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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Even the trailer looks like ass

The Dungeon Siege trailer, I mean.

Sweet jesus, did Dungeon Siege even feature ninjas? I never played the full version, so I can't say for sure ... but I'm thinking ... no? I'm doing a little googling here, and I'm going to go with no. Maybe Uwe Boll is making a movie based on the game, with mods? I dunno. My favorite bit is the "simple farmer" ... who just happens to be the frakkin' Transporter ... and no, apparently not the same actor .. but the same kicking two people at once grew up on martial arts and Wheaties character.

Because that just fits that whole "form a party of fantasy characters" motif so well.

The trailer stinks of the kind of thing that makes Boll a failure. He is so clearly uncomfortable with actually directing a movie that everything has to be done in some kind of slo-mo, slipped frame, cheap quasi-Matrix action scene with a lot of latex customs covering everything up. There are scenes where even Burt Reynolds looks like he has no idea why he's on the set. He has this expression like he thinks Allen Funt is going to hop out from behind a tree. Lilliard apparently put it in his contract that he only had to do one take per line, and in related news ... Liotta's production company is going to rename itself to "Sinkhole Pictures" after this flop-to-be.

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Microsoft Xpod?

I had thought that the concept of a Microsoft handheld was more mumblevine fruit than truth, but BusinessWeek sits down with Peter Moore and brings back this crop:

What would it look like? Xbox boss Peter Moore says any Microsoft media device would have to leverage the company's most significant consumer strength, video gaming. "It can't just be our version of the iPod," says Moore, who nonetheless would not confirm that Microsoft is considering making such a device. So in addition to playing music and videos, a Microsoft device would include games. Microsoft would probably use the Xbox brand to market the gadget. "I think the brand is an opportunity," Moore says.

True, perhaps, but also risky. If the new device comes with the Xbox brand, most consumers will view it as a game player, like Sony's (SNE) PlayStation Portable. That might limit its appeal, since the portable gaming market is much smaller than the one for digital media.
-- The Bug in Microsoft's Ear

Risky? Gahh yeah. Such a device would go up against the iPod, the PSP and the Nintendo GBASP/DS. Yikes. Sure, Microsoft could always use it's tried and true "burn as much money as Bill left laying around and give the consumer a $600 device for $2.50" ... and that would probably always work. Still, they've been losing bundles on the Xbox for years now, just went through a brutal holiday season with the 360 and have serious competition on just the console front for 2006.

Is there any benefit to Microsoft doing this? Well, naturally there is the "satellite" theory of electronic purchases. If I buy an Xbox, I'd be more likely to buy an Xpod and vice versa. Nintendo and Apple have used this strategy to good effect, and Sony will definately be making the PSP integral to the PS3 experience. Looking that way, Microsoft is the only one out of this particular game.

Course, Nintendo and Apple keep healthy profit margins on their hardware. Sony is, I think, more break even with the PSP and will definately lose out with the PS3. Would Microsoft be willing to risk their proposed profitability by 2007 to get into this particular game?

Perhaps. It would be interesting at the very least. Handhelds are a lot trickier to design than consoles. Microsoft has learned a lot since they released the "this controller is too big for your fist" ... reviews of the 360 controller rate it one of the best to be released for a console. Would they be able to bring that over to something with a screen in the middle?

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Three Wonderful Words

To get in an email from Gamefly:

We've Shipped: Rez

Finally, I can see this game for myself.

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Take Two Sued For Hot Coffee

It's the gaming controversy that will not die.

Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard Delgadillo, in the suit filed on Thursday, accused the game publisher of failing to disclose the pornographic content to get the game onto shelves of major retailers that do not carry games rated "Adults Only 18+."

Delgadillo said the company further deceived consumers by first claiming that hackers had modified the original version of the games, then announcing a week later that the sex scenes were written into the original game code.

The lawsuit demands that Take-Two and Rockstar Games, the subsidiary behind "Grand Theft Auto," one of the best-selling in video game franchises history, stop marketing the games to children, pay fines and return $10 million in profits.
-- LA sues over 'Grand Theft' game

Again, I think this is pretty ridiculous and definately wish the ESRB hadn't backed down over the issue. And this just helps illustrate why.

I'm short on time, so please excuse the bullet point style argument.

1. Nobody got porn off their game with modifying the code, in breach of their EULA and the responsibilty of the user for his or her own actions.

2. Even with the modification, the content can only be considered truly pornographic by the leanest of standards.

3. I have never seen an ad for GTA which I thought was marketed to children, but I suppose I might have missed it.

4. Lying about the code's origins was stupid and wrong, for sure. But it's not a $10 million mistake. In fact, I'm not entirely sure how consumers were diretly effected by the irresponsible PR in terms of damages.

At some point, the end user has to be in charge of the material they've purchased and how they use it. If the EULA isn't that line in the sand, then there essentially isn't a line in the sand. Without one, this will continue to cascade and effect the kind of content and toolsets that people will be willing to publish games with ... as already evident with Indigo Prophecy and The Movies.

So, thanks again to the ESRB for creating this kind of hole for people to drive lawsuits through. Score one for censorship ... because self-censorship is always the most efficient method.

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Games As Narrative, Games As Art

I've become immersed lately in literature. Specifically public domain short stories that I might possibly be able to convert into text adventures. Right now, I'm working with some Lovecraft. The rationale here is more pragmatic than anything - it provides me with a solid narrative to start from and reduces what I need to stress about. Focus on the game mechanics and some new content rather than all new content.

However, reading and re-reading all this text makes me wonder about some of the comments we've heard about games and art. Ebert essentially curtailed games as being inferior forms due to their inherent complexity, user interactivty and general ludology. Hideo Kojima declared that because games do not "radiate for a singular person", but rather provides a service, they stop being art. Functionality betrays artistry. Or something like that.

The gamebloggery in general took Ebert to task for his statements, although old Roger has managed a feasible defense for them. His best point is that it's difficutlt to showcase an example of a game which could rub shoulders with commonly accepted works like you can with poetry, fiction or film. The punditry has been less harsh on Hideo, probably in part because they're too busy playing his Metal Gear Solid series and in part because his logic was a lot harder to follow.

Seriously, I love the guy and he's a rock star of game development. But when a central portion of his argument depends on how much a work of art can radiate to a person out of 100, the logic gets a little fuzzy. In the end, though, he's really saying something quite similar to Ebert.

Allow me to try and paraphrase for a specific example, that being fiction. If your novel doesn't need to do anything but tell you a story, it has a chance of being art. Once, however, it's required to provide new functionality like scores, storing booleans, keeping save games, presenting help menus and other services ... it's too cumbersome.

In short, what was the last piece of art that required you to read a manual?

It's not the worst point in the world, although I do think there are exceptions on the fringe that the argument flat out ignores. I've seen some installation pieces that required setup, instruction and explanation to fully experience. So one issue with this logic is that it takes a somewhat narrow, although not terribly so, view of art.

Fiction, for one, does provide a service. It can, among other things, generate a narrative for the reader to explore. Now, if I take Poe's Masque of the Red Death and manipulate the text to become more interactive ... is it still art? Would this defeat Ebert's complaint that nobody can point to a game as being artistic? Few could argue with Poe being an artist, so wouldn't adaptations of his work still be considered art ... even if they've shifted mediums? If Lovecraft's The Lurking Horror was art, then was Infocom's adaption as well?

As for Hideo's functionality clause, how well does that stand up for the different states inherent in an interactive work? In his own example:

You don't have to be able to drive a car, but if it's called a car and it has artistic elements in the visuals, then it's art.

So, while standing beside your Ford Fiesta and admiring the curves of it's impressive body outline ... it's art. Once you get in and drive it though, it's just a car. So some things exist in a kind of Schrodinger's Cat way of being potentially both one thing and another, depending on observation. I'm not entirely against this concept, as long we then agree that games can easily exist as both art and not art.

For a modern example, while I'm watching a graceful yet sinister dragon-like animated statue dip in and out of the water in Shadow of the Colossus ... I find it hard to argue that isn't art. I don't think anyone sitting in visible range of the television could really find it much different, although obviously being art it's subjective anyway. Once I jump on said creature and start cursing at the controls because I'm barely dangling off the wing ... we've left the artistic realm.

Plausible compromise or cheap cop-out? I'm not sure. I do know that when I finish the game this weekend, I'll be a little sad not to have a good reason to gaze on the work from the developers. How is that any different than having to pull oneself away from a framed masterpiece at a museum?

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Today's Adventure In Cell Phone Monopoly

After being bored with essentially controlling the entire board ... I thoughtfully swapped enough assets to give every other player at least one monopoly on the board.

Next round, Ben (CPU) wanted to trade me a property from his for an errant railroad. Probably not the best strategy, Ben (CPU).

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Taking the Media Guide To Task

Blogcritics have an excellent deconstruction of the Family Media Guide which reports what it considers to be the most ultra-violent material for parents to willingly purchase for their children:

Do you see a pattern here? I have my hand raised; I'll get this one. All of these games are rated M for Mature by the ESRB. The reason the Family Media Guide has to put this list out is because - and only because - parents obviously cannot read and understand the ESRB rating system. Well I take that back, these "Family Groups" are attention whores when it comes to anything remotely resembling GTA.

On the back of the box for Condemned it says: Mature (17+) Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language. Let me translate: When you hit someone over the head with a lead pipe, blood squirts out; this game is really violent; you will hear people say things like "Fuck You!" in this game. Was my translation needed? Do I have to answer that?
-- The Anniston Star Links Our Article To Family Media Guide

They break down the titles as well, pointing out that they share the fact of being well-known and also, generally good games. The real problem I have is that NIMF's material seems to be turning into a most wanted list for the media to start to attack, as if just by making some kind of "ultra-violent" top ten, it's justification for making egregious leaps in logic about just how much your PS 2 can brainwash you. I do, in general, support NIMF and what they're trying to do ... but a lot of their press releases are little more than chest beating and witch hunting that seem to gain far more traction with the fearmongerers than the parents.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Video Game Librarian Overview

Over at Gaming Target, John Scalzo talks about the video game his library started to rent and how well the expirement turned out. He goes into how long it took to get breakage (seven months), what happens with thefts (hunt 'em down) and also the odd contradictions between R rated movies, which are allowed, and M rated games, which aren't:

I've tried to push games with a "tame M" like Neo Contra and games that spawned R-rated movies (which we do own) like Resident Evil 4, but no dice. The M is the roadblock, not the content descriptors. Yet, R-rated movies are everywhere. In fact, many patrons are requesting the new Unrated Director's Cut (read: NC-17) DVDs that have become all the rage these days and they are being added as fast as they can be purchased. It's a strange double standard, but one that almost has to be respected at this point. The collection is too small to fill it with games that can only be appreciated by a small percentage of our patrons.
-- The Video Game Librarian: It's The End of the Year As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

I remember thinking it was radical that a library might rent music, much less DVDs and PS2 titles. It's been a woefully long time since I've stepped into a library, so I would find around Chicago. It's great to see some places take the idea seriously, however.

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What Benefit to Game Legislation?

Plagiarize over at Aelon asks a great question:

Again, let’s look at England. They have the legal controls, and more and more consoles are providing the software controls.

So why is it then that in the last two days, two different stories have been laying blame at the door of the game developers for two seperate cases of violent crime committed by teenagers?
-- What is wrong with Britain?

All the more evidence that this morality play the lawyers and politicians are trying to run with is little more than a hill of beans. If we enact these laws, it's not going to stop any violence. Just like ignoring the real cause of any problem won't solve it.


Lost: OMG Charlie WTF!

Scuze the l33tspeak, for some reason this morning I had a bizarre faux conversation of how the average internet forum reaction to Charlie's behavior in last night's Lost would read. Something like "WTF troll! OMFG get yer own damn kid." came to mind.

Again, this episode felt a little like a lull to me. If I had missed it, I don't think I'd feel the pain too much next week. That said, I'm still glad I didn't miss it. For one thing, there were some great lines ... the best is when Charlie complains that Kate can see a horse and nobody blinks but when he has something weird happen, it must be ... well, the horse (as in heroin). The love triangle stuff is always so-so. Big net debate this morning seems to be whether Locke is moving in on Claire. My only response is ... who cares, there's a freaking invisible evil smoke monster with steel claws on the island. Or something like that.

Granted, I think there is no doubt that if I were on the Island ... I'd be the one freaking out. A lot.

Also, I'm a little cranky that American Idol ran over House for the second time in a row. So wrong on so many levels.

However, there was something important about this episode I think. It's what Charlie himself pointed out ... what happened to him isn't at all odd. Jack sees his dead father. Sawyer swears he recognized that boar. Kate sees a horse. Sayid and Shannon see Walt. And that's when they were awake. Hurley has a dream about an English talking Jin and a man in a chicken suit and now Charlie has a near biblical epiphany while apparently sleep-kidnapping. So seriously, WTF? Let's not ignore Locke's mysterious ability to walk ... which can apparently leave him just as mysteriously.

What can happen here? The Island, or it's keepers, is clearly capable of bringing in wild coincidences, from getting people on the same plane to crash on the same island as other people to finding random snippets of film. People can see and touch things we should assume would previously exist in their head (Jack's dad) or maybe even someone else's head (backward talking Walt ... which begs the question ... why backwards?). People can have powerful dreams and even be influenced to perform certain actions while dreaming. Oh, and if Michael and Charlie are any indication ... all of this could drive someone really batty. Let's not forget that Kate was acting odd before her equine moment.

Course, many of these things are similar in nature. Jack's dad, Sawyer's boar, Boone's Shannon, Kate's horse, Charlie's angels (sorry, couldn't resist) and even if we toss in Michael's text conversations ... are all key icons in the main issue of their specific life. In fact, the only one that comes to mind who doesn't fit is Walt appearing to Shannon/Sayid ... which might be why he was talking backward. He was a mixup, or came from a different source ... but the wires got swapped on his A/V connection or something.

The question I've got is ... is there a real difference between Kate's horse and say ... the Nigerian drug plane? Did maybe both of these items get spirited to the Island not for seperate reasons and seperate means ... but the same reason and the same mechanics?

Not sure where that long winded diatrabe was going. It sounds like I suspect Scotty is in some hatch beaming stuff all around. And who knows ... maybe that's right...

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Kid goes crazy, People blame the game

Via Idle Thumbs I looked up this latest bit of video game fearmongering. Seems a couple years ago in England, a kid went crazy and attacked his family. Attacked his brother with an axe and set fire to the house ... which killed his sister via smoke inhalation. This was all laid out in his complex plan which read: "Operation New Life. Kill family. Lose memory. Get adopted by rich couple. It all starts.”

What does this have to do with games? Clearly this was an otherwise normal boy who played too much Devil May Cry, because any other explanation ... like him being absolutely 100% insane (did I mention he planned on cutting himself to make it appear like a demon had attacked him? No? He did. ).

Of course, this is the Sun Online which is squeezing such wonderful journalism in between hardhitting headlines like "I had gay sex" and the Page 3 Girl.

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Duck Hunt Meets Call of Duty

Newgrounds offer up a great flash game which combines the graphical splendor of Duck Hunt in Call of Duty's setting. Brilliant, funny and fun. Watch out for the kraut dogs and remember that you can aim better with "SHIFT". As Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Do no hit at all if it can be avoided, but never hit softly." Or something like that.

Someone sent this to me via IM, but I think they found it via Boing Boing who saw it on Wonderland.

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GameTunnel's December Round-up

They deal out a lot of Silver Awards this time around, but GameTunnel's monthly rodeo of indie game reviews doesn't cough much else. Reviewers this time include Seth Robinson of Legend of the Red Dragon fame and GT's own Russ Carrol.

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Are Movies Portraying Gamers Better?

Metroactive seems to think that the movie 40-year old virgin squares up the representation of gamers in film. Well, considering we used to have Tom Hanks as a paranoid schizophrenic LARPer, it's hard to disagree that the image has definately been getting better. They do a good job of running down the history of gaming in film, the generational gaps that used to exist and how games are becoming more and more prevalent in films.

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25 To Life's "Moral Dilemma"

I don't think 25 to Life has been that well reviewed thus far, but I'm like the game's writer P. Frank Williams. The guy's defense of his work is straight on and honest:

"After doing this game, I experienced kind of a moral dilemma," said Williams, a former Source magazine editor and hip-hop awards show producer, who wrote the game's storyline and scripted its dialogue. He's married to MuchMoreMusic host Traci Melchor and splits his time between Los Angeles and Toronto.

"It's wild to be in Toronto where you guys are having the unusual spate of gunplay. It's indicative of our culture, but we have to be careful also with video games like this and just be safe and smart."
-- Violent game's creator admits to 'moral dilemma'

His take is that his writing isn't a promotion of violent crime, but a reflection of society. Some Senators and insane lawyers seem to think that if we don't write about things, don't portray them in movies or make video games concerning them ... that they will simply vanish into thin air. Somehow the joystick give video games a higher moral imperative than books or comics as well, and if you make a game tht mirrors the same content as a Hollywood movie ... then it's going to break down normal human behavior. Which makes about as much sense as proclaiming that gay marriage leads to incest, so I guess we can see where the problems our Congressmen have with rational thought exist.

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Nintendo Sponsors Gaming History Exhibit


The world wide tour celebrating the history and culture of video games comes to the Science Museum in late 2006 thru into 2007. Nintendo will sponsor the exhibition, which charts the technological and cultural developments in computer games, from the 1960s video arcades to the very latest home consoles.
-- Nintendo sponsors Science Museum

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mods, Steam, Innovation, etc.

I totally blanked that Johnny Pi posted up his guestbloggery on Steam and Mods over at Design Synthesis. Guest bloggers amount to Corvus and myself ... and we manage to cover the vantage points fairly well I think. I shan't repeat myself here, especially since I am known for long winded rants on the subject and can't seem to keep a response under a paragraph.

Here is a bit of Corvus on the subject:

I'm a little torn about this. Quality mods keep Half Life alive and, presumably, will perform the same function for Half Life 2 and the Source engine. Crappy mods, as far as I'm concerned, are noise in the channel. When I go to log onto a server, the last things I want is to find dozens, or even hundreds, of custom mods, hacks, and maps, I need to download before I can find a server with decent ping to play on.

Is it tough to get noticed when you're a dwarf among giants? Sure it is. Is it fair? No. It does mean, however, you have to think faster, worker harder, shout louder, jump higher, and self promote your accomplishments like a carnie barker on meth (potentially redundant, I know). But here's a shocking opinion: there's not anything wrong with that situation. Not one damn thing.

Comments are off here ... direct them there.

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Gonzales v. You

The more I read about the government pursuing Google's data in conjuction with all the rest of the junk that the Bush administration is trying to get away with, the more I'm inclined to agree that maybe it's time to start taking this a little personally.

Set aside what political affiliation you may or may not be associated with for a moment and realize that if you are reading this blog there is a decent chance that you spend a good amount of your time doing things online. Reading, writing, communicating and gaming. Netizens have always had to make a case of defending their personal and private space online, and for good reasons. We exist in a kind of liminal space out here on the net; one that borders our private lives and our public communications.

Gonzales was on NPR yesterday explaining that he felt the Bush administration was not bypassing FISA by performing domestic wiretaps because electronic surveillance is a wartime effort and Congress granted the Executive branch wartime powers for the War on Terror. Essentially he insists Bush can circumvent current laws provided they are exercised as part of standard warfare procedures. Since electronic wiretaps are common war tactics these days, Bush can do it all willy nilly like.

Just like he can detain people and probably torture them, the logic would probably follow. American citizen or not. Pushing the boundaries of the Executive power is not uncommon for the Bush administration. In fact, it's pretty much a goal. The Supreme Court has already slapped their wrist for Hamdi and also recently for trying to interfere with the Oregon Right to Die law.

And now Google. And if there were ever a portal to that liminal space we reside in as netizens, Google would have to be a main one. While the justifications vary, the end result is the same. The Bush administration wants to have have what it feels it needs, and both state and civil rights get brushed aside in the end. The Google request isn't even tied to a criminal investigation, but rather a dragnet of information to build a constitutional defense.

You probably aren't a terrorist or a child pornographer. You might not even know what COPA means. But you are possibly an American citizen (and if you're not, hello!) and a citizen of the Net. And you have rights. And maybe it's about time to write your Senator.

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Fear Of Girls RPG Mockumentary

Geeks are, if anything, a marvelously self-deprecating bunch. Such is the ten minute mockumentary of two avid role-players portrayed in Fear of Girls. Get to know Doug Doug and Raymond as they exposit on LARPing, girls and being vampires in high school. Yngtrk of calls it "'Broke Back Mountain' meets Dungeons & Dragons. Watch Fear of Girls, because true love is but a +2 broadsword away.

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Java Combat Clone

Well, not a complete clone but rather an an interesting update on the tank portion of the game with such ideas as hit points rather than instant kills. Fun and more than a little addicting.

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What Will Disney/Pixar Mean For Games?

Gamasutra talks about what the Disney/Pixar merger might mean for some game licenses like Finding Nemo. One also has to wonder what this might mean for Mac gaming as Disney continues to ramp up it's interactive media while a certain Mr. Jobs has a seat at the table.

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Schools to DDR The Fat Away

Apparently middle schools in West Virginia, which I guess has quite the fat problem, will be installing Dance Dance Revolution to combat obesity. There have been earlier examples of vidkidgyms as well, so it should be interesting to see the "video games are bad for you, now go play your video games before breakfast" mashup of child rearing.

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Alienware Offers Games Downloads, Mature Content

If you head over to, you'll see that the computer dealer has gotten into the downloadable games market with little fanfare (via Technocrat Soapbox). The titles are modern, including F.E.A.R. and King Kong. Interestingly, they also offer a "Girls of Gaming" with bonus mature content. So I guess Alienware is now your one stop shop for a high end gaming rig, the latest games and some pixel porn.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Statistical Frenzy

Found this off the logs ... a blog dedicated to tracking interesting and bizarre stats. For instance:

Men take only 15 minutes to decide if a woman is worth a second date. For women, it take an hour or so to decide whether to get together again.
Source: Sex in America: A Definitive Survey
Here are some other US dating statistics from the source:
63% percent of married couples meet through friends;
44 % of adult Americans are single (so pretty much everyone have a chance to find someone if looking hard enough);
40 % of those singles use online dating services. A latest add-on to the dating service industry is a web site exclusively for isolated farmers, it received more that 10,000 hits a day when the news broke out last year.
It is nice to be a man - there are 86 unmarried men for every 100 unmarried women.
-- It is a numeric life

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Smoking Crack

Gamers are apparently not just violent madmen, but addicts as well. At least that's the conclusion of Personal Tech Pipeline:

In November, we ran a poll on this site asking what kind of electronic crack you're addicted to. The results were shocking:

Video games - 9%
PC games - 14%
Online multiplayer games - 15%
Instant Messaging - 5%
Web surfing - 18%
Online pornography - 7%
E-mail - 14%
Cell phone text messaging - 3%
Mobile gaming - 2%
None -- I'm not addicted to any of the above - 13%

You'll note that somewhere between 15 and 40 percent of you are addicted to some kind of gaming, according to this poll. That's probably a little higher than the general population, but, then again, this is Personal Tech Pipeline. It's also a self-description -- we didn't list symptoms to look for.

Gaming of course isn't all bad, and many "addicts" don't really have a serious problem (the real problem starts when playing games stops being fun or when work or loved ones are neglected). Although concern about gaming addiction has been around for more than two decades, a raft of services and sites have sprung up recently around the idea.
-- Five Ways To Avoid Gaming Addiction

So, allow me to translate that nonsense in case you are still shaking your head. Remember that completely unscientific poll we ran? Well, the utterly inaccurate and equally unscientific responses are astounding. Especially if you take into account that what I'm about to ramble on about, we weren't even quanitifying. So for all you people out there that aren't actually addicted to anything ... listen up on how to avoid to your addiction.

What a joke. You're honestly going to get me to believe that nearly 20% of this guy's readership are addicted to just surfing the web, but only 7% go for porn? Please. What are they addicted to, guys like this? And of course almost 40% responded with some kind of video game ... half of your answers were some kind of gaming.

Gee, gaming isn't "all bad"? Thanks for the 411, Columbo. I'll try to keep clean on the streets. In the meantime, how about stopping the fearmongering and finding something real to write about?

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Xbox Media Center Versus Xbox 360

XboxSpace takes a look at the media center on a modded original Xbox compared to the 360, and determines that the 360 comes up short:

One advantage that the 360 as a media center has over its XBMC counterpart is that there is no modding required, and it will work right out of the box.

The disadvantages of the 360 are that it is extremely limited in the file formats it can handle. Unless you have a Media Center Edition PC, you will not be able to stream videos; only pictures and audio. The 360’s stock HDD is 13GB out of the box, so if you want to download a trailer or game demo, you have to take the download and delete approach due to the space requirements of HD content.
-- XBMC VS Xbox 360

Interesting to compare illegal after market modifications to legitimate next-gen offerings, and something one would wish the industry would give a little attention. The 360 costs more, so why shouldn't it offer a more powerful solution than what someone can cobble together?

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Hardcore is Average

Or something like that. It seems that's the argument of Ziff Davis Game Group's Editorial Director John Davison:

So what is being "hardcore?" It's a form of behavior rather than an expression of taste. Really, being a core gamer is choosing to play games above any other form of entertainment. Any game can be responsible, and the step toward playing 10 hours a week or more is just the beginning of the journey. Microsoft rightly told us at E3 that "Not everyone is driven by the need to crush his opponent on the field of battle," but this doesn't immediately relegate these gamers to the rank of being "casual," does it? If you play Civilization IV for a couple of hours every night instead of reading a book, what are you? If you're one of the 5 million people playing World of WarCraft and you're a level 60 player with 600 hours logged but you never play any other game, what are you? Hardcore gaming behavior manifests itself in more ways than we tend to acknowledge, and the "gateway drug" is rarely something that's actually designed to be just that. All it takes is a single experience introduced by a friend or sparked by reading something in a magazine or online
-- Hardcore Is Mainstream

There's even a plug for a certain gaming grandma by the end. Definately a twist on the normal "casual gaming is for everyone" mantra. It does seem like the lines are getting pretty blurred. Sure, Katamari is fairly "casual" gameplay in that it's easy for anyone to pick it up and roll (hehe) ... but what does playing it twenty hours a week and desperately trying to find every cousin and present qualify as?

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Siren to Silver Screen

Possibly at least, as Coming Soon reports that the rights to the horror game have been purchased Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert's Ghost House Pictures. They are showing a preview for Silent Hill before the Underworld sequel and it actually looks like it might be pretty good.

If people keep saying that games aren't art ... are movies based on them?

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Attacking Peter Moore

So Dan Hsu took at least one kid glove off when interviewed Peter Moore about the 360, a feat which earned him Penny Arcade cred and more than a few detractors.

I definately wish there were more articles like this in games journalism. The hokey jokey rubbing of elbows interviews can so easily turn into prolonged press releases and let's be honest ... games journalism doesn't exactly bring a lot of accountability to the industry. If the 360 shipped without power cables, there would be plenty of articles on it, but few people would bother to really find someone to rake over the coals as would be justly deserved.

If the 360 is so justly deserved, as I've mentioned, is something of a debate on it's own. I'm not getting one anytime soon, so I should probably bow out of the conversation on that point now.

But to say that the 360 launch doesn't have some open questions is just silly ... and I'd rather have those questions get sharpened points.

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While I still think Mario Kart DS is just about the best thing this side of gravy, some of the NiWiFi implementation leaves a bit to be desired. No lobbies or matchmaking services outside of the barest of barebones to be precise. To that end, some intrepid gamers came up with MKBOT, an IRC bot which can challenge people, run tournaments, track scores and more. Pretty sweet stuff, and definately the kind of functionality that Nintendo should be thinking about.

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Finger Pointing

So apparently a teenage kid in America committed suicide recently. Tragic, yes. International news? No.

Unless, of course, you can somehow tie this tragic event with something like ... gaming. You know, sorta like how murder isn't interesting without an Xbox involved. So to make it news, some people simply say that gamers were party and partially responsible to this horrible event.

Course, as the Guardian points out and Game Politics has as well, it's not true. In fact, I'm willing to bet that if these so-called reporters would just do their jobs they'd probably find a lot of online networks can actually provide decent support frameworks. But that's just not as sensational as bringing out the video game boogeyman. People don't want to hear that their might not be something to blame, I guess. As if this kind of stuff never happened before Atari.

Pathetic. Society needs to stop trying to look under the bed when it should know full well there isn't a monster there.

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Stargate Developer To Close Doors

Perception, developers of the until recently upcoming Stargate SG-1 shooter, are apparently closing the doors on both the title and their studio, reports Gamasutra.

Perception went through a high profile legal battle with JoWood on the licensing and control of the title, but now that all seems moot. Namco apparently attempted to step in and publish, but MGM never sealed the deal. On one hand, it's definately a shame because Stargate has serious gaming potential. On the other hand, I never had a lot of faith in Percerption tackling such a franchise with their first outing on the Unreal engine anyway.

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Alternate Handhelds

Yahoo! Games looks at a few handhelds made by people who don't rhyme with Mintendo or Zony. This includes the GP2X which is UNIX based and hopes for a strong independent and amatuer showing to keep it afloat. Some parts are funny, like where they complain of the GP2X's eight hour battery life ... which is like almost three times that of the PSP. Still I do think that in this day and age every handheld device should come with a charger. They also cover the XGP and iRiver's atttractive G10. Towards the end they make the inevitable comparison to the Tapwave Zodiac, of which I've talked about before.

Will these handhelds be able to avoid a similar fate? I've not heard of many people developing for them, but I sure wish I would.

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25 To Life Writer Calls Arnie A Hypocrite

And how can one not agree with him?

Williams says he finds it ironic that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to introduce legislation that clamps down on violent games.

"How can Arnold Schwarzenegger, the guy who has made some of the most violent movies in the history of entertainment and made hundreds of millions of dollars off this stuff, be trying to tell some video game guys not to make video games with mature ratings?

"It's so hypocritical. It's totally ridiculous."
-- Cop-killing mayhem is intended for adults only

On a relevant point, I saw Underworld: Evolution this weekend. I'll probably talk opinion later, but let's safely say it's not for kids. This movie might have an award for most heads ripped off. There's a little sex. And yes, a few law enforcement (well, military) types might an untimely demise.

Half of our post-move discussion was about the number of kids we saw at the theatres. One of these kids couldn't have been more than four.

Yeah, it's the industry that has a problem here. Parents taking their kids to go see people get dismemebered and roll around in blood are completely blameless and utterly helpless against the power of advertising.

Whatever. Wonder how many kids have seen Arnie's movies. I'm guessing quite a few.

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How ARGs Can Be So Cool

I just love reading synopsis like this:

With the help of the players, Seth set up a trap for Cassandra. He would put up a fake blog post saying that more information of Steven's had been seen in the Gardens. When Cassandra showed up to collect it, he would capture her. At 7:00 EST, players were able to listen in on what was happening in the Gardens. When confronted with the fact that she was caught, Cassandra collapsed, and gave Seth a clue to Steven's whereabouts in case something worse happened to her.

At this point, the audio connection to the station is cut. Raider, the ever resourceful SAIPets robo-dog, is able to connect to IRC and the players start to help Seth decode Cassandra's message. The name Cassandra provides was another directory on her website. Players had to solve a couple of different number slide puzzles before they got their answer. Steven was being held in the Level 13 Biolab V.
-- Orbicon's Stellar Finish

So many genres are trying to figure out user engineered experiences, dynamic content, etc. ARGs offer up on of the solutions I've talked about in the past. Sometimes games need gamemasters, real good honest human gamemasters.

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