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Salanderr Blog

My Thoughts on PAX Aus

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I recently went to the first ever PAX Aus, which is also the first PAX outside of the US. Since Ive never been to a PAX before, I just got a one day (Saturday) pass so I could check it out and see what I thought. I can safely say that after my one day there this year, I already want to go at least two days, maybe even all three next year.

I go to many cons in Melbourne each year, Supanova, Oz Comic Con, Armageddon etc, and I can safely say that PAX was the most well organized convention I have ever been to, and probably the most fun Ive ever had in one day at a con. The biggest difference I can point out between those other cons and PAX, was that while PAX had a limited amount of tickets which sold out, the other cons usually allow on the day arrivals to get in, which means the convention centre ends up over packed and crowded to the point of being uncomfortable with ridiculous lines.

PAX on the other hand was quite spread out and felt a lot more relaxed. Sure there were some lines, especially for panels and Occulus Rift, but overall there was space to breathe and move, which is refreshing for a convention. Even the food lines werent very long in the middle of the day.

The Expo Hall was great fun, and I loved checking out the indie developer section as well as the massive LoL stage in which live tournaments were being held all day. While Nintendo had a large section, I wish Sony and Microsoft also had a presence there. Microsoft did have a glass case which supposedly housed the Xbox One at some points, but I never saw it in there and it wasnt even playable. Maybe next year we can hope to see more from these two other giants of gaming.

The console and PC freeplay areas were also really well organized and I had a lot of fun in there playing a few games with my friend, including some games that Ive never played before. I also didnt expect to leave PAX with an interest in TCG or tabletop gaming, but now I have 5 decks of Magic: The Gathering and am very eager to learn about the game, despite never really playing card games before.

My only real complaint for PAX is the fact that they underestimated just how popular some panels would be. At one point I heard an organizer say "we didnt expect it to be this popular, so we put it in a small venue" which seemed to be the case with many panels. I only managed to get into one panel, which was the Good Game panel. I lined for about 3 hours and only just made it in with a terrible seat up the back, while many others couldnt get in at all. Good Game especially is a panel that could have filled the biggest hall, yet they had us all squashed into a tiny room.

Things like that are to be expected for the first ever Australian PAX though. These issues will be ironed out over the years as the organisers get a better idea of how PAX Aus works and what the people want. As for me, Im already excited for next year. 

E3 2013 - Sony Press Conference

I've always been a huge Sony fan, I had the PS One, PS2 Fat, PS2 Slim, PS3 and the Vita. So needless to say this years E3, with the announce of the PS4 is extremely exciting to me and Ive been looking forward to it for a very long time, hoping that Sony will deliver. Im pleased to say that they did, in a major way.

Firstly I was happy to see that they werent ignoring the Vita. As a Vita owner, I am aware that I am in a very small minority. I know most people are bypassing it for being too expensive and not having any games. Expensive I agree with, and like everyone else Im still waiting for a price drop. Not enough games though? Not once since I got my Vita have I found myself with no games to play. Ive even been recently playing it more than all my other consoles, so I was really glad to see Sony giving it its time in the light, I believe it has a big future ahead of it.

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The reveal of the PS4 console itself was quite well done, with a huge amount of build-up and anticipation. As for the look well, I like it. Ive seen some people saying its almost a cross between PS2 and Xbox One, and I can see where they are coming from. I liked it from the start but I think it will grow on me even more over time.

As for the rest of the show, I believe Sonys conference was a bit lacking for the whole first half, thankfully picking up in the second half. They spent a bit of time giving us content from games they have already announced. Anyone who watched the reveal, or has the internet has already seen a lot of Killzone: Shadow Fall, Infamous Second Son and Knack. As for Beyond: Two Souls, I feel like Ive already seen half the game. They then went on to spend way too long talk about music, movie and TV functions, which is something I believe should be left for other times, not for E3 where everyone is there for games and games alone. You'd think they would have learnt something from Microsofts mistakes at their own reveal.

And then we have the indies. I love that Sony was giving a good amount of stage time to Indie developers at this show, rather than just spending all their time on the triple A titles. And most of the indie games they showed looked amazing. Im especially excited for the Oddworld remake. Abes Oddysee was one of my favourite PS One games.

As much as I think that Watch Dogs and AC Black Flag look like good games, Im almost sick of hearing about them. Three of the press conferences I watched showed content from them, and we have been seeing Watch Dogs footage since last years E3. I feel like if I see any more of it I wont need to buy the game.

One thing that really stood out to me among Sonys show was Quantic Dreams The Dark Sorcerer mostly because I had no idea what the hell was going on. The games visuals looked amazing, theres no doubt about that. And anyone who watched the reveal in February would have recognized the face of the Sorcerer himself. But what actually happened in that video? First there was something that looked like some sort of standard fantasy game, and the next moment it was all green screen and casual actor banter. I did not see that coming at all and found it very intriguing. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this tech demo. Their last demo "Kara" was amazing and really blew me away.

The second announcement that I didnt see coming, and had me extremely excited was Kingdom Hearts 3. Like many gamers I spent a lot of time on the PS2 playing through previous Kingdom Hearts games, so this was one of the major highlights of E3 so far for me. Elder Scrolls Online looked pretty good, although I am still only new to the whole Elder Scrolls world (I only started Skyrim a few weeks ago) so I might reserve judgment on that one for now.

Now we get down to what was ultimately the best part of Sonys conference, and no doubt the part that should see Sonys PR teams getting some kind of reward. Not only did Sony basically give the gamers everything that they wanted, and everything they asked for, but they did it by systematically tearing down everything Microsoft was doing, which resulted in a huge slap to the face for the Xbox One. As Sony was announcing its plans for used games, online connections and pricing, you could basically hear hoards of Xbox fans running to the PS4, with their wallets open and waiting. This was without a doubt, one of my biggest highlights not only from this E3, but from all the years of E3 I have watched.

Personally, I would like to eventually get an Xbox One and a PS4. But I sure know which one I will be lining up for first. 

Is it okay to use the word rape while gaming?

It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love games. I love playing games and talking about games. I've been playing them my whole life. Games now are a modern and amazing platform for art and storytelling, with many modern games being very mature and meaningful.

Why does it seem then, that the more mature games get, the less matures gamers are becoming?

Now we all know that people trash-talk each other in games, but should there be a limit? In particular, I see a problem in the huge rise in how many people say "rape" while playing games. Particularly males since they still dominate the online gaming world. And even more worrying is the amount of young kids saying it while gaming.

Is it okay to so casually throw this word around, a word that usually carries a very heavy and serious meaning? So many times I have heard such phrases as "I just got raped by that guy" or "Did you see us? We raped that team" whilst talking about games. This type of speech is both heard in-game and seen on internet forums and message boards quite often.

I have heard the argument by one gamer, that the word rape historically had another meaning rather than just sexual assault. It once also meant "To Plunder" or something along those lines. This may be the case, but it is an outdated use of a word that most people today probably don't even know. Is this a good enough excuse to use it so commonly now? I actually had some trouble finding information on this other use while researching for this blog. So I think its fair to say its not too common. Times have been known to change the meanings of words, and I'd be willing to put my money on the fact that most people now, especially those playing these games see the word rape as being attached to its more current and horrific meaning.

Maybe this older usage makes it okay, maybe not. For all the men and women in the world who have been raped, I would say probably not.

When exactly did a subject as dark and heavy as rape, become a casual and light-hearted joke to so many? Do these people really know what they are saying, or are they just copying what they hear their peers say in true sheep mentality? And more importantly, what would it be like for an actual rape victim who one day was playing a game only to have torrents of rape threats being poured at them in jest? It is just "trash-talk" after all... or so I keep hearing.