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Saturday, December 09, 2006

For Sunday: Lost Room Preview

Scifi's Lost Room starts on Monday, and would seem to be a fine Apokalyptica event, for those looking for that kind of thing, since apparently one guy has to keep the universe from unraveling (or some such fun):

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Apokalyptica Movie: Shaun Of The Dead

Shaun of the Dead is on Comedy Central right now. If you haven't seen it - stop reading and go watch. Not just because it embodies a kind of joyous defeat of an apocalyptic situation ... but because it's just darn funny.

( and good timing to catch this )

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November NPD Sales Figures: Wii, PS3, 360, PSP

Keep in mind, these numbers are influenced strongly by supply (or the lack thereof) for certain machines. Judge for yourself -- at least for now -- how much influence price and demographics are having.

Nintendo DS: 918,000 units.   
PlayStation 2: 664,000.   
Game Boy Advance: 641,000.   
Xbox 360: 511,000.   
Wii: 476,000.   
PlayStation Portable: 412,000.   
PlayStation 3: 197,000.
-- A+E Interactive: PlayStation, Wii, DS and other sales numbers, including a stunning GBA total

Couple thoughts:

The DS is just a powerhouse - and I'm with Mike here ... that GBA number is pretty impressive too considering it's nearly abandoned at this point. The numbers also illustrate a couple other things - the PS2 will still carry a lot of weight for Sony through the near future and the 360 simply can't be selling as well as Microsoft would hope. Not only can it not muster it's way into the top three - the Wii is nipping at it's heels here. Early next year could reveal some very interesting numbers if Nintendo can get supplies into stateside.

The PSP is hard to look at. Is half of DS sales the signs of it's complete inability to keep pace or simply signs of life? You could look at it as either half of DS sales or just under Wii sales. It's one of those numbers that's like ... just there.

And clearly, the lowball of lowball estimates on Sony's supply of PlayStation 3's were pretty much right on. Launch? What launch ... for a product launch you need to be able to produce a product.

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Apokalyptica on Wikipedia

For at least, the time being. Blame Brinstar for goading me into it.

If you support it as a real holiday, let the editors know. It took them about 1 minute to vote for deletion.

Update Too late. Wait, that actually kinda sucks. It wasn't even up long enough for anyone to defend it. Not that I expected it to survive, but at least I would have liked to have put up the fight.

Well, I have an archive. I'll post it later for a hoot.

The Short Happy Life Of Apokalyptica's Wikipedia Status via AIM:

[2006-12-08 14:33:11] (me> 19:59, 8 December 2006 Jimfbleak (Talk | contribs) deleted "Apokalyptica" (nonsense)
[2006-12-08 14:33:22] (anonymous-friend> LOL
[2006-12-08 14:33:35] (anonymous-friend> So how long did the holiday of Apokalyptica last?
[2006-12-08 14:33:54] (me> less than an hour
[2006-12-08 14:34:01] (me> which actually
[2006-12-08 14:34:02] (anonymous-friend> lol
[2006-12-08 14:34:03] (anonymous-friend> impressive
[2006-12-08 14:34:04] (me> kinda sucks
[2006-12-08 14:34:13] (anonymous-friend> how so?
[2006-12-08 14:34:13] (me> because I had no time to defend myself
[2006-12-08 14:34:19] (me> now granted
[2006-12-08 14:34:23] (me> I had not ... you know
[2006-12-08 14:34:24] (me> evidence
[2006-12-08 14:34:27] (me> to defend myself
[2006-12-08 14:34:29] (anonymous-friend> lol
[2006-12-08 14:34:32] (me> but that's beside the point!

*end scene*


Apokalyptica 2006

For those new to my pagan holiday:

We're contemplating doing some festivities on the 1st, a holiday I'm christening Apokalyptica ... because "The World Still Exists Day" is plain too long.

Apokalyptica is a joyous event wherein one takes the time to remind their friends and loved ones about the fragile nature of our existence. It is best celebrated early in the new year with many events designed to illustrate this fact. Godzilla movies, zombie flicks, Resident Evil games ... heck in some ways even Katamari would pass as at least an appetizer.

Apokalyptica has slowly evolved, however, to be unrestrained from the confines of just one day. Which makes sense, I suppose - you're happy that Fenri didn't swallow the sun for over 360 days ... why waste all that joy on just one day. So officially, December and Januarary will be the Months Of Apokalyptica.

Doom: The Board Game is definately one splendid way of celebrating - even if it's hard to win. Since Marvel: Ultimate Alliance has an "end of the universe" type theme - feel free to go forth and save it. And of course, I'll try and squeeze some Donnie Darko in there somewhere.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Funny Math: Analzying "Social Media Site Posts"

This fascinating post about Cymphony's analysis on consumer favoritism brings up this illuminating detail:

but results of a consumer survey carried out in the US based upon some 18,000 posts on social media sites suggests that a major factor...
-- Consumers favour HD DVD over Blu-ray due to negative perception of Sony

Yup, that's right - the survey was apparently based on forum posts. Forum posts, people. And in case anyone thinks I'm just putting my own slant on it, this is the methodology in the actual report:

Cymfony’s Orchestra platform sifted millions of posts from a broad universe of social media sites (including blogs, discussion boards, consumer review sites, etc) from October 1, 2006—November 23, 2006. The technology identified, compiled, and tagged 17,664 posts for references to HD DVD, Blu-ray and 12 specific models of high definition players. A subset of 2000 posts with substantive discussions of these formats were randomly selected and tagged with more detailed data on the tonality and discussion topics included.

For an example of just how unscientific this is - I could have used the same analysis a year ago to determine that Nintendo would likely be a software only company today. With forum posts, they have no way of smoothing out their demographics or determining any kind decent curve - nor determining just how informed or uninformed the people actually are. Or how many people are posting in multiple places. Or heck, just trolling because they weren't actually taking a survey.


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Firefly MMO announced

Multiverse, maker of a free MMO-creation platform, plans to announce Friday morning that it's struck a deal with Fox Licensing to turn the show into an MMORPG in the fashion of Star Wars Galaxies or Eve Online.

The "Browncoats," as Firefly's most devoted fans are known, have been campaigning to bring the show back almost since the moment it was canceled in late 2002. Now they'll get their wish, albeit in a new form.

"We see virtual worlds as an extraordinarily promising new entertainment medium," said Adam Kline, Fox Licensing's vice president of media enterprises in an e-mail. "We believe Multiverse can deliver an experience that will remain true to the original series, while enabling a whole new level of personal involvement for fans."
-- Firefly Reborn as Online Universe

As Wired puts it - that's shiny.

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I Have Seen Next Gen

A trip by the local Best Buy today finally brought me closer to witnessing the next generation of consoles - officially placing me at least weeks behind the curve of many gamers. And since there were none in stock, I think I'm still safe calling it next generation. The 360 is generation and the PlayStation 2 is last generation. Make sense? Good.

The Wii display was sans controller - a decision I'm assuming seems wise in light of broken HDTV's and various injuries. I'm not even sure it was hooked up, the display was constantly running a promotional video which described the Wii, its features and how it will change your life. Not bad, somewhat informative if not all that compelling.

The PlayStation 3 display was fully functional ... except I don't think they had a game in the slot. Instead, you could browse the Media Center for gameplay demos and screenshots. As some dirt truck game was playing, a guy walked by with his wife. He kinda got that glazed look and said, "Honey, you got to see these graphics."

"No," she replied and kept on going. Poor guy.

Also, the employees had clearly toyed around with it since there were pictures of someone's cat (unless that's included in some bundle?). I tried to load the web browser but it was disabled, so I just watched a video of Lair instead.

While I was toying with the PS3, someone asked about the controller. I put on my geek hat and explained the difference from the DualShock. Then he asked if I already had mine and I assured him I wouldn't until I could at least only pay the actual price tag for one.

Neither console was in stock, of course.

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Amazon Changes Up Discount Deal

I guess when hoardes of gamers come crashing down on your server door, you rethink a few things. The Amazon Customers Vote deal has been altered so that instead of people rushing to get the deal before it's done ... Amazon will select randomly from people who voted for the product in the first place. Seems more equitable and probably easier on their bandwidth. One thing about web sites - you want plenty of visitors ... just not all at the same second.

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Kottke's Celebrity Mii Contest

So, I'm having a contest to see who can make the best celebrity Mii. The rules are as follows:

1. All Miis must be made with the Nintendo Wii editor, not this Flash editor (which is cool, but not the same).

2. No cheating! Make your own Mii, don't just copy someone else's.

3. I love your mom, but she's not a celebrity. Frances Bean, you can ignore this rule.

4. You retain exclusive worldwide rights to your Mii and its image, save for giving me permission to post it on as part of the contest.

5. Judging will be done by me and possibly a panel of "celebrity" judges if I can scrounge some up. The family and friends of the judges can enter, but will be held to much higher standards than everyone else, just as in real life.

6. Only two entries per person. (And don't enter two in your own name and then have your friend email in two more. Pick your best two, send 'em in, and take your chances.)

7. Entry deadline is Monday, December 11th at 11:59 pm ET. I will announce the winner at some time shortly after that.

To enter, make your Mii, take a photo of it on the screen (make sure the Mii is clearly visible in the photo), and send a link to the photo to with a subject line of "Celebrity Mii Contest" (no quotes). You can also send attachments but because of my spam situation, I cannot guarantee that they will get through to me...send a link to your entry to make sure. There will be some still-as-yet-unspecified prize (I'm thinking a Wii game or something like that) awarded to the winner. Good luck!
-- Celebrity Mii contest! (


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Apple's Console Problem ... The Processor?

What I am told is that Apple is working on developing a media centre that will allso allow games to be played from the Apple Media Centre console however the problem for Apple is identifying and getting access to the right processor which allows developers to quickly re code existing programs for the potential new Apple media centre. They are also very reluctant to enter the market with a pure gaming console. What they believe is that by introducing gaming as an extension of a media centre will attract a wider audience than gamers.
-- Apple Mac Games Console Considered But Rejected

I love this particular mumblevine crop. I mean, Microsoft is trying to hit Apple with the Zune and Xbox Live's media downloads. Sony can't be far behind with using the PSP and PS3 for a similar strategy. While the iPod has a lot of dominance, it's got that "second bedroom" problem - PC's aren't in the living room ... consoles are in the living room.

At the same time, it's not like Apple has the coffers to get into a land war with Microsoft or Sony. And Nintendo covers the flank pretty well - it's extremely hard to "out innovate" Nintendo - they've made a fortune figuring out how to make the most interesting product for the right price point. Remember, it's not that the Game Boy was more powerful than anything else - it was just the best product at the best price.

Apple took an odd tack when they announced the iTV early. It's unlike Jobs to make a speech about something until all the i's are dotted and the screws are hidden. Does that mean there's some wiggle room in what the device might end up like? I really get a "not seeing the whole picture" feeling from the strategy here. As in - I'm not seeing the whole picture. As in - Apple still has a trick up its sleeve.

Or maybe I just like surprises.

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Hidden Agenda Contest

Check out Hidden Agenda Contest to see how college students around the country are building great video games for the middle school crowd – so great, in fact, that these middle schoolers don’t even notice (or care) that they are learning school subjects like math and science as they play! We call it “Stealth Education,” and we think that these games could be really helpful for students who learn better by playing than through textbooks or lectures.
HAGames is the site that takes these great games and makes them available to kids around the globe, adding fun features for playing with and competing against friends, and even offering killer prizes for the best of the best.  Did you ever think learning math or science could be this rewarding?
-- Hidden Agenda

I just love this kind of synergy. You get college kids interested in programming, challenge them to invent something, and then hand it off to middle school kids to play. You've got people of all ages involved in thinking about, creating and playing games with positive themes.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More On Apple "Gaming Studio"

An additional thought to this notion of Apple expanding it's gaming horizon. If I had to slap down a guess, I'd say Apple had a better than expected reaction to iPod game sales (no numbers to support that theory) and if anything, they're simply putting a brain trust together to a) make sure that the iPod has the right hardware to do more of this in the future and b) to develop some of the game in-house and keep the profits closer that way.

I want to be wrong, but I think Apple is a one horse show when it comes to games right now.

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Is The Console Just The New PC?

It seems like every week we hear about another update to a console OS - like the latest 360 update which has bricked some units. We've got users trying to mod their 360 to be quieter. And some people maybe cracking open that shiny PlayStation 3 to have a bigger hard drive.

And I'm beginning to think - wait ... didn't I start to walk away from PC's because of this kind of thing? One of the things I rather like about console gaming is that ... it just works. What I bought is what I get and that's that. Soon enough, though, people will be hooking keyboards and mice to their PlayStation 3's and browsing the web. Heck, in time the PS3's browser might be running and people will be ... doing work on their consoles.

In fact, the PlayStation 3 is, in a lot of ways, what Sony declared it was. It's a new breed of console. It's not even really a console. You can run Linux on it. You can hook Bluetooth peripherals to it. You can upgrade the hard drive. It's a personal computer - plain and simple.

Even the Wii, which almost seems like a throwback in these terms, will be offering up Opera Wii pretty soon. Bill Gates once commented that we will be in an Internet age when we got to the Internet for information we would have normally sought out on the phone or in a book.

Yeah. That happened a while ago.

Now - what happens when we go to our console for something we normally would have sought out on our personal computer?

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TV Watch: Hitler Santa

It seems that the creepy Santa from this week's Studio 60 may have some basis in fact.


Sweet Wii Spy Case

Via Jen Chan's photostream, wherein it's referred to as the "Pimp Case". I guess it's how Nintendo sends some review loaners out. Personally, I'd be dressed in a big trench with large shades and sitting on a park bench with that bad boy.

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Question For You: RTS Mods

My post yesterday on the overall decline of mods is not the first time I've gotten the response that I'm ignoring RTS mods in general. And it's true. The genre isn't terribly on my radar. The last RTS style game I tried to get into modding with was Freedom Force V TTR and honestly I didn't walk away with a great experience about it.

No way around it - Epic has spoiled me. I expected well organized scripts, modular designs, and the ability to get stuff done without getting too far into Visual Studio or the like.

So - what engines out there are best suited for RTS modding? Are there ones that have extensive scripting libraries or at least a bundled compiler so that you don't have to dig through someone else's VC++ library?

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Macworld Lists Apple Gaming Trends

As a follow up to the post below, here are some Mac gaming trends to follow which feels more or less complete. Probably the biggest debate in Mac gaming right now is whether Intel chips will bring a new golden age to Mac gaming - between easier ports and cross-platform efforts like Cider. Personally, I think the former will have many of the same problems it did before - it's not like porting games was ever a purely technical issue - and the latter will pan out like so many similar efforts before ( sounds like a fizzle ). Macworld touches on iPod gaming and new developers as well.

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Apple Gaming Console: Round Three

Apple Insider reports that Cupertino is hiring video game professionals on both the hardware and software fronts, once again fueling the notion that a game console may be imminent.

With the 360 getting into digital download media and Sony not that far behind, Apple certainly must be thinking about what inroads that might make until they can get the iTV (or whatever it may be called) into the hands of consumers. Course, Sony's probably also wondering what inroads the 360 might make until they can get the PS3 into the hands of consumers.

Honestly, though, I'm wondering if Apple isn't too late already. They already cut video cards from some of the Intel line. They spent a lot of energy getting games running on iPods with iTunes and zero attention to the Mac line. I'm pretty much on the record that Apple would need to duplicate a Nintendo approach and find a way to navigate around Microsoft and Sony - because the market doesn't need another "power" gaming console right now.

The only way I could see it working is:

A) Develop a controller which falls in line with the Apple Remote. Make it one part media/internet/computer browser friendly and one part casual gamepad. Wireless via bluetooth, no IR blasting.

Or - develop some kind of PDA which would also serve as a gaming peripheral. Definately the high road and more risky.

B) Develop a gaming library with an emphasis on low graphics, casual play and high interactivity. Should work as broadly across the Mac line as possible.

C) Add a gaming portal to iTunes which feeds back into A) and B) and make it an open framework so anyone can submit content. Ride that "podcast" and "videocast" stuff as much as possible, just don't call it "gamecasting".

Oh. And add "OnKeyUp" to the iTunes event structure. It won't have anything to do with anything here, but while I'm making senseless demands, I might as well add one just for myself.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

DarwiinRemote - Wiimote Software for OS X

That didn't take long (via kottke). So maybe Apple doesn't have to make a decent gaming peripheral for the Mac. Maybe we can just borrow one from the living room. Seriously, if someone can do this - why the wireless PS3 or 360 controllers? Is the 360 too custom? I'm guessing the PS3 controller is more run of the mill bluetooth, since Sony is pushing being able to use normal accessories.

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Wired Dares Question Battlestar Galactica

Do I have a knack for phrasing headlines in overly alarming tones or what?

Seriously, though, Wired's Table Of Malcontents takes Adama and crew to task and in doing so makes a hyperspace jump into throngs of scifi fans who worship the show ... me being one of them. Galactica is more serious science fiction than mainstream America probably rightfully deserves.

But even once great shows have the capacity to falter and fail (*cough* Lost *cough* Buffy *cough*) from their original stature and greatness. So do they have any valid points?

I'd say yes and no. I agree that the Cylon Ship scenes have had some moments which have threatened camp. Baltar's treatment is borderline bizarre near-sexploitation 70's genre Buck Rodgers kind of stuff. Do they want to kill him or kiss him? I'll also concur that when you see show helmsmen taking on additional work - sometimes the original labor suffers.

Overall, though, I'm not seeing it. In fact, I almost posted after the last episode which used a boxing metaphor to dredge up recent conflicts which have been brewing between crew members as simply brilliant writing - certainly not the stuff of fanfic (no offense fanfic writers - I come in peace) as the piece alleges. Tigh in particularly is a highlight of this season. In fact, I've preferred some of this season's plot than "Apollo's Arrow" mythology on Caprica from last season.

However, I tip my hat to the Malcontents. It's not easy to be unhappy with a favorite show that is still a favorite with most everyone you know. We've seen that quality is not always an endearing quality in American television, so I welcome someone trying to kick the tires once in a while.

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Are Mods Dying?

As readers from way back know, I was pretty active in the Unreal mod scene at one point. Before I blogged, in fact, I had dev diaries of what I was working on (which, sadly, may not have survived my recent hosting transfer) and wrote for a few mod sites. I even ran for a while as well as I participated in the last Make Something Unreal contest and ranked in a few of the phases. Ended up buying a shiny new sound card out of the deal.

Update: Wayback machine has the old Bounty War diary.

Since MSUC, though, my friends who are still active in the mod community tell me that interest in making and playing mods has nearly disappeared for Unreal Tournament 2004. Some of the projects moved over to Half-Life 2 - but even HL2 seems to be more than ever just a playing ground for Valve to pick and choose projects to add to Steam (gee, big surprise there). While a few interesting Doom III mods hit a while back, it's been a while since I've heard tale of a new one making a splash.

That's not to say that there aren't still mod teams and I'm sure some of them are doing great work. It seems, though, that the professionalization of mod work is almost complete.


-The old concept of a "mod" meaning that someone would go in and tinker with the core gameplay in fundamental ways is almost obsolete.

- No mod since Counter-Strike has been able to succeed commercially nearly as well - even though this has largely become the goal of many mod teams. Not even remotely, and that includes Valve favorites like Day of Defeat and Natural Selection.

- Many mod teams these days are simply nascent gaming studios. They don't have the capital to officially license a game, so they work within the EULA to create a total conversion and then try and pitch it to publishers to push the licensing fee. Largely, this is unsuccessful. And some exceptions like Red Orchestra won a license from Epic's contest.

- MMO's are becoming an increasingly dominant genre on PC's ... and they don't support modding. As FPS gamers move to consoles (which ... don't support modding), the demand for mods will decrease. With these trends, RTS games are the next big mod "market" in waiting.

Don't get me wrong, I think there will be hobbyist and garage developers on PC's for as long as we have PC's. That's not the same crowd, though, that cobbled Future Vs Fantasy or the Action series - not to mention smaller mods like stat tweaks, new powerups, weapon mods, or whatever. Possibly if XNA takes off ... we might see a new mod scene emerge for the 360 scene. For now, though, it seems mods are nearly done evolving into something completely different with little hope of return.

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Quake Haikus

- He strode through the gates
- His Rocket Launcher in hand
- Ready to conquer
---- GiB
-- Quake Haikus

To go along with my spam haikus (and check out The Brother's Investment Spam Haiku) ... there's volumes of old school poetry fun for you.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Amazon's Botched Sale Was 360 Launch 2.0?

Say that again?

On a pure traffic volume basis, the 360 generated more online interest on the 23rd, than either the Playstation 3 or Wii commanded on their respective launch days, making one thing clear — the Amazon promotion was the Xbox 360’s Launch 2.0.
-- Compete Blog » Blog Archive » Xbox 360 Launch 2.0 (via Next Gen)

This only make sense if the analyst means "once again, so few 360's were offered for such a brief period of time that it gave the illusion that there was much demand." I mean, the thing was discounted 66%. Likewise brilliant commentary would include "if the PlayStation 3 was cheaper than the 360, it would sell like hotcakes" and "if the Nintendo DS were included in cereal boxes, Sony wouldn't bother with the PSP."

Sadly, the analysis is saying "the 360 had just as much demand as the other guys during their launch" - based solely on a lot of people crashing a server to try and win a one time deal that lasted only a few minutes. The analysis even ignores its own graph which clearly shows the 360 dropping off in online interest significantly after the deal and well below the other consoles.

So yeah, a lot of people online wanted to get a really cheap 360. $100 is a very attractive price point for any console - and many were probably not considering the $100-$200 they'd have to plunk down to add the basics like a hard drive, wifi, extra controller and a couple games.

But I also went and tried GameFly's daily free Wii give-a-way and there's no indication that such sweepstakes, even though it's essentially the same thing except functional, is tabulated in this statement.

Silly analysis about a silly sales event.

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The Zune's "Mixed Reception"

Microsoft "has to build momentum" to establish Zune as a music platform to rival iPod in the long term, said Mike McGuire, an analyst at Gartner. "If they don't make a dent this Christmas, they'll have to move fast" to improve the product.

Launched little more than two weeks ago, the player and accompanying online music service were developed and rushed out for the Christmas season in just eight months after Microsoft made an about-turn in its digital music strategy.
-- Microsoft 'may need a rethink' on Zune

Maybe they should rethink: song squirting? I think I read that on the net last week and treated it, fnord style, like it didn't exist. Then I heard it on the news again and realized it was actually real. Zune might have some potential - but right now it's main feature is pretty much useless as it assumes there's a lot of Zunes out there to "squirt" with (which there isn't) and has a really stupid name.

If anything, Zune should take any success it has early on as a sign that Microsoft's brand is being welcomed by gadget lovers - probably thanks to the emergence of the Xbox line to the console stage. I don't think that means "song squirting" can enjoy similar name acceptance.

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Rockstar Apologizes For Haitian Content

Talk a ghost from Christmas past, Rockstar has decided to publically apologize for the "Haitian content" of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City:

As with literature, movies, music and other forms of entertainment, we have strived to create a video game experience with a certain degree of realism, which we believe is our right. Nevertheless, we are aware of the hurt and anger in the Haitian community and have listened to the community's objections to certain statements made in the game. Accordingly, we will remove the objectionable statements from future copies of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
-- Rockstar relinquishes over Haitian allegations

I understand that, once the content is removed, both copies of Vice City expected to sell next year will have a big impact on this issue.

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Left Behind: The Thinkpiece

The makers of a new video game say its Biblically themed action is designed to stir “’thinking and talking’ about matters of eternal importance.”

But opponents on the First Coast say it’s offensive to Christian beliefs.With flashy graphics and intense action, “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” has the hallmarks of a hit video game, but with a Biblical twist. Set just after the Rapture in the Book of Revelation, the game puts you in charge of civilians and soldiers with the Tribulation Force –- an armed group fighting against the army of the Antichrist.

That fighting sometimes means killing. And some religious groups are furious.
-- First Coast News - Local News - Bible-Themed Video Game Stirs Controversy Within Christian Community

Thinking about matters of eternal importance? By smiting whores and coordinating one final bloody crusade? And can a demographic whose base routinely dismisses video games as violent brain drains on children really stand by such an obvious example of hypocrisy? Perhaps that's the matter of eternal importance ... is a violent game given a pass as long as Christ makes an appearance?

The answer of which would naturally say more about the people giving the answer than gaming itself, I would think. Just because I don't think a virtual gun is capable of training snipers means that I think it's a valid bearer of a religious message.

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