Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How To Thwart Pirates!

Since yesterday was about DRM and pirating games, let's continue with the scallywag talk. IGN was kind enough to introduce a list of 8 of the funniest in-game anti-piracy attempts by developers. I completely forgot about the Serious Sam 3 and GTA:4 attempts. Serious bonus points if you can do a mission in "pirate" crazy camera mode while being dunk Niko. Just thinking about it gives me a headache.

This all came about via Greenheart Games, a developer that has released a product called Game Dev-Tycoon. Summary: You are a fledgling game company working to get your content on the market-Railroad Tycoon meets a work day. On the day that they released their game, which is about $8 for PC and MAC, they also uploaded a copy to The Pirate Bay, effectively pirating their own game. What the users of Pirate Bay didn't know is that the game had a twist from the legal copy: at a point during the cycle, your company will go broke because your game gets pirated. Irony!

This made enough of an impact at The Pirate Bay that they took the copy down from their site. And Pirate Bay doesn't remove anything! An interesting twist on the fight against pirates.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Availability Will Solve Piracy!

Ahh school journalism. I don’t miss it.

I’m not entirely sure where this idea for a story came from, since it hasn’t been discussed, or where Patrick White, for the Kansas State University paper, came up with the concept, but we’ll talk about it. We need a healthy debate about DRM.

DRM has been a concern after the release of the latest Sim City, also known as the game that’s killing the Sim City franchise by requiring an always online connection. Or at least that’s what I call it. We saw the same thing happen with Diablo 3. Ubisoft and EA are notorious for their DRM practices at this point. We expect that when we buy one of their products, we need to register it to access all of the content, or have to have an online connection in order to “verify” that we are, yes, playing a legit copy of the game. (Oh my god EA servers quit telling me I’m logged out! You logged me out! I don’t want to get onto the Cerberus network. Let me scan this damn planet!)

White’s article focuses heavily on DRM being a necessary evil, quoting a Eurogamer article from 2011 that at the higher end of the spectrum, 90% are stealing the games, and that piracy costs them sales. This is a stark contrast to what a local video game owner, Game Hounds in Kansas, who states that DRM hurts the legitimate purchases because no encryption high enough will discourage someone from trying to steal it. If they want to get it for free, they are going to find a way. And he is right about the sales of games. In that retailers pay the publishers up-front for the product. It’s then in the retailers hands to make a profit. The publishers don’t see another dime from the sales, until the retailer sends in another purchase order to obtain more product.

White wants to take the DRM issue beyond that. That the heart of the problem is lack of availability. To clarify, some products are not available anywhere (Australia and it’s super-strict guidelines are a fantastic example), or internet connections are intermittent in rural areas therefore the online DRM clause makes it difficult for a person to play a game. As such, these people are most likely to pirate to avoid the hassle of 1: not being able to purchase the product in their country and/or 2: not having a stable enough connection to be in line with the DRM.

It’s a sound notion. White doesn’t flesh out this statement and bum rushes it towards the end of the article. Nor does he credit any sources with this idea. For being a DRM “noob” as he calls himself, that’s pretty profound and logical. Sometimes it’s the easiest solution to the worst problems. Open access to content on a global scale would cut down the need for DRM because fewer people are going to find a reason to pirate. The primary reason so many do it is because of lack of access. Ask anyone! Are there people still going to try and abuse the system for personal gains? Absolutely. There is no reason to think otherwise, because if someone really wants it for free, they’re going to find a way to get it. But it’s the same for any industry. Video games and any type of computer software are just more apparent because content is digital in a physical format.

The issue with DRM isn’t just about piracy. That’s where a number of reporters miss the mark. It’s about used game sales as well. This is where the publisher doesn’t make a cent, money that they want to get their hands in. What’s the best way to curb used game sales in hopes that more people will buy from you directly? DRM. Institute an always online, or require registration of the product, done. If someone buys the game used? Well they have to buy a code from the publisher to play the game, so they can get something from the exchange, not solely the retailer.

And it’s a tricky situation. I’ve brought this up before but I can understand from the point of view of the publishers and the gamers. It’s still sneaky and underhanded at how publishers try to “resolve” the piracy and used sales by adding in an “always online” feature and covering it as part of the game’s design. Consumers can be stupid, but for the most part, we know what you’re trying to do. And it’s prompting more of us to pirate your games.

Let’s try an experiment. EA, Ubisoft: Go for a year without any DRM on a game’s release. Things that are already tacked on can stay that way. But the next Madden, Tom Clancy, or whatever take off the DRM. See what happens. And make sure to publicize it. I’ll bet you that sales will go up. We’ve removed the “inclusivity” that you have been demanding.

Piracy is still going to happen. Some countries have really strict standards when it comes to media content, such as Australia and China, that can’t be overturned simply by a publisher saying “hey let’s put our stuff there.” Because believe me, EA would love nothing more than to take over China. It’s just not going to happen any time in the near future. But in locations where the games are available, I’d imagine there would be a drop in piracy. Why pirate something that doesn’t restrict you from playing?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nintendo - Where Do We Go?

So if you haven’t already heard, Nintendo isn’t giving a keynote speech this year at E3. Which is crazy, I know. It’s almost expected that the big 3, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, will always have an opening speech to kick off the event. They’ll be attending, but not a speech headline, which is weird. I’m wondering if the E3 staff will try to fill the void or keep it empty. For the past few years the companies have been pushing their speeches earlier and earlier, sometimes 2-3 days before E3 begins. So they might be thrilled that Nintendo isn’t going to eat up more resources.

And with the recent change in leadership, so-to-speak, Satoru Iwata, the President of Nintendo, will also be taking the role of CEO at Nintendo America, we have to wonder where the company is going. Sales of the Wii-U and 3DS are not going as well as planned. Iwata recently outlined in broad strokes their battle plan for the upcoming year.

“Currently, the overseas sales of Nintendo 3DS are still at a stage where the changes in the market are starting to emerge.”

"We have not been able to solidly communicate the product value of Wii U to our consumers yet, which has been a grand challenge for us. Some have the misunderstanding that Wii U is just Wii with a pad for games, and others even consider Wii U GamePad as a peripheral device connectable to Wii. We feel deeply responsible for not having tried hard enough to have consumers understand the product.”

We won’t argue with that. You came out last E3 stating it wasn’t a system, but it wasn’t a peripheral for the Wii. So…what the crap Nintendo? How are we suppose to support a system that isn’t a system without giving us an idea of what it is? 

There is also a lack of content. But that always seems to be an issue with Nintendo when they first release a system. We’ll see the first party content crop up by the summer, with Pikmin 3 in June/July. What is out there now are re-releases of pre-existing products. Nothing too new has caught people’s attention. And for the 3DS, it wouldn’t be selling right now if it weren’t for Fire Emblem and Pokemon. It’s as simple as that.

It’s hard to say for certain where Nintendo is going. A company that is stuck in the past on its traditions, and at the same time that’s what keeps us coming back to support them. This is the perfect time for Nintendo to move forward and embrace technology (with mobile platforms, social networking, etc.) while sticking to their legacy. It’s possible to merge the two and have a cohesive, and improved, Nintendo. The problem that I’m seeing is Nintendo will alienate gamers if they don’t incorporate with today’s constantly moving world, and turn-off their fans if they fully embrace the change. They need to find a balance: that’s a huge undertaking and I wish them luck.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Video Game Journalist?

There was a panel at PAX East that I wanted to attend, but never get the chance to, about video game journalism, and why you don’t want to be a part of it. Moderated by a variety of writers from Kotaku, Destructoid, and various websites, I wanted to get multiple perspectives about the industry, where it was going, and what to expect out of gaming journalists.

But since then I have been wondering about gaming journalism. Who qualifies as a journalist? Who doesn’t? Does the act of discussing a game quantify a “journalist?”

Gaming journalists may have started out under the traditional model of news reporting. They went out, hunted down information for upcoming releases, reviewed games, and provided interviews. But with the internet, gaming journalism has completely changed. Gaming journalists are no longer a CNN or paper/magazine based affair. Everything is online. Everything needs to include reader feedback. Content needs to be instant, always updating, and ever-changing. We expect blog and forum-like formats. Gaming journalism is everything that isn’t like your local newspaper, but we still expect them to hold the same respect for ethics.

Because of this change in the dynamics, gaming journalism isn’t restrictive. It’s no longer about reviewing games and news pieces for upcoming titles, but providing opinions, top 10 lists, round tables, community submissions: in essence a fully interactive experience for both the journalist and the reader. So many of us fall into this category, whether as a daily blogger, like myself, or someone who makes the monthly submissions to Destructoid, to a staff member at Kotaku, we all qualify.

But honestly? I never saw myself as a journalist. Blogger, yes. Gamer, sure. Game reviewer, game writer, scholastic game opinionator, why not? But journalist? I don’t feel that term is rightfully ours anymore. A journalist seems antiquated for what game writers do. Journalist is a term I’d expect for CNN, MSNB, and yes, Fox News, because the definition surrounds the idea of presenting information relevant and factual to people in an unbiased manner. Well as unbiased as they can be.

This is why we don’t use the term “movie journalist.” There isn’t such a thing. It’s a movie reviewer or critic. Why? Because they provide opinions, not factual content. Gaming writers work in this way as well, but they bridge the gap between journalist and critic into an entity of its own.

Personally, I don’t know what to classify myself. I’m not really a blogger because I provide content other then personal opinions. I’m not a critic either. And I’m not a journalist. Writer seems to be the catch-all term, but my pieces are not that broad in scope. So…what am I?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Empathy In Video Games-More Then Visual

Goomba's have families too!

As video game technology develops and we see more realistic images being projected through our television screens, what happens to our emotional state of mind? Ned Lesesne, community writer at VentureBeat, explores the science behind empathy with video games and violence. Bottom line: with games looking more realistic, it’s difficult to avoid an emotional connection to the characters/games.

While I do feel that the development of game technology has had an indirect correlation on our emotional ties, it takes more than a photo-realistic digital character to make us feel empathy.

Context, story, personality, influences, goals, everything surrounding the character are the factors that develop our emotional attachments to that digital creation, not the image itself. Seeing a digital creature cry, the sweat dropping from their forehead, their brows twitching, and the wrinkles along their face when they smile: these may help push us to garner an emotional response but alone they are not enough. That visual medium needs to be combined with another element in the game that allows us to understand the character.

Example: You see a man sitting at a bar. He’s hovering over a drink, swaying just a bit to indicate that he’s probably had too much. You take a seat a few spots down. He turns to you and asks you to shoot him. As the gamer, we can say how real he looks, how he might have been crying or seemingly depressed, or a drunk man being drunk, but there’s no context. We feel nothing is this man lives or dies. So, let’s give him context.

You see a man sitting at a dusty old bar. He’s hovering over a drink, swaying just a bit. He starts slurring his words, talking about his life. He has to put his dog down today. As you move to take your seat at the bar, you overhear him tell the bartender that his daughter was killed walking across the street by a hit and run, and they still haven’t caught the driver. You take a seat a few spots down. He turns to you and asks you to shoot him.

He's nothing but pixels, and we cared!
Now as a gamer, we have empathy. Context. Understanding. We feel for this digital character. He has lost so much in rapid succession. His tears, his sorrow, his demeanor makes sense. Are we going to shoot him? Well that depends. He might want to end his life but doesn’t have the stomach to do it himself. But we might also find compassion in helping him through other means. This is where the emotional side of story-telling kicks in. If we don’t have context, all of the realistic graphics won’t make up for it. How else would video games have survived as long as they have without the story to back it up? Graphics were never realistic. We had 8 to 32 bit characters in blocky forms. And we were expected to care about what happens. It seems short-sighted, to me at least, to say that empathy has grown with graphics. Empathy and emotions have always been around in gaming. Take my piece on Final Fantasy IV where I wanted to cry because Tellah died. And this is not Nintendo DS with CGI effects re-mastered FFIV. I was a kid. He was a block of pixels. Millions of people responded to these characters and many more because of their stories, not the images.

What Lesesne seems to steer towards but fails to grasp is that context is needed in order for us to have an emotional, or empathetic, reaction. We can shoot a soldier in Call of Duty, but if he’s the opposing army that has pillaged a town, we have reason for our actions. We can run over a pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto, but when we see that he is a victim of a mugging, we’ll think twice. As gamers we don’t randomly throw around violence on digital characters. We consider the context. That’s where our emotions comes from. Why else do you think only 8% of us chose to not cure the Genophage in Mass Effect 3? Emotional investment. There isn't a need for us to re-assess our empathy as graphics become more realistic. We've had these emotions all along, it's just more apparent. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

In the Age of Retro

It’s no shock to anyone, at least to me, that I’m a HardcoreGamer. I yearn for the past while lament at today’s video games. “When I was your age, we didn’t have two joysticks on one controller. We got a square box, with a long peg, and one button. But you kids, you kids and your 8 buttons!” Everything old is new again. We’re seeing more early titles from the days of NES, SNES, Playstation and the likes coming back on the market, receiving a minor graphical upgrade and going on sale digitally. And we’re eating them up. Just a quick glance at Xbox Live’s selection and it makes the eyes spin.

As we ramp up into the next year and the oncoming changes in gaming with new consoles and products, will we continue to see retro? I want to believe that retro will always hold a place in gaming, even as technology grows up and away from the past.

Let’s take the Ouya system. An Android based power-house that focuses on developing games. And there are already a load of emulators being pitched to the console developers. It’s in the system’s best interest to play ball. They will be tapping into a market of gamers, old and new, who have been begging for years for older content to come back out on the market. As we become more and more digital, it seems almost silly that some games are being withheld from us. Minus the licensing issues, it doesn’t feel like it should take “that” long to update a game. Even with all of the coding and graphical issues. Technology has grown over the past year to make a lot of those issues a non-issue.

For many of us, we see retro games as our link to our childhood. Where old stuffed animals, blankets, and toys have decayed over the years, the games we played haven’t. There is out there, somewhere, a digital copy of it, and we know we can obtain it again. It doesn’t matter that RadRacer was a game with virtually no driving mechanics to make avoiding ditches impossible, or that Mario could get locked into a wall, or that Edward was called a Spoony Bard, or Zero Wing made meme into an house-hold word “All Your Base Are Belong To Us.” Those “flaws” are meaningless. We still see the games from our past and treasure them. And the gaming publishers of the world know this…and make us wait.

Long and short of it all: I don’t see retro games going anywhere soon. More of us are clamoring to get boxed copies of our childhood favorites, while digital continues to make a hit through PSN, Xbox Live, and Nintendo-ware. We want it. They know we want it. And we’re going to continue wanting it until it all becomes available again. And then we’ll still want it.

Role Playing Game – My Definition

Subtitle: Why I still say Mass Effect isn’t one.

Okay. So before I get into my rant about my subtitle, my position on the game hasn’t changed in the 3 years since I made my original post, we’re going to have a friendly chat about Role Playing Games.

I could give you the Wikipedia article or even TVTropes.com for a definition. But those are standard, almost textbook definitions that we come to expect. The phrase “role playing game” speaks for itself. It’s a game in which you play a role of a character. From its theatre and tabletop origins, RPG is a staple of video games. Our fondest recollection of anything associated with an RPG would be Japanese RPG’s: Final Fantasy, Star Ocean, Xenosaga, and Dragon Quest. These games helped define the genre into what we see it today.

When we think of RPG a few elements come to mind. Character customization (typically with stats such as strength, dexterity, and magic), developing your own story, random battles, side-quests galore, and annoying sidekicks. As video games have evolved over the years, RPG’s have been one of the few genre’s that have held their ground by sticking to their traditions. Graphics and gameplay have changed, but the core of RPG’s still remains. And if RPG sales are any indication via Dragon Quest, we buy that sh*t up. RPG’s have a staying power, a consistency that allow it to grow without changing the core values. 

RPG’s are our safe-haven with video games We look to them for innovation, story-telling, creative aspects of gaming that we have difficulty finding everywhere else. The fore-front of technology? RPG’s have it. Unique story-telling devices intertwined with unique game-play? RPG. Increasingly complicated, overwhelming, yet stunning character creation? Role playing games.

Another aspect we associate RPG’s with: self-satisfaction. Who really needs to get to level 99 these days when you can complete most games in 10-15 hours? Well if you want to get this one sword that will kill this one, super hard dragon, that drops this really rare item that makes you close to invincible, but not really, then you’ll do it. Because we all do it. We want that stupid little item. We wanted that item before there was an achievement system; it was for our own personal satisfaction knowing that we completed a journey few others are willing to embark on. Even now when I think about Final Fantasy 13 I forget that they implemented Achievements and Trophies. I was going to complete everything in that game regardless of what an achievement directed me to do. It was for me, so that I could fully comprehend the story, the realm that these characters were in. You don’t get that feeling in other games. With a shooter, you need to have a goal provided to you, else you find your motivation lacking. Or faith. It’s disturbing. (Rest in peace RichardLeParmentier.) Action, fighting, even flight simulators need distinctive goals and the birth of the Trophy/Achievement system helped spur desires to game longer just to get that new point unlocked. RPG’s never had this, and they still don’t need them. Anyone who truly Role-Play’s knows, possibly feels it in their bones, that they are going to explore everything. No person, no computer will ever dictate their actions. That’s the heart of a role-player.

“So based on everything you said, Mass Effect is an RPG.”

Nope. It’s not. By my logic, every game can be an RPG. What it boils down to is the heart of the gamer and how they play. Mass Effect can be an RPG. But it can also be a shooter. It can be an action/adventure title. It can be a strategy. Or a horror game. It can be a puzzle game. Hell if you really want to push it, a really bad vehicle simulation game (because seriously, fudge the Mako). The game is whatever you want it to be. Mass Effect is how you interpret it. I don’t see it as an RPG. I see it as more than an RPG. Just as Call of Duty could very easily fall into vehicle simulation or a sports game.

Mind blowing. I just called CoD a sports game.

But it’s true. How you play the game is how you interpret it. When we start breaking things down into genres, we remove the game from what it’s meant to be: a game. Let the player carve their own path and decide for themselves what type of game it is. Grand Theft Auto is a fantastic driving game, and RPG, and shooter, and action/adventure, and puzzle, and quest-monger.

My gift to you, a week late and a hundred+ years too early, Commander Shepard. Your game isn’t an RPG. It’s more than that. Enjoy!

(Originally posted 4/19/13.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

GTFO - Documentry About Sexism In Gaming

Just behind the GDC conference where sexism took a front seat, a documentary Kickstarter project has emerged titled GTFO. Shannon Sun-Higginson is a filmmaker from New York. She defines herself as a casual player and hasn’t seen the harassment that many women face as gamers and employees in the industry. Until a year ago. I’m guessing that’s about when the Twitter Movement #1ReasonWhy began. Higginson took an interest and began researching. I’m sure what she found was surprising.

“The purpose of this documentary is to reveal the experiences of women in the gaming world, both good and bad, as well as to provide steps we can take to change the environment for the better.”

“Of course not all gamers are trolls or abusers - many are kind, supportive, and equally disgusted by this type of behavior. But the fact remains that this is a real problem, and it's time that the non-gaming public know about it.”

That’s the key right there. In the gaming world, there are a number of good people who think the behavior exhibited by a select few is appalling. The problem is that no one is talking about it. No one is standing up to say “that’s not right.” That’s where this documentary comes in to keep the movement’s momentum going. Lots of luck to Higginson. Even if your Kickstarter goal isn’t reached, I do hope that you’re able to find support from an investor. The story needs to be told.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A More In-depth View of Game Music

I know I have a few posts about gaming music, personalfavorites, and why Angry Birds should not be on the “Best Video Game Music” soundtrack. Memorable, but not a “best.” But looking back at my posts I have never dove into the topic of gaming music as an art form, how it is utilized in the medium, and why it is an essential element in design.

My stance on music is simple. It needs to transport me into that fictional realm and be memorable enough that I can pick any song at random and know exactly there I’m at in the game. Easy concept but very difficult to replicate. Star Wars is a fantastic example of this. Would Star Wars be Star Wars without the music? The thundering roll of The Imperial March, the hum and lucid tranquility of Leia’s unrequited theme, and the pomp, clicks, and brashness of Endor: this is what makes Star Wars come alive. Without the music, Star Wars would have been just another space movie. But the music allowed it to transcend into cinema history.

It takes a lot of ones-self to make a movie or game soundtrack. Another movie example, Daft Punk score for Tron: Legacy. It was “Daft Punk light”, as friends would say. It wasn’t the thumping, grinding, innovative beat that we were use to hearing. It had to be tailored and trimmed to fit with a film. To which I give them a lot of credit. It is very difficult to take your sound and transform it into a different medium. I personally liked the soundtrack; it fulfilled my rules and gave a nice twist to movie music.

So when it comes to games, I do use the standard that I have always applied to movies. It’s something that I have always done with theater and art; I want to be able to think of a song, phrase, word, sight, smell, etc. and instantly be transported into that world. It’s quite easy for music to falter. For all of the “best selling” games out there, how many of us remember the music? We might have a song or two that are familiar, but until we sit down and play the game again, the recognition is limited.

Some of the most infamous songs that fall into my requirements would be Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda. We all know exactly what SMB sounds like. We, and by “we” I mean corporate America, made up lyrics for it! “Do the Mario!” Hell I still remember the lyrics and that was 1989. But isn’t that what a great song should be? You only have to hear the first few notes and it transports you back to the game. You relive those memories where you laughed, cried, and probably swore a few times as you tried to beat the boss, or jump up walls (Super Metroid…how I loathe thee. Your music will always force me to think about the walls.)

When you get down the to the bare essentials, you need music to help drive a game. The story, characters, and action are meaningless without music to back them up. Games began as a parlor trick and grew into an art that requires, in fact it makes it necessary, to pull the gamer into this new world. And the best way to ensure full immersion is to provide a musical experience that compliments the game.

Final Fantasy fangirl alert: Nobuo Uematsu is king of gaming music. He’s not just a genius using midi and 32 bits to create orchestra scores, but he has this innate ability to transcend the traditional and create magical experiences. You can listen to a Final Fantasy soundtrack and play the game in your head. That is how definitive Uematsu-san’s work is. No one today can compare to his talent.

This is where gaming music can easily diverge. Everyone knows Mario, Zelda, and the FF victory fanfare. But can you remember a tune from Teem Fortress? How about Call of Duty? Or Gears of War? Well known titles, but they don’t carry the same strength from a musical standpoint. Thus I would argue these games lose out on a critical aspect of immersion: the final push needed to get gamers to be fully committed to the game’s world. When I play Gears of War, I know I’m playing a game. I don’t feel involved in Dom’s life. He’s a character that I control to stop alien bugs. The music is an after-thought. It’s there to help enhance some of the battles, but as a whole, it gets left behind. Versus Shadow of the Colossus, a visually simple, but artistically stunning game with a simple story, it has a soundtrack that creates the atmosphere and tone of the gameplay. Without the music, the game’s themes of life, death, loss, mythos, and destiny would be well forgotten. The music developed the story; this is why we still talk about it today.

There is much more to be said about gaming music, but as a whole I think you all can see where I’m getting it. If you want Star Wars = music. If you want more Call of Duty = keep throwing in more explosions. Like Michael Bay. Hey, at least he’s good at something.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Could Make E.T. Better? Anything, Probably.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial video game is one of the best examples of how bad movie and product tie-ins can be. I remember playing this as a child. In fact, I still have a copy, safely stored away along with my Atari 2600. It was abysmal. I remember thinking this game served no purpose other than to make money. I wasn’t even born yet and I already understood marketing and corporate greed!

So when I saw my email box with an article from PC World about how hackers turned the worst game of all time into something that was playable, it caught my attention. Because really, any improvements on E.T. would make it a better game.

Apparently there are fans of the game. Well of course there are. There are fans for becoming fans of random stuff. A lot of the faults with the game are that kids just didn’t know how to play it. If they read the instruction manual, it would have made sense. (Just did. It’s still the same game, so I wasn’t playing it “wrong,” rather the mechanics were that bad that it couldn’t be played.) They acknowledge that it’s difficult, to a fault, but it offered some things revolutionary at the time: an open-ended world and side-quests. Potential? Maybe. But it doesn’t excuse it for having horrible game mechanics if an adult can’t play the game.

NeoComputer.com set out on the task to try and resolve the games issues, and helped develop a ROM to make it a playable game along with several others. Issues such as E.T. constantly falling into holes, the biggest annoyance of them all, and losing energy every step you take. No seriously, every time you moved in the game, you would lose energy and items to replenish said energy were few and far between. Do you know why E.T. would fall into the holes and wells so many times? Because of one pixel. If the E.T. character was even 1/100th on top of a pixel that led into a hole, he’d fall in even if he was clearly on flat ground.

Having tested the ROM for about 30 minutes, the changes are noticeable and the game is actually tolerable. It’s still not a good game, but sometimes we just need someone to break into it and tweak a few things.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The MMO Time Warp

Defiance begins airing tonight on SyFy (It’s still SciFi, I don’t care what they say). For those who don’t know, or don’t remember, about this time last year I made a post about this TV show that had a game tie-in. But it’s not like usual video games. This is an MMO action/RPG set roughly 30 years in the future after aliens attempt to take over Earth. The game centers in San Fransisco while the TV show will be based in St. Louis.

This is actually a project that began 5 years ago so Trion, the game developer (Rift) had time to create the final product. 7 different alien races needed to be conceptualized and ready to go long before the first script was ever written for the TV show. That’s an immense amount of pressure to 1 success and 2 not jack up timeline consistencies.

The plan is to still have the game integrated with the show. While it will start out small, eventually players, and possibly their avatars, will influence the direction of the script. The game has been out for 2 weeks now, and weekly missions coinciding with the show will start after tonight’s episode. My copy…is still in the mail, but I’ll get it eventually! I’m curious to try it out and see what happens. I picked up the PS3 version. People can play across platforms on the 360, PS3, and PC (another bonus, about time someone listened to FFXI’s logic).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mission Statement To Read

While I’m waiting on the next Feminist Frequency video for Tropes vs. Women, I caught up on a piece someone sent me from Rock Paper Shotgun. A Missions Statement on why they are not going to stop talking about misogyny, sexism, and the exclusion environment the industry has created.

Initial thought: It’s ridiculous what people are willing to complain about. John Walker had to apologize and make it clear several times that he wasn’t writing the feature to get more page views. Because sexism in gaming is a hot topic right now and people are more than happy to comment and send emails that he’s doing this just to get more web hits!


Mr. Walker, I know I shouldn’t do this, but I apologize on behalf of the internet and cynical people everywhere that you had to prove that you were being genuine in your intent.

The truth is, RPS is right. They hit on all of the points that I have been discussing lately about our community and the industry. While women do get the brunt of the blow, it’s not just us. Anyone who is non-white and male receives some form of antagonistic, mistreatment because they don’t fit “the mold.” And RPS will continue to defend them. They will still write the stories that make people question what has happened to our group.

This is my tie-in to the true gamer. When I was at PAX East, true gamers didn’t care that I was a woman. They treated me with the same respect as everyone else. Gamers, nerds, and geeks have always been an inclusive group. When the rest of the world dumped on us for not being normal, we found comradery and empathy amongst each other. So when we see someone being excluded, the true gamers stand up to stop it. That’s what RPS is doing. They see what has happened with the community and are taking a position: we do not exclude; all are welcomed.

“This use to be a gaming site. You’re just trying to get laid. It’s just for fun.” RPS covered those responses too. Because they are going to get them in some fashion or another.

Here’s the bottom line: If you are a true gamer like you claim to be, you wouldn’t make those comments. You wouldn’t exclude others from the hobby. You would stand up for injustice. We all have been picked on, bullied, harassed, and verbally assaulted for being different. Our community is the last place where we should tolerate it. If more gaming magazines, blogs, and companies followed our lead, the industry will be back on the right path.

Untitled Spine

I’ve been inspired over the past few weeks to stand up for myself. Ever since PAX East, comments online for my Aria costume have been mixed. I found myself growing the backbone that I’ve been trying to instill since middle school. Was it the best I could do? No. Am I damn proud of what I made with only a month to work on this (at most 25-30 hours)? Absolutely.

The comments that I received were not from other costumers. In fact EVERYONE at PAX East was absolutely amazing. I was incredibly fortunate to meet such people who were nothing but nice. No the comments were from so-called gamers. (All on the Mass Effect Facebook page of all places.) People who have no idea what it takes to make a costume, and feel it is necessary to judge and pick on every single little detail when a fan expresses themselves through an artistic medium.

I was going to ignore them, but then they started to pick apart Rana. For those who don’t know, Rana is THE FACE MODEL for Samara and Morinth from ME2/3. She is sickinginly nice. Anyone who says crap about her or her cosplay (how is she not the most awesome person ever for dressing up as the character that she modeled for? And as someone who has only dove into the series 6-7 months ago, even I knew who Rana was...how are you an "ME superfan" as you call yourself if you don't know her?) will get a response. And then it hit me. I’m so use to defending others, coming to their aid, and when it comes to the trolls that want to pick on me? I ignore them.

I had an epiphany.

After PAX East I realized that true-gamers are inclusive. They support each other. They are not about hate. They don’t exclude others. True gamers respect everyone. As long as you love to game, it doesn’t matter what your size, skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference, government you belong to. Any true gamer that I have met has welcomed everyone, open arms, not singling people out. So I stood up to the people wanting to pick on me. I didn’t go in looking to start an argument, to cuss them out, nor to push the hate onto another person. I wanted to make a stand that what they were saying was completely unnecessary. That if they were true gamers, they would not hate on anyone that expressed their fandom.

And you know what happened next? Nothing. Well not nothing. Someone followed up on a comment about my eye-liner (completely ignoring what I had posted). But everyone else that had been picking on myself and the other costumers went silent.

I call that a victory.

I don’t expect an apology. Ever. But I do hope that at least one of them realizes that gaming is about inclusion. Not exclusion. When we get back to our roots, we will see some amazing things happen in our community.

Follow-up piece to be posted with a tie-in.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Retrospective Sexy McDonalds Army

The gaming news sphere has exploded in the past 24 hours. There are just too many good articles out there today, so we’ll have a recap/review posting. But they are all worth reading.

And I’m kind of busy with work. Good timing!

Kotaku is having a Mass Effect week and Kirk Hamilton looks at how the series has changed over the years, and became a representation on how gaming has evolved. And Evan Narcisse holds an interview with Drew Karpyshyn, one of the pedestals of the original game, about Mass Effect becoming a movie. (Hint: All of those companions Shepard has? You probably won’t see them all. But come hell or high water, there MUST BE A JOKER). He gives a very realistic approach to how Hollywood will chop down the story. Be warned, you might experience fan rage.

Okay I realize that I have completely fallen in love with Mass Effect, but I did not plan my new fondness around these schedules. It just happens to all be going on at the same time. I’m sorry for the spam of ME. But not really sorry. Oh, you know what I mean!

Forbes thinks McDonalds is marking their new sandwich wrap all wrong when it comes to Millennial. They suggest that they look to game developers. It’s actually an amusing article, even for Forbes standards. 

The U.S. Army is looking to distribute a video game, developed to help curb sexual assault, to more bases. A number of people have sited that it has helped reduce the amount of sexual assaults events, but opponents state that it still doesn’t resolve the problem, i.e. people are still blaming the victim and the attacker receives no punishment.

The Daily Californian is about 2 weeks behind on the PAX East “cosplay is not consent” story and the Game Developers Conference (GDC) after parties with sexy women.  Never the less, Kallie Plagge develops a very clear, and startling message about how women are viewed in the industry. It might just be the kick needed to get more people aware of the issues.

Finally, Boston.com makes a compelling argument on why the video game industry is one of the best at regulating itself, and people should stop picking on it. A great defense for gaming in this piece.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DLC Songs-Rock Band Removal

As further proof that the guitar/band games are faltering, Rock Band is no longer releasing new tracks for purchase, and will be pulling a few from their store starting at the end of the month. A few songs have already been removed, such as the Metallica pack released in 2007. 

This isn’t because of lawsuits like we’ve seen with Nirvana and No Doubt, but licenses have expired. Some of the earliest releases are no longer under contract, and Harmonix has to pull the songs. If you already own some of these tracks, you won’t be affected. You paid for them and you get to keep them. It does affect those who wish to purchase them for the first time and DLC bundles that use to contain songs that are going to be removed. It also shouldn’t affect those who need to re-download the content (accidental deletion, console transfers, etc.) but that’s up in the air as well.

It’s a sign of the times. Rock Band and Guitar Hero made an impact but their stint in the business is long gone. The chances of these songs being re-licensed are slim at best. The micro-transactions will probably not turn a profit should they return to the pool of songs. The shift in the industry is towards motion, thus the likes of Just Dance have taken over the systems. It might be time for Harmonix to pull the plug, so to speak, and start in a new direction. Maybe a next-gen Rock Band is on the horizon that will take us somewhere we haven’t seen with rhythm games.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Can Do Better, But Will You?

Yesterday I mentioned the gem of a letter Peter Moore from EA released to the internet titled “We Can Do Better.” First, yes, yes you can and as gamers we do care that you own up to some of your mistakes. Not all, but a couple.

That’s about the only positive thing I’m going to say about Moore’s letter. From there it descends into a rant (or non-rant-rant if EA wants to get technical) coupled with bad references and made-up gibberish. Apparently EA was ranked worse than BP Oil last year according to Moore because some fans were not happy with EA’s SOPA support (Moore claims is not true) and fans were unhappy with ME3’s ending. The Consumerist has an enjoyable response. Point #1 about beating out oil companies immediately falls flat because none of them were nominated last year. At all. Whoops! Fact check fail. In fact, the reasons why EA was on the list had nothing to do with SOPA or Mass Effect 3. Were people upset about those issues? Sure, but those weren’t the reasons behind the nomination. EA’s lack of customer service, continual purchasing of smaller companies to hold the market to their whim, and cornering all sports games (which also set the basic pricing standard for games) make them a company to be feared and disliked.

Moore’s non-rant-rant continues onward, again by admitting that they’re not perfect, but they’re still not the worse company. SimCity isn’t a DRM scheme. Origin has 45 million registered users, making it just as friendly as Steam. People love the micro-transactions!

My response: 1-If it’s not a DRM ploy then why not have an offline version, something that hundreds of thousands of your customers have been requesting since SimCity’s release. (Even better when they fully admit that the game can be played offline, but they chose to not implement the features because it wouldn’t really work.) 

2-How many of those registered users are actually satisfied customers? For so many of us, we’re forced to install and use Origin to play a game. We don’t have a choice. At least with Steam I don’t have to login to my account to play the product that I’ve paid for. But with Origin? Nope. If it’s on my computer I’m forced to register the game, I’m forced to install Origin, I’m forced to use it to play a game that I paid for. By the way, there is still nothing on the box or manuals for EA PC games that states that Origin is required to play. They might want to fix that. Not that they won’t have lawyers out the butt.

3-Micro-transactions are fine and clearly they are the way that games are going, particularly for the free-to-play models. The problem that gamers have with it is that we have recently consistently seen EA intentionally releasing unfinished games that cost $59.99+. A few months later they release a download or two that will complete the game, but you have to pony up an extra $20 for it. That’s the issue. We, the consumers, are paying for unfinished products instead of getting everything out of the box through our initial payment. Imagine dropping $180 for a collector’s edition of Battlefield 4. You play through the game, get to the end, and the game just stops. There is no ending. The story isn’t complete. There is no last level. Nothing is there. Now you sit and wait until EA releases a download, where you pay more money, to finally finish the story. That is cheating consumers and fans. Micro-transactions are fine when they are properly applied. Pay this and you’ll get an in-game boost or side-quest. NOT when it’s needed to finish playing a story.

And then Moore shifts the blame. The reason that they’re getting so many votes this year is that homophobic and people that hate the Madden cover have released mailing lists and petitions online to vote against EA.

Okay. Having worked at GameStop corporate, I have seen a lot of stupid things. I’m not saying that these mailing lists don’t exist, because they probably do. There are a lot of strange people on the internet. But to claim them as the sole driving force for the votes is ridiculous. Out of the millions of people that purchase Madden every year, I’d argue that maybe 100 people have issues with the cover. And the homophobic? Silly. You had many more people boycotting The Old Republic BECAUSE same-sex relationships were excluded.  Trust me EA. You’re not that far up on the food chain for the super-conservative to care about. They are much more concerned about the supreme court right now.

Did anyone else start thinking about that South Park BP (well DP) Oil episode where the CEO keeps releasing a series of “We’re Sorry” advertisements that were anything but sincere, but just enough to shush the public, during Moore’s non-rant letter? Just me? Okay. I wanted to double check.

There is one comment from a user to the letter posting that I wanted to address.

Jesus, so much hate, this is internet after all, where people hide on their avatars to say bad things to others. This is not only about EA, but Square Enix, Capcom, Activision, Apple, ABC, Fox, Justin Bieber...everything that is popular. Say what you want haters but EA still one of the best selling companies of the world, and people love their games because they buy it every year, people don't buy what they really hate. Yes, they make mistakes but anyone is perfect

It is fun to hate on EA. I will not deny this. I find a sick enjoyment on picking on them. But I don’t do it because it’s the “cool thing.” When you have a website like The Consumerist, which is one of the few online sources that actually researches and maintains their morals so as not to have corruption within their ranks, point out the problems, you listen. These aren’t just 5 people in a room talking, but customers from all walks of life that have real concerns about a company.

Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. The reason that EA is still so “popular’ is because our options are pretty limited. Go into any store and pick up a game. There’s a good chance that EA was involved in it. They have taken over so much of the industry by buying up all of these studios that we can’t touch anything without an EA logo on it. Popularity is relative when you’re the only name in town.

“Winning” the Worse Company in America award should be a sign that something is wrong. Listen to your customers. This should not be about blaming others, picking on the weak, or inflating your ego. You were chosen because people legitimately feel that something is wrong with the company and the products. EA, you should try listening for once. You might be surprised at what your customers have to say.

By the way, I still can’t get The Sims 3 to work. Thank you for a $80 collector’s edition that I can never play. Now will you stop sending me advertisements about the expansion packs?

Monday, April 08, 2013

April 4, 2010

I can’t believe I’m still keeping up with this blog. This entire premise started with a goal to make a blog last a year. I have others. In fact 4 of them that didn’t make it past month 5. It wasn’t for lack of trying. It was probably laziness coupled with interests being diverted in the real world. So having a blog go beyond a year is a triumph as far as I’m concerned.

My views and opinions have grown and altered, and sometimes stuck firmly to the ground. I still think the Call of Duty franchise is in the crapper. I still hate EA, even though I’ve been suckered into Mass Effect and am now a super-fan in ways that I never thought would be possible. That is mostly BioWare’s doing. If it were a sole EA title I would not have considered touching it. And now I have a space husband. /sigh Garrus. Why did you have to be so cool?

Of course with my never-ending non-love for EA, The 501st is still one of my more memorable posts.  Just about this time last year, The Consumerist released their 7th annual Worse Company in America poll, that looks a lot like a March Madness tourney bracket, and EA was voted online as the worse company out there. I remember that day. It was fantastic. In fact, EA is in the final round against Bank of America (another company I really dislike) this year, so go vote. It takes longer to load the webpage then it does to vote.  We’ll find out who wins tomorrow. And the rant by Mr. Moore at EA is just hilarious; how the heck does EA expect us to take them seriously anymore?  You better believe I will be following up with a wonderful post about that!

This blog is not entirely focused on hating EA and Call of Duty. Another of my favorite posts was about the current state of horror games, in that they do not scare me. They are filled with gross with nasty-looking enemies, but scary? Nope. I miss the early Resident Evil days where the purpose was to terrify you, making you question what’s lurking in the hallway. I’m glad to see Fatal Frame and Silent Hill carry on this tradition, even though they are rare finds.

And the always loved topic of gaming movies that I can’t stop posting about. My thoughts on the genre of gaming movies have evolved over the years. I even posted a revised stance about my position. We are still a ways off from getting the perfect video game film, but we are making progress.

I feel that my blog posts have evolved over the past year. In Defense of the Bittersweet Ending is one that I’m still shocked that I wrote.  It sounds like me, and it doesn’t, if that makes a lick of sense.

But to really understand where my brain is at, you have to look at my Top 10 list of games. It’s vibrant, chaotic, unique, and varied, yet it explains so much about who I am. A list that I made nearly a year and a half ago and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. Ask me in about 10 years; more than likely it will still be the same.

One thing has remained clear throughout my posts: I love video games. I have a deep respect for the craft and, for as much sh*t I might give to a developer, I understand the challenges they have to face. We are in a very interesting place for gaming. Consoles are prepping for the next upgrade. Mobile and independent games are taking over. People who are not white and male are taking a stand against the stereotypes in the industry. This is a great time to blog about games. We’re going to see a shift, one that I hope gaming will come out of a much better and brighter place. And I’ll still be here, blogging about it.

Can Video Game Journalists Still Make Money?

Outside of Google ads, I don’t know how most gaming journalists and reviewers are able to make a weekly paycheck happen unless you’re with Kotaku or Gamasutra, but even then, it’s probably a great job at a very low wage. We have come of age with the internet that news, content, information, resources, everything is at our fingertips. A few strokes of the keyboard, a click of the mouse (or smacking the Enter key if you’re hardcore), and within seconds you have everything you could want. It’s difficult to compete in journalism where news is out there now for free.

Everyone can make a blog or a news site and anyone can review a video game. I mean, just look at my blog. I average about 15,000 hits a month on this little thing. No ads. No profit. I created this blog to share my personal opinions about games with the occasional news and reviews with my own sad little brand of humor. I’ll be going into my 4th year since I began this blog back in April of 2010, and I still love it.

At the same time, I know that I’m selling myself short. In fact, I’m not selling myself at all. I’m giving this content out for free. There are pieces that I have on this blog that I’m really proud of; those which help elevate games and gaming journalism to a new level. Unfortunately we’re at the point in media evolution that we’re expected to do some things for free in order to get our name out there, build up the street cred, and THEN we can start making money. Freelancing, having your own blog, gaming consultant, all of these help build up your image in the industry and eventually you can get a steady job paying the bills as a journalist.

And for a number of us, having a blog is there for an outlet. I don’t want to be a gaming journalist, though I feel there are a few things I could help contribute to the industry. I made this blog for me and for anyone else with alternative views about video games and geek culture that want an outlet from the norm. I’m not The Nerdest. I’m not Kotaku. And I don’t plan on being any of those online publications. I may be giving out my views for free, but I don’t think that should matter. I’m a gamer and a fan of gaming. I’m going to continue writing and speaking my thoughts. Payment isn’t necessary. I understand that it may affect those who are in journalism trying to make a living. Instead of surfing to their website or Kotaku, knowing that every click they’re getting paid, the reader comes to me. It’s the world that we all have to compete in for views. 

To answer the question, yes video game journalists can make money. How much and if they're willing to do freelance gigs will determine the answers.

The National Union of Journalists is holding a conference on April 18th in London, England, with one of the panel topics specifically about this subject about how to make money in this ever changing business of gaming journalism. If you’re in that realm of the world, go sign up. They are also offering panels about writing in video games and the history of gaming journalism. All are welcome and food. You can’t beat food!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert loved movies.

Except for those he hated.

It’s a perfect sentiment for the man who has reviewed films and brought critics into our homes for 46 years. Roger Ebert passed away yesterday. As someone who has been, and still is, in film school, I have a lot of respect for what he has done with the industry and how he has helped elevate films that deserved to be watched. We haven’t always agreed, particularly with the argument about videogames being art. And your favorite films we would probably have had a healthy debate on.

“Citizen Kane? Really Ebert. You know it’s a snuff film. The only redeeming quality for Orson Wells is that he refined sound design to a level that is still unfounded today.”

Though La Dolce Vita is on his list, so I can’t really argue with him.

Whatever your perception may be, and though we may not agree with his views about video games, he did make an impact on films in his own way and he will be missed.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

LucasArts To Close - Titles Being Sold

*head desk* Disney has begun on their quest to make fanboys really hate them.

In an announcement yesterday, Disney, which now owns Lucasfilm Ltd. and it's subsidiaries, is no longer producing titles under LucasArts. Instead they will sell off the licenses versus creating the products in-house and close the studio.

Why is this a bad idea? Well I'll reference all of the Nintendo games from back in the day when licensing wasn't corralled. Have you seen Legend of Zelda and Mario when Nintendo didn't have control of them? It was horrible. Just imagine what will happen to the LucasArts titles when they are no longer being monitored. this isn't just Star Wars. They own Mercenaries, Thrillville, and The Secret of Monkey Island, just to name a few.

Okay maybe giving up those titles to other developers won't be bad. I admit to my curiosity if someone else works on Mercenaries 3 or Monkey Island. But for Star Wars this could be asking for trouble. It could easily open up a slew of really bad games looking for a quick buck because of the Star Wars title. Heck, even LucasArts started BECAUSE of all of the Star Wars clones. Lucas originally sold the game rights to other companies and we got a lot of crappy Star Wars games. No seriously. If you think Kinect Star Wars was bad, just Google "Bad Star Wars games" and you will pull up a lot of pre-LucasArts products that are horrific. Once the licenses were brought back in-house, the product quality drastically increased, and the legacy of Star Wars lives on. Not to mention cannon issues. If we start seeing 2,000 year old Jedi from the Old Republic era talking to Jar-Jar Binks, we have some issues. Yes I know TOR is BioWare/EA, but the point still stands.

Disney, you have some explaining to do.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Never-Seen, Often-Heard, Heroes of Video Games

Polygon posted a good read about the state of voice actors in the gaming sphere. In that they are not treated like super stars unlike their Hollywood counterparts.  To me, this isn’t news. It’s something I’ve been fully aware of ever since I was a child. We don’t care about the actor behind the voice. We want Kevin Conroy to talk like Batman and we’re all happy campers-even if we never see his face. We want the voice.

Anime voice actors in the U.S. know this all too well. You’re fortunate if you can get a gig at Funimation, which basically has its own set of in-house actors, so they are guaranteed a few series before they have to find work elsewhere. They are paid by the hour for their work, usually no more than $200 an hour (which is below the industry standard for voice actors in general). No residuals for any repeats or syndication airings of the show. Funimation is one of the few places that I know that gives a salary to their core voice acting group, at least here in the U.S. Flat fee. Per hour. That’s it. Which is why if you’ve ever been to an anime convention, or look at a lineup, you’ll see a lot of voice actors on the circuit, begging for the attention so that they are still prominent in the eyes of dubbing companies.

It’s hard work. And voice acting for video games is no different. If you pull up any IMDB page for a voice actors, you’re going to see dozens if not hundreds of credits. They have to work hard and nab everything that they can in order to maintain a living. It’s rough stuff. The only way to really “hit it big” is to grab a Milk campaign. I remember Kyle Herbert and Mike Mercer, anime and gaming voice actors, during a panel talking about how much they have to hussle to get a job, and they’re pretty well known amongst anime fans in the U.S. for their dubbing efforts. (Kyle is THE VOICE of DragonBall Z). Why do they want a milk campaign? Residuals. Every time those commercials play, every time that slogan is said, that voice actor is getting a residual check. All for only saying 2 words. “Got milk?” And another check is on his way.

The gaming industry doesn’t favor voice actors, unfortunately. It’s still a new field when you think about it. Voices really didn’t become mainstream until the last 5-6 years. Even now we still play games that have no voices. Final Fantasy X was the first to really incorporate it, that we’re expecting it more and more with our games. But even back in the day, we had voice actors to mimic fight noises and such.

We’re at a point where we’re going to need to see changes. Voice actors, whether obscure or not, need to be properly compensated for their work based on the sale of the game. Because let’s face it, Mass Effect would not have been so powerful without the voice acting. Seeing the actors for Kaiden Alenko and Kelly Chambers at PAX East, they were super stars. We would have no attachment to those characters without the actors that provided the voices. And it’s also important that the studios start supporting their actors, be it in marketing campaigns, or even just mentioning them on the website. Yeah, a lot of companies won’t even do that. They slight the actors as a side position because “anyone can do it.” Well no not really.

Is there more of a push to get movie/tv actors into video games? Of course. And it blows the budget of the game to where everyone else working on the project gets screwed. But hey, if that gets the game on Conan or The Late Show, then it might compensate with marketing gains. We won't get into the work-load difference because that would be an obvious response. An A-Lister in Hollywood could portray themselves in a film for 20 million for a few days of work. A voice actor, such as Tara Strong who averages 3-5 characters per show is lucky to make a grand per episode over a few months (and she is so ridiculously talented in the way she can manipulate her voice that it's insane that she's not paid more for her work).

It’s important that everyone working on a game gets the attention and respect that they deserve. From the guy working at QA 70 hours a week with no sleep to the voice actor of “random village man #2.”

Go read the article. It’s good stuff. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

GDC 13-Inclusive Key

Today I'm going to link to a review of this years GDC (Game Developer's Conference). Why? Because this is one of the best comprehensive reviews I have read about a conference/convention/expo in a long while. By Kirk Hamilton no less.

Oh Kotaku gang. You know there is love here, one gaming blogger to another.

But the reason for posting Kirk's write-up is that it stirs up the emotions in gamers. We might finally be seeing a change in the times and trends that developers are starting to realize that we want more from our games. And frankly, we deserve more, better, and unique products.

Was "inclusive" the topic of the season? Of course. It wasn't just about women in games, but race and sexual orientation's portrayal took just as much precedence. I would love to see those panels online, particular the #1ReasonToBe with 6 female developers in the industry, and the "Rants" panel where Redshirt dev Mitu Khandaker made points about race and gender issues are one in the same - and being Politically Correct...it sounds like a rant that you have to hear to appreciate. It's also the year where GDC awards for Independent and Studio titles all converged. They're typically separated, but with the success of Journey and the Walking Dead series, they have shown to the business world that these unique ideas can really make an impact.

Is GDC still a place where high dollar deals are made? Absolutely. But seeing what has happened to the world around us is starting to jostle the system. Indie developers and gamers are seeing the potential the future has to offer. We just need to get the big names on board before it all starts crashing around us.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Geekin' Out The Closet

Today is April 1st, or April Fools day to anyone that cares. I see it as another normal day. Others around me, however, feel it’s necessary to play jokes on each other. I abstain from this “tradition” because it’s a nuisance. I have work to do. But because so many partake in it, I can’t trust any news sources. No, seriously. I can’t trust anything today because it could all very easily be “a joke.”

I don’t have a topic of interest today so we’re going to talk about my weekend. Why? Well its sort of geek related.

I spent my weekend cleaning out old crap. Literally crap. Things like old school papers, notebooks, dried out pens, just junk that was taking up space and really needed to be thrown out. And I’m doing this to make space for all of my geeky things. I’ve wanted to move my video game and figurines around. They’re in a nice spot, but I’ve gained more recently and they have outgrown their original home. They sound like show dogs don’t they? I have to clean them (dust them), check their cases for cracks, make sure they don’t get too much sunlight, not keep them in humid areas. My geek toys are pets! Crap.

The plus of it all is that I cleaned out A LOT OF CRAP. Most of it sitting in my living room while we wait on the 1-800-Junk crew to come in later this week to haul it all away. But seeing the closets so clean is a great feeling. Now to fill it up with more geeky crap! Yea!

I also found my Pogs. Does anyone remember those? Slammer included. Oh Pogs. You need to make a comeback. I would so own at that. “Up yours kid. I am the queen of Pogs!”