Friday, February 28, 2014

Moviecraft

That Minecraft movie may be happening sooner then expected. Co-founder Markus Persson wanted to be the first to leak that they were in talks with Warner Bros. about making a film based on the game. While Mojang did shut down a fan film earlier this month, the company is not opposed to making a major motion picture.

And yes, even they think that they might be jumping the shark.

WB has plans to turn it into a live action feature utilizing some of the same team that developed The Lego Movie. But Live Action seems...kind of dumb. It's Minecraft. Part of the charm is the fact that it is a pixilated wonder. To replicate that on a film is not only important, but uber cheap. I mean, cheap cheap. So cheap it would be one hell of a return on the investment and then some.

With Minecraft also celebrating 100 million registered users, it's a good time to capitalize on the craze. Hey if South Park can create an entire episode around the game, what's to stop WB from doing the same thing? They already make foam pix-axes for sale, that you'll find on every convention floor ever. But live action? Really? Let's not taint the art of Minecraft.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

If EA Could, They Would

So you know all of that mess with the NCAA and Electronic Arts, former college players suing EA for use of image within the game, eventually leading to the NCAA dumping EA for good? Whelp the NCAA has recently released a document that was unsealed by the courts in an upcoming case against EA that show the gaming company and the CLC (Collegiate Licensing Co.) did indeed want to have player's names, and faces in the games and were pressuring the NCAA to go for it.

In return, the NCAA video games would be allowed to promote academic features, APR, NCAA values, etc. instead of the usual advertisements one might have seen. EA wanted to use the likeness of players as they appeared in televised broadcasts. In turn, they would have to take the players names and add them to jerseys and rosters.

All of this while players get absolutely nothing in return.

See, the way the NCAA works is that players can be promoted, exploited, and showcased without earning a dime. Okay that came out much harsher then intended, but it's true. Those playing at a college level are not allowed to make any money or accept any gifts in exchange for any public appearances or for work on the field. Because they are playing for colleges and universities in turn for an education, and not at an actual profession. EA would be doing the same thing the NCAA has been, but at another level, and that was too much for the NCAA to grapple.

The document continues on by showing that EA and the CLC wanted to link student athletes to promote products. That's where the NCAA drew the line. It's okay to promote the NCAA values, but not potato chips. It's more fodder to the fire when the case begins this June/July. EA might be in more trouble...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Sony News This Week...

Following Microsoft news from Monday and Tuesday, Sony Entertainment has revealed a series of layoffs at one of their flagship studios Sony Santa Monica. In it's history, the studio has released 5 games, most notably the God of War series. It's also where Thatgamecompany, Flower and Journey, and Fun Bits, Fat Princess, had their origins before moving on to bigger and better things. So there's a lot of history revolving around the studio.

In the process, a game has been cancelled as well from the studio as the team retools and refocuses on other projects and more DLC content for other Sony Entertainment titles. What was cancelled? We don't know. Assumption is that it is another God of War game, after Ascension underperformed in its 2013 release. The team will still work on other projects, but a studio with one meh release was enough to boot a few of the staff. Sadly, this is the world we live in.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

TwitchBox

Remember when the XboxOne was announced, Microsoft had a slew of things they were going to do with the console? Then they retracted it. And then they re-announced stuff with a couple of tweaks but they would come out in stages?

Whelp, the first of many updates to come will continue in March with the biggest updated yet: Twitch. The global online streaming service is no longer a PS4 only product, and has made the transition to include itself into XboxOne's system. And at a great time too - the update for Twitch will launch about the same time as Titanfall's, release. Microsoft has stated that the integration will be much more interactive then what the PS4 is offering its users right now by streaming games, joining other broadcasts, and the Kinect camera integration. But what Microsoft really wants to make stand out is that unlike the PS4's streaming service that was created independently of Twitch, the boys with the Xbox worked directly with the company to produce the final product.

Hard core.

Expect the nerd rampage to be felt soon, and lots of camera rage.

Monday, February 24, 2014

XboxOne Getting A Price Cut...In The UK.

Early this morning Microsoft announced a global promotion for Titanfall, the newest game from some of the original developers of Call of Duty, that will be packaged for free with XboxOne systems. The system will also receive a price cut in the UK to £399.99. Not here though. Here, still full retail price. Lame.

Harvey Eagle, Xbox UK marketing director, made the announcement this morning and fielded questions from the press. The promotion for the game is world-wide, which is great. Titanfall is a highly anticipated game, and yes I realize that's a mouthful coming from someone who hates Call of Duty. Once again, I remind you all that I have nothing against old school CoD. It's the recent stuff I can't stand. But the fact that they're doing something NEW at all is a step in the right direction.

Now for those who bought launch systems who might be cheated out on this deal, well you are. There's no compensation being offered at this time. Some systems in the U.K. were coupled with Fifa at release, and that was your freebe game, even if it did cost a fraction of what Titanfall would release at. So, you're SOL. Don't complain to Microsoft, you're not getting a free game.

You can pre-order the bundle at a few select locations, with more surely to grow by the end of the day.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Gaming Stamps Coming Soon!

According to the Washington Post, a  leak of upcoming, "top secret," U.S. stamp designs is making its rounds on the internet. Next year we may see designs in honor of Apple leader Steve Jobs, and in 2016, Video Games will get a special series of stamps. Future stamps will also include Peanuts, Hanna Barbara, and coffee. But for us nerds, games are getting their due by the government.

First off, I didn't realize that getting on a stamp was a big deal. Do people still use stamps? I mean, for collecting purposes, sure. I get it. But for mailing out? I can't remember the last time I bought or used a stamp. I print out my labels online and tape them to the package. *shrugs*

So yeah...stamp talk. This is all I have to post today. There's a marginally crappy story about 1 in 4 gamers prefer digital games versus a hard-disc, but meh. I'm tired of faulty reports and studies. So, you get stamps!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How Many People Does It Take To Play Pokémon?

Earlier this week, Twitch.tv did a fun experiment to see how many people could play Pokémon at the same time. No, not playing individual games at once. Rather, everyone playing one game at the exact same time, by watching a live stream of the game and typing in commands in the chat room. Needless to say, when you have thousands of people trying to offer different commands, chaos can ensue. And at the same time, there is a sense of wonder and satisfaction when you can get a character to the next area. I'm sure there were cheers of joy being able to move your Ash avatar from one grassy land to another...grassy...land.

Taking it a step further, a user has made Twitch Plays Pokémon Plays Tetris. Confusing, I know. But it's a customized port of Tetris, modified to respond to text commands with the blocks instead of them dropping instantaneously. It allows for more random possibilities and an infinite amount of choices for each game. Obviously clearing one line will take a really long time.

But it's an interesting social and mental experiment, well worth the watch. Gamers coming together to make silly commands happen! Just think about all of that power to do good in the world...or to try and catch a Jigglypuff. Either or is fine.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Level 1,000

After nearly 4 years of this blog's existence, many days of headaches, Blogger issues, and technology being technology, and fanboys being -of course- fanboys, I have made it to another milestone.

This post marks my 1,000th blog entry.

And the villagers rejoice.

I should probably be gloating right now about how proud I am to have lasted for so long, while other blogs have fizzled out. And yes, I am happy that I've reached this point. It's been a fantastic ride so far and I want to keep this up for as long as I can. I originally started this blog with a goal to make it for one year. One year, posting 4-5 times a week, about a topic that I love. I made it and didn't stop. And now I've hit 1k.

I hope to keep moving forward and posting until it's physically impossible to keep up. It's become a part of my daily routine, and I have found myself more immersed into gaming then I had ever imagined.

This is far from the end of The Geek Spot. I plan to keep this little blog running for years to come.

So I end this note with a look back at some of my favorite posts of the past 4 years:

Live Free or Die Donkey Kong. This is one of the few blog titles that I have created that always makes me smile. I love my title! Most likely I was in a Die Hard mood that day.

The Myth of Gender Equality in Video Games. While many people are outspoken about the portrayal of women in video games, very few look at action or FPS titles where the female characters are not glamorized in the same manner as as Princess. But this is still one of the few pieces that I feel continues to provoke thoughts and discussions about female characters. And that just because you wear combat armor does not remove you from the stereotypes.

Bittersweet Symphony. As a reminder that I hate you all for getting me onto the Mass Effect bandwagon.

Movies That Should Be Games. The internet constantly talks about games that should be movies, but rarely vice-versa. So, this was my list. And I stand by it even now.

The Feminist Stance On Bayonetta. Like the Myth of Gender Equality, women like Bayonetta. They like her a lot. It seemed appropriate to finally write about it.

And any post involving Katamari. Because it's Katamari. I shouldn't need to explain myself here.




Thanks everyone for reading and your continued support!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Breaking News For Bioshock Fans


Irrational Games is shutting down. Ouch. The developer of Bioshock announced the change this afternoon, and the Facebook response has been "WTF, WHY?" Or at least amongst my friends. And I don't blame them. It's such an odd thing for them to be doing. Last year they were only outsold by one other game: Last of Us. That's pretty damn good as far as we're concerned.

Ken Levine, the co-founder, has posted a message on the IG homepage regarding this decision:

"Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one. And working with the incredible team at Irrational Games is indeed the best job I’ve ever had. While I’m deeply proud of what we’ve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we’ve done before. To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers.  In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience."

Most of the team will be let go, and a small core group will move to Take-Two to work on other projects.

Still, this is a blow that a major developer is being picked apart to other ventures. I get that sometimes you get tired of a job and want to do something else. But does that mean taking down your entire company with it?

The last DLC for Bioshock:Infinite will be released as scheduled, but after that, Irrational Games is no more. Sorry folks. If there is another Bioshock, it'll be in the hands of Take-Two.

Military and Game Toys?

Another roundup because...things be busy online yo.

The Economist looks at why video games are just so gosh darn addictive! And some of their reasoning is fairly decent. It wavers from those wanting to release stress and aggression, to others wanting to learn how to lead, or how to control certain aspects of their life that they can not grapple. There's also fun. Fun is important.

Could the video game/toy hybrid save the industry? Well it looks like an ad for Skylanders and Disney, but it does bring up some good points about how much gaming has changed over the years and our need to expand and try new things. Innovation is a good thing.

And the military is taking over our games. Oh no! Well at least the weapons are. The US military and others have been purchasing gaming consoles to prep our warriors, and have even cracked open a Nintendo Wii to help disable a bomb. This article surprised me at just how creative our military has become with current technology and bending it to their will.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Convicted Norwegian Mass Murderer Wants More "Adult" Games To Play In His Cell

I almost don't want to believe this because it seems crazy, but at the same time, this is not a sane person.

I'm also surprised that this man's prison sentence is only 21 years. For killing 77 people in a shooting and bombing smorgasbord, that's really low. Guess the Nordics are much more forgiving then the rest of us?

Anders Behring Breivik, the same guy who claims that video games made him go on his rampage, wants access to better adult video games, gaming consoles, and other demands, else he'll go on a hunger strike.  Apparently the conditions are so bad at the prison, that he'd rather starve himself in order to get access to better things. Other inmates, according to a letter that he wrote, have access to more Mature content, while he's stuck with Rayman Revolution. Hey. There is nothing wrong with Rayman. Those rabbits are hilarious.

Breivik also wanted an end to his daily cell searches, access to a personal computer instead of a typewriter, and a sofa or an armchair.

...he killed 77 people, most of them at a youth camp. As far as everyone is concerned, the fact that he is still alive and only serving 21 years is beyond an act of mercy at this point. And the "right wing" extremists friends of his are probably thinking the exact same thing as the rest of us. "Why????" He should bee content with what he has and stop making a hissy fit. He's just bringing gamers down, once again, for his problems.

You know, they could sedate him and stick him on a feeding tube. That's one way around this mess. Because I highly doubt the demands will be met.

Friday, February 14, 2014

When Modding Goes Overkill

I'm a simple gamer. I enjoy nostalgia and my games coming with an air of simplicity. So when I saw this post on Kotaku about someone modifying NBA2K14 to add in some of the Space Jam characters, the 1996 movie starring Michael Jordan and some of the cast of Looney Tunes, of course I was interested. Space Jam was the sh*t during my time. So hell yes I want to see Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in NBA2K14!

And then I saw the video.

Ow. No. Just...no. Don't. Stop. Make it stop.

There's a point where modding becomes overkill and on the verge of being silly. And it's not done with the intent to provoke humor, but a serious attempt to bring a normally cartoony aspect into reality. I get that. I do. But sometimes, there is a point where you have to say "Stop. This is stupid." And that's exactly what happened here.

Now I do want to give the modder credit for trying something unique and it was a valiant attempt. But in turn, he took the fun out of what was Looney Tunes and made it downright unwatchable to play as those characters. I'd much rather play the original Space Jam video game and watch the movie, then to sit through a minute of the NBA2K mod.

But isn't this also the art of modding? To do something unique and unexpected, no matter how great or terrible it may turn out? Krogan warriors in Sid Meyer's Civilization 5 make the game nearly unplayable with multiple crashes in each session, but we still play. Nick Cage in Legend of Zelda is just downright disturbing, but we still find a reason to keep pushing forward to the end to save the princess.

Maybe this is a mindless rant from a Space Jam old fogie who wants more style, less creep-factor. Because Looney Tunes were for the cool kids. You can keep your Scooby Doo and Spongebob. LT is where it's at! But yeah...will not play this mod. Ever. Time to pull out the Genesis and relive the good times.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

When The Internet Speaks Make A Round-Up

Another news round-up today because it's just so darn busy today here. So enjoy the random things of the internet dealing with video games:

  • Here's yet one more news story about games making kids and teens violent. However, this takes on the roles of violence desensitizing kids and, and!, there's no research proving a direct correlation between violent games and violent kids. This is one of the few stories that, shockingly enough, includes data that youth violence has gone down over the past few decades. Hmm...a logical an unbiased article. Who'da thunk?
  • Hidden gems of the 1990's. Because nostalgia is awesome.
  • And Forbes keeps targeting the gaming audience, with 10 features that need to be dropped from games. Like ammo. Yes. Ammo. Forbes doesn't want it anymore because it's busy-work. It has nothing to do with portraying realism or calculating your odds. "Do I shoot the zombie here, or run away and save my last 4 bullets for the guy around the corner?"
A good Thursday to you all.~

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Sad But Truthful History Of Video Game Movies

If you have seen the Super Mario Bros. movie...oh who am I kidding. You wouldn't be reading this blog if you weren't a gamer AND haven't already seen the first, and notoriously worse, gaming movie. Even non-gamers know this film, and we all equally agree it is terribly bad, leaving us with many unanswered questions:

  • Why, for the majority of the film, does Luigi wear red, and Mario wear green?
  • Why is Luigi, the scaredy cat of the games, here presented as the brave one?
  • Where is Luigi's mustache?
Most of these are Luigi related, but all very good questions that Gizmodo attempted to tackle as it took a "behind the scenes" look at the movie's production, and subsequent failure. Video game movies had potential, and they still do. But since SMB and the follow-up creations such as Prince of Persia and Hitman, the genre isn't following through with the promises they keep building up. "This is it! This will be the one movie that breaks away from the pack!" And then it tumbles down after. Though Need For Speed is getting good buzz, our only standout for gaming movies right now is the Resident Evil series (which is so loosely based on the gaming franchise that the movies and games are completely separate entities).

If you read the article, be prepared to be depressed. For a number of gaming movies like SMB, the developers had no involvement. The rights to the SMB franchise were purchased and a movie was made. It wasn't until well into the production of the film that Nintendo stepped in and demanded changes. By then, it was too late. A lot of things had the stick.

I like Luigi, I really do. But I never understood how he became the hero of the story, and got the Princess. Thankfully not Peach. Yet in the games, it was always Mario that saved the day, saved the Princess, and stopped Koopa. So, what the hell happened? From a film-makers perspective, I can see how the younger sibling growing up into his own, a hero's journey story from boy to man, it's all well and good. But when your source material clearly states that Mario wears red and gets the girl, Luigi wears green and he's the sidekick, you don't screw that up without dire consequences.

The article also looks at other gaming movies, and the man that has destroyed everything for us: Uwe Boll. His highest rated gaming movie, Postal, only has a 7/100 rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yeah. His movies are just that bad, and he's done no favors for gamers.

Pull out the tissues and start up that Cure album. Gaming movies have been pretty crappy. Hopefully there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe.

Eventually.

Probably not.

And in case you don't remember, Luigi never grows a mustache in the movie. Sad and tragic, I know.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One Year And No Government Game Studies

Does anyone remember the U.S. President's speech last year regarding Sandy Hook and a call to Congress to fund a study on video games and their affects on children? Some of us groaned because it was pulling away from the other issues that were at hand, such as gun control and mental health. Others applauded it to show that once and for all, games are not corrupting children.

That was a year ago and as Gamasutra followed-up with our government, not a thing has happened since. As Mike Rose pointed out, this wasn't an issue to be taken lightly. Never before have we had a standing President speak about video games in order to find a reasonable, responsible, outcome instead of wild theories. That's great. But, it didn't help push funding forward as we sit here, a year later, with no new information and no changes. After the initial meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, who would head the development of the research team, it all dissolved. The $10 million request never changed hands. Congress sat on their butts and did what they always did (which is nothing, hah!). A few researchers were interviewed, including Dr. Chris Ferguson, an associate professor at Texas A&M who is an active opponent of linking games with violence (with a few studies to trump the notion and following up with fear over violence in video games is a sign of classic moral panic, and not a symptom of games themselves). But that's as far as the research team had gone. A few interviews and good-bye.

There have been studies since the President's request, but not under his memorandum. The only study that seems remotely close to what Obama was pushing for, was held by Mirjana Bajovic at Brock University, that actually focused on teenagers real gaming habits. And the results should be known to adults: Hey, your younger then 17 kids are playing M rated content. Learn the ESRB system (it's really easy! I promise) and start paying attention. It's not to say that all M games are violent and full of nudity, but that mature content needs to be monitored so your kids will have a better grasp of the difference between reality and fantasy.

At least the government hasn't spent the money yet. It probably went to their salary increase.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pretending To Be A Villain Makes You One In Real Life?

Madness I tell you!

According to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal tied to the Association for Psychological Science, Gunwoo Yoon and Patrick Vargas have found results that indicate that if you role play as a bad guy, your interactions in reality will be affected. Basically, act like a jerk in a game you start acting like one in real life.

To me, this seems like a ridiculous concept akin to the "aggressive behavior" studies we have seen over the years. The research is fairly straight-forward, and included a taste test...probably to try and liven up the experiment. 194 undergraduates at the University of Illinois were recruited and given a random avatar: Superman (good), Voldemort (yes, that one, bad), or a Circle (neutral). Already, I foresee problems. But the participants had 5 minutes, yes a mere 5 minutes, to play as their avatar and beat up the bad guys presented to them. After which, they moved to the taste test!

Participants were given the options of chocolate or chili sauce. The first person was given one at random, and then asked to pick either or for the next participant. Those who played as Superman, were more likely to give chocolate to the next player, while those who were the baddie Voldemort were choosing the chili sauce. And circles were, well, neutral.

So many flaws in this study that I don't know where to begin. Starting with the taste test. The results are going to be skewed if the first person received chili sauce. If it were me, heck yeah I would choose chili sauce for the next participant. Why should I be the only one that suffered? It's very easy to manipulate the results of the test when you're starting out with a nefarious incentive to make others suffer for you being stuck with the chili sauce.

Not to mention the avatar options. We know Superman represents good. We know Voldemort represents bad. And the circle is a circle. We have preconceived notions about those characters, even the circle, that make our perceptions about those avatars biased from the get-go. The results of this study would have been more accurate if they created original characters, and allowed for more then 5 minutes of play time. What does 5 minutes accomplish? Nothing if you ask me. So personally, I think this is a revenge taste test and has no bearings on how people really react/respond to a virtual simulation.

The original research can be found online if you are a subscriber to the Sage Journals. But really, the summary speaks for itself. It's a bad study with flawed results.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Nintendo Is Not Out Yet

Erik Kain believes the industry will not survive if Nintendo fails. Or so he says in his recent Forbes article, calling out the gaming giant to get their act together or we'll all feel the downfall. Lower quality games will be produced. Less innovation will be introduced into the marketplace. In turn, less competition for the other consoles and games can lead to complacency and more repetitive titles.

Why are we concerned? Well Wii-U sales have been less then stellar. And with the Wii being phased out, Nintendo hasn't been having a great year. Well there is the new Pokemon X/Y game, and even with the save bug at release, it was patched and everyone was fine within 2 weeks. Otherwise, it was a year of another Mario game. another Zelda game, and not much else as everyone else started to foam at the mouth over what the PS4 and the XboxOne had to offer for next-gen gaming.

So why care about Nintendo? They cater to a group and do okay with it. Well with Nintendo, as Kain pointed out, it keeps the industry honest and tries to push them to do better. Before the Wii came along, motion gaming was an afterthought limited to the tilting and rumbling of controllers. Before the Nintendo 64 and SNES (Super Mario RPG), games were limited to 16 and 32 bits. The idea of a 3-dimensional looking character was unheard of. And the Nintendo, well it jumped started the gaming revolution all over again. With all of these changes, updates, and upgrades, Nintendo has been on the forefront of providing new concepts of game play to us. Some have been great, like the Wii, and some have been bad. Remember the Power Glove? That is an ancient relic by now, but garnered the same reception as the Wii-U. But at least Nintendo keeps trying and pushing the boundaries. Not everything that they make will turn out gold.

At the same time, you know when you buy a Nintendo brand, you're getting a quality product. What was the fail rate on the Nintendo Wii? A 2009 study showed it was under 3% of the millions of units sold, and at that time there were more Wii's in homes then PS3's and Xbox360's (sometimes combined in some countries). And with any systems that did fail, Nintendo was one of the few that would swiftly fix it, sometimes with a return of the console in the same week. You can't say that about Sony or Microsoft.

So even if you don't like the game, you can always count on that new Super Mario to be one of the buggiest-free games out there. Day one patches and DLC's are almost non-existent for a Nintendo game. And yes, that's a good thing. It means they test their product to within an inch of it's life before releasing it to the public. Unlike other games where you expecting patching as soon as you install to fix issues, you don't need to worry about it for a Nintendo game.

Right now the company is in one of it's downward phases. It happens. Look at the cycle when the GameCube came out, just as the PS1 was hitting it's high notes. Companies go through ebbs and flows, it's part of the cycle when it comes to a capitalist economy. Nintendo will shine again with their new products. There isn't a need for them to cave in and go to a mobile only system. Nintendo doesn't do mobile. Their company's structure (internally and for creative design) is not meant to support mobile phones. Let Nintendo do what they do best and they'll find a way to get out of their rut. Don't count them out yet. I mean, there are already a lot of rumors swirling about a new console from them. It's just a matter of time until they reclaim the top of the mountain.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Amazon Buys Gaming Studio

In an unexpected move by the internet giant, Amazon.com has acquired Double Helix Games. Okay maybe it was expected, but not so suddenly. Amazon has been doing well at taking over the gaming market, both with new and used sales with trade-in values equivalent to many brick and mortar stores. Picking up a gaming studio, with both the rights and talent, is the next step.

Double Helix was formed in 2007 with the merging of two smaller companies, Shiny Entertainment and The Collective Inc. Shiny created Earthworm Jim. That's all you really need to know, because it's Jim. He is the man. But Double is most known for Killer Instinct, Silent Hill: Homecoming, and Front Mission Evolved.

As rumors of an Amazon gaming console continue to circle, the purchase of Double Helix will only compound.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

What The Kids Say About Vidja Games

Are video games bad for you? That is the question Game Dave poised to children under 10. Some of the responses are expected, that games are fun and teach you a lot of things. But some kids really don't like games. In fact, some feel that games are bad for your eyes and will make you eat things that you've never tried before, according to 8 year old Marie. Wait...eating new things is bad? I'm echoing Mike Fahey's statement. 'What are we teaching our children?'

Now I know that this video was made in jest, but it does involve real kids with real opinions, and their inability to spell (again, why are we teaching youngsters that they don't need to learn spelling and can just use Microsoft's infamously bad spell-check program? Another aspect to question on what we're instilling into our youth). Many of the things that kids know about video games come from their peers, family, and their teachers. The ones who are echoing negative statements are showing just how little adults know about video games, assuming that they're all bad and will cause irreparable damage for illogical reasons. Hurt your eyes? It's no worse then looking at a computer screen for 8 hours a day, which most of us do at our jobs. And even then, gaming is usually done far less on a daily basis that the amount of eye strain is non-existent by comparison.

Wait...wasn't the eye argument the same one our parents told us about television? And their parents before them? I know my eyesight issues are genetic and have nothing to do with tv. If anything, tv has helped me maintain some accuracy with my nearsighted-ness.

And eating new foods? Where did that come from? I'm assuming Marie thinks kids turn into mindless zombies while playing a game that they'll eat anything on the ground in front of them, like bugs and pet hair. Because kids don't do the same thing when Dora the Explorer or Spongebob are on, right? But this also seems really silly and had to have been put into that poor girl's head by her parents or teachers. Why is it a bad thing to try and eat new things? Kids are notoriously picky eaters. Get a kid to eat fish or vegetables because of a game's influence is a GOOD THING. Not bad at all. I personally want to try and make the food I've seen in a few games come to life. And if that can convince a kid to try broccoli, why is that a bad thing?

This is one of the few times where I strongly encourage that people read the comments on the Kotaku article. Many of them are echoing the same concerns that kids are being led to believe things that are not accurate about games and the media at all. Instead, they parrot their parents behavior and comments believing it to be correct.

We have a long way to go to make this a gamers world.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Send A Personalized Game For Any Occasion

Greeting Games started with a simple concept: why should you personally have to know how to code games in order to manipulate them and add in your special message? Instead, the company will do the work for you and send a customized game, from within a template of their library, to your friends and loved ones. And if you need a last minute Valentine's Day gift, the site is set to fully launch just before the 'romantic' day. Currently it is in beta mode, and allows users to send out digital cards for free, but once it is fully live, games can be sent out individually or through a subscription service.

Games are mostly puzzles such as Sudoku and Bejewled, but others include a slash and swipe along the lines of Fruit Ninja. Ard Bonewald, owner of Greeting Games, says they are starting out small and plan to gradually grow their library by offering different types of games, even so far as producing their own RPG ala Nintendo old-school Zelda, with a multitude of hidden notes and gifts throughout the game.

"It's fun because you can send a game to people who aren't that enthusiastic about games," Bonewald said. "But they do like it when they get a message from you."

But for the most part, their target audience are non-gamers or those who are interested in mobile games: things that are quick, easy, and for the most party largely played and understood by the greatest number of people. Everyone knows Pac-Man and Angry Birds. Modeling games off of those will reach a wider target group.

It's a mixture of greeting cards and games, both still very large businesses in the U.S. And while greetings cards tend to focus more on physical notes, with eCards having a constant up and down falling out with consumers, Bonewald has high hopes for his company.

And it's a solid idea. I'd love to send one of these personally games to a friend on a birthday. It gives them something fun to do and kill some time while letting them know that I was thinking about them during their special day. How can you go wrong?

Monday, February 03, 2014

Art By Gamers

I love video game art. Particularly when someone takes a game and completely fudges with the style to make it their own. One that you'll probably see on the internet over the next few days is 'Origin Story' via Ukiyo-e Heroes. It's a Japanese wood-block print style of a giant Katamari with the King of all Cosmos watching over the tiny Prince (not seen at all in the image) rolling up a feudal Japan. Even better is that you can buy this print on traditional washi, and each print is signed by the artist.

I mean look at this. It's amazingly detailed and unique compared to the bright colors and zaniness that is Katamari. And at the same time, it's distinctly everything that we adore about the crazy game.

For many of us, we look to games as our creative inspiration. It's near impossible to go anywhere, forum or 4chan, where there isn't a fan art of a video game. So take a few minutes today to search the internet and appreciate the art of the fans: by fans, for fans, with love in the beauty of the pieces they make.

Here are a few more of my favorites. If you need some laughs and a few raised eyebrows, check out amirul hafiz and his Grand Theft Mario series. The Sonic hoodie is a nice touch on spinning so many games into one genre, that the insanity can not be contained. Personally, the Mario Rolling Stone cover is my favorite. It allows the artist to still maintain his identity while merging multiple genres to create the piece. With the rest of the series, you know it's a GTA mash-up and stylized in Rockstar's format. But with the Stone cover, you finally see the artist stand out and notice how he handles lines, shading, and dimensions.


Another one of my favorite artists, who I now hit the Like, Star, and Share button every time she posts something, goes by the handle Wei723. BioWare. Listen up. If you ever decide to make another Mass Effect anime, go to Wei and consult with her. She has such an incredible talent, and I'm amazed at how quickly she has been able to produce her GIF's, all by herself no less, with a quality that will make your jaw drop. I'm not going to repost her work here because the size limitations would completely ruin the images. Just go to her DA linked and check our her gallery. She also has some great work with DragonAge and Naruto.

The last one I want to mention is MyCks who does a Japanese style of art as well for a myriad of games. Skyrim, Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, even Minecraft got a style upgrade through the harsh strokes and minimal color scheme of his art. And yet, you know exactly what you're looking at. It's a simple style with a very bold personality. Highly recommended, and a nice guy to talk to if you have any special requests.