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A Request

What would be really nice would be a web site that reviews videogames and tells me which platform is the best for a specific game. I’ve got a PC and I’ve got an X-Box. So when a game is available for both of them it often becomes difficult to decide which to buy. Sure a game like Tony Hawk will almost certainly be better on X-Box because of the controller. However, what about a game like Deus Ex 2 or Prince of Persia? or Knights of the Old Republic? Someone make up my mind for me!!!

Video Game Documentary

GSN (that’s the new hip cool name of the Game Show Network) is going to show a documentary about videogames. has a press release that ‘VIDEO GAME INVASION: THE HISTORY OF A GLOBAL OBSESSION’ will premiere Sunday March 21 at 9P.M. ET/PT. Since I KNow Yahoo doens’t keep new stories around forever, here is the entire press release:

Game Show Network Premieres Two Hour Documentary ‘VIDEO GAME INVASION: THE HISTORY OF A GLOBAL OBSESSION’
Friday January 9, 5:00 pm ET
Documentary Hosted By Pro Skateboarder and Video Game Star Tony Hawk And Premieres Sunday March 21 at 9P.M. ET/PT

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ — GSN, the network for games (formerly Game Show Network) will premiere its second documentary, VIDEO GAME INVASION: THE HISTORY OF A GLOBAL OBSESSION. This documentary will cover the creation and evolution of video games, and will be narrated by skateboard and video game icon Tony Hawk. VIDEO GAME INVASION will debut Sunday, March 21 from 9 to 11 PM ET/PT. The announcement was made today by Rich Cronin, President and CEO, GSN, as part of the network’s Television Critics Association presentation.

In making the announcement, Cronin said: “Video games have had such an enormous impact on popular culture and on the leisure time of young people that we felt it was important to document the birth and growth of this amazing entertainment phenomenon. The video game industry now generates 20 billion dollars in annual revenues, and the profile of the average gamer is changing. Some 41% of computer gamers are women and more than half of all players are over 18, demonstrating the continued expansion in popularity.”

“We knew that to do justice to the amazing thrill ride that is the video-game industry, we had to capture all the drama, the intrigue, the scope, even the humor that’s been part of the industry from the beginning,” says David Comtois, executive producer. Adds David Carr, executive producer, “And as producers of numerous personality-driven documentaries, we knew that the best way to accomplish that was through the human element. All these folks were off-the-wall, wildly colorful pioneers in a business with no boundaries. We couldn’t have asked for better subjects!”

Hosted by Tony Hawk, world champion skateboarder and co-creator of such hit video games as “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” and “Tony Hawk’s Underground,” VIDEO GAME INVASION explores the creation of video games in an entertaining and comprehensive fashion. Taking viewers through the maze of games that comprised the evolution of video gaming, VIDEO GAME INVASION focuses on the impact of the human element, and the behind the scenes competition between these impassioned geniuses who create video games. Bold and irreverent, VIDEO GAME INVASION delves into the fascinating world of tech-heads as they pushed the technological envelope to create such breakthrough early games as Pong and Space Invaders, and subsequently emerged with the huge international corporations that now dominate the multi-billion dollar video game industry. Paying homage to those unique individuals for pushing the game envelope and making the industry what it is today, VIDEO GAME INVASION takes us on an adventure through the phenomenon of video games and explains why they have become a global obsession. VIDEO GAME INVASION will be sponsored by Planters.

VIDEO GAME INVASION is executive produced by David Carr and David Comtois of Beantown Productions, and includes interviews of Nolan Bushnell, former CEO of Atari, Al Alcorn, former Vice President of Atari and designer of “Pong,” Seamus Blackley, CAA agent who leads their video game division and former CTO and lead designer for Microsoft Xbox, John Romero, CEO of Monkeystone Games and co-creator of “Doom” and “Quake,” and many other industry pioneers.

Beantown Productions, founded by David Carr and David Comtois, is a leading independent production company and an acclaimed TV advertising and marketing powerhouse. The company’s recent TV production credits include Lifetime Television’s Operation Style; AMC’s Behind the Planet of the Apes; The Alien Saga and 20th Century Fox: The First Fifty Years; A&E’s Rodgers and Hammerstein: The Sound of Movies and Hugh Hefner: American Playboy; and the Fox Family Channel’s LeoMania. On the film side, the company recently handled editing and post production work for Family Tree, a semi-autobiographical short from Oscar-winning Shrek director Vicky Jenson. Beantown Productions is based in Los Angeles with offices in New York City.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN’s televised games via gsn.com. Reaching 54 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN’s press website at corp.gsn.com.

Should be worth a look. I know I’ll pop a tape in and copy it and add it to my collection.

American Mcgee’s Cut Scene

I started playing today. Them kids sure love cut scenes don’t they? Well, I hate them. I would like to be able to play more than two minutes at a time without watching some stupid movie. I know, I know, I sound like a broken record. I just can’t get over how frustrating I find them.

The game thus far is rather unremarkable. I am not real confortable at how the game has sexualized a little girl. Alice is all gothy and has this seductive voice. …and she’s what? 12? Nice.

The Video Game Theory Reader discussed

I was getting ready to sit down and write my review for The Video Game Theory Reader and I thought I’d look around and see what others have said about it. I ran across a message board with some interesting reviews of some of the articles over at Matt Barton’s site.

As for my own thoughts on the book, let me just say that it is an interesting book. A bit too film based for my tastes. Like any anthogy, a couple articles rock, a few are just average and the rest are just lame. There are a couple more lame articles than I would like, but overall it is worth reading.

more coming…

Violence and Misconceptions

Happy New Year.
I was over at Metafilter and they had a post about how Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play didn’t get the media coverage they expected.

As these things somehow usually tend to go, a comment was made that mentioned game titles like, “”Back Alley Rapist” or “Innocent Citizen Pummel-Fest” or “Arson Party 2004” or “Digi-Chicks n’ Tits” ” and then a follow-up post that said, “These games that allow players to beat cops, rape prostitutes, stomp innocent people and anything else of the ilk are absolutely irresposible and disgusting.”

My first response was to post a comment, but since metafilter isn’t letting new people join I couldn’t, so I did the next best thing and wrote about it here.

Arson???? Raping Prostitutes??? Is there ANY game EVER that features actions such as this??? If so, please tell me. Now I don’t want to take this guy to task. He is not alone in holding these ideas about videogames. I have heard the thing about raping more than once. I am assuming that this guy is referring to Grand Theft Auto III. However, if there is any raping in the game, I have yet to find it yet. Again, if there is, let me know.

There is also the big bad guy of beating cops. Yes you can beat cops. But as far as I have played the game, that is not the point. Are there ANY missions in Grand Theft Auto III that directly involve violence against the police? If there is I haven’t gotten to them/it yet.

The thing that frustrates me is that over at metafilter, while people are attempting to correct him, as of yet, no one has pointed out the factual errors in his assertions. Let me be clear, as someone who has been playing videogames since PONG, who subscribes to 3 different videogame magazines, watches G4TV, X-Play on TechTV and who considers myself a videogame expert, To the best of my knowledge, there are NO games that feature arson, or rape. Yes you can have consensual sex with prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto III, yes you can kill anyone, including police and prostitutes even if you have just had sex with them, but those features are NOT the point of the games. In fact I had heard so much about this getting a prostitute and then killing her to get your money back feature, I tried to do it, and I couldn’t figure out how to do it! (Of course there is always the possibility that I am just a little dense)

That these rumors persist points to a serious issue with how many people perceive videogames. Here we have one game, two if yo could Vice City, that involves the ability to kill people including officers and prostitutes and yet we have people decrying ALL videogames. If you are going to be against Grand Theft Auto III, then fine, be against that game, but do not assume that all games are the same, and please, if you are going to say negative things, then at least be factually correct. More important, if you witness someone saying things about videogames that are exaggerations or are simply factually wrong, call them on it. Tell them that they are wrong, ask them for a clarification, ask them to name the games that they are talking about.

Now I am aware that to a certain extent I am preaching to the choir. Most regular readers of this blog (assuming I have regular readers, that is) know this. Regular readers, hypothetical or not, also know that I have a facination with Google, and one of my main goals in posting this is that by mentioning GTA and violence and rape that the mighty Google algorithm will pick up this post and maybe just maybe at least one person who really does think that there are videogames that include rape will see that otherwise.

Finally, it really amazes me that people are so concerned and afraid and reactionary about videogames. In an attempt to see if maybe there really was some sort of rape in GTA that I just hadn’t seen yet.I did a google search for: video game rape prostitute. Go to google and search for those terms. That web sites use those terms to get hits, and that people might use those terms in looking for web sites like that is “10,000 times worse than the worst thing” that happens in ANY videogame.

Reposted from my old site

Here once again with what is quite possibly my last post of the year. sniff. sniff. And what a year its been.

To continue my trend of reviewing a book as I go, let me offer a few quick thoughts on The Video Game Theory Reader. It is an interesting and worthy read. It is leaps and bounds better than the last book Mark J.P Wolf edited, Medium of the Video Game which I did not like at all.

The Reader is a larger book and much more of a true anthology than the other book. Overall, there is still too much reliance on film theory and psychoanalysis in some of the articles for my tastes. It also uses the Term “video game” rather than “videogame” which I understand is a personal nit pick, but it still irritates me. I’m about half way through it. I plan on sitting down most of the day tomorrow and reading a big chunk of it.

I went home for Christmas and when I came back, what should be waiting for me but more goodies! I got a copy of the DIGRA Level Up Conference Proceedings. For those of us in North America, it can be quite pricey as they want a wire transfer and the conversion rates combined with the fee for a wire transfer drives the price up. I went in with 3 other people and it ended up being $42 a person, but it is worth it. The book is over 400 pages long and in addition it comes with a CD with 49 more papers in .pdf form. If each of them is ten pages long, that’s nearly 900 pages of videogame theory goodness! Go buy it now!

Now that the semester is

Now that the semester is over, for better or worse, i’m still feeling that i have things i should be doing. I’m desperately trying to fill the time by playing games, but there is still a lingering guilt that i should be working. With that in mind, i’ve been thinking about Duke Nukem.

WIth the news that Duke Nukem Forever is still not done, I suppose its timely, but i have been thinking about how the duke is represented in videogames. It all started with a conversation that i had with a friend who is working on a paper about men playing games like tomb raider that feature women. of course that brings up laura mulvey, identification and the like. I’ve always argued that in most first-person shooters there is no identification because for all intents and purposes there is no real character. The main exception being duke.

That got me to thinking about characters within FPS games. Outside of Duke name the main characters of FPS games. There’s (and right now as i write this i can’t think of his name… says something about how memorable he is… ok i remember) Gordan Freeman from half-life, Caleb from blood, and ummmm…. doomguy from doom, space marine from quake, convict from unreal, that cop guy from sin, that miner guy in red faction, what’s his name, the real mercenary from soldier of fortune. and lots of others even less memorable

Now anyone that reads this site often should know that i’m not about to whine about how we need great characters in games. Blech. I play games to shoot things. No the question is what makes duke better? Well, i think that if you look at the history of duke the difference becomes obvious. Duke originated not in the realm of FPS games, but in the side scroller — a medium where you could see the character, and by my estimation a medium that actually HAS characters.

The most recognizable character in a FPS did not even originate in a FPS. This makes a lot of sence to me. like i said, i don’t think that we need strong fully fleshed out main characters in FPS games. WE are the character after all. the nagging problem has always been duke but that duke existed before the FPS was invented explains a lot. Duke nukem really isn’t a FPS character. he is a character that has had a FPS built around him. Since duke nukem 3d came out there have been duke nukem games, but they have all been genres other than FPS games. I think that is where duke might belong. after all, thats where he started.