y button to duck behind a wall, and then bam! Cutscene of a nasty creature breaking through a wall. And then it goes back to you in control.

Needless? I’d argue that it is. I would be much more involved with the game if events happened around the characters in real time, and not through a cut scene. “But that is real-time.” Ok what I really mean is, I don’t want to be pulled away from the game, see the little loading bubble at the corner of the screen, and not have access to my controller. It would be much more powerful if those events happened while I still had full control of the character.

I believe that’s the round-about point the writer was attempting to make, but didn’t quite reach it.

To note, I don’t feel that cut scenes are a bad thing. They can be effective tools of progressing the narrative. It’s when they are used ineffectively and we become removed from the immersion that it can disrupt the playability. Maybe that’s something we’re buying into with the purchase of a game. Personally, I’d rather have a game where I’m fully in control with an occasion, quality, well-used cut scene versus the random ones developers like to sometimes throw in to show the pretty things their neat new graphics can do.

Go forth and discuss!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The "Right" Way To Play A Video Game

This is one of those thinking articles that I like and discussions I’ll get into with friends from time to time.

How do you know if you are playing a game properly?

That whole “you’re doing it wrong!” meme is the reasoning behind Sean Sands article. He looks at why a game may not be as well received by some, but loved by others. And it turns out, he feels that it’s because he is not looking at it from the perspective that the developers had intended it. In fact, he was playing them all wrong.

Once he got into the mindset of what the game was attempting to achieve, he developed a better understanding for the game.

This is something I tell people all the time when they start ragging on Final Fantasy XIII. There are a lot of great things about the game, but to get through it you have to change your perception of how to play it. You can do the traditional RPG grind-fest, but you’ll overlook the purpose of the game. You can’t approach FF13 like other RPG’s, just like with Mass Effect. And that’s why so many people dump on them. Admit it. For every one of you that likes ME, there are at least 2 that don’t. Myself included. And as with any game, I give it a fair shot. I try to understand how to play and what method works best at comprehending what the developers were trying to do.

I’m not saying that it always works. There are some games that you are just not going to like and it may not be because you were playing it incorrectly. But allow yourself to try it. Move outside of your comfort gaming zone and be bold. It won’t kill you. If anything, you’ll be a more well-informed human being by doing so.

Sands, keep up the good work.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bill To Add Warning Label To Most Video Games

This could be bad.

The concept is to add a warning label on to all video games, EXCEPT EC (Early Childhood), that link video games to increased aggressive behavior. Something that has not been 100% proven. Unlike lung cancer, emphazima, and death with cigarettes.

Is there a chance that you will become aggressive after playing a video game? Maybe. Will it happen? Probably not. Can a kid become psychologically traumatized? Possibly, but they more than likely have a pre-existing condition that allowed it to develop beyond it’s normal stages.

The bill is currently sitting in the U.S. House of Representatives. If it passes, the ESRB will have 180 days to implement it to every package of every video game.

Silly? You bet. I’m pretty sure the U.S. should be more focused on important things, like the economy, or the fact that we’re selling off half of our oil reserves and allowing prices at home to skyrocket. Especially when there has not been any definitive proof about the link between aggression and video games. I myself have a doctor’s note from middle school through high school to play video games as a stress release. I’m not sure how that is suppose to relate to aggression when I’m far from being an “aggressive” person. Even more so, we have had numerous of studies released as of late that show the exact opposite of what the bill is claiming. Video games are proving to improve cognitive development, hand-eye coordination, and clearly with the billions of people playing games every day, we are all living proof that games do not increase aggression.

How do we stop it? Write your state representative. Just like with SOPA, we have the power to overturn these types of bills. It’s not just about our right to free expression and having labels slapped on them, it’s also our duty to tell the government to focus their attention on something else. How about the national unemployment rate, debt, and the millions of homeless children that could use food, shelter, and clothing. And this would only be the first step. If they can place that label on video games, then what’s next? Movies. Television (does anyone remember what TV was like before the VChip?). Cars. Food (food has been linked to making you fat). Pets…the possibilities are endless. I know it sounds stupid, but it can happen. I ask you to go look at China and you’ll see what I mean.

Absence Does Make The Heart Grow Fonder

So in the process of trying to be productive today, I’ve been thinking about gaming! It’s been a nerd/dork-filled weekend of convention travels. If anyone wants to get uppity, we’re all dorks. Not just those going to conventions. Everyone is a dork in their own way. Don’t deny it. You do stupid things sometimes, like tripping over your own feet, or banging into walls without realizing it. Everyone is a dork.

While I’ve been busy in con-mode going from panels to panels, costume contests, and dealer room crawling, there’s one thing I’ve been missing. The gaming room. It’s been squished down by many places into tabletop and card games. Which is fine, it’s just not my thing. I can’t remember the last time I was at a convention and played a video game.

I miss it.

That feeling of being in a room with the rest of the gaming geek culture, talking about the things we love, having friendly competitions against one another, doing speed runs on Mario to see who really is the fastest with the fat little plumber. We “argue” about which fighting game really is the best, Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat (because those are the only two that exist to us purist). We giggle at the DDR kids, and then flail as we attempt to do it ourselves and fall flat on our faces. We sit in the dark room in the offshoot of the main convention center as we spent countless hours, and days, making our thumbs raw from the controllers in our hands. The only scent in the room is that of Mt. Dew…which I wish wasn’t the gamer’s drink of choice. I hate that stuff.

Yep. I miss that. And at the last convention, there wasn’t a video gamer’s playden. There was an area for tabletops, but that’s it. Unless you are a convention strictly focused on gaming like PAX or E3, the gaming crowd really isn’t as predominate as it use to be. Unless you’re a cosplayer. Even then, our kind seems to be more and more like the red-headed stepchild of the convention group. Always off in the corner, playing by themselves. No one wants to go near them because we’re “special”. Not the kind of special to put us on the short bus, but also the type that people don’t want to be near us.

It’s sad when you think about it.

While I was immersed in the culture of this last convention, with it being so much more open to fantasy and sci-fi then previous ones I have attended, the game crowd just wasn’t there. And I stuck out like a sore thumb being one of two Final Fantasy cosplayers. What’s up with that?

I’m not saying that we need to take back the reigns of the convention culture. We’ve always been off to the side, by ourselves. But we’re a dying breed. What will it take for us to reclaim our lost territory? I’m dreading the day when A-Kon removes the gaming section completely. “That won’t happen. They’ve been around forever.” But it will. It’s been steadily declining in activity since they keep pushing it further away from the convention center, and the room gets smaller and smaller.

I’m not sure what it will take to get people back into the gaming area, but it would be nice to see them make a strong return. Maybe more free Mt. Dew. Ew. Could we at least try to get gamers to go with Coke or Pepsi? At least those don’t leave that horrible post-Dew odor. And bathing/Febreeze. That might help too.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why Video Games Are Not A Waste of Time

I'm not going to lie. I'm phoning this post in. It's been a long convention weekend at All-Con Dallas and now I really want to make Mandalorian armor. But the blog is being neglected. I must save it!

So the Wichita Eagle posted a story about a young girl being so bright and full of promise that there's no way she could be addicted to video games. Sure enough, she is.

“Killing people is fun,” she says.

I see where they were going with the interview, but for how intelligent the reporter was attempting to make her out to be, they didn't do a great job of showing it. That's probably the only solid quote from the girl throughout the article. So once again, they are perpetuating the stereotype indirectly.

I'd like to think the media has a hidden agenda, but it might be to the point that people do it subconsciously. We have to make teenagers sound stupid. We have to make all black people scary. We have to make every foreign country evil. I don't think they intend for it to happen, but it's become so commonplace that is does.

Long story short, we're still not climbing the social ladder for acceptance.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kickster Is Taking Over!

For those who don’t know, Kickster is the new wonder boy of the internet. You have a project that’s pretty creative and you can’t find the financial backing from corporations to get it started. Kickster, aka Kick Starter, was founded with the belief that the people of the interwebs can help you make your project come to life.
You pitch your idea to the internet along with a money goal and timeframe you wish to receive the money. If you get enough donations from people, you get to keep the money, minus a 10% finder’s fee from Kickster. If you don’t achieve that money goal, then you get squat and so does Kickster.
Some of the ideas are pretty dumb. Who really wants to have a spoon shaped like a bug? But then you have some that are pretty genius. NY Times released an article roughly a month ago about some nifty gadgets for iPads and cell phones all by using startup money via Kickster.
Games are jumping on board too. Double Fine Adventure posted in February seeking $400k to start a game; to bring back some classic point and click adventure games. They ended up exceeding that goal within 8 hours, and just hit the $3.3 million mark yesterday. Along with 87,000+ backers, it’s the highest any one project has received on Kickster. It’s a testament to the power of the internet. Given a chance, people can come up with some amazing things. It’s just getting that initial investment that can be troublesome.
The company’s founder promises that the funds will be used to improve the quality of the games, and be able to distribute them on multiple platforms such as PC, consoles, droids, etc.
It really is a good time to try and get your ideas out there if you have that knack for inventing or are artistically inclined. Gives hope to the smaller companies that they have a chance at making it.
And happy Pi day! Enjoy it in the wrong way possible by making a Pie. >.>

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's In The Game Microsoft!

I don’t know if this is funny or sadly poignant.
Microsoft recruited a former Sony exec, Phil Harrison, to be the corporate VP for their European division on interactive entertainment (aka video games). Not only will he be in charge or marketing and helping bolster sales of the Xbricks in Europe, he gets to oversee other UK developers that are in league with Microsoft such as Lionhead Studios, Soho Productions, and Rare Ltd.
Before anyone asks, he’s basically in the mafia of the Playstation family and literally the father of SCE. His knowledge and instincts lead the launch of all Playstation consoles. He also managed dozens of studios under the Sony wing. He has had his hand in a ton of projects that are just too many too name within a small blog space. He willingly left Sony in 2008 to pursue other interests and focus more on development again.
Which didn’t last and now he’s back, with Microsoft. This could be a turn for the better for Microsoft. Their sales internationally haven’t been so great. They could use a fresh perspective on how to make the Xbricks more appealing to those countries.

Monday, March 12, 2012

You vs. Your Cat. Game On!

If you haven't seen the dozens of videos on YouTube of pets playing with their owners iPad, both in humor and to show the durability of the screen, companies are joining in to bring you games for you and your pet to play. Such as Friskies. The cat food company.
No surprise there. They demoed it at SXSW festival in Austin. It's a simple game. You throw a digital piece of food (aka a Friskies can!) on the pad and your cat needs to swat it before it reaches the goal.
Cute, maybe. Definately a marketing ploy. I would not be surprised to see Puppy Chow, Purina, and the other companies jump in on this. What a great way to get owneres involved in their pets and technology, with the message that they should buy more crap for their pets. Just like us humans.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nielson Ratings on Game Usage At Home

Released on March 9th, Nielsen ratings, the guys that do the TV stuff, has stated that 56% of households in the U.S. own at least one current generation gaming system. Which is up a whopping 50% from last year. That seems like a ridiculous high increase.

But also shows how inaccurate Nielsen is. I pointed this out in the Kotaku article on the same subject. Nielson boxes make up less then 2% of the American population. Those hundred thousand people make up the tv and game decisions for the hundred million of us living here. Unfair system, right?

It works like this. A few selection of people are given a box. When they turn on their television, they have to turn on the box to record what channel and time they are watching something. When they're done, they turn off the box. Sometimes people don't turn off the box. Sometimes the box doesn't take into account when you flip channels. Sometimes the box spazzes out and thinks you're a monkey. In some cases they will give a tv watching diary for families to write in and record instead of the box. Needless to say, if someone likes Who's the Boss, they will keep their tv on that one station showing re-runs all day, every day, and write it in their viewing diaries. It's really easy to skew the numbers, and why some of our favorite shows get cancelled asap. Arrested Development anyone?

It's basically the same system with video games for Nielsen. Networks and game devs don't play up the ratings because they know that it's not accurate. However advertisers do. They want to make sure their products are being sold on those shows that are being watched. And Nielsen gives them an easy way to gauge who's watching what.

So all that mess was just to say don't really read the article posted by Nielsen. It's pretty much not correct.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Not To Be Outdone By DC Universe, Archie Is Going To Games

Gogii Games, funny name I know but they're Canadian so they are forgiven, has joined with the Archie comic franchise to create an MMO-like game out of the Archie universe. From the way it reads, you can create a character within this world and interact with the ones that are in the comic series.

Why Archie? Well it's been around since 1941 and has world-wide appeal. It's estimated that over 2 billion people have read an Archie comic at one point in their life, in comparison to SuperMan who would be more like half a million. And it's still going!

"We’re excited and honoured to be partnering with Gogii Games,” Archie co-CEO Jon Goldwater said in a news release. “They came up with a way to really bring the comics to life and to engage an entirely new and fervent fan base. We can’t wait for this game to go live across all platforms and countries.”

When released, the game will be free to play (but you spend money if you want the cool stuff) and accessible world-wide. To note, this is not like the Riverdale Run game. Usually comic based games suck, like movie based games. Maybe free to play will be a good path to follow.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Making College Students Play Video Games

Surprisingly, this is an issue when it comes to the academic field of video game history, theory, and game design. In order the understand what makes a game work, you need to play products of the past. We have to do this in film every day. Without our predecessors, we wouldn't be where we are today.

The problem? The stuff from the past can be a bit hard to sit through.

Try watching Birth of a Nation without the music soundtrack. I've done it. Twice. It's not easy. And many college students feel the same way with early video games such as Zorg.

Our students are going to get frustrated and pissed off at us because why the hell are they playing these stupid games that are broken? ~Clara Fernandez-Vara, of the Singapore MIT GAMBIT Game Lab

I love that quote.

The games are not necessarily broken. Some of them are being played on newer technology which creates new issues. Some are on a different level of complexity, aka Ghosts and Goblins, that a vast majority of gamers have never experienced, and some are unable to see past the visuals. Games made a decade ago look completely different to what is on the market today. 

It's nice to see that the field of game theory is expanding at colleges, but access to earlier titles is limited-and what we do have can be difficult to muddle through if you're a late 90's kid. If you're in my age range, 25-30, you know Frogger, PacMan, and Pitfall. The late 90's kids don't have a clue. They got Halo. And just like black and white movies, if you haven't been watching them your whole life, they can be a challenge to sit through.

On the plus, more of our childhood favorites are being upgraded for XBox Live, PSN, and WiiWare. Oregon Trail, for example (which is pretty good on the Wii). So how do we get young adults to play older games? No clue. I'm still trying to figure out how to make black and white movies more appealing to students. Short of a money incentive, I don't know.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

FoxNews FakeOut

While strolling through the Google News to see what is going on with the gaming world today, I saw the following headline:

Playing Video Games is Good for You - FoxNews

Holy crap! FoxNews has a good story about video games? I gotta see this.

Well that's what I get for having hope. The story was posted on FoxNews Latino, which is the not really Hispanic version of FoxNews, in that it does stories without being biased and talks about Hispanics, but it's not in Spanish and it's not FoxNews. If that makes sense.

And the story is about what you would expect. Games help develop creativity, comprehension, hand-eye coordination,  increased attentiveness, and all that. I realize that it's a lot of ask for but maybe one day FoxNews will surprise the world and bring us unbiased, opinionated, real news.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Games and Academics - The Controller

Professor William Provancher of the University of Utah along with three of his students have designed a controller that would better respond to players thumbs, and push back for more interaction. The idea was to make games more immersive, thus allowing users to become more involved in the games themselves.

The feedback isn't a new design. Vibrating controllers is basically what I'm referring to. They prompt a response from the gamer to let them know that something has happened in the game that requires their attention.

The difference with this controller is that it requires the user to respond. If you're being pushed back by an enemy, the thumbsticks will resist your motions until you push and break away from that digital object.

I'm all about immersion so it's a nifty little toy I'd like to try out. But the design could use a facelift. The controls are very, very, very basic and mimics a really bad XBox controller. There are 2 thumbsticks with your primary buttons on the top and to the side. Not feasable for 99.99% of us that game. It has potential, sure, but in it's current format no way.

Since this is for educational purposes, don't expect it to be on the market anytime soon. But the ideas behind it and the fact that they accomplished it are pretty nifty.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Sh*t My Dad Doesn't Say

It's been well over a year since I posted about my dad playing an MMO game. Guess what? He's still going. He's learned what a guild is, what it means to raid, and that tea-bagging corpses is no longer funny. He has climbed the highest mountain in Rift and continues to explore the game at his own pace. He even became social and started talking to others, where before he was more focused on being a solo player. Currently he is a temporary leader for his guild during those times when the guild-heads are MIA or AFK.

He has become one of us and I'm still weird-ed out by it.

Let me break that down, because I'm not offended, appalled, or confused by the fact that he plays video games. He has been a gamer since Pong and brought the magic to our little, fragile minds from the moment we could hold an Atari controller in our hands. He's very much about first person shooters, war games, and flight simulators. As soon as computer gaming became affordable he jumped to it. I'm amazed that we didn't destroy our copy of Star Wars X-Wing. We abused that game.

And as the gaming world grew he stuck to what he knew best. My brother and I have tried to get him to play Halo and Call of Duty on the Xbricks, but he never could get into it. He's a very one-mind-set man. Likes the things as they are. He is more about playing games as a solo activity, not as a group. Doesn't want too much change because it alters his routine. Which is fine. We're happy to see that he still games when most people his age call us kids and losers for doing it.

One year later and I still don't know how he got into Rift. I know the big reason that he tried it out in the first place is because of my brother, who worked as a QA on the game and continues to work at Trion Worlds. But he still plays. No longer the solo player, he likes to play with others.

Again I asked him about this and he still can't provide me with an answer. He just likes to play.

My brother and I got him a copy of Star Wars The Old Republic. I am an agent of the Empire. My brother a Jedi for the Republic. Pops decided to try out Bounty Hunter first. Now I know where I got my personality from. He has been enjoying it. Didn't pick our server of course, but that's ok. I'm going to make a character on his server so I can experience this first hand and try to figure out what made him decide to go against his normal play-style. Ever since Rift he hasn't picked up an FPS. We got him a copy of CoDMW3 (not by choice) as a gift last year and he has yet to touch it. Cold turkey on the shooters! It's all about MMO's now.

So what causes a person to change their taste in games? How do they look at a product they once deemed silly and now see it as apart of their gaming habits?

I'm going to keep watching and waiting to see what happens. It caught my curiosity. He's a creature of habit and to stop playing FPS is odd. And now he likes to play with weird for him. I need to start recording this stuff and make it into a paper.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Still Have A 360 Launch Console

It's really not that big of a deal Kotaku.

I think they posted it just to drum up some conversation considering how light gaming info/news has been lately. They found 5 readers who still have launch 360 systems that work. They either never red ringer or never went to Microsoft for repairs. Considering that the fail rate was 52%ish, that's pretty good.  Imagine buying a system with only 48% chance that it won't crash in the first 2 years of use. What a lovely thought and great waste of $299.99; excluding tax of course.

Well guess what. We have a launch system here. And it still works. Never red ringed. We take pretty good care of our electronics. They get dusted daily, they're in open well ventilated areas, and they aren't over-used by spending 40 hours straight on Skyrim. We still have a working Atari 2600 and CalicoVision bought way back in the 80's during their initial releases.

Though I will say that of all the systems we've ever owned, we bought a 360 slim console and that one did RROD about 2 years in. Not a launch system, but it's the only one that officially crashed on us out of the dozens that we own.

I'm sure there are easily thousands of other people with launch 360 systems that are still working. I guess someone on staff was bored and came up with this "story".