Category: rants

The missing link

I know I’m a bit late on this one, but in my defense the only Zelda game I ever played was Ocarina of Time. However, I can’t believe that they made Link right handed for the Wii version of the game! Miyamoto said:

Although Link is [traditionally] left-handed, at E3 we noticed people seemed to be using the right Wii controller to swing his sword. That’s why we decided to make Link right-handed.

As a lefty I find this outrageous! Of course the funny thing is not that they chose to change it because most people are right handed, but that on the message boards I checked out there was always at least one person who said something like, “For the lefties, it isn’t that hard to hold the Wiimote in your right hand.” OK, let’s assume that is true. Then why wouldn’t it be just as easy for right handed people to use the Wiimote in your left??? Funny how that doesn’t seem to get mentioned…

Lefties of the world unite!

Digg is being ruined by self-promotion and spam

This isn’t really related to gaming, but it is something that i’ve noticed most in digg’s gaming news section.

Back in the day I was a huge fan of ZDTV and then later TechTV so I’ve followed Digg pretty closely almost from the first time Kevin Rose mentioned it on the The Screen Savers.

When Digg first started it was a pretty good source of news and info. Lately, however, it seems like 99% of the stories submitted to the gaming news section are just lame asses who take a press release from Sony or Nintendo, put it on their crappy blog and submit the link to their crappy blog to digg. They don’t submit stories from anyone else, and they don’t digg or comment on anyone else’s stories. OF course, if the people on digg would take ten seconds and look to see that a story was submitted from some site they never heard of, and that site is the only one the submitter ever submits, then the quality of digg might be a little better.

I realize that self submission isn’t against the rules or or anything, but it is just lame. Do we really need fifteen submissions to some crappy blogs telling us what games are going to be on the Wii this week? Call me crazy but I think if your crappy blog was any good people would submit it for you… …which is, of course, why my blog has never been submitted to digg.

There’s a lot of good gaming news in diggs gaming section, which is why the new version of the site is going to have my digg feed in a sidebar, but even after the diggs there is still a lot of crap. Does anyone else agree with me or am I the only one?

Girls, Girls, Girls…

It is that time of year again. Yes, the annual Play Magazine GIrls of Gaming issue has come out. The last time I talked about it, I got more comments than just about any other post I’ve made. Guess what? I still don’t get it. However, that isn’t the topic of my post. It is just a coincidence that I saw this magazine on the stands the same week I saw another story related to gaming.

The game Left Behind: Eternal Forces has been getting a ton of criticism, including groups calling for the game to be taken off the shelves because apparently, if you can’t convert people, you can kill them. While that sounds pretty inflammatory, context is everything. After all, this is supposed to take place after the rapture, right? So arguments about a game showing a religious group killing non-beleivers aside, within the game, the presence of a creator has already been made apparent. I don’t know about you, but if it became clear which religion was correct through some incident like the disappearance of those who follow that religion, I’d have to start thinking about converting.

If there are things that the mainstream media loves to report, they are religion and those darn evil videogames. So it should come as no surprise that this story has been picked up both far and wide. However, I’m not going to chastise the media for once again playing the “What about the children?” card. No, I’m writing this because there is something even more insidious about the themes of the Left Behind games: sexism.

Apparently, for all the press that the game has received, only the gaming media has actually played the game because according to a post called, The Difference, by Dan Stapleton, Assistant Editor at PC Gamer in the game characters can be converted and become your friend. But on the other hand, there is another group of characters who you can convert who are called, “friend woman.” So right off the bat we have the fact that if you are a man, you are in effect genderless. You are just a friend. If you are a woman, then you are marked as a different class and your difference is marked by the really odd term “friend woman.”

However, it doesn’t end there. You can train your friends and friend women. These friends “can be trained to pursue a number of careers, including soldier, medic, musician, builder, or recruiter/evangelist.” The friend women can be trained to have a medical or musical career.

Apparently, after the rapture not only will we be killing people we can’t convert, but we will also be limiting the career choices of women….

(click on the link to the column for screen shots and some interesting commentary about this)

Video Game Violence is apparently the number one issue in this election???

It is highly interesting to see how videogames have become such an important issue. What we have here is not simply a failure to communicate, but a generation gap. Old people are statistically heavier voters. Older people are statistically less likely to play videogames. Old people get scared, vote against the person who didn’t “protect the children.” I can’t wait for our gaming generation to get in power.

Since my last post about anti-violent videogame political ads it seems that the other issues have all but disappeared from the airwaves. I can’t turn on a local channel without seeing one of those videogames are evil commercials. Of course it doesn’t hurt that these ads are by National Republican Congressional Committee and not by a specific candidate. That way they can take money from a lot more places than just Indiana and pay for the ads and it also allows the candidates to have plausible deniability since they didn’t “approve this message.”

Last week I got a call from a political party talking about how one candidate voted against lowering taxes for families and things like that. Today, however, I just got a call about how bad it was to vote against laws for prohibiting the sale of violent videogames to children. I’m glad we got that war thing taken care of so that we can turn our attention to these important topics. Oddly enough, the call started off by saying how the opposition had been running negative ad campaigns and then went on to talk about how horrible the opposition candidate was! Irony be thy name!

Anyway, I asked the person what was wrong with voting against some stupid violent videogame law. She seemed stunned by that and repeated the questions, “Is there something wrong with voting against laws that would protect children from violent videogames?” I said, “Yeah, what’s wrong with that?” She then said maybe the opposition was “out of touch with Hoosier values.” I said I was a Hoosier and asked if she thought there was something wrong with my values. Then she hung up.

The ratings game…

In the April issue of Computer Gaming World, there were no ratings on the reviews. They wrote:

Its April, Fools!
As you flip through this issues reviews, you’ll notice something. Yes, CGW is playing a cruel April Fools Day joke on impatient consumers everywhere: This months reviews come score free. Was Star Wars Empire at War worth the wait? Is Rainbow Six: Lockdown anything more than a lazy console port? And do you really need to play a game about the Winter Olympics?
You’ll just have to read the full reviews to find out scores be damned. [….]
And if you believe this is crazy, just wait until you see next months all new Reviews section. Page 79

Then, in the May issue, Jeff Green Wrote:

I’m old. How old am I? [….] I’m so old, I remember back when this magazine ran game reviews without any star ratings on them. From our humble beginnings in 1981 until June 1994 (thats 13 years, according to my calculator!) this magazine did not attach numeric scores to reviews. And when we finally started to, in July 1994, it incited an immediate firestorm of protest. You’ve sold out! readers cried. You’ve dumbed the magazine down! they sighed. You’ve made the text irrelevant! they whined. Over time, however, the protests died down (mostly), and the gaming public came to accept scores as a crucial aspect of a game review. Now, a games average is often the only thing many gamers (and publishers and developers) even care about.
So its with much irony that the CGW mailbox now overflows with new protests from readers angry that we removed the scores last month. Why we did that may be a little clearer this month, as we reveal more of our ongoing strategy to reposition and redefine our editorial mission here in 2006. Or maybe it will be even less clear. What do I know? In any case, check out our new Viewpoint section […] Page 10

Where the reviews used to be, they wrote:

Pardon Our Dust
WE JUST BROKE OUT OF THIS STUFFY OLD BOX. THIS month, your trusty Reviews section receives a revisit, complete with the shiny new Viewpoint moniker that tops this page. Name change aside, you should notice four very important changes to CGWs newly refocused opinion section:
1 More in-depth reviews. Reading the same old stuff six weeks after it hits the Internet just doesn’t cut it anymore. Now, servers as our jumping-off point for longer, deeper reviews of the games you should be playing.
2 No more scores. Those of you who want your Cliffs Notes still get a verdict box with a short summary of the reviewers opinion but now the text speaks for itself. If you’re really desperate, check out our new Reality Check page for a spread of other industry scores and see how they compare with what we say. Page 79

Personally, I didn’t really care. One rating doesn’t convince me to discourage me from buying a game. However, a funny thing happened as I flipped through the September issue of Computer Gaming World. They have started sneaking rankings back in.

In the Rise & Fall: Civilizations At War review Tom Chick starts off by mentioning another review with the phrase, “he says in his 9-out-of-10 review” and then a subsection heading for the review is, “Brother, Can You Spare a 7 Out Of 10?” (92, 93). Similarly, in Greg Kramer’s review of City Life, there is a line which states, “Despite its oddities and rough edges, the game’s critical consensus remains positive, with most ratings hovering around 1UP’s strong 8 out of 10” (98).

Curious, I went to and looked at their review of City Life and who wrote it? Why Greg Kramer! Curious, I looked at 1Up’s review of Rise & Fall: Civilizations At War was written by Tom Chick (who gave it a 5 out of 10, so why the heading 7 out of 10??). The oddest review in the issue is Eric Neigher’s review of Titan Quest which is basically a discussion of his 1Up review of Titan Quest..

What in the world is going on here? Are they simply pimping for Or are they regretting eliminating the ratings and attempting to slip them back in?

My first assumption was the latter. I assumed they got so much hate mail they were attempting to satisfy people without appearing like they caved into pressure. However, I was curious to see if anyone else had noticed the hijinx occurring and found out that something even more starting was going on with CGW: they were being canceled/turned into a new magazine called: Games for Windows: The Official Magazine. So now, just like Playstation and X-Box have their official magazines, it looks like Windows will have their official magazine which employs much of the staff of Computer Gaming World.

It will be interesting to see if they retain the “no ratings” policy or if they use that opportunity to reinstate them. Honestly, however, I can’t see a magazine with a name like Games for Windows: The Official Magazine being really popular or lasting too long. Who knows though. It will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on.

FIlms are inherently inferior to videogames!

The title of this post is meant as hyperbole. While there are exceptions where such comparisons are useful, I honestly believe that most comparisons between film and games are pointless. A great number of comparisons are simply people who don’t play or understand games saying little more than, “These damn kids today! Why back in my day…” or people who do play games wanting to feel as if their pastime was valid in the eyes of those who don’t play games. Personally, when it comes to entertainment, I don’t really care what people think about the things I like. I mean, I’m basing my graduate school career on videogames and the last conference paper I presented was titled, “If You Don’t Respect the Verbal Artistry of Professional Wrestling, I’ll Kick Your Ass!” so it isn’t as if I”m banging on the door of the gates of Art with a capital A begging to be let in.
However, a post on Shacknews with the title, “Steven Spielberg to Make Us Cry?” got me thinking about just how unfair such comparisons are. The article includes the Spielberg quote, “I think the real indicator [that games have become a storytelling art form] will be when somebody confesses that they cried at level 17. In light of the reposting of this quote and the fairly recent pontificating by Roger Ebert on how much films suck, I thought it might be fun to turn things around and see how well films come out when criticized using videogame standards…

I think that the real indicator that films have become a viceral art form is when someone feels a sense of accomplishment and pride for having finished watching a film. While it is true one may feel a sense of pride for having endured a film that is particularly bad or painful, until films can give viewers a sense of pride not from that enduring, but from the triumphant conclusion of the film, they simply will not be as good as videogames.
While films are quire successful in economic term — although people often claim that videogames are a bigger business than the Hollywood film industry, that only discusses domestic box office sales. When one takes in international box office sales, DVD sales, and revenue from cable and the various licencing deals, Hollywood dwarfs the gaming industry — films are simply not as viceral or as captivating as videogames. WHile there are films that can cause people to cry, to laugh, to be scared or other emotions, that sense of pride and accomplishment is lacking. Moreover, while there are films that people watch again and again, not even the most well loved film is watched as much or for as long a time as the most loved videogame. Online games from Counter-Strike, to Everquest were first released years ago and although they have both received subsequent upgrades, the core game remains and there are still thousands of people who play them hours a day on an almost daily basis. While devoting the equivalent of a 40+ hour workweek to a game may be a form of addiction, if one were to devote 40+ hours a week to watching the same film, it would surely be a sign of a much much deeper problem than any non-physical addiction such as gaming playing.
The fact that these games are online raises another point in which films are simply inferior entertainments to videogames. Such games, whether they are online or played via LAN or with consoles, are inherently social. The same cannot be said of films. While people often go to the theater and watch films in groups of friends or even strangers, in the vast majority of cases, the actual watching is done on an individual basis. ONe may not be alone but, at least in most western contexts, any sustantive communications with other people in the same room are minimal. In multiplayer games, communication is the key to success. These games build the kind of efficient and meaningful communication that films can only dream of. Numerous relationships in these games have resulted in marriage. It is difficult to imagine how two people that have never met before watching a film and had no contact outside of the time the film was being watched could fall in love.
Moreover, the fact that there are professional game playing teams indicates that playing these games could easily be said to develop teamwork. Again, I find it hard to imagine how watching films could be said to either require or develop teamwork if watched in the typical fashion. SImilarly, if one could imagine competitive film watching where people were paid simply on the basis of their film watching skills — and not on how well they could write about having watched films — then that person has a more creative imagination than I.
This is just a brief overview, but from this is should be clear why films are inherently inferior to videogames.

See how easy it is to totally ignore the merits of one medium when comparing it to another? I”m not attempting to say that such comparisons are entirely meritless because of this. I am attempting to say that while it is good to occasionally point out the failings or deficiencies of current videogames, it is not good to focus on those weakness to such an extent that we forget the things that current games are good at and that films are not the final word in entertainment.

You can lie about your age online? Oh no! What about the children?

Now that we have solved all the other problems of the world, the US government has once again turned to the most pressing issue of the day: videogames. This week “Politicians lash[ed] out at video game industry” and “Lawmakers slam[ed] FTC for video game actions.” Most notable were the comments of Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky:

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat and ranking member of the subcommittee, criticized Wal-Mart for the ease with which consumers under age 17 can buy explicit games on its Web site simply by checking a box certifying they are the proper age.
“That age verification is a joke,” in an era when 13-year-olds can be issued credit cards and other children have access to their parents’ cards, she said.

Yes, finally, an elected official takes on the real issues! If the Internet had been available when I was 17 I know that buying videogames would have been the first thing I would have done. Well, of course as a 17 year old, I would have been more interested in looking at porn, but luckilly, there isn’t any of that online or anything…
However, if we accept for a minute that Rep. Schakowsky’s concerns are valid, her complaint is still horribly misguided. Let’s look at her statement again:

“That age verification is a joke,” in an era when 13-year-olds can be issued credit cards and other children have access to their parents’ cards, she said.

From that quote, it seems clear that Rep. Schakowsky feels that there is something wrong with 13-year-olds having credit cards. So what does she do? Does she attack the credit card companies? No, she attacks the businesses that accept credit cards. Now, I don’t really care about credit cards, but look at her own logic. Kids having redit cards is bad, so we’re going to attack companies that accept credit cards because the worst thing that kids will do with a credit card is buy a videogame. This just illustrates how sad our government has become. Instead of dealling with real issues, we are going to freak out about people buying videogames online. (insert your own joke about how this is a waste of time since the government is monitoring everything we do and knows everything we are doing anyway…)

Chamillionaire is such a poser

So yesterday I got up five or ten minutes before the top of the hour and rather than start watching the end of something, Ihit the music video channels. The first video I ran across was some crappy ballad, so I kept flipping and ran across Chamillionaire‘s Ridin’ video (both links have sound). It was ok. That is untill her to to the lines: “Ride with a new chick, she like “Hold up.” // Next to the Playstation controlla // There’s a full clip in my pistola; // send a jacker into a coma.
However, the video clearly shows the “new chick” holding an Xbox controller. Nice one Chamillionaire. What a poser…

About that Showbizshow clip…

You know that post I made about David Spade’s SHowbiz Show covering E3? Well, they didn’t. Even though they advertised it in the teaser immediately before the show aired!
Never fear, however, the clip is online at Comedy Central’s website.
You can view the Showbiz SHow’s clip of E3 at that link or if you don’t want to look at the ads you can watch the clip directly. It isn’t all that great, but I can’t leave my tens and tens of fans hanging!

Ashamed to be a gamer, but not ashamed of all my fellow gamers…

While I am still ashamed to be a gamer, I am happy to report that I’m not ashamed of my fellow gamers. Yesterday, the first Sin episode was released. I’m not done with it yet, but the first scene causes quite an impression. Apparently, the programmers at Ritual and/or Valve have spent too much time playing games like Dead or Alive because the first thing you see is the Elexis Sinclaire character bending over you with her breasts sloshing around as if they were water in a glass that is being violently shaken. I mean,not only do breasts not move like that anyway, but look at her, she obviously has a bra on, so there is really no reason for them to move around like that.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one who found that very odd. In the comments over at Bluesnews, at least two people had already posted about it. Now I don’t feel like the lone voice or reason or the crazy man standing on the street corner yelling at people as they go by.
On the downside, however, in writing this post I did a search for “boob physics” and found that not only were the creepy boobs available in Half-Life 2, but I also found one of the most disturbing videos ever. It isn’t pornographic or anything, but manages to simultaneously objectify a bunch of polygons, as well as ignore the effects of the violent actions performed in order to demonstrate that objectification. creepy. Call me crazy but I like my sexiness and literal violence as separate as possible…