Compromise - Least Bad Solution for Nintendo's YouTube Plans
- May 19, 2013 9:31 pm GMT
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I would like to put forth my figurative two-cents on this particular issue concerning Nintendo's latest business plans.
Personally, I would prefer that Nintendo of America and those opposed to it declare truces with each other, back off from their stances and sweep the issue under the rug until it rears its ugly head again - hopefully until after the unlikely event that human civilization as we know it no longer needs money.
(I wish that I was completely joking about that, but I am digressing.)
If they still want to be at loggerheads with each other then, then they, and anyone with a stake, such as the "Let's Play" video-making folks, should compromise and go for the win-win solution of sharing revenue.
That is because any other outcome (barring that everyone just drops the issue and goes on business-as-usual) has everyone losing.
IF THE OPPOSITION GETS ITS WAY...
Before going further, I would remind people that the notion of property is one of the oldest lynchpins of human civilization. If the newer aspects of modern civilization, namely freedom rights, are allowed to trump it, then we are going backwards, just like we would if property is to ascend above freedom rights.
That said, Nintendo is certainly thinking that it is entitled to revenue that is generated by YouTube videos that feature its properties. A legal argument against this will be terrifically difficult to formulate, but if litigation is pursued anyway, then we run the risk of having Nintendo harden itself, and a hardened Nintendo will very likely be an ugly Nintendo.
You may want to be reminded that Nintendo of America had signed the letter to the Congress of USA in support of legislations that protect IPs. There is not any strong evidence that Nintendo had thrown its weight behind SOPA or withdrew support from it, but it just might think of having a more blatant official stance if the likes of Lamar Smith brings that bill out of the shelves again or creates a new similar bill while Nintendo is contesting a legal challenge against its attempts to claim all ad revenue for said YouTube videos.
In other words, we risk having this issue being blown into something bigger if it escalates into a legal battle.
If Nintendo loses, there is of course the old-but-difficult-to-dismiss expectation that a Nintendo bereft of a potential source of income becomes weaker and lousier at making games; money is how the likes of Nintendo gets the resources and ideas to make games after all. A weakened game-maker is rarely a good thing for anyone with a stake in the gaming industry, the people who make those Let's Play videos included.
Of course, one can just say "f*ck Nintendo", but not everyone hates Nintendo, is it? We can look elsewhere other than Nintendo, but such antagonistic scenarios are likely to repeat with other game-makers instead of Nintendo until the involved parties learn to hand figurative olive branches to each other.
IF NINTENDO GETS ITS WAY...
That would be awful, because it would turn into a lose-lose outcome for certain.
To elaborate, there could be a boycott of Nintendo's properties by YouTube content-makers, since they don't get any income from making videos featuring Nintendo's properties if Nintendo gets to eat all the advertising revenue. Barring die-hard Nintendo supporters, they have no incentive to make videos on the game-maker's products, especially if they depend on the ad revenue for their livelihood.
Nintendo, and any other game-maker that has similar plans, can forget about being paid for marketing work that it does not fund.
However, the ones that would lose out most are game consumers who are doing research into possible purchases. They may well lose the sources of information that those YouTube videos featuring games could have provided.
In addition, such an outcome may well stall the advent of a new kind of career that is being formed in this Age of Information, namely that of people making a living making videos on the Internet.
I am aware that some of you have more than enough scorn for such people to utter statements such as "Get a real job!" - among other far less courteous remarks - but some of us actually like seeing new kinds of careers coming into being.
A COMPROMISE: SHARING REVENUE
If Nintendo has any wisdom, it may want to consider proposing the sharing of revenues. It is more than likely to run into opposition anyway, of course - there will always be people who believe that they are fully entitled to all of the revenue from the advertisements that accompany their videos, as well as those who believe that Nintendo should be reamed.
However, I like to believe that most of those opposing Nintendo's move to attempt to claim the ad revenue in their entirety would reciprocate if Nintendo was to propose sharing of revenues.
If they could shake hands and work out the proportions of their shares, this agreement can even turn into a partnership of product promotion, e.g. Nintendo gives them preview builds of games to make videos with and such. That would give the likes of Nintendo more partners to highlight their products with, in addition to the established gaming sites.
Most importantly, the regular game consumer would benefit from this, as there would be richer sources of information on games, upcoming or existing.
Here's hoping that Nintendo and the opposition would come together for the win-win.
P.S. My account is still afflicted with one of the glitches that have been reported here, so I won't be able to reply in any way in the LiveFyre thread below.
My thoughts on the idea Another Gaming Crash
- May 19, 2013 1:14 pm GMT
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For some time now, many have been speculating on if gaming is setting itself up for another crash. Maybe not like the one in '84 but seeing a number of studios closing, and the AAA games being bigger and more bloated and not making back their production costs (see the Tomb Raider reboot), and the industry's greed getting worse and worse. It's not unrealistic to think the PS4 could be a $700 system with $70 games. The average Joe doesn't have tons of money to put into high end systems and games and has cheaper alternatives in the form of tablet games. Meanwhile the hardcore gamers and the studios seem to be blind to this more interested in fancy graphics and "emotional polygons" and honestly I'm tired of it all. I like games but I'm tired of the industry greed, developer's egos and fanboys..oh the fanboys but instead of writing a big long editorial discussing about this possible crash I saw The 25th Hour and I heard Edward Norton's famous monologue about NY and I started think of a verion I had for my thoughts on all this. Of course I had to censor it because GS doesn't like naughty language so either you are all going to love this or hate this.
F*** you? F*** me.
F*** this whole gamer culture and everyone in it.
F*** the Xbox Live brats, screaming their racist, homophobic slurs into headsets. Stupid spoiled brats.
F*** EA, money grubbing corporate pigs, self styled masters of the universe with their DRM and on disc DLC figuring out new ways to rob gamers blind. You think we don't know about this. Give us a break. Activison, Microsoft, Sega Nintendo. All of you.
F**** the stuck up elistist PC gamers and they're $1000 gaming rigs. Not all of us are made of money you know.
F**** the "fake geek girls" with their anorexic bodies and fake boobs making it hard for us legitmate girl gamers to be taken seriously. You're not foolin' anyone honey!
F*** David Cage and his "emotional polygons."
F*** the hypocritical parents who condemn games for making their kids violent then throw an Ipad in the little snot's faces because it's a cheap baby sittier.
F*** the NRA using games as a scapegoat. Yeah let's destroy the 1st Amendment to protect the 2nd amendment. That makes a lot of sense.
F*** the mobile game makers, making half assed things, calling them games then shoving as many microtransactions into them as possible.
F**** Gamestop and their crummy trade in value and their overpriced used games. You force your employees to shove preorders and magazine subscriptions down our throats and can't even pay them decent wages.
F*** the fanboys and their whiny malcontent.
F*** this industry and everyone in it. From Japan to Europe. From the studios in California to the lofts in New York. Let an earthquake crumble it. Let the fires rage. Let it burn to f***** ash then let the waters rise and submerge this whole, rat-infested industry.
No. F**** you kbaily. You're getting too old for this.
Maybe Film-Makers Can Do Something with Games: A Remark about Wreck-It-Ralph
- May 18, 2013 10:03 am GMT
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Customary opening picture to let you know what I am really writing about. Picture includes insignificant cameos.
IMPORTANT FOREWORD: This article is perhaps better directed at those who have seen and still remember the movie, as I am rather averse to describing scenes in a movie with anything more detailed than vague statements.
Now, I have to admit something here, if you haven't heard this already: I am very jaded about film-watching.
Perhaps I had been watching one too many films that I had once found awesome that everything else that came later felt bland to me - such as Brave, which I find to be filled with one too many story devices that I have seen before.
However, I am personally glad that once in a while there is a movie that slaps me silly for thinking that I have seen everything to see in movies. It so happens that the latest one is a game concerning movies.
I mean movie concerning games. I am not going to edit this out.
CLOSE-TO-MISLEADING MARKETING FOR WRECK-IT RALPH
I have to admit here too that I am one of those people whose first thought that comes to mine when they hear about game-related movies is an expletive. I certainly have thought the same about Wreck-It Ralph. I suppose that I don't have to tell you much about movies with video game licenses that give the impression that they are only there to feed off their license sources' popularity.
The irony that Fix-It Felix Jr. and many other games mentioned in the film are almost completely fictional could have made me less suspicious of Disney's product, but that Disney is jumping on the bandwagon of the dubious marketing stunt that is faking things about entertainment products of the past did not make me any less skeptical and cynical towards this film.
Here's another thing that I have to admit: I had immediately despised Wreck-It Ralph when I heard that it "celebrates" games and video game characters. Such cameos seemed like yet more frivolous promotion and popularity-exploitation to me, and I would say that my impression of these cameos did not change after having watched the film.
That gaming is now starting to become accepted culture (and thus profitable for the likes of Disney), barring attempts by some parties that are trying to demonize it, made me even more leery of this film.
All of the above prejudiced me enough to forget about Wreck-It Ralph after I learned about it.
SIDE NOTE: "SO HOW DID I COME ABOUT TO WATCHING IT?"
Some almost-expiring 75%-discount coupons for a cinema franchise had me picking months-old Wreck-It Ralph out of the rest that the occasional anti-hipster in me could care less to name.
I did not pick 3-D of course. To me, that's still a fad, though I suppose that some time into the future, there may be an astoundingly refreshing 3-D film that slaps me silly for thinking of it as a fad. This is not a joke, by the way.
Another thing that I have to admit here is my bias towards animated films. I really don't want to see familiar faces in films anymore, as much as I like certain actors/actresses; familiar voices are alright to me. That is why I tend to pick animated films instead of the rest as they tend not to have characters looking like their voice talents.
Yet there are exceptions.
On a near-related matter, I have to say here that film-makers who are making films with game licenses don't seem to consider that some actors/actresses could never even come close to looking like the game characters that they are portraying. They tend to make live-action films anyway, and that irks me a lot.
THE (REST OF THE) MOVIE SANS TWO POIGNANT MOMENTS (MORE ON THESE LATER)
Most of the movie was dull to me; it was trope after trope.
There is yet another "anonymous group" of conflicted people sitting on chairs in a circle. Fictional characters living in digital worlds that are visualized as facsimiles of the real one was done yet again in this film.
Ralph was yet another initially villainous character turn jaded, and this coming a few years after a certain other animated movie.
The appearances of cameo characters were ultimately inconsequential and at best little more than gags and nostalgia-bait. I certainly did not bother to spot this-and-that game character in the movie's scenes.
The true antagonist of the film was perhaps easy for experienced movie-goers to pick out even before said villain was revealed due to the inclusion of a certain speed-related (and hazardous) past-time as a story element.
The elements about the film that I appreciate the least are the inclusion of a femme fatale and her unlikely love interest and yet more savagely destructive bugs. I find these tropes very tiresome.
Then, there are perhaps some pokes at gaming culture and its Internet-based half, specifically when one character misheard/mispronounced "Duty" as "Doodie". This is perhaps not a coincidence, and if it is indeed a poke at Activision's money-printing franchise as I suspect, I do not appreciate it as such poking is yet another tiresome, juvenile fad in the gaming community.
I find it disappointing that the rest of the movie is so run-of-the-mill when compared to the two moments that will be explained shortly.
THAT TWO POIGNANT MOMENTS
I don't know who is credited with these two moments. However, I doubt it is Rich Moore as he is mainly an animator; Moore's student, Jim Reardon, is the kind that makes parodies out of popular works of fiction; I don't know who Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee is.
If none of them can be credited with these two scenes, that would leave Clark Spencer, who is known for having been a producer for some animated films that would have been thoroughly run-of-the-mill if not for certain similarly heart-wrenching moments. Of course, it can be argued that the contribution of producers to their films are hard to trace.
Now, if only the rest of the movie can be written in such ways.
TAKE-AWAY: I wish that film-makers will just shed the tendency to exploit that other entertainment industry and focus more on what they do best: making films. Specifically, they should throw any tendency to make use of their licenses to market their films, and instead focus on creating what they believe would be particularly memorable moments - just like they would do for any other film, if they have the calibre to keep this in mind all the time.
Whoever that thought of those two scenes in Wreck-It Ralph certainly had, and I would say that the sub-segment of films that concern video games is a lot better off with the likes of this movie being in it.
P.S. I am aware that I haven't made a blog post for a long time; that is because I feel that it is pointless to do one when I cannot reply to any responses, which in turn is due to a glitch that prevents my posts from appearing in LiveFyre threads, including the one that you might write a post into below. However, I suppose that I was impressed quite a lot by these two moments in Wreck-It-Ralph that I was inspired to write this anyway.
P.P.S. I recall that a certain GameSpot editor wrote an editorial about Wreck-It Ralph. Can anyone recall it exactly?
Let's Pay: Stealing the LPers' Income
- May 17, 2013 10:07 pm GMT
- 0 Comments
Content ID matching is a topic that I haven't keep up on, but know it's been around for a while. Basically, it's something that YouTube does to YouTubers who make income via advertisements on videos that contain content held by copyright owners. Instead of taking the videos down, they redirect any ad revenue generated away from the content producer and to the copyright holder. So, anyone who makes a Let's Play video and received income from the ads now loses it to the publisher, provided they claim it. Nintendo has now laid claims.
Personally, I feel Let's Players should be left alone. I don't think copyright law particularly applies to this situation, as I see it differnently than animated music videos or recut films. For a song artist, they can potentially lose a sale of their song because someone can hear it off of YouTube. For a movie, someone can watch it off YouTube. For a game... you can't really play a game off of YouTube. And honestly, if someone just wants to see the game played without playing, they're still not going to buy the game, regardless if the LPer gets ad revenue or not.
Let's Plays are valuable sources of information. Not only do they demonstrate a game being played to help out a person struggling through a specific level, but it's also a resource that a consumer can use if they're researching a potential purchase. Stealing away an LPer's income source for making these videos is akin to charging writers for reviewing their games, or for writing FAQs and strategy guides.
Should Major League Gamers be charged for training on a publisher's video game? Should a portion of the prize money be allocated to, say, Capcom because someone won a tournament playing Street Fighter X Tekken? Now, I know what you're thinking. "No, because they're sponsored." or "No, because it's promotional; they're advertising the game." Well, Let's Players are also promoting these publishers' games. The publishers don't have to pay these YouTubers to talk about their games, but instead are stealing their income for doing so. This is like CBS signing over checks to Square-Enix every time a GameSpot employee talks about Tomb Raider.
Here's an interesting thought. Why not Sony charge whoever plays the game that's being shared to them over the PS4? Why should some guy on the other side of the country be able to play someone else's game for free? "That's unfair!" Right, and so is taking ad revenue from LPers, who BOUGHT the game in the first place! And in case you don't want to read the article I linked, I'll just pluck a quote out of it.
"Theyre [Let's Plays] a great form of advertising and sadly, the way Nintendo is punishing people for playing their titles is going to do more harm than good, when it comes to exposure for their games. YouTube personalities will be less inclined to make lets play series based on Nintendo games since they get no revenue, which decreases exposure. Word of mouth exposure has always been one of the most premium forms of advertising for games."
Exactly. The only difference is that these LPers are making a few dollars doing it. They're taking time out of their day to spend playing YOUR game, which they BOUGHT, and spreading the word. If you as a publisher are really bothered by that, then how about you pay them instead? You didn't play the game for them, so how dare you take away what they earned?
I know this is a grey area, and I can see exactly how copyright law would apply to these situations, but that doesn't mean I think it's right. I don't like the way it works, and I think it needs to be reformed. It also sucks for me personally, because I was thinking about doing this in the future. Now, not so much. If I really have to agree with this copyright law, then I figure I how about 100 different publishing houses money, because I earn a living shelving their books in my library.
Bonus Content: Rich's take on Nintendo's claims.
Sweet, Sweet Card Game Loving
- May 15, 2013 5:10 pm GMT
- 0 Comments
For the past I dont know how many years, Ive been quite the card toting warrior. Battling mostly friends and the occasional friendly match with a stranger in Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and good old Pokémon. As I grew older, some of the games seemed less engaging. Pokémon felt stagnant and Yu-Gi-Oh!, well it had run its course for me. But MTG was always there for me, with something new and shiny (mostly shiny) and some new way to experience the game. In that horizon comes with a lot of fears and hopes.
Now, all I play is Magic the Gathering, however Ive seen a vast emergence, I do use that word lightly, of trading card games. Some are physical but most are digital. Games like Rage of Bahamut, Cabal, Deity Wars, Shadow Era, Carte, the list goes on and on. People complain about the whole paying to win aspect of these digital card games. But thats what the card game is about, buying and trading cards to get ones to fit a players style or even just to collect. Personally Im a player and collector. Mobile card games, these are a very shady bunch. They require players to spend money on so few cards and have a very low chance of obtaining a really good ultra-rare card.
Rage of Bahamut was the first one I tried. It was fun, but felt more like an RPG rather than a card game. The interphase was card focused but more on leveling monster cards, fusing them and enhancing them. To win against other players and quest bosses, it all came down to numbers. Is a players monster card team powerful enough to take on the enemy? It wasnt all that competitive, more recruitment based. A player joins a guild, randomly accepts or adds other players to get points to spend for free on card packs where they get an insane amount of the weakest monster in the game. Once in a blue moon getting any variety. Rage of Bahamut is not the only culprit, Deity Wars and other such games have the same model with a different paint of coat. I realize its all dependent on the player whether or not to spend money on them, really my fear is that this is what people are going to think of when they hear Trading Card Game. And in no absolute way is there any real player interaction other than people asking to trade and join their guild or be in their friend list, for the sole purpose of increasing their own wealth. No hate to those games listed beforehand just business practices like that really hurt the honor of the card game. (I think that sounds like a martial arts movie)
Some people complain of expansion packs for card games and how its hard to get into them with so much that has already been released. I will agree with them, but offer the alternative of wikis and guides, as well as asking other people. The card game community isnt based on elitism; people are generally nice during matches and when spectating. Also they do offer trial decks at comic shops.
As mentioned before there are digital card games that do not suffer the whole money-grabbing tactics of the companies. Hero Mages, is a bit like Dungeons & Dragons. Shadow Era, does have an in game currency but it offers the RPG feel where you duel characters and after you win you get experience and gold. As you level up you get 25 shadow crystals, the currency needed to buy packs and digital card sleeves. What Shadow Era does right is that it doesnt require too much money to be put into it. Players can sell cards they used shadow crystals for to gain gold from the merchant. Then can purchase cards using that gold. So it balances itself out, players dont feel to shamed to be putting money into it. That system also gets rid of any feeling of rushing players to buy more now. Carte, a pc only card game, had a great system, brilliant card art, but failed in the marketplace. It was easy to get single cards in the game. But packs required a lot of cash, and when it was just starting out it was an overload of packs and cards. And for a digital game it didnt have much of a tutorial or guide on buying cards, it felt that way. Digital card games cant make players feel too overwhelmed to buy or purchase in bulk at once just to enjoy the game.
With Pokémon not doing so well in sales from what I gather. Yu-Gi-Oh!, is still going to be around, even if it isnt as strong as before. Magic, need I say more? There is a young cub entering the card game ring. Cardfight Vanguard, or simply Vanguard to players, it has the same humble beginnings as Yu-Gi-Oh!, where players play the game thats played in the anime. Only one difference makes Vanguard more interesting is that if a person watches the anime, they actually learn the real rules. This really impressed me from watching nearly all of Yu-Gi-Oh!, with most of the stuff they do that really isnt in the actual game. Cardfight Vanguard, follows a fantasy story in a reality setting, but puts the card game as a card game not the means to saving the world or sucking away peoples souls. The card games in the anime do get pretty tense, I was watching them as if they were real games. Not wanting to spoil the plot or story but it is highly recommended. Watching the anime made me go through nostalgia with Yu-Gi-Oh!, and I have been considering purchasing a starter deck or two to check it out. Its fan base has been growing since last inquiring about it. Im actually glad that another well-crafted card game can stand up to Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokémon, while its basically in the infantile stage.
Card games are going through a massive change now that phones and tablets can handle a lot more now. People are missing a lot of good stuff with these Ponzi scheme built mobile games, and are being cheated on most (not all obviously) digital card games. The ratio of getting foils and rare cards drops significantly because its computer based. Shadow Era, for the record has a good ratio for getting good cards and being able to profit from useless ones is good. One game I should have addressed is Eye of Judgment for the Playstation 3, and that one just failed. It seemed like a good idea, had potential but didnt quite get enough people. There is another game called Elemental Monster Online. $5 gets you a booster pack of 24 cards, it seems decent.
(Shadow Era is a bit reminicent of MTG, but with a class focused twist.)
Of course within card games and gaming itself people are going to have to give in some money to buy cards. Its a matter of Is it worth my time to get better at this game? As with any competitive game there are tricks and the like to use. No person should feel burdened to buy a card pack or two, rather fell excited to buy something new to see what they can get and a new deck to utterly own against their opponents. Hopefully Vanguard can stand the test of time and be in the big leagues. And when that happens, I want to be right in the fray.
All The Ways To Compare Bioshock Infinite
- May 15, 2013 3:09 pm GMT
- 0 Comments
Bioshock Infinite is this years Skyrim: Flawed in just about all design, but completely forgivable due to its overwhelming atmosphere.
Bioshock Infinite is exactly what Spec Ops: The Line wouldve been if its game elements wouldve worked. Instagram filters and chained shooting galleries of a bland shooter that relies mostly on a storyline with an immense twist.
Bioshock Infinite is like the Twilight series, minus the scruples: Its third act becomes as convoluted and incredible as Bella becoming impregnated by a vampire baby that wants to eat her from the womb.
Bioshock Infinite is what Proteus wouldve been if they had forced traditional gameplay elements in it: Simply being present in its universe is more consequential than any other, lesser element of the game.
Bioshock Infinite is Far Cry 3 with opposite priorities: A gorgeous shooter with unnecessary ultra-violence that is accepted because of the overall products excellence.
There are bound to be a few more succinct comparisons to be made in a snappy one-liner. If you have one, feel free to leave a comment!
Options should always be a standard
- May 13, 2013 1:01 pm GMT
- 0 Comments
Before I begin, please take a few minutes and watch this. If you've already seen this, please then advance, or if you don't want to watch, please skip to the quote, because that's really all you need to know.
"You paid up to 60 dollars for a game; you should have some option to experience all the content. ... If you paid for content, do you not have the right to all the content you bought? What if books spontaneously combusted if you didn't understand certain words, or movies refused to unpause until you took a quiz to prove you knew who all the characters were?"
What brings this blog about is my current experience with the first Fire Emblem I'm playing for the GBA. 10 years later, the series FINALLY gets a casual option that turns off permadeath and allows you to save anywhere. Why, oh why, did it take 10 years for that to happen?
"But... but... permadeath makes you think harder about where you're moving your guys!"
Sure, it does. What I don't enjoy, however, is the random death that can happen to even the smartest of people. For instance, that sorceress hidden under the fog of war that can reach out 10 blocks and vaporize your character because she scores a critical on you? How about your knight, who never should have missed, misses and the swordsman with the Killing Edge, who never should have hit you, hits you with two criticals in a row? Or how about you execute a perfectly laid out plan only for it to become a clusterfvck because the game spawns 10 new enemies you weren't ready for?
Of course, part of this frustration is my fault as I'm somewhat of a perfectionist. I cannot accept losing a single character, so if I lose one, I have to start the mission over. Even if I've spent 45 minutes and about to finish the chapter but lose a guy to the boss, I will start it over. Even if I lose a character I don't use, I will start it over. It would have been nice had someone 10 years ago realized that not everyone who plays Fire Emblem truly appreciates this so called "difficulty". The game isn't that hard for me, more as it's just a time waster. I will still end up beating the game; it's just going to take me longer.
And that's the thing. I don't have as much time as I used to have. I found myself with more games coming out this generation that I want to play, but I haven't gotten to yet. Again, it's sort of my fault for adding more pressure to my hobby, because I've decided to focus on my backlog of games. Every time I view a loss in Fire Emblem, I think of how much extra time I have to spend on it it when I could be applying that time to a different game.
Now, this goes back to the argument of hardcore vs casual where the "true" fans don't want to see easier options to make the game appeal more to the casuals. If you watched the video, then Jim has debated that point far better than I could have done. The thing is, you still get your hardcore experience, and the casuals get their casual experience. If a "noob" beats the game, why does that bother you? YOU beat it on a Ultra Mega Super Hardcore Of Which Makes Me a Bad Ass Mother Fvcker mode. Pat yourself on the back.
But honestly, Jim's point about paying money for a game and not being able to enjoy it because it's too hard is a great freaking point. This is entertainment, and this particular medium - video games - is all about fun. What happens when someone of a lesser skill level gets frustrated with the game? That fun decreases. Not finishing a game you paid for is like not finishing a tasty steak or tofu burger if you're a veg; it's a waste of money. So, I'm glad there's an Easy mode in Dark Souls; I'm glad there's a casual difficulty in Fire Emblem: Awakening. It means more people are able to experience those games in their entirety.
In fact, I'm almost tempted to say that microtransactions are a good thing, which would contradict something that I'm adamant against, but I understand more now why companies put them in. They want to attract more people, the less skilled or the more impatient players, who can unlock things at the ready - for a cost - so they can skip through all the bullshyte that the rest of us go through to really enjoy our games. Of course, Dead Space 3's a bad example of this, because they redesigned their upgrade system specifically for microtransactions, and I won't play it because of it. I still view microtransactions as capitalizing on the less skilled and more impatient gamers, but at least they have the option to breeze through the game at their leisure.
This isn't just about difficulty, though. I also think that every game needs a subtitle option for the hearing impaired (most already do). I think there should be more lefthanded controllers and handheld consoles. I think there should be standard options to save wherever you want, even in the middle of a cutscene, because you never know when something comes up. You can always pause a movie or bookmark a book; why can't you do that with video games? I would also love to play a Rockstar game that allows for more tha one save slot, because I may not be the only one in the household interested in playing it. And I always want to see an option to play as a character that you yourself want to see. If it doesn't make sense within the game's story, at least you have the option to make it nonsensical.
Of course, we can't change the fact that vampires sparkle in Twilight. We can't write in more meaningful dialogue and character development into a Michael Bay movie. We can't put more zombies in Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride Prejudice and Zombies. This is where games differ from movies and books. Yes, we pay money for movies and books, and everyone who starts them can finish them. That isn't the case with games, and that's not how it's supposed to be. Since many games have shown that you can customize certain features, you can actually have a better experience than the game maker originally intended. So, instead of making optional options an option, let's instead make them a standard.
Social Awareness and GameSpot: Love it or Leave it?
- May 12, 2013 4:13 pm GMT
- 0 Comments
As you may have noticed, articles, editorials and news features having to do with various social issues surrounding gaming (or with a gamers' slant) have been making an upswing here on GS. These issue range from violence in gaming to mental illness and so much in between. As gaming becomes more of a mainstream form of entertainment, the gaming community is growing, as is our social awareness of such issues. And, with the increase in the gaming population, there is bound to come an increase in pieces reflecting on social issues and their perceived relevance to members of this community.
Some pieces have been met with good debate within the community; others have been scorned and readers have threatened to leave GS for posting what they consider information that is not newsworthy. Still, some have even been praised for bringing awareness to issues that may be embarrassing for gamers to bring up on their own and opening a dialogue for change, or at the least, a better understanding of the highlighted issue.
The first topic that has really exploded across this site is feminism and gaming. It is also arguably the most hated, but is definitely one of the most polarizing. Don't worry, I'm not going to go on a rant about my actual opinion as I've done so on the numerous features on the site. Some of the more notable and commented-on pieces are as follows:
Dead Island sparks sexism flap (September 8, 2011 - 531 comments)
From Samus to Lara: An Interview With Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency (June 12, 2012 - 3724 comments)
Halo 4 devs speak out against sexism (October 30, 2012 - 700 comments)
Naughty Dog: games don't need males on cover to sell (December 12, 2012 - 454 comments)
Publishers said 'You can't have a female character,' says Remember Me dev (March 19, 2013 - 1131 comments)
Documentary on sexism in games hits Kickstarter (April 29, 2013 - 1366 comments)
A significant portion of the comments in these articles are decrying the fact that these pieces are even being published, that the issue of sexism in gaming either does not exist or that even if it does, there is no place on GS for this kind of piece. From my observation, the response to these articles was overwhelmingly negative.
Next on the list is the debate about how the violoence portrayed in video games may (or may not) affect people who play such games. Various studies have been conducted and opinions run the full gamut, some saying they affect us and may desensitize us to others saying it can help us manage pain and improve other aspects of our lives:
GS News - Violent Video Games can Ease Pain (September 11, 2012 - 134 comments)
Senator introduces bill to study violent games (December 20, 2012 - 1183 comments)
N.J. Gov: violent games must be examined (January 9, 2013 - 1447 comments)
Obama calls for game violence research (January 16, 2013 - 1298 comments)
Former FBI profiler says games do not cause violence (February 25, 2013 - 261 comments)
Study: Violent games can desensitize players (May 10, 2013 - 806 comments and counting)
This series of pieces seems to draw more of a debate than a simple "GTFO of GS". There doesn't seem to be as much of an internal argument between users as there are just differences of opinion which are handled in a more respectful manner than the issue of sexism and gaming.
Lastly, GS has gone even deeper into gamers' psyches by promoting a feature on gaming and depression and mental illness in regards to the gaming community:
Survey examines links between gaming, behavior (November 15, 2010 - 170 comments)
Study links pathological gaming to depression, anxiety in kids (January 17, 2011 - 606 comments)
Light in the Darkness: Dealing With Depression in Games (February 8, 2013 - 71 comments)
Depression Quest: A Retrospective (February 19, 2013 - 25 comments)
Video Games vs. Depression (May 3, 2013 - 1888 comments)
The last link, a relatively short documentary which was featured on the front page, has garnered a LOT of support. Comments on pieces in this group tend to be more positive and supportive in nature.
It seems to me that the most negative feedback comes from pieces where users feel judged or stereotyped themselves, which is no surprise: nobody likes to feel like they are being judged in a negative light. But pieces that analyze parts of the community and offer insight without judgement, such as the depression pieces, are welcomed overall, mostly because they are more helpful and not telling the user they need to change, or that the industry they hold so dear needs to change. Personally, I, too, enjoy these kinds of social awareness issues the best because I feel they can impact the most users in the most positive way.
I actually enjoy watching GS grow up and report on social issues. I feel that there is more than enough content on the site to the point that if you absolutely hate mixing social issues with gaming, you can find plenty to read and keep you busy without having to bother with content you really don't like. It also baffles me why so many people comment with such vitriol when GS does tackle these issues. I understand the voicing of the opinion that GS should not have these kinds of pieces on the front page, but what I mostly see are people trolling such pieces and massively increasing post counts on pieces they think shouldn't exist anyway, which is sort of defeating the purpose--but that's beside the point.
So, how do YOU feel about how all of these social issues are being represented here on GS? If you love it, what other ideas would you like to see tackled or acknowledged? If you would rather leave it behind, what would you like to see instead, and do you feel the presence of these issues truly undermines your ability to enjoy the rest of the content on the site?
Star Trek Into Darkness - Film Review
- May 12, 2013 2:39 pm GMT
- 0 Comments
Reviewed on May 9th, 2013
Universal presents a film directed by J.J. Abrams
Screenplay by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch and Simon Pegg
Running Time: 132 minutes
Released: May 9th, 2013
In 1966 Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek as a TV series and coincidentally this was the same year that director J.J. Abrams was born. The show was pitched as a space Western in the vein of Wagon Train, which was a Western mystery show set on the Frontier. Star Trek converged with the start of the Vietnam War. Roddenberry had already seen action as a fighter pilot in World War II. To counter Vietnam, his version of Earth was a society without conflict and in space there were galactic truces, race relations and a sense of unity aboard the ship the Enterprise. As with any good Western, there was moral code of ethics between men, no matter how pointy their ears might have been. Roddenberry believed in a disciplined society that could be unaffected by war or religion. Spock for example was said to be modelled on a police Chief he knew when he was part of the LAPD.
After many years as a TV show and dozens of films, someone decided Star Trek should be reinvented yet again and Abrams was hired to transform it into a glossy action film. As a filmmaker J.J. Abrams is somewhat of an enigma. One of his heroes growing up was Steven Spielberg. When he was a boy he was hired to repair some old film footage for him. Spielberg would later produce Abrams most personal film Super 8, a movie that typifies the director's career. Part of the film is a loving tribute to home movies and geek culture, while the other is a bombastic, overblown blockbuster, short of any personal imprint. He's a slick filmmaker, I enjoyed his TV show Alias until it became ridiculous, but he struggles to find the balance his idol has between action and character. Into Darkness is a better film than the messy 2009 film though. The best scenes overcome the generic, simplification of the action genre by retreating back towards the essence of the original show: a morally ambiguous grey zone, where the values of the characters and their races are tested. However, the characters are still bound by a rigid story structure, where at least ten elaborate set pieces take full precedence over the human and Vulcan drama.
The most interesting aspects of the plot are when Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk (Chris Pine) butt heads over their different beliefs. Kirk is tasked with tracking down a rogue agent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is now essentially a terrorist bomber, causing havoc in London by using desperate people to do his bidding. This leaves a chilling, lasting impression, particularly when the film adds a layer of complexity, with Spock insisting that Harrison should be captured and trialled first. He's at odds with the order of the mission and Kirk, who wants revenge for the death of a colleague. Cumberbatch is frighteningly good in the film, a massive improvement over Eric Bana's villain in the first movie. The tension he brings through his menace, his arrogance but also his ability to cast doubts in the minds of the protagonists about who the baddies really are, is a magnetic quality that is hard to prepare for prior to seeing the film. What a terrific find he's become over the last few years.
However, by ingraining itself in the structure of an action film, a lot of this ambiguity is undone. Whereas action and moral ethics fought and overlapped persistently in The Dark Knight, Into Darkness' rhythm is too discrete and foreseeable. The action is timed acutely to follow a stretch of exposition, dividing itself between moments of ideology and combat, and the emphasis on set pieces means the lines between good and evil become transparent again and remove the crucial shades of grey. Abrams also seems more interested in choreographing lavish action sequences than exploring the personal side of the drama. His imagination in the set pieces is limitless. He employs an array of frenzied techniques, including rapid cutting, tilting cameras, overhead shots and quick pans, to breeze through the action. Yet when the characters stop to face one another and talk his direction has none of the same flair or creativity. The actors sit or stand still, with the camera perched on their shoulders for dull reverse angle shots that don't heighten the tension.
Rarely do we ever see these characters in their downtime either. Without any inner life they become ciphers for voicing conflicting moral ideas, like instinct against logic or law and these conflicts are often resolved within a scene of one another. After watching Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan recently, which Into Darkness borrow from, it's also fascinating that Kirk is viewed as an ageing man who has to start thinking about death and his legacy. In this film he's more on par with Tony Stark, able to bed two alien girls with tails at once. That amplifies where they're aiming this film at, in spite of the occasionally intriguing layering of the story. For a franchise that prides itself on going where no man has gone before, the Enterprise is starting to travel in circles.
Ten Years of Gamespotting
- May 11, 2013 12:38 pm GMT
- 0 Comments
Today marks exactly ten years that I have been a Gamespot registered user. In the time that I have been a member of Gamespot my life has changed. I've gotten married, been through three jobs, three apartments, bought my first house, had three children (triplets, no less), and a vasectomy.
In case 2003 still doesn't sound like it was that long ago, consider that Nintendo's premier platform was the Gamecube, The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker was causing a furor among fans for its cel-shaded graphics, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne was released, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time single-handedly rebooted the franchise.
Zelda: Wind Waker - The amazing graphical prowess of 2003 gaming
A lot of change happens over ten years. The internet didn't really become pevasive on mobile devices until 2010. In fact, I didn't even have a cell phone when I first registered at Gamespot. At the time, therefore, sites like Gamespot were both the primary source of information and news for video game enthusiasts as well as the only real social outlet we had. I registered because Gamespot offered downloads for many PC games, including patches for said games, and a reliable source for downloading was desirable. There were competitors, but every site had its own culture and the heavily moderated Gamespot community ensured that there was a bit more maturity relative to other sites. And no, I'm not saying that the average Gamespotter was mature, just more mature than competing sites.
It wasn't until 2007 I started writing and publishing content to my Gamespot account. I'm not sure why, but I needed an outlet at the time. I had transitioned to a new city, leaving behind familiar surroundings and college friends. It was a bit random at first: Some complaints about Sony here, and a couple humorous blogs there. Then I wrote a blog for consideration by the site Editors for the Gamespot "Soapbox." At the time, this was a much desired emblem, since it was both rare and there were few emblems to be had overall. More importantly, anyone holding the emblem could post directly to the front page of the site simply by categorizing their blog entry as an "Editorial."
I garnered the Soapbox emblem with the Editorial, "I've killed you, and no, I don't feel bad about it." At the time violence and video games were a big topic of conversation, for no particularly good reason. It's still a fun read six years later.
Once I gained the exposure of the Soapbox I started receiving hundreds of views and comments. I started writing in earnest; it was a bit convoluted at first, but eventually I sorted my thoughts into columns of popular topics. I did a "Geek to Chic" series, which were basically tips for nerds not to stand out quite so much. I had a slew of humorous entries, personal finance, and tips on PC building. I tried a "Gamespot Cribs" series, but it never gained traction. An index to some of the better entries follows the end of this blog
Then Jeff Gerstmann reviewed Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.
That singular event resulted in an upheaval of users that rallied behind Gerstmann, relieved from Gamespot due to his critical comments on a game that had been heavily advertised on the site. Gamespot lost many, many great bloggers, union managers, volunteer community managers, and employees after his dismissal, and has never fully recovered.
There were additional missteps from a user standpoint. The launch of Gamespot FUSE to capture and integrate social media with Gamespot was a massive undertaking, but essentially bifurcated the community. You had some users migrating to FUSE, and others that preferred the persistent format of the traditional forums and user blogs. Gamespot abandoned the Soapbox for a time, dropping it from the front page and alienating some of its contributors, most notably GabuEx. Livefyre replaced Gamespots comments system in there somewhere, though this was a good move, in retrospect.
In the past two years Gamespot has made great strides to recapture the magic of 2007. They brought in Synthia Wieres to help Jody Robinson with community management and social media. The Soapbox was rebooted and the staff have interfaced more directly with their community on an ongoing basis. They introduced "Rangers," users that are not moderators so much as site cheerleaders, which has been a very good thing, and which I've been a proud participant. Finally, CBS Interactive picked up Giant Bomb, bringing Jeff Gerstmann and friends back full circle, and reintroducing many old users to their former stomping grounds. I still miss many users, and wrote an homage to said users in 2011 (link), but there have been quite a few great users filling their shoes, as of late.
I've seen friends I've met through Gamespot go on to become hired and subsequently move on from Gamespot, as was the case with Donklejohn. Danny O'Dwyer started off blogging just like yours truly before picking up an actual Gamespot paycheck, and there he's been making entertaining shorts about some of the most random things I've ever seen. It's a far cry from his Bioshock game footage days. It was great to meet several of the staff at PAX East 2012 and put real faces to their digital replicants.
Danny O'Dwyer doing what he does best. I'm just not entirely sure what that is.
It's strange to think of how much time and energy I have allocated to Gamespot in the past decade. Ultimately, though, it has been a rewarding online community filled with wonderful people. I have been frequently absent the past twelve months due to volunteer work, my family, and career monopolizing every free moment of my life, but I do hope to once again contribute to Gamespot in some meaningful way in the coming months.
Thank you, Gamespot staff, for creating a rich and vibrant community. For giving me the opportunity to be heard, to improve your site, and to support its ongoing development. I wish nothing but the best to each and every employee and member over the next ten years.
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