Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Fun Night To Game Drink

It's New Years Eve, and if you're not apt to go out and party like the rest of the world, there are a few quaint video game related drinking games to keep you entertained for the evening, with a nice hangover on the ensuing morning. Some of these are in-game drinking, and others require literal drinking. In fact, you can drink with the in-game drinking and make it doubly fun! Just know your limits and keep the driving to GTA or Forza.

Star Fox 64: Do the f-ing Barrel Roll and take a shot! Seriously, you'll be so hammered after the first mission, you won't see it coming. And the GTA one is pretty simple: take a drink every time you gain a star for the Wanted Level gauge. Even more fun is to get your character drunk first and THEN start causing mayhem. If you go with GTA4, the effects of being drunk last longer. Which is more destruction and awesome times.

 Another classic is Golden Gun Roulette with Goldeneye, the person who receives the famed Golden Gun in multiplayer doesn't have to drink, everyone else does. And if you're shot with the gun? You take a swig. Or Mario Party works along the same lines, where if you earn a star you take a drink, of earn a star from the  randomly placed "star space" everyone else takes a hit.

See adults. Games are fun for drunken parties too!

Or if you need something different from games, try the Light Side-Dark Side-Force game. Watch all 6 Star Wars movies back to back, and anytime one of the aforementioned words is spoken, you take a drink. The furthest I've seen someone go is through Episode 4, just as the movie ended. He couldn't handle anymore after that.

Safe partying tonight everyone! And if you're stuck at work, like me, try not to let the crazies get to you.




Monday, December 30, 2013

Female-centric Last of Us

Back when The Last of Us was released, the NY Times wrote a piece about how the game builds up a feminist standpoint and then falls flat, favoring the male characters when the end of the world arrives. In many ways, the writer enjoyed the game and found it thoughtful, intelligent, and wonderfully crafted, but felt that the pre-disposed need to put women in danger, and to take away the little power they held (damsel in the fridge trope anyway?), hurts the game instead of enhancing it.

Naughty Dog fired back. In a response piece by Alexandria Neonakis, the user interface designer for the game, explains that the opposite is taking place. If anything, Ellie IS the main character of the game, even if you rarely get a chance to control her character. The power she holds is consistent, and in the end, the entire dynamic of the game flips on it's head when you realize that Joel needed Ellie to move forward, and it was never the other way around. Ellie is a girl that you could imagine being able to hold her own in the zombie hoard. Would there have been more downs then ups? Sure. But she never relied on others in the way that Joel needed her around to have a sense of purpose (i.e. to protect her).

If you have a few minutes today, or haven't used up your freebe daily NY Times allowance, check out the response article.

Capcom Called Us Old!

Capcom has released a mini-feature, "The Secret of Success: Resident Evil" to mark the 17 years the franchise has been in our hands. And while the series has had it's ups and downs, the name has become recognized globally for it's steadfastness in the horror, third-person shooter genre and that games can be box office gold.

It's been doing well, all things considered. I know some people were none-to-happy with the direction of the sixth game, but it received a happy medium that still produced sales. Capcom fans are pretty loyal, so I'm surprised they would allow themselves to publish this statement: "The longevity of the "Resident Evil" title also comes with problems. The main user group is now in their late-30s to 40s, and the average age is also going up as the series goes on with an increasing possibility that some percentage of the existing users will outgrow games altogether."



That's a fast way to piss off your clientele. Remind us that we're getting older. Thanks guys!

While I understand the need for businesses to market to younger audiences to ensure a future for their product, you don't call your current users old. You also don't alienate them. Because the younger crew are not as easy to accept known-gaming franchises to their lineup, in which case you can always bank on your sales from the core customers.

Capcom wants to create more opportunities to lure in a younger market, from fashion magazines and merchandise, to Resident Evil themed caf├ęs. I'm not digging that latter suggestion, but the tag-team joint with Universal Studios to hold the Halloween Horror Night at the park in Japan IS a good idea. And, frankly, it makes the most amount of sense for tie-ins.

The problem, as I see it, with the waning interest in the RE games is within Capcom itself. In fact, it's the same issue we're seeing with a lot of developers. Many of them are tied to the old model of business and not embracing the uniqueness of the social media games. Products and stories of greater quality with much smaller budgets are being given to the public for next to nothing (and sometimes nothing at all) with the promise of more if they pay and play (it's been a successful venture for many companies), and turning into hits. It's not an issue of the fan base getting older, because we'll always be there. Management should probably review themselves first before calling us out.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Games, Games, and More Games

Good Friday to you fare readers. I'm still working out the kinks of the new template - a few things have been adjusted but others are still in the works, and I swear the logo keeps looking uglier by the minute- as such, you're getting a link round-up.

Forbes picks out Five games they would like to see ported to next gen consoles. Read that as: this is a really stupid list. They took five games that have been released this year, most of them within the past few months, that already look amazing and play quite well. Porting them seems...dumb.

Wired.com looks at The Novelist, a game where you're a ghost who haunts a family, learns about them, and tries to persuade the dad to be a good father in his dreams. The article looks at why this game fails as a game  due to it's repetitive plot points and interpretive means of pushing the story forward (because everyone writes out all of their secrets on post-it notes).

Video Game Crossovers That Need To Happen! Or maybe not. NZGamer seems to think so...I'm just shaking my head at the simplicity. Let's be more creative guys. Legend of Zelda with Slederman. Try to figure that one out. :D

Michael Thomasson is officially the holder of the largest video game collection, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. He owns just shy of 11,000 games, varying from discs to cartridges. Interestingly enough, he had started this collection twice, only to have sold them off (the first time was to buy a Sega Genesis, the second was to pay for his wedding). But a good wife that man has; she supports the hobby as long as they had a budget set in stone for it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Template!

So as you'll probably notice, I'm in the process of updating the template. It'll take me a bit of time to get everything working properly (like this interesting issue of posts coming up as "normal 0 false false false en-us x-none x-none microsoftinternetexplorer4" in the description field. Anyone know how to fix that without going through EVERY SINGLE BLOG POST AND REMOVING SPECIAL FORMATTING?).

Not bad so far. Tweaks to come! And a different background. Definately need a different background. But I think that this is more...game-like compared to my previous format.



Update: I think enough people have read about the issue now (and has been posted on Google's forums) that I can revert back to my old template. Right now, there is no resolution other then to edit all 962 posts...yeah that's not going to happen. So it looks like I'll be bumming off of Blogger for a bit longer until I can develop something. Yippie.

Santa See's All

From the kindness of Reddit that is worthy of a reblog, here's Santa watching some Sims...doing it in the living room! Well, naughty or nice, they are apparently still getting their presents. Courtesy of a gamer from The Sims Freeplay, the mobile version that is very Sims2ish. I'm more amazed that people are still playing the mobile versions. I thought that died out as fast as the Facebook game?

Online Outages of Gaming Services Reported

While Christmas is usually the day where lots of people open up their shiny new electronics and hook them up to play, internet issues tend to vary. The worse of it will boil down to “it’s moving too slow.” But this year, the Playstation Network, Nintendo, and Steam were all reporting major down times throughout the day.

With the newer consoles, it’s expected to create accounts online. That nice shiny PS4 you received probably did not get used yesterday with the networks being in flux. The same applies for the Nintendo Network, where a hot sale this year was gift cards for the shop. Needless to say, a lot of people attempted to use them X-Mas day and were met with frustration. Some of Nintendo’s stores are still experiencing issues, and they are in a period of extended maintenance to help alleviate some of the additional load. 

And Steam…well they were giving away free copies of Left 4Dead 2 on Christmas, so that explains that slowdown. 

For the most part, some systems are returning to normal, but you can bet that a lot of people will be hitting the forums this week to complain about the issues. It’s Christmas people. It’s not about giving gifts and playing games. It’s about family and all that. :p Give these guys a little bit of a break. They probably spent their entire week working while the rest of you were able to stay home, rest, and eat feasts. They're working on the issues; patience is a virtual virtue.

Monday, December 23, 2013

GTAV's PC Debut

GTAV may be coming to PC sooner then expected. It's believed that Rockstar will announce later this week for the PC version of the game to come out as early as March of next year. And where did we find out about this? The support staff at Amazon in Europe. Good job guys at keeping that under wraps!

"According to our information, GTA V PC will be announced on 12/24 and according to our source, it will be released in the USA on 03/12 and here on 03/14."


We won't know for certain until later this week, if it is true. But do expect a LOT more GTA content on Twitch because of it. And I'm okay with that. :D

Friday, December 20, 2013

E.T. Desert Dump

No. Nolan is not involved in the project and this isn't
New Mexico, but it's an amusing picture none-the-less.

Microsoft’s new Xbox Entertainment Studio is underway with producing content for the XBox One. The first TV series will begin production in January where, get this, the first episode is to go out to Alamogordo, New Mexico and dig up the old Atari cartridges buried there in 1983 after the video game crash.

The show will be a documentary series focusing on the 1983 crash and subsequent dumping of the games. The production company Lightbox, whom produced Man On Wire and American High, will be there to film and act as primary documenters for the series. They approached Zak Penn, who wrote The Avengers, with the concept and took off with it. The cartridge dump is not only legendary, but it’s also a lore that still fascinates us, much in the way of where Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried.  But it’s a mythos that lives on because, in truth, no one has any photographic proof that it happened. We all believe it did because that’s what they told us. No one has gone out and dug up the area because it  requires permits, licenses, and Atari to agree to it, on top of all of the legal proceedings that had to occur to get permission.

It’s a treat for all gamers, needless to say. There is no word on when the show will air, but with filming beginning in January, it should be before 2015.

Going Home

I'm just going to leave this article here and let you all have at it. I rarely find something so well composed these days, but the Moving Pixels blog on PopMatters is just...it fits. The discussion of Gone Home continues to trudge forward as people determine if it's worthy of being labeled a "game" or if it could be better defined in some other medium.

Right now you can get on sale through their website or Steam for $9.99. It's worth the look, if you're into something new or just want a different gaming experience. Hell, a different story experience would be more accurate. You can plow through the "primary" story line in a few hours, but you miss the point of being involved in the universe. There's a reason why so many critics and writers are latching on to this title. It's the fresh dip into the uncharted waters that the industry needs right now.

Read the article. It can explain the game and the concept so much better then I could at the moment. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around what the heck the game is.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DRM Reversal On The Reversal For XBox One?


People were freaking out yesterday after a livestream of a Killer Instinct gaming session on the XBox One went "viral," when a pause in gameplay was caused by the console as a message appeared on the console: insert your game disc or buy it at the Microsoft store.  The 24-hour check-in looked like it had made a comeback on the XBox One.

Bah! Damn you Microsoft! You said no DRM! Nerd Rage! I can sense the flips of tables around the world.

But let’s calm down everyone and try to figure this out. Look! There’s a quote direct from Microsoft about it:

 As we have said previously, there is no DRM check-in every 24 hours. Reports that say otherwise are inaccurate and false. Buying a game online makes it easy to play anywhere, on any XBox One. All you have to do is sign into your Xbox Live account  and you are instantly authorized to play any content that you’ve purchased on that XBox.”  

That’s fine and dandy, but that doesn’t really help with the situation that happened to the gamers playing Killer Instinct. From the looks of things, the system is trying to verify that his copy of the game is legit, and he was booted from the game. So the question is what’s up with the message?

When Gaming Blend asked a Microsoft representative to clarify, they started that it looked like the game wasn’t actually booting them, but that XBox Live may have disconnected, and the system was asking to reconnect. Now technically if the game is stopping while in mid-play (the rep claims this may have been between rounds) to ask you to insert the game disc and verify it for XBox Live purposes is a form of DRM. Being booted from XBox Live for a connection issue is one thing. But the console actively checking to ensure you have a legit copy of the product is another.

The message is still a quandary…what does it mean? Some people have commented that they see this constantly on their system, while others are oblivious to it. But why is it appearing in the first place if the system isn't "suppose" to check the serial codes on the games?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trade-In Game Myths

Trade In Detectives, a company founded by Ben Grant and Matt Precious, who founded the game selling companies GAME and Gamstation, want to bring the truth about trade-ins to the public, to help separate fact from fiction. And drum up business for their new endeavor, which compares trade-in game prices from all known sources available (Amazon, GameStop, EntertainMart, etc.) for you to figure out where you’ll get the best price.

And this is how they’re plugging it: by giving away some of secrets. Bold move guys
 
Question The First: Do publishers hate trade-ins? Well according to Grant and Precious, they actually fund trades. To clarify, this was in Australia. Yeah…that would have been good to know at the beginning of the article for those who were unaware of the stores. Most of their developments took place in Australia, which has much stricter laws and regulations regarding gaming versus the rest of the world. Even Iran has more relaxed rules, with Battlefield 3 being one of the few banned games. Granted, they also have a vast amount of censorship of products, but it’s better than the ban list Australia has. But because publishers have better control over the trade-in deals in Australia, it benefits them. Where as in the U.S. trade-ins are determined by the retailer. No middle man. The business is the only one that stands a chance to gain or lose money. And while publishers are trying to break into it and offer some incentives for retailers to kick back funds, it hasn’t happened. So here, devs DO NOT control trade-ins. They do in Australia. So yes. They still dislike the trading game.

Question The Second: Do publishers hate trade-in game sales? Ties in with the first question. Grant and Precious seem to believe that smaller publishers dislike it because it breaks their sales model, but most are okay with it. Bottom line: No dev really likes it. The only person that stands to win on trade-in/used sales is the retailer. They maintain all profits and nothing goes back to the developer. Some argue that because of second-hand sales, newer products are less likely to be noticed. Others say that their games are out on shelves for years as “used” and the original creators never receive their paycheck for their hard work because of it. Whatever the case, no one likes it except the retailers and customers.

Question The Third: Can you make money selling games on eBay? Open to debate, but Grant and Precious believe that sites like eBay are the single greatest threat to the gaming industry. Mostly because it’s a lot of money not going back to gaming: upwards of 19 million units, games and systems, sold. Instead it’s being focused on eBay retailers, who will sometimes offer double, if not triple, the value of a trade-in product, to turn around and sell it at a much higher profit margin. (Though to be fair, if you’re not in Australia as a developer, you’re not making any money from brick and mortar store trades anyway).

Question The Fourth: Why did Microsoft try to “fix it” with the Xbox One? When the Xbox One was announced, they wanted all gaming licenses tied to a database and retailers had to pay for the permission to resell them, thus ensuring that they would get money from each used product. But they didn’t take into the thousands of factors (like a game being given as a gift, or to trade with a friend) that could easily disrupt the system. Their method of delivery didn’t help either. It was already toting itself as DRM friendly just when EA was relaxing their rules. Digital trades are going to be a tricky realm to cross. We’re not sure how the developers are going to work it out in the future, but hopefully with more class then what Microsoft tried to pull off.

And…wait that’s it? That’s all you’ve got? Wow. How about revealing some REAL secrets about the game-trade business?

Like how Amazon’s game trades are really no better than GameStop, GAME, or even BestBuy. The only way you’ll get a better value for your product is to sell it yourself. If you get $1.00 a GameStop, most likely it’ll be $1.05 at Amazon. Woo. *waves a finger in the air* So try selling it for yourself. Deal with the fees of putting up a listing, taxes, and shipping. You’ll probably get an extra dollar out of the store trade.

Or supply and demand: I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again. When a store has 100 copies of Madden 2013, they are not going to buy your game back at its original value. You might get 10% of the original sales. It’s a popular item with a lot of stock, your item is worthless. However, if it’s a rare game in high demand, like the first Xenogears, then yes, you’ll get a higher value for your game, at least 75% of the original sales price. Or a low stock item with low appeal? 10-25% of original value. It’s a numbers game of what’s hot, what’s not, what’s in stock, and what is difficult to come by.  Do your research, ask for pricing every few months, and sell when you feel it’s worth it.

Here’s a good one: until EA removed its DRM rules, they use to have the lowest trade-in value on products. Why? Because it’s a bitch and a half to convince EA that you own the game, so let my code work to register the product and/or access the online portion of the program. Not many people were aware of it, but the amount of complaints we received about EA’s games being content blocked made for a massive amount of trouble with GameStop stores. So prices on trade-ins were dropped to accommodate. I.E. we buy them back for less and sell them for higher, making up for the headaches with profits. Simple as that. And while trade-ins on EA games were still happening every day, they were not as frequent. Besides, EA always overstocks product, and people were more apt to buying the newer version anyway.

The trade-in secrets are anything but. Nice try guys…maybe if you’re Australian it makes a difference. For the rest of the world, not so much.

Weekly WebLink Roundup

Fun stuff on the internet today. If there's time I may have a followup posting, but for now, this will do. The internet has brought us goodies and I wish to share.

First up, Kotaku has a list of the top gaming searches of 2013 through Google. The results are surprising to them, but not so much to me. Candy Crush and Cookie Clicker are on the top and there is no Call of Duty in sight. Sign of the times at how the community is changing.

The Smithsonian is adding two more games to their permanent collection: Flower and Halo 2600. Wait, what? Yep, the museum is adding in more in independent pieces. These two represent the diversity and uniqueness of gaming. Halo 2600 in particular, spinning a well-known and graphic intensive franchise into an Atari dreamland. :D

Leigh Alexander's Top 5 games of 2013 are out. I like Leigh. I enjoy her work and her candidness. So look at this as "Indie Games Best Of".

And of course from my home, The Dallas Morning News game gift guide for all ages. And I can't believe they suggested Call of Duty for "some teens." M rated game guys...good job! Their warning is half-assed. *rolls eyes*

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Outsourcing the American Way!

While I would like to applaud The New Yorker for bringing more video game journalism to their publication, I don't know if the topic of outsourcing is the way to go. Because it seems like a very "no-duh" type of moment. While the core of game designs still come from the source/publisher, outsourcing for testing and technical specs is common, and almost expected. Much like the way a Production Assistant works on a movie/tv set, a Quality Assurance or Game Tester will be brought in to do the grunt work, paid little or nothing (internship!), work 12 hour days for 6-7 days a week, and then get booted after 3-5 months.

Why do they do it? It's cheap, efficient labor and people can use it on their resume as a stepping stone into the business. A lot of companies do this. In fact, I can't think of any that don't. It's common-place to outsource the menial labor to other companies for temporary contracts at little cost, and high benefit to the business.

So when I see someone ask "who built that video game?" I can easily say, this design team, this developer, this publisher, and the hundreds of outsourced workers who won't get their names onto the ending credits. It's expected. Does it make it right? I don't know, but it is something. At least most of them are still getting paid and are not under the guise of "internship" like Hollywood is apt to doing.

Monday, December 16, 2013

All The World's A Pretty Song

I haven’t done one of these Top # Lists in a while, and today feels like a good day to do for it. So why not?

Much of our gaming experiences revolve around the world the story is set in. So many unique, entertaining, and downright frightening things can occur in the environment that enhance the game. Without the universe that encases our favorite characters there wouldn’t be much of a game to play. It would be like Star Wars without Alderaan…dawh. Yeah I went there. Sorry. But think about GTA without Los Santos. Or Final Fantasy X without the whimsy of Spira. In honor of the environments that make up our games, here are some of my favorites (mostly places that I wish really existed so I could visit).

The Mushroom Kingdom Castle – Super Mario 64. It wasn’t until Mario made his third dimension debut that we saw a more stylized, and visualized, view of the castle that Princess Peach resides. One that has been taken over and transformed by Bowser and his minions, but never the less, it’s a pretty bitchin’ place. Hidden walls, mirrors and paintings that act as portals to other worlds, fish swimming through the air, and toadstools all around! The castle was a little slice of Mario heaven in all of the things we love, and hate, about the series. And the Chain Chomps. No castle garden is complete without one of these to protect your property.

Why do I want to go: Kid dream coming true? I’ve always adored the Mario series, and to be able to see it in person and live in it, even for a few hours, would be nostalgia heaven.


Vice City – Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I think I was born in the wrong decade. I should have been born in the 70’s to be a teen in the 80’s. I do not deny my love for most things 80’s. The music in particular. The best songs ever came from that decade. And some of the colors and fashion choices weren’t bad either. Which is why I would love to see Vice City become a reality: it is nostalgia 80’s heaven. When the game was released in 2002, it came at an awkward time when 80’s was considered retro. The 1980’s are old? What? That was only a decade ago! But Vice City propelled the nostalgia factor to an 11 when the game was released and made us all long for the time period that was.

GTA:VC also became the first game to include voice acting for the main character. Tommy’s personality is very much derived from the culture of the world that he lived in. Hawaiian shirts and no socks for shoes made up the VC style that everyone embraced.

And did I mention the music? To date this is still one of the best soundtracks of any GTA game.

Why do I want to visit: To go to a Love Fist concert.

San d’Oria – Final Fantasy XI. It’s a city build on traditions, honor, and loyalty. Of all of the cities, San d’Oria always appealed to my values. The style of the architecture screams classical European gothic. The design of the city was open and inviting, while still walling itself off from enemy threats. Of all of the cities, this is the one that I felt was the most inviting. Windurst is a maze. Bastok felt dingy and sometimes claustrophobic. San d’Oria was the combination of strategy and elegance. And the holidays were always the most fun. The best spot for the SummerFest fireworks is in Northern San D’Oria at the fountain. Halloween costumes parade along the Southern route from the moment you step into the gates; they’re not hidden away like the other cities. And Christmas completely transforms the docks into a magical oasis from the rush of the outside world. The music is not the best, and many adventurers will attest to The Sanctuary of Zi’tah as one of the best songs in the game. But to me, San d’Oria was the one place I could call home and feel safe…without getting lost in the winding roads of Windurst and feel like punting Tarus.

Why do I want to go: This was my home town from the day I began me adventures in Vana’diel. And it’s the best Mog House of them all. A fireplace and a carpet? Score!


 Everywhere – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I’m going to let the screenshots speak for itself.

Just look at how f-ing beautiful it is. Look at it!

Why do I want to visit: I would be in photography, and videography, heaven.

Minecraft – Minecraft. This seems like a silly entry, but hear me out. The beauty of Minecraft versus SecondLife is the ease of use. In Minecraft you can build ANYTHING with a few clicks on your mouse or controller. Granted they will all be in a square format, but the possibilities are endless. Versus something like SecondLife which is much more polished it does require quite a bit of time to understand scripting. With Minecraft you get an axe, you chop some wood, and you build. Done.

In the vision that is Minecraft, the amount of creativity continues to astound me. People have been able to develop game levels from other products to replicas of the Sistine Chapel. Or completely new mini-worlds on their islands that make us wonder if such a realm could be possible in reality. And that’s why I want a Minecraft realm to exist. Ease of use + creativity = endless opportunities to make things happen.

Why do I want to visit: Blocky replicas of The Big Bang Theory’s cast with Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment? Yes please

Bloodwing’s Holding Pen – Borderlands 2. Top this on the list of “what the crap?” but I’m choosing this because of it’s design. Just take a look at the screenshot and see for yourself. For a tiny alcove in this massive, jacking up zoo wildlife gone very wrong, experimentation camp, this area is reclusive. It almost feels, in an odd way, comforting to see this place after fighting through the seemingly never-ending packs of Skags. It also serves as a plot point in the game where emotions are running high. Many of us are not ashamed to admit that we were sad by the end of this chapter. But let’s get back to the screenshot for a moment. Look at how detailed that space is for an area that you only spend about 5 minutes in, if that. It’s a testament to the developers desire to provide an environment that truly feels real.

Why do I want to visit: Again, photography purposes. The story line at this point depressed me and I HATE this zone, in general. Invisible assholes everywhere!


The Halo – Halo (1-3). Of all of the first person shooters and of all of the games, why Halo? Honestly, it’s just plain cool. Who knew that a FPS could have hilltops and forests and beaches and tunnels and platforms, and holy crap I can launch my tank off of that thing and fly across the stage? Sweet! This seems so silly by today’s standards, but before Helo the FPS genre was limited to a lot of repetitive environments and war simulations. Halo brought us out of that relm and showed us how different the rest of the galaxy could be. Not to mention the zany things players have managed to come up with over the past decade. There are whole YouTube channels dedicated to abusing the game’s physics and objects to make weird sh*t happen. “Let’s see how many tanks we can stack on top of each other using the Blood Gultch transport systems.” Okay! Those zany features are what make Halo so damn addicting. Oh and the landscapes are pretty cool too.

But in all seriousness, the landscape for Halo is a marvel to look at. The thing that stands out to me the most is the use of color to intensify the mood of the gameplay. Your first meeting with the Hoarde is nothing short of thrilling and terrifying against the pristine dark grey metal walls, making the little maggots pop with even more gooey intensity. And I love the luscious colors of the trees and plants when you’re out in the forests; the blues, greens, and purples all collide with each other with such ease that you could barely believe that games at the time were capable of doing so.

Why do I want to visit: Any excuse to toss around the hummers and tanks across the map is a worthy endeavor.

The Laboratory – Caution: Seaman. This will deserve a bit of explanation. This choice was based off of wanting to have a real-world variant of this game. The environment is fairly simple. A water tank. A few rocks. Some other Seaman. And a blank canvas. Seaman is a game within a game. While the core of the design is centered around a virtual pet, helping it to evolve and creating offspring, it also focuses on the player as your creature watches you. Creepy, I know. So how does the world help the game? In its simplicity, we’re able to see Seaman for who he, or she, really is. And in turn, see ourselves for who we really are. Our habits and behaviors are projected onto Seaman. The more we interact with the creature, the more like us it becomes. At the same time, the less time we spend feeding and playing with it, Seaman becomes lazy (a direct correlation of the gamers actions and who they are). Having a laboratory setting in a simplistic nature allows us to better understand what Seaman is about. A busy world supporting it would have been counterproductive to the intent of the game. It’s a simple design for a complex idea, and the world best encompasses this premise.

Why do I want to visit: Leonard Nemoy narrating my life.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thrombosis and Childhood Gaming


First things first, this fear going around in news reports about deep vain thrombosis, which The Huffington Post has lovingly dubbed it “Gamers Thrombosis.” Okay. This is on the rise for most people, not just gamers. Basically, it’s a blood clot, or series of clots, that form in the legs if you are sedentary for too long and can travel to your lungs. If you notice any swelling, it might be best to go to a doctor. The reason it’s being pointed out so heavily as of late is the Journal of Medical Case Reports discussed one issue occurring with a gamer, who played for 4 days, 8 hours a day, with outstretched legs, and rarely moved. When he noticed the swelling, he ignored it, and then it became a big deal. What to take away from this? Quit getting caught up in the fear-factor the media likes to present.

As more and more of us are moving from factory and standing jobs to sitting positions behind desks and computers, we are ALL at risk for developing deep vein thrombosis. It’s not just gamers. It’s everyone. And the tips to help prevent it, even potentially stopping it are simple: don’t sit for 8 hours straight. Stand up every 2-3 hours. Walk around. Hell, I know some gamers who will stand while they game and do squats to keep their blood circulating.

It’s as simple as that. We good now? Everyone knows it’s not a gamer problem and it’s a “society is moving to more sedentary life-styles so it’s an everyone problem?” Good. Moving on.


There was another Huffington Post article I wanted to get to. An opinion piece about video games and why parents shouldn’t fear it. And gasp! It’s from a mom with kids! 

Darn kids and their vija games when they could be playing outside and learning in school! Well, Sandra Shpilberg is of the opposite mindset. Her husband, and father of her kids, has worked in the gaming industry since 2005 and they own quite a lot of gaming gear. For them, video games are great for bonding experiences, creating family moments, developing social skills and morality, and a tool for finding out their children’s interests and talents.

It’s a good article to read, coming from a mother’s perspective about how games are helping her kids. And really, parents need to grow up. Video games are here to stay and your kids are going to be exposed to them. Yes, that Angry Birds game in your iPhone is a video game. That Solitaire you play on your PC during breaks at work is a video game. It’s unavoidable, so you may as well get with the program. There are a lot of positive things to take away from gaming. Go read the article and get use to it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Little Logic In Press Release About First Person Shooters

This is an interesting press release from Disrupted Logic Interactive, a company based on Vancouver Canada that specializes in the delivery of games, content, technology, and online services for phones and tablets. So why they released this, I don’t know. Maybe it’s to get more publicity? Maybe it’s to help boost their own company sales amongst other gaming developers. I don’t know. But it’s an odd thing for a business to put these statements out as a press release, instead of “well, here is what we think.” 

So what’s it about? Well Disrupted Logic feels that gun violence is killing first person shooter games. That the violence in games is being looked to as a cause of real-world violence, instead of a reflection on reality. That seems like a “no duh” statement, but again, they felt the need to put that into a press release. Because we all know better. Since the beginning stirrings of entertainment that included any form of violence, people were concerned about how it would affect children. Theater, books, music, movies, television, and comic books have all gone down this road, and still continue to be questioned-though not as harshly as video games. We’re the new kids in town so we’re going to get picked on a lot more until another popular medium of entertainment that will last our lifetime, comes along and usurps the throne.

Disrupted Logic backs up its claim with statistic about the falling violent crime rates in the U.S. and general crime has been steadily going down while video game sales continue to increase. If anything, gaming violence is helping reduce real violence.

The argument that gamers are incapable of making the distinction between reality and fantasy is ridiculous.” Tom Raycove CEO.

Again, I don’t know what the company is trying to achieve by making this into a press release. Either they’re attempting to stir up business or someone got up their butts and this is their response. *shrugs*

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

YouTube Copyright Bonanza

Producers and content developers at Machinima are in flux. Some developers in the gaming industry are taking up the copyright rules with YouTube and causing tens of thousands of videos to be disrupted almost overnight. This is affecting even the smaller “Let’s Play” videos that we have all become so fond of over the past year. Why is this an issue now? What’s at stake? Why is the gaming industry getting all up in YouTube’s business?

Here’s the bottom line: money. Machinima and other YouTube personalities are able to make money from advertising through the millions of views they receive on their channel every month. They acknowledge that their earnings are based on the games, to which they do not own rights to. Most companies are okay with the “Let’s Play” type of videos so long as they are not monetized. But with the ease of Google’s Ad Revenue system, it takes a few mouse clicks to get it set up and you are on your way. And the payout has been so little that the time and effort it would take to slap copyright notices on every video would have been a waste of resources. This was a long time coming, but now some developers are taking back control over their content.

Part of this is in conjunction with an upcoming change to YouTube’s policies regarding copyrighted material. Originally this was going to be a gradual progression in 2014, according to emails received by content producers and YouTube, but they jumped the gun and hundreds of thousands of videos are in violation. Mostly YouTube is updating their policies to cover themselves from more lawsuits, as the music industry continues to hammer them. Even those companies with partnerships with developers to use the content are receiving the “flags” and “bans” on their videos.

So it’s a combo of developers and YouTube rule updates that have evolved into a plethora of video violations. But apparently, that’s not all. Some companies and third parties are claiming rights to content that is not even theirs; therefore flagging content that didn’t need to be banned at all. Capcom is working with YouTube to remove some of those false claims that they were having Street Fighter and Resident Evil videos removed, but they never instigated the requests.

Start downloading those favorite videos of yours now while you can. Things are about to get really messy.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So I’m Not The Only One Seeing Salon.com’s Crapfest About Games!

Glad to read it from other internet users that it’s not just me...I posted about Salon.com in the past in a reaction piece about The Legend of Zelda being sexist and elitist, as well as cruel to animals. When really, we all know better and the animals are cruel to Link. Damn chickens. And it gave me a great excuse to showcase as many chicken’s pummeling Link photos as I could muster without overpowering the blog post. 

But I’m not alone! Stan Rezaee, a community writer on VentureBeat, took to an opinion response about the lack of quality going on at Salon.com regarding their gaming articles. 

So to no surprise they have published several ill-written articles that have been very critical of the video game industry and culture. However unlike their typical cry baby banter; none of the writers could be considered experts because most of them admit to not having actually played or know anything about the video games they are discussing. Worse is that on several occasions they have published articles that reinforce the junk science that video games makes the player violent (a myth disproved by countless studies).”

The quality of Salon.com has been going downhill. It was once a pinnacle of ideas presented by scholastic-endeavored minds, but backed up with real research from people within the field of expertise. Now it’s becoming the playground of anyone with an opinion regardless of their talents or specialties. People who hate games are allowed to rant and rave as though they have been gaming their entire lives.

But I’m glad that others are seeing the flaws in these types of posts: they don’t represent the real gaming community but a media-enhanced shamefest. I realize that I may be no different, in that this is my personal blog where I spout my own opinions. I get that. But I also do what I can to ensure that I bring you multiple perspectives, evidence, research, and fully developed opinions before presenting them to you, the reader. Hopefully that’s a step up from most of the scum you can find online.

Monday, December 09, 2013

This Just In: The NSA Was Totally Trolling Us!

Released by renegade Edward Snowden, the NSA had some agents playing World of Warcraft and SecondLife to unearth possible threats against the United States.

There are no mentions of if any plots were stopped while playing WoW (other then it's own story-line; Bazinga!) or if gaming helped detect possible threats. But yes, the government is even watching you while you play WoW and Xbox Live. Go figure. I think the comments section of the article speaks for itself.

"I knew it! The NSA were trolls all along!"

"This just in: NSA employees find way to convince bosses to let them play WoW at work. My new goal is to find a way to convince my bosses to let me do the same."

"Gotta power-level that paladin whenever you can man."

Game of Thrones - The Other Game

I’m not going to talk about the VGX, SpikeTV’s video game award show that isn’t on SpikeTV anymore but now online. Except to link to GameSpot’s pre-awards review of what’s going on, what they think will happen, and what the hell the X stands for in VGX. 

But there was one announcement made on VGX that may help to bring more mainstream folks into gaming: Game of Thrones, the game! Yes the George R. R. Martin books turned tv show are now being developed into a game courtesy of Telltale Games, the same studio behind The Walking Dead games. Much like Walking Dead, it will be episodic releases starting in 2014 with more of a resemblance of the tv series and less of the books. Most likely the game’s first release will coincide with season 4 of Thrones in the spring. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Freebe Time For FF11!

Final Fantasy XI is 11 years old.

My how time flys.

And with the FF14 MMO taking off and still continual server issues with the massive number of people playing, FF11 is trying to pull back from of their older players with a new twist on their "Return to Vana'diel" campaign.

Starting December 11th, FF11 will go into Free to Play mode for two weeks, until December 23rd. That's plenty of time for older players to catch up with the brand new expansion pack, try the new jobs, see the new content and story lines, and go back to visit your old haunts. Yes, the Shitadel is still there. Originally this was limited to active Playonline accounts, but that's silly. How can you get old members to come back if their account, such as mine, is no longer active? So it's for all accounts that have ever played FF11. If your account is no longer active, they are reactivating it for this time period. No sign-ups are needed. Also included is a download of the game so you don't have to hunt for your discs either.

11 years of FF11. Man. I'm feeling really old now.


Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Swearing Ban Begins!

Microsoft’s “swear ban” isn’t new news, but it is making the rounds. Within days of the XboxOne’s release there were already stories popping up on Facebook and through gaming forums about players over certain titles being temporarily banned for up to 72 hours for swearing over their headsets while talking to other gamers. This started off as a Skype only instances where gamers chatting on Skype through XboxOne would be temp banned for language when you share a video that contains cussing. But has now expanded into the games chat systems as well. So yes…Microsoft is listening in on your conversations. Sort of.

On the one hand, this is a pretty big invasion of privacy that the XboxOne’s systems are listening in and possibly recording your every word through your headset when you’re not saving the file for a Twitch upload. Instead, they’re policing their users.

On the other hand, why hasn’t this been done sooner? Look. I’m not going to sugar coat this. We all know that Xbox users out of all others tend to be the most verbally aggressive when it comes to online chatting. I’ve personally removed myself from any and all Xbox chats because of how pervasive of an issue it has become. Versus the Playstation 3 and even general PC gaming, you get the occasional dickwad, but for the most part, people are more civil about being humans. There are only so many times I’ve been threatened with bodily harm, as well as my family, friends, and other relatives, where you get tired of hearing about it and go silent, muting all others in the process.

But this latest instance involves NBA 2K14. Using the facial recognition software with the Kinect and Move, the game can recognize when a person swears. In doing so, your in-game team will get a technical foul for naughty language. Interesting, no? So it’s not just the systems but the games themselves that will penalize you within the game space for your swears. That’s pretty hard core, and I would LOVE to see this in Halo. :D

But it does present some concerns regarding where do Sony and Microsoft’s terms of service bridge into Big Brother territory? Microsoft has issued a statement that they are not monitoring Skype calls. However, if a user uploads a video through the XBoxOne’s sharing services, then that video is subject to the TOS.  Excessive profanity even while using Skype does not absolve a person from what is uploaded to the internet. If you use a third-party, non-Xbox program but then upload it through Xbox, it’s still subject to the TOS. It’s as simple as that and applies to Sony as well, though their scan and ban system isn’t as pervasive as Microsoft’s has been. I’d like to point back to my earlier statement about Xbox users as a possible reason why that may be the case.

No I’m not a Sony Fan Girl. This is one gamers’ experience of being harassed way too much because of my gender by little boys (yes, even those of you who are over the age of 18 are still boys if you choose to cuss out a woman for beating your score in Call of Duty). So yes, I’m all for the swearing monitoring.

At the same time, is this enough? Swearing is one thing. Outright verbal and visual harassment is another. While I appreciate the steps that Microsoft and Sony are taking to ensure a safer gaming environment for everyone, they’re only addressing one facet, and that’s verbal swearing. What about messages and images sent to other players? What about the tens of thousands of crude content sent through texts every days on their systems that are left untouched by their staff? What about the pre-existing user complaint system? Is it being beefed up? Revamped? Or are they sticking to the old, crappy, doesn’t work at all until you call them out on social media, system? 

While I do think that in some cases the swearing ban is a bit much. At least it’s only temporary and it does allow you to play your games offline. Is it enough? Is it too much? I don’t know. But I hope that companies and game developers down the line will come up with a system to better confront the harassment so many gamers receive on a daily basis, and they are beyond the simple swear words like sh*t f*ck and g*d damn. Yeah. The last one confuses me too, but even radio stations are censoring god out of damn. *shrugs*

Gaming Year In Review In 2 Minutes

Unsurprisingly after getting a strong reaction from last year, Malcolm Klock has uploaded another montage video of video games from the past year and a chance to relive our favorite moments on the releases that were. In 2 minutes, of course. The theme is centered around Grand Theft Auto V, and why not? It's a big release and well deserved of the praise. But it also includes a few indie titles here and there if you keep your eyes open. Of course not all games are listed (Kotaku mentioned League of Legends but I'm not sure why? The game wasn't released in 2013), but most of the popular ones are.

Hope you enjoy the breather on this cold day!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Games Have Changed the World

Okay. Yeah. It was worth the watch. I know it’s a bit lengthy, but it’s an hour and a half well spent. The format of the program is pretty simple. It looks over the games since the field’s inception and how they have influenced the world, largely in a subversive manner. The buzzword Gamification came up, and rightly so as our lives become more focused on digital connections.

It’s an expected format, but with a new twist. “HVCTW” goes through a top 25 of games that have influenced our current world. But it’s not a random assortment of “this is the greatest game and here’s why” in some sort of quasi-pseudo non-fictional ranking system. Instead, the games are ranked based on date. 25 marks the beginning, 1 as the current trend. Through this method, we are able to see how video games have grown, developed, and changed out viewpoints over the decades. It’s, well, refreshing and so very game-like. Taking an old idea and twisting it into a new format: so game.

And having a non-ranking, ranking system has allowed for the choices in influential games to range from the known to the obscure with the younger generation. While gamers start younger and younger and may laugh at the horror we found in Doom, or the awe in the story of Monkey Island, those products did define a generation and helped create new content. Without Parappa The Rapper, we wouldn’t have the onslaught of music and rhythm games that make up so much of the market today. And Elite gave birth to the open-world landscapes that we come to expect from the likes of Grand Theft Auto and our RPG’s.

The list of 25 represent paradigm shifts. And by no means were some of these games popular. I mean, look at Night Trap. No seriously. Look at it. It’s a sh*t game with no appeal, but it created a firestorm of controversy, helped spur the birth of the ESRB, and gave developers leeway to finally make adult/mature only content. Yes there would still be some parents up in arms, but the ESRB is a big part of gaming today. Without it, games would be regulated by the government, much in the same way movies, television, and music art. Games are the only entertainment medium that have expanded their creative freedom because of the lack of restrictions. And honestly, the industry is going a great job policing itself. A lot of the “violent games” being given to children are of the parents own doing. The business knows better. Retailers know better. So quit blaming the games.

Diverging from topic, I strongly recommend that everyone watch “HVGCTW.” Not only is it great at providing insight into the gamer mindset and the history of gaming, but it doesn’t provide us with fluff like so many other news/docu pieces tend to do. It’s honest. Real. Maybe not gripping, but it’s a welcomed start.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

#c4videogame


I remember seeing the #c4videogame hashtag in a fairly consistent flutter on Twitter this Saturday and wondered what the heck was going on. C4 and Video Games can’t possibly be a good thing. Of course my first thought went to someone was blowing up games either in protest or for sh*ts and giggles.

Not the case.

A documentary-style look back at gaming aired in the UK on their “Channel 4”  with How Video Games Changed The World. Charlie Brooker, a documentary film maker, developed the mini-series/show by using a pretty standard format. Talking heads talk about said products and rank the top 25 “games” of all time. Twitter was named number one, which is why the tweets were flying all over the place.  What made Brooker’s piece stand out is that the games listed were in a wide variety, not a slew of Call of Duty spin-offs. He also told the story of games not as these underdogs of entertainment, but as gnomes or dwarsfs that have roamed around the bottom of the pit and have managed to seep into every aspect of our lives without our realization. 

The mainstream fascination with games is pretty simple: it makes a lot of money, there are pretty digital women, and World of Warcraft. Beyond that, gaming is still a magical realm to most of the world, and Brooker capitalizes on this fact.

The full episode is finally up on YouTube, and I’ve been told it’s worth the watch. With Twitter being number one, I’m skeptical, but I’d like to see what the reasoning behind it is.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Ms. Man and Tropes vs. Women

So we’re finally onto episode 4 of the Tropes vs. Women series and we have a new topic. The Ms. Male Character. I prefer Ms. Man. The counterpart to the male character, stereotyped with pink, bows, long lashes, makeup, and high heeled shoes. These female versions of their male “equals” (and let’s all use that term lightly) typically have no personality or are completely dependent on the male character to have a reason to exist. Ms. Pacman needs Pacman. Amy needs Sonic. Dixie Kong needs Diddy Kong. And so on and so forth. These are not women portrayed as the helpless victim, most of the time. Rather, they exist as an “other.” Personality traits, clothing, and dialogue are restricted to a girl-oriented dynamic as if the characters are not allowed to be anything but typecasted versions of how women are interpreted in the media.

What about the stronger female characters like Anya from Gears of War 3 and femShep from Mass Effect? They suffer the same fate, though from a marketing standpoint. The games are solely focused on the male character’s experience, with the women considered as an afterthought. While the characters are solid (I still have my nitpicks about Anya) and do not follow the grain of being completely feminized to ridiculous levels (i.e. no bows in the hair, and hell you don’t have to use makeup if you don’t want to), if you ask players about the games, their experiences are going to be focused on the male characters. Why? That’s how they were marketed and, in turn, gamers have been influenced to play the male roles.

That’s the jist of what Sarkeesian was going for. I have to applaud here for including the less stereotypical characters in this discussion. It’s equally important to see how games with supposed strong women are also being sexualized and cast aside. Warrior /= sexist free zone. http://the-geek-spot.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-myth-of-gender-equality-in-video.html Gender equality in gaming is a myth, and further perpetuated by the Ms. Man trope.

At the same time, I’m finding Sarkeesian’s videos to not include as much depth into the discussion as I would have hoped for. I understand that she’s going for broad appeal to try and capture more views and get more people on board with thinking about the topic. I wish she would include a follow-up video or something that would allow us to dive deeper into the issues and have constructive thinking. It may be asking for too much, but I’m putting it out there.

You can check out the latest video on YouTube

CyberMonday Gaming Deals

Don't give me that look. You know the deal. It's CyberMonday. The "safer" shopping day where you don't have to elbow and bodyslam people for $20 off a tv set. But some new game releases are on sale and worth a look at.

GameSpot has direct links to 2DS and 3DS bundles along with some of Amazon's lightning deals.

International Business Times has one Amazon deal, but a lot from Toys R'Us.

Geeks of Doom is your best source for Lightning Deal updates with Amazon. And if you're looking for a new system (last gen)? Now might be a great time to buy with the bundles.

There is also of course digital games via Steam and Origin. EA had some hefty discounting on Black Friday, with Battlefield 4 at nearly 50% off. So you can expect the same today with other titles.

I'll be back later today with more gaming news. Until then, happy spending!