of Art and Crysis
- Aug 7, 2010 2:01 am GMT
- 70 Comments
When I first watched James Cameron's Avatar earlier this year, there were two things that struck me as incredible: the movie was an absolute spectacle to behold, and Sigourney Weaver wasn't more of a badass than her fellow marines for a change. But that's not what I'm here to talk about in this latest here editorial. Avatar, especially when watched with them special 3D glasses, was a technical marvel (and an excellent headache inducer) – it created the most believable-yet-unreal environments ever seen in a movie, but it was not its technical prowess that impressed me most – it was the artistic vision, or, more correctly, the visionary art design, of the movie's Pandora. The movie has the most advanced special effects ever seen in a movie, but it's when you see the oversized smurfs running through bizarre glowing plants that your breath really gets taken away.
Ellen Ripley. Way more badass than Dwayne Hicks.
Same goes for 2007's Crysis, which is still, three years later, the prettiest game of all time. The game has phenomenal special effects and countless other technical traits that earned it numerous awards and enormous attention, but truth be told, I found the game's most impressive moment to be when Nomad ran to the light and into that delightfully bizarre alien ship, where the verdant island setting gave way to the otherworldly, disorienting environment where gravity and architecture played with your senses while stealthy shimmering aliens tried to bite you in the buttocks.
Which is why, if you ask me, 2007's prettiest game really is Crysis. As for that year's most beautiful game? That one definitely goes to BioShock. I may sound like a crazy fool here, for BioShock suffered from low-resolution textures and very small environments that sometimes failed to astonish on a technical level. But as they say, real beauty comes from the inside, and if you look at the bowels of BioShock's graphics, you'll find one thing – an absolutely flabbergasting artistic direction that makes this strange underwater metropolis one of the most brutally beautiful game worlds ever created, so much so that it makes Crysis look, as pretty as it is, quite mundane.
As an artist myself, I tend to look at photorealism with a smidgen of disdain. If it is photo-realism that I wish to create, why not just go ahead and use a camera? I find a strange artistic vision to be the most valuable treasure an artist can have (I do not mean in any way that a photographer is not an artist). And, just as I'd much rather behold a completely twisted, surreal painting over another breathtaking portrait, I'd rather revisit Max Payne 2's playhouse than, say, Modern Warfare's dull enemy bases and F.E.A.R.'s sleepy office buildings.
BioShock, along with other games, displayed environments that weren't as technically marvelous as those of others, but its look had a soul, a heart, and a vision. It's just like how Mikael Åkerfeldt's incredible delicacte leads and emotional touches steal your consciousness more than any of Yngwie Melmsteen's highly technical, lightning-fast licks. I believe it's through the heart, soul and vision of an artist that a really memorable piece is conceived.
BioShock. A truly memorable game world.
Let me not be misunderstood – the advances in technology that have been achieved over the last five years or so are quite significant and extremely impressive, and I do prefer a sharp texture and delightful animations over a blurry texture and stiff animations. It's just that I believe that, the better the technology, the more of a tool it can be in bringing a unique artistic direction to fruition. Take Janelle McKain's Enigma. It is the perfect example of how to create a piece of art that is amazing on both a technical and artistic level, on paper. If you take a close look at Painkiller, you'll find the perfect example of this in a game. Back in 2004, it was one of the top-five prettiest games out there, and each of its environments (and its fantastic enemies) had its own unique look and details, and it's within these little details that I found a reason to think this game was so gorgeous.
Painkiller. Excellent textures, excellent animations, excellent models, absolutely spectacular game world(s).
Yet, when a game displays a striking world that is artistically strong, a lack of technological superiority is easily forgiven. Take for example, well, just about each and every level in 2005's Psychonauts. The game had, by no means, any superb lighting effects, highly detailed character models or stunning textures, but it did have character. It had its own look, its own atmosphere, presented by Schafer and co's bright minds, which also seem to prefer art to technology.
At times, those arts can even make up for monotonous gameplay. I will use a more recent example, being UbiSoft's Prince of Persia. The repetitive exploration and slow combat weren't always enjoyable, and after six hours or so of gameplay, the game began to feel like watching Citizen Cane (say what you may, this movie was a snorefest). This is all sheer opinion, though, and I'm definitely not knocking UbiSoft for making a lacking game, even though I sort of am. Once the novelty has run its course, we were left with an unlikeable protagonist whose occasional sitcom humor and unnecessary attitude inspired nothing more than a gawk from me, good (if repetitive) boss fights and one remarkable… erase that… fabulous game world. Everything about it was incredible – the distant windmill, the floating halls, the machinery grounds, the enemy designs, the beautiful healing of corrupted lands – everything about this game's environments was pure brilliance, so much so that it softened the blow of the game's lackluster gameplay.
Prince of Persia. Lackluster gameplay made up for by deliriously artistic environments.
While I can count quite a few things that are more important to a game than graphics (gameplay and sound being the most shining examples) I can really appreciate a graphically proficient game. After all, it's way more fun to watch Nazis crumble into glowing bits and dust than seeing an alien marine immediately disintegrate into blocky pieces, and it's even more fun to behold a spectacle made available only thanks to a very creative mind than see the same old (meticulously detailed, amazing-looking) Russian base, countryside or tropical island. Am I saying that I'm looking forward to Bulletstorm's weird new planet more than Crysis 2's NYC? You betcha. Unique art is precious, and no powerhouse game engine in the world can replace that.
A Long Goodbye
- Jul 15, 2010 4:01 pm GMT
- 167 Comments
First, let me tell you what I have to tell you: Tomorrow, Friday, July 16 will be my last day at GameSpot. I've decided to resign my post and have accepted a job elsewhere in the industry.
Whew. OK, now let me tell you what I want you to know.
I screwed over a friend to get a job at GameSpot. Well, sort of. It's not like I stole his wife or something really terrible. But getting this gig back in 2004 meant that I had to leave a job that had been graciously offered to me by a long-time friend. At the time, I was working for his start-up company and, before that, I had spent the previous couple of months struggling as that most tired of clichés: an unemployed writer.
When my friend offered me the job, he was doing me a real favor, and I had no qualms about taking the job he offered, even though it wasn't what I really wanted to be doing. For many years, I had harbored a fantasy of writing about games full-time. Earlier in my career, I had covered the industry tangentially for a couple of magazines in Atlanta and, once I moved out to the Bay Area in 1998, I wrote for small sports gaming sites, some of it paid, most of it for no money at all.
Do what you do, after all, even if it means work for free. That's what I kept telling myself.
Dotcom gigs came and went and eventually I was hired by my buddy. About a month later, I saw an ad on Craigslist (if memory serves) for a sports editor position at GameSpot. Because I had spent the majority of my free time playing, talking, and writing about sports games, I figured I'd give it a shot. So I turned my resume and application in, never realistically thinking that anything would come out of it.
Then Greg Kasavin called me.
To be completely honest: I didn't know Greg by name alone (though, in hindsight, I should have) and it took several moments for my brain to register what was happening during that phone call: Greg was calling me. Greg worked for GameSpot. GameSpot (and Greg) had seen my resume and they were interested in meeting me in person.
I remember jumping up and down a lot. And then calling my wife, while jumping up and down a lot.
Not long after the phone call and the jumping, I came to the GameSpot offices for the interview. I clearly remember sitting with former GameSpot editor Bob Colayco and talking about NCAA Football 2004 (probably my all-time favorite entry in my favorite sports videogame series) for what must have been 20 minutes or more. It occurred to me: Here I was talking about my favorite thing in the world, as part of a job interview. What a surreal and utterly enjoyable experience! At that moment, the idea of any obligation to my friend and my then-current job went out the window. This was, after all, what I wanted to do for a living for the foreseeable future.
Do what you do, after all, even if it means you have to step on a few toes. That's what I told myself.
In hindsight, any guilt I felt at the time for screwing over my friend was completely unwarranted. For my part, I've been able to spend the past six years working a dream job, traveling the world, and acting like an idiot on camera. And for his, my buddy made a ton of money from his business, subsequently retired, and has spent the past few months sailing solo around the world. So, you know, things have a way of working out.
And things have a way of changing. Thus my decision to leave GameSpot for another opportunity. I'm not ready to announce my future plans yet--I'll wait until I'm settled in at my new position first--but I will say that the new job probably won't come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me and my gaming preferences. I can also say that I cannot wait to get started.
There are so many things I'd like to say before I sign off but, in essence, they all boil down to gratitude. I'm thankful for GameSpot taking a chance on me back in 2004 and for allowing me an astonishing level of professional freedom in the six years since. Even in a job that is fun to begin with, I've always felt like I was getting away with murder--being allowed to cover exactly what I was passionate about, create incredible stuff from scratch, and basically make GameSpot a personal playground. My output hasn't been perfect but it's always been from the heart.
I'm thankful to every single person I've worked with here at GameSpot--past and present--all of whom have made an impression on me. Being surrounded by people who are smarter than you is an opportunity, and you're a fool if you don't take advantage of it. For the past six years, I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by the industry's best and I've learned and grown much in the process. Special thanks go to GameSpot's illustrious editor in chief Ricardo Torres, who has been a wonderful mentor and friend, and whose belief in me has been thoroughly inspiring.
Thanks also to my family, especially my wife Karen. She doesn't play games--I vividly remember the time I begged her on bent knee to play one hour's worth of World of Warcraft with me, her mouth agape at the outright, unrelenting nerdity she had agreed to--but she knows that they are at my root. As a result, she's put up with my long hours, frequent travel, and enthusiastic rambling with all the patience and love you could ever hope for.
I'd also like to thank you, the GameSpot user. You folks are the reason we get up for work early and go to bed late. You're the reason we obsess over every word in the reviews we write, and pray for inspired moments when on camera. You're the audience we get to be silly in front of, the folks we strive to entertain and enlighten, and the people we want to please the most.
The thing is, we're just alike. We are all driven by a lifelong passion for games--us GameSpot editors are just privileged enough to be able to have a wonderful platform upon which we can share that passion. That platform and your presence here are never taken for granted and is always appreciated.
Finally, I'll leave you with some advice. Over the years, I've been asked many times for thoughts on how to get into the games industry. Beyond the nuts and bolts you've probably heard before--learn how to write and write fast; learn how to spell; have some respect for grammar--the larger issue for me has always about persistence. My path to GameSpot was full of stops, starts, and unexpected turns. Whether working at companies I knew would fail, writing for free, or quitting a job that had been offered to me as a favor, I've always tried to keep my eyes on the ultimate goal. I wouldn't have had my long, strange trip to and through GameSpot any other way.
Do what you do, after all, even if nobody is listening. Because someday, they might.
Thanks and see you around.
Video Games as an Art Form - My Argument
- Jul 13, 2010 6:32 pm GMT
- 179 Comments
I have been a huge supporter of gameinformer magazine for a number of years now. I appreciate the enjoyment that they have given readers over the last 208 issues. I usually just read the articles, letters, reviews etc. and then catalog them on my bookshelf. However, issue 208 changed that. They asked "If you could pick one game to make the case for video games as an art form, what game would it be?" as the Question of The Month. This question really hit home, because I currently attend the International Academy of Design and Technology and am working on my Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree in Game Design. While the English classes at this school are pretty much the same as others, we are often given "debate" style questions to write anddiscussthat deal with either the Game Design program or the Fashion Design Program (the other big program at my school). This question has come up in class on a few occasions.
As a 20+ year gamer and passionate artist, I personally find it difficult to see how video games can not be seen as an art-style. If you go back before computerized graphics and Photoshop, you will see game cases that have some ridiculous art as well as some amazing works.
Amazing work of Art!
Of course, theargumentis that its not art, but rather just entertainment like watching T.V. or playing cards. I have been asked to give an example of my argument several times and my answer has always been the same.
Okami. This game is not just about a mystical dog that goes around in a paintbrush world and kills bad guys, this is a legend that has been told long before electronics were in existence. Some of the most beautiful works of cIassical Japanese art comes in the form of telling thisfascinatingstory. These stories spring out creativity in every form of art, from Music, beautiful artwork, theatrical performances and dances, to other stories altogether. In this case it springs a video game. A video game where you not only live out the legend of Amaterasu and how she saved a land from darkness, but you also do this in the sumi-e artistic styIe which is very popular in Japanese culture.
Players experience all of this with a controller in their hand, and at their own pace. The most amazing part about this is that there are not only plenty of games that put players in the grips of an actual true event, but also puts them in situations that are based on true events. There are also thousands of fictional stories out there that are just waiting for you to experience.
Video games are novels that are more than just read. They are legends that are not just told, they are experienced. Video games are proving grounds that you have what it takes to make your sports team better than they could ever be. Video games let you take your not-so-good MLB team that you love (Seattle Mariners in my case), play as them, and eventually witness them win the World Series. Video games place you in the drivers seat of a 2 million dollar race car, hand you the keys, and tell you "good luck!". They place you in the grips of a world at war and let you be the greatest patriotic hero ever to one side, and become the most feared and powerful enemy to the other. Video games place you into your worst nightmare with three of your closest friends, hand you a couple of weapons, a handful of rounds, and simply tell you to "shoot em in the head" before turning an entire world the undead against you. Video games let you stomp, kick, throw, burn, knock around, and just plain humiliate hundreds of enemies all over a magical world, just to rescue a princess that you truly love. They place you in the boots of a god that has been betrayed, hand you weapons of unimaginable power, and give you a chance to have your vengeance. They let you experience a story of an outlaw of the west and his struggles with trying to turn his life around for the ones he loves.
With all of this being said, how can you not see video games as an art form? How can one be so blinded with their own beliefs of art that they cannot even accept a new median of art? You cannot be angry with them, just pity them. They are missing out on some of the most amazing stories to ever be told. They are missing out on some fascinating and breathtaking experiences that would have them talking about it for a long time. They are missing the chance to witness a massive bridge built to span the gap between children and adults. To bring people from all over the world together with a common goal to work towards. Where people are not judged by color, race, religion, origin, location, language, or financial status, but by something truly important, teamwork.
In my personal opinion, video games are not only an art form, but an art creator. They make us thinkers and doers. They make us laugh, sing, dance, happy, angry, and even cry at times.
This is what makes video games an art form.
The Worst Moments of E3
- Jul 5, 2010 7:49 am GMT
- 202 Comments
The best time of the year for gamers, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, has finally come to end. After the end of E3, bloggers everywhere record their impressions. I thought about writing an E3 impressions blog, but I got to thinking—What's a way I can work my thoughts into something a tad less run-of-the-mill. So, instead of saying Microsoft's conference was okay, Nintendo's totally stole the show, and Sony's was a gloat-fest, I've complied two top ten lists—The best and worst of E3. Since people tend to be way more interested in negative things then positive, let's go with the worst moments first.
#10: Raving Rabbids: Travel in Time
Seriously, Ubisoft? Really? As if your reputation for shovelware isn't bad enough, you're going to pump out yet another Rabbids game. After all the mediocre reviews and reception I think it's clear that we don't want these stupid rabid bunnies! We don't care! And besides. This will be the fifth game in the series. Give it a rest.
#9: Kinect Nintendo Rip-Offs
Kinect Sports? Kinectimals? Surely most everyone sees the blatant title rip-offs here. Now, don't take me wrong. I'm not saying Microsoft doesn't have the right to do a sports game or a virtual pet game because Nintendo already has, but seriously. You could really do some work on thinking up some titles that are a little more original. After basically saying that the Wii just doesn't cut it, and that your new technology will change the face of the motion gaming market, are you even going to try and get people to take you seriously?
#8: Joel McHale
If you're going to choose someone to represent your entire company at E3, it's probably a good idea not to choose a celebrity. Especially when you're Ubisoft. All I know is that I felt very uncomfortable whenever this man talked. His jokes were uber-corny, and I seriously doubt he really knows much about games.
"Wait...Where's my duffel bag?"
#7: Sony's Lack of Announcements
As forshadowed at the beginning of this article, I thought Sony's conference was nothing more than a big, "Look at me!" Instead of trying to pull out shockers like the other companies, Sony spent their time either showing us games we already know about or bragging about how cool they are. I saw about three or four montages with catchy music and games that are already released or we already know about. Most of the demos were of games we know about already. I especially loved it when Jack Tretton stated that 2010 would be remembered as the year that Sony brought 3D to the gaming front. Yeah. Right. Not to say, that is, that Sony didn't have its moments. The Killzone 3 demo was breathtaking, Sorcery looked interesting, and hearing GlaDOS's voice brought a smile to my face, but when you really look at the conference, we saw next to nothing new.
#6: Wii Party
Nintendo conference, in my opinion, was a smash hit. It was great announcement after great announcement. And then, to put a little bit of a damper on the action, came this game. Wii Party. It's a party game that, like all the titles in the "Wii" series, is Mii-focused. The game not only looked generic and not very fun from the trailer, but there's bigger irony to be found here. Mario Party! Hello! Nintendo? Yes, you're making a rip-off of your own series. I would expect a third-party to make a Mario Party clone, but Nintendo themselves?! I love Mario Party—why not just make the ninth game? Stupid move, Nintendo.
#5: Battle Tag
I think everyone was surprised when supermodels came out doing backflips and somersaults while firing toy guns that made terrible sound effects during the Ubisoft conference. It was clear to me in a couple seconds this was some sort of laser tag game, but I couldn't imagine how this was a video game. Ubisoft tried to pass it off as a video game that you could play in real life, but most of us just sat there either laughing or with our faces buried in our hands (like me). This might do okay on the toy market, and the kiddies might buy it, but please. If us teens/adults are going to play a gun-based game outside, we're going to be playing something like paintball or airsoft—we're not going to run around in clunky vests and a gun that looks like it's straight off the set of the original Lost in Space.
In the words of Kevin Butler: "Pew! Pew!"
#4: Kevin Butler/Marcus Rivers
Firstly, let me outwardly state that I despise Kevin Butler. To the core. I don't think his mega-bashing of Nintendo and Microsoft in Sony's commercials is funny, and I didn't think he was anymore funny during the conference. He didn't really do much insulting of other companies during his canned speech, but another cheesy character for Sony's TV Spots made his appearance around the same time. Sony's new "Meet Marcus" ads are their new way of marketing the PSP on the television front. Instead of normal ads simply stating what the PSP is capable of and shooting out some cool games, the idiots that run Sony's marketing committee decided it'd be hilarious if they hired a sassy, 10-year-old, wanna-be gangsta, that walks around playing PSP wherever he goes; flaunting it as something to effect of, "the only system for gamers serious about games." First of all, two words. Bull. Crap. Listen Sony, the PSP is cool and everything, I own one, I like it a lot. But we all know that the DS has you beat hands-down, or is at least neck-and-neck. This isn't some fanboy raving—look at the stats! Gamespot alone has rated fifteen DS game a 9.0 an higher, while only nine PSP games can state this. IGN gives twenty-nine DS games 9.0 or higher, and 31 PSP games the same honor. It can be stated then, that the DS is either better or just as good as the PSP. You're a liar, Marcus Rivers. A dirty liar.
"This campaign is whack, man!"
#3: Video Kinect Demo
It was a neat concept. Kinect could be used for a new-fangled video chat in which you could watch movies and videos together, check news, etc. Cool features like skeleton tracking were thrown in to make it seem extra cool. What better way to present the new tech by getting some lady and her twin sister to do a scripted conversation. SCRIPTED. I think Tim Harding said it best in the 2PStart Live! Postmortem E3 Podcast in which he said this quote in relation to the scripted conversation: "Yeah, why do they need a script?! Have they never spoken before, are they, like, reuniting these twins separated at birth? They never knew each other existed and they're like, 'Hey do you mind doing this video for us at E3?'" He's got it right. Why couldn't they just make it cool and natural and have them talk and joke around normally. They could show off the video function in a normal way and not have to crack any corny jokes about The Last Airbender and Gamerscores. Lesson learned? Scripted conversations, unless done by professionals, generally don't work.
I love this one because it's one big fail made up by a few other fails. Ubisoft had a few fails at their conference, but this one pretty much takes the cake. Firstly, a red-head hippie walks up to Joel McHale and introduces his new game called Innergy. This guy is clearly a weirdo, and starts going on about how his new game can help you relieve stress anytime, anywhere, etc. Then he whips out the gimmick you'll need to use to play the game. The Wii Vitality Sensor…Oh, oh wait that's not the Vitality Sensor. So now that Ubisoft has created their own rip-off of tech originally introduced by Nintendo, Mr. Hippie continues. His game will alleviate stress by letting you make a bubble with a face go up and down, and up and down…And up. And down. Over and over again by breathing in and out. Not only is the game's concept a big "lolwut?" but the gameplay shown looked something like Woodstock. Why, Ubisoft?
"Follow me...Into total submission!"
#1: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Demo
I love Nintendo. I grew up with them. I used to be a radical follower who hated every other company. Nowadays, Nintendo seems to be the underdog of E3. Since many gamers these days consist of mindless FPS fanboys who are loyal either to Sony or Microsoft and their FPS offerings, Nintendo is typically laughed at—at E3, as well as throughout the year, and called a company who's no longer good for anything but making casual gaming. Any intelligent gamer knows that Nintendo's still got it. So every year I hope and pray Nintendo will have an excellent conference. Not just for my sake, but for the reputation of Nintendo. When Nintendo, started off the conference by announcing the new Zelda game, a smile crossed my face…Which slowly faded away. It was like a nightmare. A long, terrible nightmare. I watched in utter horror as Link's sword snapped from one position to another in an uncontrollable spasm. I watched in utter horror as Miyamoto couldn't control the new beetle item correctly enough to show what he wanted to. I watched in utter horror as Miyamoto couldn't even demo the bow and arrow. All I could think of was the crazed fanboys and Sony/Microsoft prejudiced sites and blogs that would absolutely tear into Nintendo and shred them to bits for their failure. I knew that this was obviously a sensor bar issue (I have my suspicions of sabotage), and I knew the finished product would be quality, but I knew that this one failure would be a laughing stock among Nintendo haters everywhere.
"Miyamoto-san, I saw Kevin Butler over here earlier..."
So there you have it. Keep in mind this is totally my opinion. I'm interested in knowing what you guys agree with and disagree with on this list. What would you have added or taken away? Comment, and be heard! Peace.
-NintendoNautEDIT: Something that many of the commenters are saying has come to my attention, and I would like to clear something up. Just because I thought the Zelda mess-up at E3 was terrible, I realize the game played well at the booths, and I don't doubt Nintendo can make the game a quality product. I tried to make clear in the article that I knew the game would turn out good in the end, but that apparently wasn't so. Thank you.
Annoying Aspects of Gaming: FPS edition
- Jul 2, 2010 8:21 pm GMT
- 220 Comments
In gaming there are always little things that annoy us. In this editorial I am going to take you through what is annoying to me and probably annoying to you in First Person Shooters. FPS's are indeed one of the most popular genres of gaming producing games like: Halo Combat Evolved, Killzone 2, Perfect Dark, Goldeneye 007, Metroid Prime, Medal of Honor and among the most recent popular of fans, Call of Duty. Not only is this genre also my favorite it's probably yours as well. Lets begin shall we?
Instant Health packs
This is probably the most humorous of all the little things that annoy me in shooters. That little itty bitty health pack that fixes you up like you just took a trip to the hospital. Did you get hit by a grenade launcher? Its all good, just drink this canteen from Medal of Honor and that giant hole in your leg is gone! Not only is this tottaly not realistic, its just flat out hilarious. Like they all say about B-games "It is so bad, its awesome."
Games like Medal of Honor, Project Snowblind, Goldeneye 007 and so forth live by this "All healing pack" method. These shooters mainly have this little annoyences because these games have the health bar present. That little bar that goes down until it is empty, or well in other words, youre dead.
The main reason this annoys me is because its so unrealistic and silly. Yes the game wouldn't be the same if they took it out but bare with me. Cant they at least show the guy drinking it or show him bandaging himself or herself?
Quick get to shore! That canteen up therewill save your life!
That one enemy that magically pops out of no where
Yes, I know you have all been through this extremely annoying aspect; the magicical alien, soldier, giant bug, or behemoth that magically just appears right behind you and kills you. This annoyance not only makes you not want to play, it just flat out ruins an experience for you making you feel you were cheated.
This little annoyance has occurred in most games such as; Call of Duty Modern Warfare, at times Killzone 2, the recent release of Singularity and the game with the most occurring annoyance Wolfenstein. These games are awesome, there is no lieng about that, its just the fact they sometimes make you feel cheated and unfair that brings down the amazing aspects of the game.
This annoyance really hits hard when you didn't save at a checkpoint and you die by the magical little enemy killing; thus ruining all that you worked for. Of course if you think about it, it is my fault, but still that is just flat out unfair.
It's to bad that enemy up ahead will be behind me in two seconds
Horrible voice acting
Of course this annoyance pertains to all genres but none more than shooters. If cortana from Halo was played by a truly horrible actress it would defiantly water down the experience. The fact FPS's are so tense is a main reason this annoyance defiantly pertains most to this genre. If you are in the middle of a firefight and your captain tells you to "keep firing!" and it sounds like he put on a fake Australian accent it will almost certainly ruin the intensity for you. This happened to me while playing Raven Squad, yes that game with possibly the worst voice acting ever. So incredibly bad in fact, I returned it 2 days after I borrowed it from my friend for the PC. The fact every time I shot and killed a target my character would yell "Man down!" Then in between missions it was unbearable as well, this game is just a true definition of horrible voice acting. Oh! I don't want to forget, the most hilarious and annoying part, every time the enemy shoots at you, he says "They're shooting me!" No duh man.
This annoyance is also present in Rogue Warrior, the most dirty mouthed game I have ever played, every time I shot my weapon he would cuss and say something tottaly obscene. This can be annoying at times, but in other times it is actually quite entertaining and hilarious.
But still overall, this annoyance defiantly can ruin an experience.
Sorry I cant hear you! My ears are bleeding from this games voice acting!
Guns that look powerful, but sadly are not
Not only is this annoying, it is a flat out tease. If a gun looks big and mighty and powerful it should be, right!? This is the ultimate tease for anyone who loves causing mass mayhem. This little annoyance occurred for me multiple times while I was playing Fallout 3, although this is a RPG it is part FPS as well, some guns I used looked giant and devastating. These guns sadly just didn't add up, they were punt in destruction and the ammo of the weapon lasted 2 seconds. Also when I would play Time splitters 2, some guns would look huge and put a grin on your face knowing it would blow everything up. Well it sadly didn't work out that way.
This annoyance is very aggravating and sometime makes you also feel like the devolpers were just trying to tick you off.
Too bad this gun isnt powerful, well wait, it might be.
Those are some of the things that annoy me, if you have anything to add please do so below, but remember friends, do it kindly. Thank you for reading as always.
Master Chief's Intervention - T's True Videogame Story (56K)
- Jun 28, 2010 8:41 pm GMT
- 117 Comments
Things were different with Master Chief after the funeral. He was not the same. We all felt like when that 360 was shipped off, so was a piece of Chief's soul.
He turned away from us and turned to the drugs and alcohol.
He frequently passed out at the bar. Things were out of control.
He became completely distant. We all got him a new Xbox 360, but they did not get along at all.
We were all too afraid to approach him, except for Marcus. Marcus Fenix stood up to some real badasses in his day, so we asked him to go try and get Chief out of his funk. Unfortunately, that too went a little different than we expected....
....actually, it went the complete opposite of what we were hoping.
Luckily, someone was keeping watch.
After hearing the news, I decided to get everyone together.
We didn't know what to do? No no one could come up with anything. Then one person finally spoke up.
It actually wasn't the greatest of ideas, but since no one else had a suggestion we went with it.
I wanted to surprise Chief, so I came along.
As usual, Master Chief got all emotional. He is such a softy.
So now things are right in the world once again. Master Chief got to play Halo 3 once again, but has since quit playing it and has been playing Gears of War 2 with Fenix until Halo: Reach releases.
So that's it guys. Hope you enjoyed it!
Until next time.
(A drawing I did of myself soon after waking up)
Blog #100: Remembrance
- Jun 26, 2010 2:48 pm GMT
- 73 Comments
Ahem. Incase you haven't noticed I like exclamation points! But...enough of this. May I start of by saying Nintendo had a wonderful E3 this year? Yes, expert-yeti, I'm talking to you! Super Smash Bros. Brawl looks great! And for those of you who don't know, there is a site you can go to check daily updates. Super Smash Bros. Dojo.com. I have no idea what the whole Dojo thing is all about. I don't have Wii... It's I crying shame I know but I shall get one! Soon I'll have Mega Man ZX in my hands, because yes! I have a Ds Lite. Well goodbye all. Keep checking in for my StarFox Adventues review. Yes,I have a Gamecube...yes StarFox Adventues is the worst game ever.Don't worry, it's okay. It's all over now. Relax, okay? That was just my first blog. I wrote it when I first joined GameSpot three years ago when I was twelve years old. Yeah, I was an illegal. Check this out though. Isn't interesting how I tell everyone to "keep checking in," when this is my first blog post? My terrible lack of punctuation is another laughable factor. And who the heck is this expert-yeti guy? Maybe I better just take it from the top.
When I was twelve years old, I had a friend at the church I was going to at the time. He was way older than me (about to finish highschool), but we talked frequently about gaming. We argued about games constantly, mostly due to my hard-headedness at the time. I was a devout Nintendo fanboy. It was a tragedy really. I had a strong hatred for Sony and Microsoft, not wanting anything to do with a Playstation or an XBOX. I had it all figured out that Nintendo was where it was at, and all Sony and Microsoft could do was make over-the-top M-rated games like GTA. One day, my friend suggested that I join a gaming site he was a part of called "GameSpot," and we could argue there. It sounded like a great idea to me, and after much arguing and debating with my parents I finally sat down to make an account. I knew exactly what my name would be. I had been following my friend's (known as expert-yeti on GS) blog for a while, and he had recently wrote a blog on Nintendo's E3 of '07 entitled, "Nintendo-nauts, you are now free to rant and rave around the country…" And thus, my GameSpot account was born.
My GS experience started out small, but as a kid who had never done this sort of thing before, it was a thrill. A gathered a small band of friends consisting of a few names such as Maskedboy, GibsonLP789, and my first and best friend on the site besides expert-yeti, (ready for this?) B14z3n_F3fnir, a fellow Mega Man fan. I still love Mega Man today, but I was pretty crazy about him at the time, so that's what led me to send Fefnir a friend request. That, and he was a new user like me. There's not much to say about my first months of GS. Frankly, I can't remember all that much. I wasn't heavily involved in the forums, as blogs were much more fascinating to me at the time. All my friends could design nice sigs and banners. I tried my hand at designing with MS Paint, but those attempts failed pretty miserably, although, I thought they were pretty sweet at the time. Here, wanna take a look?Guess that first one isn't too terrible, but oh man that second one. I actually remember what the background was for that one, it was actually a background for whatever OS I was using at the time heavily zoomed in on. Well, I was having fun spewing my fan boyism on the World Wide Web, and socializing with other gamers to be sure. My parents, however, still weren't thrilled with the concept of a twelve-year-old kid traipsing around the web untamed. Actually, a hilarious story comes into play here. My parents told me they worried because of the freaks and perverts that lurk around the web. Now, keep in mind here they actually used the word "pervert." I waved them off as worrywarts that didn't need to worry about that kind of thing on a gaming website. It's just gamers discussing games I told them. A couple days later I was looking for people to bug with friend requests when I saw a tracked blog from another user's profile. The title of the blog was something to the effect of "I Have Something To Tell You All." Curiosity surged, so I clicked the link. The first words of the post? "I'm a pervert." Of course, then, my heart sank down into my stomach. Now, it makes me laugh out loud just thinking about it, but then…How was I going to break this one to my parents (which I did later on in a very uncomfortable moment during a backyard camping trip). This sent my parents through the roof of course, and the last straw was when an edgy user by the name of neo111222333 (nice thought on the username there, bucko) said a (you ready to get a loada this?) cuss at me. D*** I believe it was. Anyway, that incident spawned this particular blog.
For reasons of my own, I won't be continuing GS. Thanks Fefnir, for being a good pal, but I've decided I'm going and most likely won't be coming back. Goodbye, guys.Always remember! Nintendo Forever!
Thus ended my glorious regime.
I missed GameSpot. I missed talking with other gamers and posting my thoughts and impressions on other games. But there was nothing I could do against the decision of my parents. I still used GameSpot for news and the like, and eventually my parents let me comment on articles, but nothing more than that. I went about two years without the social aspect of GS. During those two years, I crossed some milestones as a gamer. I got a Wii, and I finally opened my eyes to my disgusting fanboyism after receiving a free PS1 from a friend of mine. Something about that PS1 just made me realize there are great games to be found on every system. Soon after, I bought a PS2. I bought two titles at first that were recommended to me by one of my best friends, a Sony fanboy. Ratchet and Clank was the first title. I had actually played this game before, so I knew it was a good one. Another game I bought at my friend's urging was a game I had heard of a while back, but it had always looked weird to me. I had remembered a commercial of the series that used to air a couple years ago. Something about…A chain of memories? It was apparently about the worlds of Square and Disney coming together, which seemed absurd. But, my friend insisted it was an awesome game, and so I bought the game, Kingdom Hearts, along with R&C. I played R&C first, and got really into it. I started Kingdom Hearts. It was kinda cool. A game unlike I had ever played before. I was still playing R&C more. A couple days later I was playing the games equally. A couple days later R&C could wait until I had beat KH. It was simply epic. The battle system was awesome, the plot was an intriguing story of love, friendship, light, darkness; and the mix of Square and Disney worked. Infact, it was brilliant. Not to mention the beautiful musical score unlike anything I had heard in game music. As soon as I beat KH1, I bought KH2. That game was perfect as far as I was concerned. And so, the Kingdom Hearts series officially became my favorite series. It's something that I've always considered ironic, considering my Nintendo fanboyism. On Jun 6, 2009 I had a talk with my Dad in the car. I was now fourteen--fifteen in a few months. I was old enough to be on the web. Besides, I needed somewhere to talk about games, and write my thoughts for the world to see. My Dad agreed. This blog was written on the same day.
After a long time hiatus, I am returning to GS! I've been around, commenting and such. Now, I'm comin' back to the forms, unions, and all that good stuff...Er...Looks like all my old friends are gone though. Well, maybe a new circle is at hand! Ah, and a little side note here, I'm not as "Nintendo radical" as I once was. I own a PS2 now and am gonna get a PSP so...Yup. It was kind of bittersweet. I felt kind of disgruntled. I had come back to a place I loved, but I suddenly knew no one. Fefnir was gone, along with Gibson and MaskedBoy. My friend (expert-yeti) had given up the hobby of gaming for something he had always loved more-reading. I had to make some new friends. One of my first was Toon_Link_Fan. We never really became huge friends, but he was the first one to comment on some of my new blogs. J-man45, EpiphoneMan2008, and Cloud_765 were some users I mingled with for a while there. Derekgilreath23 was an interesting user I befriended. Our mutual interest in online gaming on the Wii was a common point, and we played each other a couple times. Somewhere along the line he vanished off the face of the earth though. No idea what happened to him. Mayor_Johnny was a cool dude that befriended due to our both being Christians. We actually haven't talked in a while, but he's been really nice since I've been back on GS. I made some decent miscellaneous friends in some other unions I hung around in for a while such as game-ster23 and bak1234567890, but where I began to make my best friends, however, started in a new little union called, Organization KH.
I had been wanting to join a KH union, and a new friend of mine, the-silent-hero, was making one. I became a charter, along with a couple other folks, and thus; the union was born.
A couple regular members in the beginning included no1gamefan, MudkipMaster30, and Joemcmark-not including silent and I. We lost the activity of Gamefan and Joe somewhere along the line. A couple very influential members that arrived soon after the union began were thrubeingcool13 and Zerobeam. Thru was definitely a character. A cynical dude that made jokes at just the right times to make them hilarious. Zerobeam was a bit cynical as well…In his own right. He was constantly joking around, which made him hilarious, and sometimes it was hard to tell whether he was joking around or being downright lame. Another guy who joined the Organization near the beginning was RazerBlade13. Love this guy. He's just a cool, level-headed KH fan that's just a downright fun dude to talk to on the forums. I'd have to say he's probably my best friend on the site. He was around in the beginning and still is now. Guess now's a good as time as any to make a shout-out to the-silent-hero, the leader of Org. KH.
Silent started out normal. Somewhere along the line Silent either had too many cold ones for his own good or OD'd on something. Whatever the case, now he just posts random things that make no sense. Pity too. Love ya anyway, man.
After a few months the union was up and running pretty well. We were getting new members regularly. It's about around that time SHE showed up. Read her introductory post.
Hey, it's... Well you read my user name, right? I usually go by Fur, so call me that if you want. I'm 14, 15 in December. Riku is my favorite KH character. And I'm currently replaying KH2. In my avi (which you probably already know) is Riku, Princess Zelda (Legend of Zelda) and Sora. Um... Dr. Pepper pwns all sodas. Yeah, that's all I've got.
Also, I'd just like to add that it's nice to see an active KH union here on GameSpot. Most of the ones I used to be in were pretty much dead, and when I searched for another KH union that was active, I found this one.
Slyfur. Slyfur is a…girI. Who likes to kill people. Namely with potato cannons and flamethrowers. Word has it she has a ninja kitten army prepared to take over the world. Also, when she says "I usually go by Fur," she means, "Call me Fur 'cause if you call me Sly I will do terrible things to you.." Yeah, she's a little bit rough around the edges, and she claims she hates me. Eh, but joking aside, under that vicious personality is a good heart. Slyfur and I have had some very interesting battles on the forums. Good times. Organization KH had other miscellaneous members come and go, but slowly went down in activity. Now it's a small, quiet union that consists of pretty much me, Silent, Slyfur, Razer, and RikusGirl6. Oh yeah, RikusGirl6. RG, as most call her on the site, is another good friend of mine on here that is actually relatively a new one. She joined the Organization later on, and was a really nice addition. She's Fur's best friend on the site (or around that status) and is basically Anti-Fur. Meaning she's always nice, a girIy girI, aaaand she has a crush on Roxas. *cough*FurlikesSora*cough*.
But anyway, nowadays, that little union is where I do most of my GS hangin'. Looks like things are slowly dying, but we have good times over there that I'll never forget. Come down and see us sometime-new members would do us good. Now I guess I'll mention a couple other friends of mine that don't have an affiliation with Org. KH.
Courtney817-If there's one word I could use to describe Courtney it would hands down be, "nice." That's just what she is. Constantly. I met Courtney a while back on the site, and she immediately wanted to get to know me. She sent her ten things about herself, wanted me to do the same, asked me my birthday so she could send me a birthday PM (which she totally did), etc. Her blogs and comments on blogs are always positive and encouraging, and yeah. Thanks Courtney, you're awesome.
Backlash24-Backlash was a guy I met recently due to him spontaneously commenting on one of my reviews as being very well written. We don't do much talking in the way of forum posts, but we both read each other's reviews. He (like me) appreciates a well written review, which he claims I can produce. Thanks dude, you right a mean review too.
Listen up everyone reading this. I have tons of friends on GS. If I took the time to mention them all it would take me an eternity. You guys are all my friends, and any one that I didn't mention please don't feel offended. You gotta realize this thing is already five pages long.
But anway, that concludes a little…Okay a huge bit of my GS history. There's a lot more stuff I could mention, but I feel the things written here are the strongest points. These days on GS, you'll find me writing reviews and editorials, reading and commenting on blogs, and chillin' over at Org. KH. Maybe the future holds something bigger, like maybe a union plant. Right now, though, I'm happy like it is. I'm apparently getting good at writing because a little while ago I got featured in the Soapbox. I'll continue writing and see if I can make that happen again. Soapbox or not, I'm thankful for a place to record my gaming thoughts…And for friends that read it.
My name is Ethan. They call me NintendoNaut. I am a gamer.
Gaming on Trial- A Gaming Lawyers Perspective on the pending Supreme Court case.
- Jun 22, 2010 9:58 pm GMT
- 165 Comments
Most gamers are by now aware that the US Supreme Court has agreed to review the legality of the law proposed by the State of California that would ban the sale of M rated games to those under the age of 18. The case is the biggest legal challenge the gaming industry has faced. It's the US Supreme Court after all. In speaking with many friends and fellow gamers, I have come to realize there is a lot of dispute regarding what the issues are and even more disagreement in regards to which side is right. As a gamer, lawyer, father, and Californian who is in the process of opening a game store/ LAN Center hybrid, I feel especially qualified to discuss this topic with you and, hopefully, to help clarify issues. First, it's time for a little bit of Constitutional Law.
The First Amendment
Most people are aware that the First Amendment to the US Constitution protects our right to free speech. Fewer are aware as to how Freedom of Speech has been expanded to include Freedom of Expression. It is Freedom of Expression, the right to share and portray thoughts, ideas, and viewpoints that is central to the pending case. Games, like movies or music, represent expressions of ideas, concepts, stories, etc. of the game developers and publishers. Without getting into the related issue as to whether games are art (that's for another blog), even proponents of the California Law would likely concede that games should be afforded protection under the First Amendment. Indeed, virtually every similar gaming law proposed by the states has been shut down based on the First Amendment.
It is important to understand, however, that the First Amendment does not create an absolute privilege to say whatever you want or express whatever idea you have, whenever you want. There are limits. Not many, but some. For instance, defamation (slander or libel) is not protected speech. Speech designed to incite a riot or something that looks like Left 4 Dead (without the zombies of course) is not protected. Pure obscenity, in whatever form, is not protected even though defining obscenity has been very difficult through the years. As the old saying goes, "I know it when I see it." But, aside from these pretty blatant examples of speech or expression that probably need to be regulated, big problems arise when the government tries to regulate the content of speech or expression that is not quite so over the top. We could literally spend a day or more discussing in detail content based speech regulations and the history of the law in this area, but it would probably bore most of you badly. In general, anytime the government tries to regulate speech or expression based on the content therein, the law will be subject to rather strict scrutiny. This is because the Freedom of Speech or Expression is considered a fundamental right that all of us should enjoy. Because of this, when the government attempts to pass a law regulating this fundamental right, the law must serve a compelling purpose and the law must be narrowly tailored to achieve that purpose. It can't be overbroad or vague. With this as a backdrop, let's look at the California game law and see if it passes this test.
The California Law
In 2005, California Assemblyman Leland Yee helped to author the legislation that is at the heart of this dispute. The law proposed to ban the sale or rental of violent video games that depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, to consumers who are under 18. The Governator passed the bill, but US District Judge Ronald Whyte blocked the law from being enforced finding it violated the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression. As Judge Whyte said in his opinion, "Serious questions are raised concerning (California's) ability to restrict minor's First Amendment rights in connection with exposure to violent video games, including the question of whether there is a causal connection between access to such games and psychological or other harm to children."
As most of you know, California was not the first state to try and regulate gaming in this manner (and it probably won't be the last), and the Courts have shot down every other law. In fact, I believe California was the sixth such law to get blocked by the Courts. So, why is the Supreme Court looking at this? You have to understand that when a Court reviews a case, it does not mean they are going to reverse the lower Court's ruling, not at all. The Supreme Court is going to rule on this issue once and for all and it should be the law of the land…at least until someone else figures a new spin on this. When the case is finally argued before the Supreme Court, California will be arguing that the First Amendment does not prohibit a State from prohibiting the sale of violent video games to those under 18. California has also asserted that the lower Court was wrong to require it to show a direct link between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. California has also asserted that violent material in games should be subject to the same legal standard the Courts have used to prohibit the sale of sexually explicit material to minors, essentiallymaking "violent" video games the functional equivalent of porn. Opposing California will be a literal who's who of the gaming industry including the Entertainment Software Association (ESA…you know…the guys who put on E3) and its various members, such as Disney Interactive, EA, Microsoft, and Sony. That's how big a deal this is; natural competitors have all banded together to take on a common enemy. It's as if California is some Elite Level Monster and the ESA has summoned its Guild members to take it on. The ESA has the Constitution on its side and asserts that games should be afforded the same protection as books, movies, and music. So, who is right and who is wrong? Here is my take on this.
Why California's Law is bad law.
My opinion, as a gaming lawyer, is that the California law is not good at all and here are three reasons why I feel this way:
1. The Law is just too vague to pass constitutional scrutiny. You have to look at how California is defining "violent" video games in the proposed law to see where problems are going to arise here. California defines a "violent" game as one that depicts "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being." Anyone who sells such a game to a minor can be fined up to $1,000. Well, what exactly does that mean? Is any killing or sexual assault in a game sufficient todefine the game as violent? OK, I think we can all agree that GTA may qualify, or Gears when you chain saw someone down. But, hold on now. Doesn't a game like Final Fantasy also depict the killing of a human being, or at least a humanoid like creature? You are telling me that Final Fantasy XIII should be banned from being sold to a minor? Why? Flip that around a bit and look at something like Dead Space where the entire game is premised on dismemberment of creatures that are not really human. Could Dead Space escape being labeled as violent through some loophole? And how much killing is allowed? Is it a zero tolerance policy? If only one person is killed in the entire game, should it really be banned?
Remember the standard earlier on: Narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, and not vague nor overbroad. Now look, I have kids and I don't want them exposed to stuff for which they are not ready, psychologically. So, I can see the compelling state interest here. But, the way California has defined "violent" creates more questions than answers. As such, the law is just too vague to be enforced.
2. There is nothing wrong with the current rating system. The ESA has a very effective rating system in place already. At the end of 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report that was a call to the entire Entertainment Industry to curb the marketing of violent entertainment to children. The report addressed the movie, music, and game industries. The report was particularly critical of the music industry as the only warnings it provides to parents are the now famous "Parental Advisory" stickers. Movies have a well established rating system, though theaters rarely ever try and enforce prohibiting very young children from seeing a PG-13 film. They are certainly more vigilant as far as R rated movies go. As for the game industry, however, the FTC found a high degree of compliance with the game industries marketing and advertising rules. You may be surprised to know that retailers frequently refuse to sell an M rated game to a minor, approximately 80% of the time actually. The FTC notes that there are ways around this, particularly in relation to minors getting gift cards and ordering online. Still, the game industry is self-regulating itself better than the movie and music industries.
So, if it ain't broke, why fix it? After all, the ESA has a category called AO, or adults only. This rating is far more effective than any R rating for a movie would be. It is the equivalent of an X rating for movies (do those even exist anymore?) but if a game gets tagged with an AO rating, the publisher knows that no one except for the true fringe retailers is going to carry it. On a few occasions we have seen a game get tagged with a tentative AO rating, and then the game was tweaked so the AO rating could be removed? You rarely see this with movies, perhaps on the rare occasion where an R rating gets slapped on a movie the producers thought was going to get hit with a PG-13 rating. I have yet to see a musician or band remove one of their F-bombs becausea Parental Advisory sticker was going to get slapped on the CD cover. The point of this is that the ESA's rating system actually conveys much more information to parents than both the rating system for movies or music and that fact was pretty much recognized by the FTC. So, why does California feel that parents need to be protected from themselves? More perplexing, why is a $1,000 fine justified where I have yet to see a movie theater slapped with a similar sanction for letting a 15 year old into an R rated movie? Do parents need to be better educated about the rating system for games and what they can expect from some of the different types of M rated games? Sure, it's one of the things we are going towork onat my store. But, the vast majority of parents out there care and can certainly make an intelligent decision as to what sorts of game their kids can handle, just like they can decide what sorts of movies they can watch and what type of music they can listen to.
3. Placing games into as restricted a category as porn, alcohol, or tobacco is just absurd. Earlier on I noted how California believes that access to "violent" video games should be restricted the same way as sexually explicit material is restricted from children. I made the argument at that point that California feels violent video games are the functional equivalent of porn. How ludicrous is that? Not to get into any real big issues here, but have any of us ever seen anything in any video game that is anywhere near as explicit as the tamest sex scene in practically any pornographic movie? Hell, even if you have never seen a pornographic movie, I can count on one hand the number of scenes in any video game I have played since the days of the Atari 2600 that come close to being as explicit as anything in Playboy and, no offense to any of the women who might be reading this, but just about any male over the age of 13 has looked at a Playboy. That's not the point. The point is how can anyone with a rational mind really think that violent video games can have anywhere near as big an impact on someone under 18 as sexually explicit material does?
Think about what else is restricted from sale to minors and the absurdity of this whole issue becomes more apparent. Kids under the age of 21 cannot purchase alcohol and no one really questions this issue. It is well established that alcohol causes damage to the liver, kidneys, and other body systems when it is abused. It is also proven beyond any question that alcohol impairs one's ability to operate a car. Kids under 21, particularly teenagers, have a less than fully developed prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain that regulates mood and judgment. That's not me, an older guy, being a jerk…it's just a scientific and biological fact. In any event, combining alcohol with teens who are struggling with hormones and their constantly evolving abilities to make more reasoned decisions can be a bad combination and, tragically, we all see the reports of the ramifications of underage drinking and driving far too often. So, you can see where there is evidence backing up a decision to restrict alcohol sales to those under 21 (even though many of us over 21 exercise some really poor judgment as far as alcohol is concerned far too often). Tobacco is something that is generally restricted from kids under 18, the same demographic involved in California's game law. So, it stands to reason that "violent" video games must be as bad for kids as cigarettes or chewing tobacco, right? Suffice it to say that there is an astonishing amount of research that has been done documenting the harmful effects of tobacco smoke, both first hand and second hand, on people regardless of their age. Chewing tobacco and dip have been linked to throat cancer. As a workers' compensation lawyer for a public entity, I deal with lots of cancer cases involving fire fighters and sheriffs. Cancer is still a nightmare, regardless of the fact that many cancers are quite treatable if detected early enough. The point is you can see why there is a compelling governmental interest in restricting access to tobacco to those under the age of 18.
This is where I firmly agree with Judge Whyte when he demanded that California show some sort of nexus between violent video games and the psychological impact these games have on kids. Where is the evidence? Show me something, anything, to demonstrate that games are as influential on a person under 18 as porn. Prove to me, even a little bit, that games, no matter how violent, are as harmful to kids as cigarettes or whiskey. California says it has a compelling state interest to restrict access to violent video games from those under 18 and yet they have put together virtually nothing to show this to be true. Showing that gaming can sometimes promote laziness and social detachment does not cut it. To me, this is no different than in the 80's when people were running around saying that Ozzy Osbourne's song "Suicide Solution" was leading kids to commit suicide. It was nonsense. Those kids were going to take their own lives regardless and Ozzy's song had little to do with the ultimate decision. Many people listened to that song, like me, and thought, "Hey, that really rocks," and the thought of suicide never entered our minds for a second. And that is what gaming, even the most violent games, have in common here. Most of us will play a game like GTA, or Gears, or Halo, or even something like Mad World that rewards you for more brutal and creative kills, and we will think, "Hey, that's cool," or "Wow, those graphics are awesome,"…something like that. But, the number of people who are going to play those games and then feel compelled to go on a three state killing spree? C'mon! Show me anything that even remotely demonstrates even the slightest propensity for that happening.
Until California can do that, I will remain firmly in the camp of those opposing the law as an unjustified and unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment rights of minors and gamers everywhere.
Gaming Concepts and Terms of Yesteryear (Part 2)
- Jun 20, 2010 5:50 am GMT
- 47 Comments
Anyone interested in retro gaming, or anyone who gamed in a retro era may be familiar with some of the concepts below. Modern gaming is busy making it's own history and innovations, but what gaming relics have been left in the dust of the MMOs, DLC, FPSs, ARPGs and other futuristic acronyms that would make your original Missile Command player check into a sanitarium for sensory overload?
Here are some familiar ingredients that games of previous generations built their momentary empires upon. Some are good, some are bad, and some should never, ever come back... But the question is, which is which?
Before we were transitioned into the now commonplace 'checkpoints' of modern games, there were (and are still occasionally) discreet 'stages' or 'levels'. These distinct divisions in the game play marked that a player is making real, measurable progress. It also gives the player time to refocus for the next, more challenging chunk of game-play. Here, the idea of the 'bonus stage' was born, slipped in between regular levels like a mini-vacation. There were countless ways this level was handled, some were a pure stress-relief (Galaga for example), and some were even harder than the main game itself (Shinobi). One thing most had in common were that the player was never really penalised - you couldn't die! The chains of oppression were cast off in a brief and satisfying taste of immortality before being cast back into the imperfect, life-or-death realm of the main game...
Your post-fight relaxation. Remember to breathe.
What would a gamer from yesteryear make of things now, with options and settings now filling any given game menu with more content than they'd have seen in a lifetime? But for all the settings on our menu, it's now curious to see the absence of one of the most repeated in-game features habitually omitted in the majority of modern games... The 'sound test' was a fixture of many game options screens – usually lurking at the bottom of the list, as if it were only half-convinced of it's entitlement to be there. Running through a game's sound library at your own leisure has a certain appeal, but can any of us admit to spending more than a passing moment scrolling through the list of hits, punches, kicks, screams, item-sounds etc.? Sometimes, the audio content was split between a 'music' and 'effects' test. This was a veritable buffet or audio stimulation, likely to tear your tinny monaural TV speaker out of its wood framing.
Virtua Fighter pushed the boundaries with 3 tests!!!
Auto-fire / Turbo-fire
When games asked players to endure the kind of repetition usually reserved for assembly-line robots, it was only a matter of time before some sort of solution was provided (sometimes by the same company who caused the original offence). Many shoot-em-ups and side-scrolling action games were often only playable with a rapid-fire approach; by filling the screen with dispensed ammo and giving your enemies less screen-time with which to assault you was your best strategy in many of these demanding games. Thus began the auto-fire function. By simulating the hurried and repeated press of a button or trigger on your controller or joystick, the computer would translate this virtual action into a reverse bullet-hell – reigning your foes with brightly coloured fodder of some sort. But be careful, some games gave the player auto-fire, and adding auto-fire to auto-fire is like typing your autobiography with a jack-hammer: counter-productive.
"It's not cheating. It really isn't."
Game Title + 3D
When processors and other hardware were clever enough to render wire-frame objects, coat them with textures, and arrange them in an X/Y/Z axis, we were all going to know about it. Over and over and over. For which developer/publisher could resist jumping onto the 3D bandwagon, where promises of true immersion and virtualily (not a real word) beyond all previous experience were only an installation or disc insertion away? But, it didn't take gamers long and an the industry entirely, to become weary of this overused buzzword. 3D (as in three spacial dimensions, not 3D projection) swiftly became the standard, and adding it to your title was like adding 'video game' in large, red letters to the front of the game box. Only a madman/woman would promote this 'feature' for a modern game, and I suspect for each mention of the words 'virtual' '3D' 'interactive' would halve the sales each if pasted onto the box of any release now...
Well I liked Bubsy in 2D, so I'd have to like this...
3D Games of note:
Picross 3D (Recent!)
Out Run 3D
Bubsy 3D (Notorious)
Army Men 3D
Duke Nukem 3D (Forgiveable?)
Earthworm Jim 3D
Wolfenstein 3D (The launcher was wolf3d.exe from memory)
Prince of Persia 3D (aka Prince of Persia 3)
3D Dot Game Heroes
3D Games of note (new generation):
Star Fox 64 3D
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
DJ Hero 3D
Kingdom Hearts 3D
I'll update this list with any significant others you can think of...
Gaming Concepts and Terms of Yesteryear (Part 1)
- Jun 14, 2010 7:22 am GMT
- 33 Comments
Anyone interested in retro gaming, or anyone who gamed in a retro era may be familiar with some of the concepts below. Modern gaming is busy making it's own history and innovations, but what gaming relics have been left in the dust of the MMOs, DLC, FPSs, ARPGs and other futuristic acronyms that would make your original Moon Patrol player check into an asylum for sensory overload?
Here are some familiar ingredients that games of previous generations built their momentary empires upon. Some are good, some are bad, and some should never, ever come back... But the question is, which is which?
This is now a term delegated to the noisy, gaming arenas known as 'arcades'. There was a time though, where credits were a part of most games printed onto cartridges and disks alike. Like some Faustian bargain, losing your last life was not always the end of your existence – the key to your resurrection lie in the possession of an extra credit. This set of new lives comes at it's own cost though, for it is customary to lose your accumulated score, and start afresh from the ghastly, ominous figure of 0. A deal with the devil always has it's price...
The gateway to immortality.
Originally the only achievement available to players, the score figure was the only evidence available to prove your accomplishments. Typically indicated as a row of leading digits tucked away in a corner of the screen, the score has since gone the way of the floppy disk, the cartridge and text adventures. Sure, some games record endless player statistics and achievements, but the notion of a single, unquestionable score as a player's badge of honour is now archaic. It has also become a symbol of gaming in it's infancy, (but newsreaders and journalists are yet to catch up to the fact that you don't earn 'points' for shooting citizens in Grand Theft Auto!).
It's all there in black and white.
Hall of Fame
If only digitised gaming experiences existed outside of their local storage device, for at some point most gamers would be immortalised in the most revered and respected fashion possible: in a three-character name. Your local town square would feature a tall, wide and bronze-plated pillar, and chiselled for all time would be the three-characters of your choice – a representation of your personal greatness and community service. Alas, games these days may feature leader boards, but the transient and arbitrary nature of these boards lacks the real impact of the local arcade machine hall of fame – forever at the mercy of the power-outlet behind it.
TIM is 7 times better than SEP.
Though the idea of having a set number of lives does still live on in modern gaming, the ruthless rationing originally employed by game designers of old has never been more out of fashion. It used to be an institution of video-gaming that your experience and progression in the game be heavily limited by the amount of lives you have left, and that progress could only be made by either mastering the obstacles mounted before you, or by collecting 1ups or lives inside the game play itself through score or other magical means. 1ups take many forms, but the most popular seems to be that of a miniture of the game character itself...
In games, gambling gives life.
Get Your Awesome Blogs Featured
Want to be spotlighted? We'll consider every GameSpot blog post marked with the category "editorial" for inclusion. Sound off!
- Last updated: Jan 1, 1970 12:00 am GMT