Sunday, 29 December 2013

You have nothing to fear but the fear of Night Trap itself

Did you see Charlie Brooker's, Video Games Changed the World? Good, wasn't it? Despite containing more Rob Florence than is humanly tolerable, OXM scum, hipster wanking over Parappa The Rapper- yes, yes, it's very funny and the soundtrack is really good. But button lag on a rhythm-action game is an automatic fail I'm afraid- I enjoyed it a great deal. Being reminded of some old classics that might have slipped my memory, including one infamous title from the early 90s, the poster child of the tabloid press' demonising and all 'round hypocrisy of all things video game, Night Trap.

If you're too young to remember, Night Trap was the title any anti-games article/report/champagne would highlight to prove their point before Grand Theft Auto was even in the scheme of things. If you saw it mentioned on How Video Games Changed the World, then you wouldn't be blamed for thinking along the same lines as easily led parents did back in 1992. That was depraved, voyeuristic wank-fodder for horny teenagers and pathetically single adult males.Because the comedian talking about it pretty much described it as just that. Whether she was basing that on her memory of the initial media furore, her experience of playing the game or was asked to comment on the footage they were going to show on the programme I don't know. That Night Trap's infamy still continues after 20 years is quite impressive when you consider that the only thing remotely dodgy about Night Trap is the idea of spying on young ladies. Outside of that, the only thing that's genuinely offencive about it is that it's even considered a video game in the first place.

"I don't have the right cable to connect it to a modern TV either"

If you actually play the "interactive movie" Night Trap (and for the love of god, don't), you'll find it's far from the pornography for kids that it's detractors tried to portray it as. Granted, the gist of the game to essentially spy on a bunch young girls in their -then fashionable- lyrcra outfits (maybe the co-ed damsels came to the slumber party under the false promise of aerobics?) is creepy, sure, and certainly sexist. And even then was pretty much unplayable crap (as were all interactive movies), but even by standards of horror or sex  films of the time it's really  tame. Go watch any playthrough of it and you'll see there's almost no violence or gore and even less titillation.  Which begs the question, why did the British Board of Film Classification gave it a 18 certificate  the US government create the ESRB rating board after it instigated a senate hearing and caused Sega to withdraw it from retail?Same reason why How Video Games Changed the World made Night Trap out to be more sexy than it really was. Selective ignorance, or, "why let the truth get in the way of a good story?"Or a pro-censorship agenda?

Of course, the degree in which selective ignorance (which may very well be a term I just imagined or read about on the back of a box of Shreddies) was used is miles apart. In the case of Endemol (the makers of VGCTW) they most likely were only mentioning the controversy Night Trap created as it's really the only thing noteworthy about it (more on that in a moment) because it wasn't part of their lineup of important titles. Whereas the US senate, the BBFC and the gutter press used Night Trap in the same way Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead" was used as the quintessential "video nasty", back when the media bogeyman of the day was the fear your child would rent a slasher movie from the video shop and be compelled to raise the devil and murder half their immediate family. Despite clearly being so over the top in it's violence, people who hadn't seen a horror movie since Bela Lugosi donned a cape looked or those who hadn't seen it at all looked past the absurdity of the film and publicly flogged it as an example to introduce draconian censorship on movies that were given a reputation they didn't even warrant. Same goes for Night Trap.

Did you watch that playthrough? Probably not all of it I bet. OK, I'll just show you the most exciting bit in the whole game. You ready? Alright, don't say I didn't warn you, because the shit is gonna hit the pan now. If you happen to get the polarity on your moral compass reversed, then on your own head be it. Here it is...

That's right. A power-pop song and a brief glimpse of a sports bra. That's as racy as Night Trap gets. Forget the cries over the supposedly infamous show scene, forget it. It's just a woman in a night gown being attacked by stunt men dressed in bin liners, armed with one of those grabber things you see park attendants use to pick up litter. You see more naked female flesh and blood letting in a Hammer horror film from the 70s. If Night Trap was released as a film, instead of a dubiously titled, "interactive movie" at the time, no way would it have been given an 18 certificate. I mean, I can't recall every second of footage, but I don't even think there's any swearing in it. But to some on the BBFC board- not unlike what happened to Evil Dead- who's only experience of a video game was most likely Pacman or Space Invaders must have seen the full motion (attempted) horror on display and shit a brick at the very notion of being able to manipulate footage of actual humans. Bare in mind the now legendary story of the BBFC trying to view Carmageddon, and having to call the publishers to ask them how you actually started the game on a computer, so the likelihood that no one at the BBFC bothered to see that Night Trap was almost a tongue 'n' cheek parody of slasher flicks and then only way to harm the d-list actors in the game was to miss-time your button press to activate the booby traps, allowing them to be captured by the burglar, not-really-vampire-type people. Maybe the Hasbro logo at the start was a clue?

 The footage in Night Trap was recycled from a cancelled game called, "Scene of the Crime." Originally filmed in 1987 for Hasbro's never-made games console, the NEMO. On which the games would come on VHS cassettes. If you see the 3DO or PC version of the game intro, you'll see the bargain basement Tom Selleck hold a key pad up. That was the NEMO controller. So even at the time of it's Mega CD release it was already outdated. More so if you recognise a pre-decline Dana Plato. If the publisher had owned up that Night Trap was about as harmful to young children as an episode of Goosebumps, then Night Trap could of at least avoided getting pulled from shops in America. But the video game business being the video game business, either the publisher decided the controversy alone would make the Mega CD  look cool and rebellious, or they were fucking incompetent on the same level as those who condemned the game at the time.

That's not to say I'm criticising Video Games Changed the World was being as selectively ignorant as those who made Night Trap out to be the worst thing since video nasties, or punk rock before that, or comics before that, or rock and roll music before that. But it's amusing that Night Trap's undeserved infamy still carries on today. Were it not for that original outrage, Night Trap would just be part of all the other titles in the failed genre of interactive movies that came and went in the early 90s.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Why gamers need a new name

In the tradition of classic games writing, the idea for this blog post was totally stolen from someone else. But because it's games writing and I linked him (sort of), I'm golden. And 'll be damned if I give a Ready Up writer any more credit than that. But anyway, I was procrastinating like a bastard on twitter, when Johnny Ball Smasher (for legal reasons his name has been changed) brought up how pointless the term "gamer" was. Moments away from wanting to disagree with him, it suddenly struck me he was right. Hell, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

If you really think about it, the term "gamer" is so broad and non-specific in what it is supposed to be describing, yet is held onto and protected from those deemed unworthy of the label. And is treated by these so-called gamers like it was the arc of the covenant and they were the geek templars. Defending it from all those who must never know it's true location. And that's not an exaggeration, you only have to look at the insidious "fake gamer girl" phenomenon that proves gamers hold that very title  so precious, that they have to police who is and isn't one. Even though it's fucking ridiculous to do so. If you really think about it, "gamer" doesn't really mean anything. It just doesn't!

"What?! Oh god, he's not gonna say GTA 5 is shit as well, is he?"

 For example (brace yourself),I can drive a car, and like most motorists, my knowledge of said car is limited to controlling it, refuelling and changing the oil. And that's where my knowledge ends, I don't know anything about the engine, nor do I care to know anything about it. It's a  coffin on wheels I need to get somewhere that doesn't have a train station. I'm not what you would call a "petrol head" who watches endless Top Gear repeats, has a spare set of tyres for track days and is on their second driving ban for racing a biker on the motorway. I'm a "driver", that's all. By composing this blog post, I'm technically being a writer. But no way could you ever compare this rubbish to the works of any novelist, poet or even a lowly games writer. Likewise, acknowledging that previous sentence makes you a reader. You're not a rabid devourer of prose or journals that fill entire rooms of shelves. No, you're a reader, it's what you're doing, nothing else.  Using the term "gamer" as a label for the devout fanbase is just fucking stupid. I'll wrap this up right now, you know what makes you a gamer? Playing a video game. That's it. Whatever game, be it EVE Online, Call Of Duty or Candy Crush, whatever system you play on, if you're playing a video game you are a gamer. It's really that fucking simple. Gaming is what you're doing, not what you are.

Of course, that raises the question, what does the longtime, hardcore video game fans call themselves now? Don't worry those who previously identified as solely as gamers, but now need an entirely new and more accurate label to hang their entire personality on, I have you covered. After some thought (for nearly one entire afternoon) I have decided that the best term to describe the top echelon of video game players is....GAMECOCK

"Fuck your causal COD bullshit!"

Let it sink in for a minute and just say it a few times, gamecock, gamecock, GAMECOCK! Good. isn't it? If you actually know the original meaning of the term, you'll agree it's the prefect term to use. And if you don't, count yourself lucky I didn't go with my original choice of, "electric wanker." Or, you could just, I don't know, maybe not care who takes an interest in your hobby and whether they own multiple Dreamcasts to prove they belong in a clubhouse you don't own?

Friday, 15 November 2013

Channel 4 probably isn't bringing video games back to TV

It was recently announced by the mostly awful Channel 4 that professional miserablist, writer and TV critic, Charlie Brooker has made a two hour documentary, "How Video Games Changed the World" a look at the history of video games, which will be shown as part of a special evening of programming dedicated to gaming. No doubt, bar the danger of containing trace elements of Rob Florence and that fucking poet, it'll be a entertaining and informative look at standout titles and individuals throughout the 30-odd years video games have been around, all topped off with Brooker's trademark cynicism and genuine interest in the subject matter that made his Screenwipe and Newswipe shows so watchable. Whatever other programming that will be part of videogames night- I don't know, probably a repeat of the gaming episode of Equinox and GamesMaster. Or going by Channel 4's current output, probably one of those exploitative documentaries about some kid who can't stop wanking to StarCraft or a baby born with  Intellivision controllers for thumbs. What ever kind of show does get broadcast (stick it on at half in the morning, just for nostalgia's sake) it's bound to resurrect the old rumours of either GamesMaster returning to UK screens or some production company will think of making a  video game TV show. Just like it did after Charlie Brooker made Gameswipe for the BBC. If you think this will herald the return of video games to mainstream telly, you've got more chance of bumping into Elvis holding a copy of Shenmue 3.

Channel 4 doing a special night dedicated to video games is either a chance to expand upon what is the most likely reason How Video Games Changed the World got commissioned in the first place. The same reason the BBC made Gameswipe, to keep current TV golden boy, Brooker, sweet. So he doesn't totally stay with the BBC or fuck off to SKY, so he can continue trying to elevate the fuck-awful 11 o'clock show. Of course, Channel 4 has it's footnote in the history of games media, for broadcasting the first proper gaming show, GamesMaster, back in 1992. But that was a long time ago and Channel 4 has done very little in games-related content, unless you count the forgotten wank that was Bits and Thumb Bandits. Somehow I don't see the execs at Channel 4 wanting to move away from lowest common denominator, borderline exploitative documentaries masquerading as "human interest stories" so they can focus on a subject they long abandoned for over a decade.

And, as far as Brooker is concerned, he stated already that he would interested in producing a regular gaming show, but not presenting one.  Gameswipe's production company, Zeppotron, did flirt with the idea of making a continuing series, but that came to nought. And, if what I heard about it was true, it would not have been anything like Gameswipe and focused mainly on mobile and family-centered, casual games. And even if Brooker had the desire and resources to make a weekly "wipe" show about video games. It would be really hard to make it to the same standard as Screen/Newswipe.

Nothing against Brooker's talent. But, as Jim Sterling recently spoke about, the games industry is very much a closed shop compared to the world of TV. film and current affairs. Which is why the majority of games journalism has fuck all actual journalism in it. Most "news" on game sites and magazines comprise mostly of release dates, bullshit click-bait and recycling actual news stories from other sites. Another problem is video games take longer to consume  than a TV show or film. You can watch any show in less than an hour. A film averages at 90 minutes. A video game takes much longer to finish. More so if you're not enjoying it or you're struggling to finish it, it makes writing a review on a weekly basis much harder for one person to write that to the same level as a TV or film review. That's why gaming sites/mags have multiple writers to carry the workload. Or if it's a hack writer, they play a game for about half an hour before doing the write up and taking it down the nearest CRX for a trade-in.

Who's working in Camden?

Then there's the main reason why you won't see a gaming TV show on any channel of note is that those in charge simply don't think video games is worth shit. Some of the low rent channel on the SKY digital platform  had a few stabs at making shows. Some of the them decent, but most of them have been insultingly bad. Falling into the  only two varieties TV producers think gaming falls into, either a I.Q. destroyingly  kids show or wank fodder for insomniacs and the terminally unemployed. Which is weird when gaming is so closely associated to the much coveted 12-34 year old male demographic, you'd think at least one of the main channels would have a go at something other than a one off stab at tyring to get pro-gaming over as something other than a bunch of swearing, teenage fuckbags. Or something that isn't made to be an excuse to go on loads of  trips abroad and get your mates on TV. In TV, everything works in trends. A show becomes a hit, other channels want their own version of it too.  And they run that show into the ground until the ratings drop off, then it becomes a case of, "....shows don't work any more." So with many years of small to non-existent audiences, commissioning editors (the people who decided what shows a channel buys) will take one look at the media studies losers, ignorantly wanking about in front of a green screen, and will pass on it in a heartbeat. Because their (and the TV industry as a whole) opinion is that gaming on TV doesn't work, so why waste time and resources on, what they think is, a non-starter?  "Oh, what about Ginx TV?" you might very well ask, but shouldn't. Well, they've been threatening to start  a channel on UK screens for a couple of years and only now have started broadcasting on the Virgin Media service. Which has a userbase so small, Ginx would instantly reach a larger audience with they wrote. "FIFA 2013, 8/10" on a brick and threw it out of the nearest window. Their main audience comprises of young boys who's first language isn't English, so they don't realises they're being fed a load of PR-inspired bollocks.

Of course, it's not really a case of gaming doesn't work on TV. It's a case that bad games content doesn't work on TV, but while middle-aged men still run all of TV, and if they've even heard of video games, it'll be because they read of G4 going under, which only confirms their preconceptions of gaming having no audience on TV. And to a degree, they're right. When GamesMaster first started the only other games media were magazines. TV was the only way your average gamer could see new games  being played was on TV. But since Dominick Diamond's attempt to be the figurehead of the turgid "new lad" movement died the death it deserved, TV pretty much let itself fall way behind when the internet came more ubiquitous, giving rise to gaming sites that out do TV with  daily content. And when  video streaming  became the norm, you could see the latest trailers or reviews whenever you wanted, which was the end of the only thing TV exclusively had going for it. At one point the idea of doing live coverage of gaming tournaments could have been a thing, but live streaming sites, like Ustream and Twitch have that sewn up. Now days, TV isn't just behind the internet, it's way behind magazines in terms of covering video games. Of course the irony is  many, if not all, of those youtube gaming reviewers/personalities would flog their souls in an instant to get on the telly. You can tell just by looking in the, desperate for attention, eyes of that Pewdiepie that doesn't give two fucks of a lamb's tail about how many youtube views he gets because TV is still where it's at. But And how many British hack, game journos are trying to be the next Charlie Brooker? Fact is, most youtubers  are either ugly as sin and/or can't deliver anything in one take, hence the constant use of jump cuts in every other fucking video you see online now. Sorry guys, you're gonna have to keep knocking out the same tired old click-bait material in an attempt to milk an extra fiver out of your adsense revenue. If Channel 4 is going to make anything beyond video games night, chances are it'll be lightweight balls presented by an skinny jean wearing, grinning android, regurgitating whatever PR guff is feed to them. Which is just Ginx, but with a better budget. And you can watch that shit on youtube already.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Let me tell you about my cosplay hypocrisy

Very recently, I had a discussion/intervention on twitter regarding a piece on Buzzfeed, asking cosplayers at the recent New York Comic Con what's the creepiest thing someone said to you.And why he labelled the girls in that piece, disparagingly, as "victims." Because they dress in a eye-catching way, they should expect attention, sexual or otherwise. And woe betide them if they don't like being stalked and have the cheek to speak up about it, like the cosplay is not consent movement does. Now, if you're one of the 5 people who regularly read this blog, then you expected me to tear this ignorant victim-blamer  a new arsehole. But I'm not. Not in the way you think at least. Because firstly, he has enough problems as it is- being a writer for Ready Up. And secondly, because I used to hold the same opinion. Growing up is a gradual process, and sometimes it takes an outsider's view to point something out that's been right under your nose. So let me tell you about the time I was a hypocrite over cosplayers.

Many moons ago,  during my failed attempt at being a professional games writer, I did the easiest way for fledgling writers to get a whole bunch of game previews (and hopefully some networking with the PR bastards) in one go, going to conventions. There's loads of different games and publishers exhibiting, you don't need an invite from some marketing scumbag, you can usually go for free with a press pass. And if you can't, you can still pay to attend.
As is the case with non-paying sites and blogs, as well as "legit" gaming sites and mags, part of reporting from a convention will usually involve getting photos, if not interviews, with cosplayers. And although I appreciate the effort and creativity that goes into a good costume, I have never really been mad about copslay as a concept- and the close association it has with the, "That's so kawaii" anime/manga crowd anyway. But when you have to spend hours interview to them. Trying to get think of something other than, "how long did it take to make?" while breathing in the acrid vapours of the collective body odour of everyone inside the venue, having your ears assaulted by over loud anime themes or J-pop songs being bleated out of the tinny speaker of numerous mobile phones just exasperated that minor annoyance into full on anger, thanks to a cocktail of booze, sucking at my job and my overall hatred of loud, obnoxious teenagers. Since then I saw sense, quit games writing, going to conventions and drinking.  But I didn't think anything of my disdain for cosplayers.  It wasn't something I had to deal with any more, so why address it? I still thought it was a bunch of hyperactive weaboos, hopped up on too much Pocky and vicariously living through the personality of a fictional character because they have no personality of their own.  In short, I thought they were attention whores.

I honestly thought that the only reasons someone, especially women, would ever cosplay was because they were looking for a short cut to self confidence by dressing up as a popular genre character and feeding off the adulation of total strangers. So if they got some untoward comments, then that's just par the course. Even though, outside the confines of the convention centre, I would not have thought a woman on the street, wearing revealing clothing, was, "asking for it." But I figured, "If you didn't want attention, then you shouldn't have dressed up as Power Girl in the first place". In short, I was a fucking hypocrite. How dare these people spend their time, money and effort into a creative activity that they want to display at an event, solely created to celebrate the comic, movies, anime, and video games that so inspired them, and to allow people to look at them too? They must like Hitler, a nazi Hitler! Because it can't be anything wrong with my outlook on the situation, can there?

I guess  being so entrenched in geek culture for so long, I wasn't able to step back and see things more objectively with an outsider's view. And it was the viewpoint of someone heavily connected to geek culture, yet kept a outsider's perspective on it that made me realise what I hypocrite I was. That viewpoint belonged to Bruce Campbell. Yes, that Bruce Campbell from Burn Notice, The Evil Dead, Xena: Warrior Princess, and that bloke who told Peter Parker to fuck off in Spider-Man 2.

"We have Andrew Garfield now. Go home."

I was watching a Q&A video, with Bruce Campbell, when he pointed out the, seemingly de rigueur,  anime cat ears a girl was wearing, when she said, "I don't want to be one of "those" anime fans, but I had the ears lying around." To which groovy Bruce replied, "Those anime fans keep the lights on in this building."

It suddenly hit me, that I had let my own prejudices against a section of  fandom turn a blind eye to a line of thinking I already thought abhorrent.  Look how she was dressed. She was asking for it" Because if you think that any of the women and girls- yes, girls,because not every cosplayer is over 18- speaking out over being harassed, stalked or groped are just making mountains out of mole hills and it's all harmless fun, then your indifference is just as harmful as those boys, or grown males who should fucking know better, who think that  female  wearing revealing clothing is purely for their sexual kicks and whatever they say or do them is fair game. At best, it ignorance. At worst, victim blaming.

A convention is not a nightclub, and someone isn't purely dressed in a costume, of any description, isn't wearing it to attract a date, build a modelling career or feed off of the attention of horny males. As if male attention was some kind of quantifiable, valuable substance that must be protected at all costs, like that stuff everyone is fighting over in Avatar.

"They must not take our planets attention. DON'T LOOK AT THEIR TITS!"

For those guys out there, especially the younger ones, seconds away from jumping on their MRA-shaped soap box. Let me put it to you straight...No, there's nothing wrong with being attracted to someone. It's a perfectly normal, biological instinct. But, if you weren't aware, that girl you like is a human being, who didn't turn up for the sole purpose to be your future girlfriend. Which, by the way, is NOT a female conspiracy to deny you sex because she won't give you her number. And you'll do well to throw out those assumptions and maybe try talking to them like a person, not a sentient love-pillow? Instead of thinking the confines of the convention hall gives you a free pass to act like you're on a building site and you can cat-call any passing woman with gay abandon. Or follow her around because, just by speaking to you, she actually means, "Book the wedding!" Or taking pervy photos without her knowledge. They have just as much right right to be there as you, and such have the right to dress up and creatively express themselves without fear of harassment. No matter how annoying or attention seeking they appear to be to you. I woke up to my hypocrisy,  it's time you did too.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Anonymous guest spot: Support our arcade, just don't come to it.

Due to my increasing lack of spare time and talent, once again I have to rely on an actual, proper games journalist to keep the lights on, as it were. They get the chance to write about whatever subject they want, under the safety of having their identity hidden, for fear of having to return their GMA award.

Rodney Knacker is a jobbing games writer and meat-fed lummox. Originally the porn boy at OXyMoron Magazine until working his way up to cocktail snatcher, he know edits the newly relaunched Playstation Plus, "TITS, TITS, TITS!"

Support our arcade, just don't come to it

What's crackin' you mongs? Jokes, jokes, good jokes. But forget that because the hype thing to happen in gaming since Capcom nerfed the hitbox around Sentinel's dick in Marvey 3, the people at the punchy game tournament organiser, "Next Castle" have opened their own arcade. That's right bruv, that news is saltier than a salty biscuit that just spunked into the Red Sea, while eating a bag of ready salted pringles. Pringles, baby! When the old Tecmo Finger Bash arcade wanted to throw out all it's arcade cabinets, to make space for a Irish theme hotel, bare mans were vexed about the arcade scene in London dying, but thanks to Next Castle stepping in and getting all their members to fundraise the price of hiring a van, we were able to save all the good cabinets for our very own arcade, "Big Sticks"

It's the sickest thing ever bruv, for Next Castle to have been the boss of organising punchy-kick game tournaments in the London town to now running it's own arcade, getting hype for keeping the scene alive. They got all the classics, six Street Fighter 3 machines, four Street Fighter 4 machines, one Super Street Fighter 2, a knackered Ladybug and a DDR to bait some gals to turn up, so we can all chat about giving them a chocolate finger but be too scared to actually talk to them. All housed in our prime London location, a industrial estate on the outskirts of Tooting, sick pringles bruv!  Big Sticks is gonna be the sickest, saltiest kind of hype when it opens. Its even getting attention from the games press! Not from my magazine obviously -I'm too busy writing my latest, "You only hate Killer is Dead because you're skank at it" article to do that. But Big Sticks got covered in the Daily Reveal, the London Yell and the local paper, the Tooting Wafer as well as several websites and now this blog. That is both salty and peppery bruv! Hype! Salt!

Now days, the arcade scene is pretty much dead, so it's really hype to see people excited at Next Castle for not allowing the arcade to die. And being cool to set up a pay at the door, unlimited play set up for going to Big Sticks, so mans don't have to bring bare coins in their shell suit bottoms. And I see on my Bebo page mans are well hype for coming to Big Sticks, but here's the thing. It's sick that you want to spread hype about New Castle giving the arcade scene it's rebirth and it's sick if you're hype, salty and sick about playing, but you can't. Seriously though, don't come. No salt on your pringles!

That's not me trying to use pure jokes, I mean it. Don't come to Big Sticks to play the games, you don't belong and you'll only be waisting your, but mostly our,time. Everyone at Next Castle is proper dedicated to punchy-kick games, and that why it was the top organiser of tournaments in the outer South East London area -well, up until last Christmas when it stopped hosting regular tournaments when players stopped turning up. But anyway, the hype is back with the Big Sticks arcade now the saltiest players are all gonna come back and bring their wank-tier skills and greasy elbow techniques back to the punchy-kick game community. So we don't need any newbies, with their scrub, Sagat chicken cottage combos, taking up the valuable game time for the real players. Real players that study frame data, that don't spam shoto-biscuits and would never play a punchy-kick game with some blatant, regular game pad, like some  pussy 'ole. You got no place playing against us top players or daring to take up their valuable practise time by coming down to Big Sticks, paying actual, real  money for a one or two hour free-play session just to play your weak, scrub tactics when mans has got to work on his negative edge sexual harassment in between bouts of stalking Asian girls and trying to nobble Evo rankings. You ain't part of the real punchy-kick community, bruv. And you never will be, so don't ever come to play in our arcade.

Don't get me wrong, if you want to support the scene, then save up your coins for when Next Castle will probably set up a Kickstarter to pay the rent on Big Sticks can't be paid. So long as you stay away from our games, ok? Because we get hype, you get fucked.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Namco Bandai are good at PR

If there's one thing "core gamers" (for lack of a better term) tend to be less than welcoming about- apart from differing opinions, review scores and any minority within gaming- is the mobile gaming, free-to-play phenomenon that they fear poses a threat to the traditional gaming of buying a disc, which has been subject to the insidious trend of microtransactions as it is. So it wasn't much of a shocker when Namco Bandai's announcement that the latest  Ace Combat title, "Ace Combat Infinity" will be free-to-play went down like a feminist on youtube. So much so that, as Ace Combat Infinity's project lead, Kazutoki Kono told, Namco Bandai now refuse to talk about the F2P monitisation plan at all now.

 "We actually tried to explain the monetisation and how it works at first, but it made people confused and some people just said negative things because they didn't understand the whole of the game"
"That's why we actually stopped saying the details of it and are right now asking the players and media to try out the beta and see how it actually works as a game. Then we finally can get deeper into the details of the monetisation explanations."
And that doesn't sound remotely suspicious, does it? Right on the heels of the Xbox One, always-on DRM debacle, where most suspect Microsoft really don't understand what exactly it was they did wrong, Namco Bandai seem set on committing the same PR disaster of essentially telling fans, "Oh, you're worried about this new way we have for publishing a game? You maybe don't trust us not to nickle and dime your balls off? Well, we're doing free-to-play Ace Combat and fuck off! That's why!"
Everyone likes to have a laugh at the likes of Phil Fish kicks off like a bastard on twitter, but it's understandable at least. Indie developers are more likely to take criticism personally because they do so much of the work themselves and don't have the resources for a PR department. So it's all the more puzzling/ hilarious when someone from an established publisher undoes any potential goodwill done by the soulless, PR fucksters would try to put out. Although, in Namco Bandai's defence, it's a fucking miracle if any of their PR people tell you anything beyond the title and release date, so actually saying nothing would of been business as usual.  Not saying you're gonna say something like a bratty eight year old who's pissed their dungarees  in a huff because their schoolmate won't share their novelty pencil, "Well I'm not talking to you if you don't like our new F2P model, so there!"

As stupid and painful as it is to see developers and publishers repeatedly  miscommunicate and totally fuck up how they talk to their audience, part of me takes a perverse  glee at industry types crash and burning in spectacular fashion. Because they don't see it coming, that's the best part. The F2P by the nature of how games are accessed on phones works because those games are played in short bursts. So Ace Combat Infinity's idea of fuel running out and the player having to wait for more, or just pay for a instant top up,  doesn't necessarily ruin the flow of the game because your jet is refuelling while you get off the bus. Consoles are  stuck in the living room, so console games have always offered prolonged experiences. The first hints at using F2P ideas on home consoles have so far meant buying your game, only to find out bits of it have been cut off or locked on the disc so it can be sold back to you. And Namco Bandai's refusal to explain it doesn't exactly do much to put anyone's mind at ease that Ace Combat Infinity will be anything other than, at best, the wrong format choice or the kind of rip off that toddlers play to run massive bills on their parent's smart phones. I'm sure it's the former, not the latter, because everyone knows if you have a great product that loads of people will like, you don't tell them about it.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

New Book review: Super Marios Bros.3 Brick By Brick

Price: Paperback: $8.00/ digital: $6.00
Available at:

"Movie" Bob Chipman is the resident film critic for The Escapist and, if you weren't aware of his Game Overthinker series, is a unashamed Nintendo fan. And I don't mean he has the battered housewife mindset that is associated with your common console zealot. Chipman clearly has a sincere love for all things Nintendo that comes across in his debut book, "SMB.3 Brick By Brick", an ode to Super Mario Bros. 3.

Instead of just writing a drawn out review or essay into why Chipman so loves SMB.3, he has essentially made a "let's play" in novella form. In that he plays through the original NES version of SMB.3  and documents his experience playing through all the worlds, finding  all secrets, and all bosses defeated. On top of detailing playing through the game, Chipman goes into the  nostalgia from revisiting his  favourite Mario game and goes somewhat into the personal connection he has with SMB.3 and why he thinks it's the best Mario game ever.

This isn't a lecture or any kind of  review per se, as Chipman is telling you  his personal history in video gaming via snippets of his gaming youth and his personal attachment to the Mario Bros. series on top of the analyses and intercut with diary snippets that give a brief look behind the life of a freelance writer, his own personal upheavals while writing the book and what is either an attempt to cultivate a image of a cool, world weary cocktail sipper or a subtle cry for help with a burgeoning drink problem. These personal asides from Chipman's gaming past and present nicely punctuate the catalogued  gameplay, and conveys why so many children in the 80s and 90s jumped into the Nintendo-led second age of game consoles in the first place. That  video games are one of the few things (if not the only thing) that a child has any real influence over, and probably the only thing they excel at, as it was in young Movie Bob's case. Something any gamer can appreciate. I personally know there are more technically better and critically acclaimed  Zelda games, but to me, A Link to the past is the best because it was my introduction to the series and, like SMB.3, it still holds up today as a quality video game. Surroundings change, loved ones leave, but a good video game will always be a good video game. A constant you can always rely on when everything else goes to shit. Of course whether you enjoy these glimpses into Chipman's life depends on your opinion of the man (if any), which, according to the comments section on The Escapist, would be you either see him as a cineast who has the courage of his convictions to speak out over certain negative aspects in geek culture or a self important, nasal whiner with poor taste in facial hair.

That's not to say it's not all about Chipman's personal attachment to the Mario series. The majority of the book is a detailed look into every stage, every possible secret and even every mistake made during the play-through. Compared to your regular  "let's play" video it's different in that the commentary isn't hindered due to the player having to concentrate on playing the game and being a professional critic it's put across in a concise manner that pretty much all "lets plays" ever do. Granted, a game play-through that's purely text-based may seem like an alien concept to fans of the likes of Pew Die Pie , Smosh or Something Awful, but chances are you don't know how to read, so this book probably isn't aimed at you anyway. But if you do have two brain cells to rub together or weren't alive during the NES boom-period and would like to know more about it, then Brick By Brick is worth a read.

It's decently priced and in my case arrived fairly quickly to the UK from Fangamer and came with a free badge and a papercraft thwomp for good measure. The quality of the paper and cover isn't amazing (think along the lines of the free novellas  Sega Power gave away), that's not to say the pages fall out, but because  the small text is printed close to the edge of the page you run the risk of cracking the spine by having to open the book all the way back to read it all. However that and a couple of typos doesn't diminish what is a fresh approach to what is becoming a tired form of games media, and I recommend you get a copy. A good, brisk read and hopefully the first of more books from Chipman

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The send off...

Don't worry, this isn't going to be one of those long posts I usually write. But I felt I owed it to whoever reads this blog to let them know that as of now, Suicide Gaming is no more. When I jeered at VideoGamer for reducing their reviews to 300 words tops, and joked about reducing all news posts to simply a link and relevant emoticon and using either red, amber or red squares to score game reviews, I thought it was mildy amusing. Weird thing was, the more I thought it about it the more I liked the idea.

The main reason I don't write under my real name isn't because I work in games media and don't want to lose my job. It's because I wanted to actively go against the sad trend in UK games writing, for everyone and their sister to try and be the next Charlie Brooker. All of them throwing out elaborate metaphors and insults in the vein hope of breaking out of games journalism, fucking a children's TV presenter and getting  their own TV series. And even if you did know my real name, you wouldn't of heard of me anyway, so it was fine to be totally anonymous with my bitter rantings.
But things change, and I got sick of shouting  to myself in the dark. So that's why I'm following VideoGamer's example and then some. As much as I would stick it to hack game journos for being paid off, childish hypocrites, I was being just as bad by constantly droning on with my equally pointless opinions. This is the elephant in the room of games writing, the audience doesn't care what any games writer really thinks. All that concerns them is when is a game coming out and what review score did it get? There is literally no worth to games journalism besides the advertising it carries. The writer just facilitates the news and game score. No one gives a shit . You're like the man in a porno, you're needed but you're not the focus nor should you ever be.

 So I'm taking games writing to it's logical next step. Suicide Gaming is finished. In it's place is the Game Over blog. If you read the previous news and review posts here, then you'll see nothing but that on the new site. All you'll get is raw data. News posts will tell you all you need to know from the headline, should you wish to know more, the link to the source will be within the post, followed by a suitable emoticon to set the tone of the story. And the only content you'll see in a review is the format, price, release (if applicable) and the score, one of three colours. Green=good game. Amber= OK game. Red=poor game.

And that's all there is to it. Granted, I still need to design a proper logo and get my ad-sense account set up, but Rome wasn't built in a day. This is where games media is going, and I want to be at the front of the queue. To hell with all these pointless issues only a vocal minority care about, like DRM, online abuse etc. So what that Killer is Dead has a mode that views adult relationships through the eyes of a 14 year old boy?

...Who's business is it that the game journalist that recently called Phil Fish a "fucking hipster" works for a company that supported S.O.P.A., P.I.P.A. and whatever legislation that will try to destroy a free internet, while being one of the biggest copyright trolls on YouTube?

There won't be any internet riot because VG 24/7 doesn't like to give due credit and can give you the fuck off because they come under the mighty Eurogamer umbrella.

And that Call Of Duty players think it's alright to inundate one of the devs with constant abuse? Nothing to do with me...nothing at all. It's not even worth and let live, right? They're all none-stories, move on. What is there to get upset about?


Oh, no wait. I forgot I have less than  zero fucking desire to be part of anything related to being a games journalist, seeing as it's a continual drizzle of sold-off opinions and hypocrisy who's sites are no different from the GameOver blog. Except they write a paragraph to go along with their recycled news posts. It's called "news aggregation", which is exactly what it seems like on the surface, copying someone else's work to leech off their hits, but because there's a link to the original (that's if it even is linked to the original source) it's OK. If I didn't know any better, I would swear legitimate games journalism is no better than the plagiarising bloggers. So don't be surprised if MCV looks just like GameOver in five years time. Especially seeing as some people thought GameOver was actually a good idea and not the joke it was intended to be. That confusion is my fault, because when satire is indistinguishable from the subject then the joke is lost. It really speaks volumes about the state of games writing, that a blog that soley exists to blatantly leech clicks off the original authors and put in fuck all effort into writing reviews, gets met with approval and not the slightest bit of suspicion.

I may only have five people who read my stuff and half my twitter followers are spam bots and people doing the follow back thing but I can look at myself in the mirror and I can stand by what I've written  but still be open to change and taking on another way of thought and admit when I'm wrong, like when I said this wasn't gonna be a long post. I'm not quitting on calling bullshit in games media, in games culture or game publishing/development. I'm not quitting this blog or style of writing and I'm not quitting on my readers, all five of you. Because I'll be damned if I'll ever be anything close to a gurning, emo twat who has the cheek to call them self a games journalist while making adverts for EA,  an unfunny sex pest or Jason Bradbury. Who, to be fair, I've never met but I'm assured is a slimy cunt of a man. So fuck those three media scumbags and their mouth-breathing youtube audience and anyone like them or wishes to be like them. So if you thought I was packing it all in to play the game journalism game then I apologise for misleading you in the name of half-arsed comedy. As long as games media is a hotbed of cunting hypocrites and gaming has a climate of insecure bullies within it, I'm going nowhere.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

VIDEOGAMER starts the games journalism evolution

Gaming website, has caused a little bit of a stir with their recent announcement that all of their reviews will limited to 300 words max. Some gamers and writers have accused Videogamer of dumbing down for the sake of higher review turnover and essentially giving in to the barely literate gaming masses, that frequent IGN and the Kotaku comments section. Or worse yet, purposely stifling any personality a writer might try to insert into a "wall of text." So  everything is kept  to the Videogamer house style and does away with any desires to be the next Charlie Brooker -something 90% of UK games journos aspire to be once they find out how shit the money is.  And even if that is the case, I think they're doing the right thing.  Because lets be honest, most gamers don't read reviews. They look at the screen grabs and scroll right down to see the score so they can confirm their original opinion of the game or violently disagree with it. Hell, even the term, "games journalism" doesn't apply to 98% of the output of gaming media. We're not journalist, we're critics, and mostly questionable ones at that. We're not translating the dead sea scrolls, we're saying whether a digital toy is worth paying for or not, and there's no point trying to act otherwise. So I applaud Videogamer for having the sense to see what their audience really wants and give it to them.

Videogamer's example has made really think about how I write, making me look back over the one hundred previous posts that comprise this here blog. And some of what I said, and the way I said it makes me wince now. I've gone through a few changes in my personal life and I believe there's nothing wrong with learning new perspectives and changing your opinion on things. So I owe some small apology to Jessica Chobot for even hinting at calling her an attention whore. She works as a TV presenter, it's  part of her work to get people to pay attention to her and create a profile. You would honestly be surprised how important it is for a presenter  to have a social media presence these days. I still don't think much of her (or Olivia Munn) professionally, but I certainly wouldn't criticise her the way I did around the time (and before) her mind boggling inclusion in the Mass Effect 3 now, so as to distance myself from the frothing-at-the-mouth loons of the Men's Rights Activists.
There's also the issue of word count. Long before I wrote this blog, one criticism I would usually get from readers or editors would  be that I write too much. Well no more. This is the final time I ever write anything close to this word length ever again. Videogamer has shown what the future of games writing is, compression. But the thing is, they're not committing fully to the concept. To hell with written reviews, who in christ wants to read anything other than the title, format, release date and price on a game review any more? Nobody, that's who, just give a score and move on. That's all people care about, so it's time to jump into the future with booth feet.

From now on any reviews on Suicide Gaming will only contain the score. No intro, no explanation, just the score. And I won't be using something as cumbersome and complicated as a number score either. How the shit am I supposed to condense the varying quality of a video game into one of ten, or even one hundred, separate quantifiers. Fuck that noise. The new scoring system from now on will be a three-colour scoring system. If a game is good, then you'll see a green square next to it. An average game will get a amber square and a poor game will get a red one. There, no need for personality, ideas or opinions, just compression!
And that's not all, everything on this blog is getting the same streamlined treatment, because I'm not afraid of the future, all regular posts- where I link to a story or bring up a subject in gaming, then give you my thoughts on it-will just be a headline, a link related to it (if there is one) and next to it, to represent my opinion, will be a emoticon right next to it. For example,
Future publishing is losing sales and many may lose their jobs    XD

Progress! This is how it's gonna be now, because I've seen the future and I do not fear it, I embrace it. Unlike the half-hearted efforts from those pussies at Videogamer, who won't commit to this great upgrade 100%. Are you listening you hyperthyroid tosser? You don't need Julia Roberts' ex husband doing a comedy Northern accent all the fucking time to pull in the numbers. Just give people cold data and the hint of an opinion, so they can carry on with the rest of their day. That's where this business is going, where a single intern could run the news and reviews section of a whole magazine/website. And when that happens, you'll know who to thank

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Darkstalkers Resurrection (xbox 360) review: The underrated dead

There's something unashamedly primitive about  the fighting game genre. Pretty  much every other kind of video game has been deconstructed, reevaluated, rebooted and rehashed in multiple ways. But the fighting game keeps it's kung fu slippers firmly entrenched in the original definition of a video game as a electronic toy, a digital distraction via exaggerated one-on-one violence, using the same escapism ,with action figures, you would use as a child, having Mr T kicking the plastic shit out of Darth Vader on your living room carpet. That's why you're unlikely to ever see an arty beat 'em up... Christ, how I hate that label. I promise, during this review I will use anything other than "beat 'em up" as a term. Lets see how many we can come up with?

Poor Darkstalkers is like the overlooked middle child in Capcom's pantheon of whack-collectors(1) as the first Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors brought in the bold, anime-esque graphic style, that would soon be assimilated into Capcom's then favourite son, Street Fighter (with SF Alpha/Zero) right up until Capcom ditched 2D pixels for polygons with SF4. The only times Darkstalkers is mentioned is when one of the cast gets used in a crossover title, like Marvel vs. Capcom, or that dark point in one's personal history when I convinced my mother to dress up as Morrigan, in a desperate stab at popularity on 4-Chan. But thanks to Capcom relearning the law of diminishing returns- due to 3 successive releases of SF4 and the broken rip off that was Street Fighter X Tekken- don't expect a 3D follow up any time soon. However, you can rediscover this overlooked punch-up sim(2) thanks to Iron Galaxy, who have given the same kind of digital spit and polish they gave to cult slap-exchanger(3) SF3: Third Strike, with Darkstalkers Resurrection.

To the uninitiated, the Darkstalkers series is a 2D nut-kicker(4) where the entire roster are monsters from fiction and legend. Letting you choose from a selection of various  monsters, like a mummy, werewolf, vampire or punk rocker zombie. Using a over-the-top art style, that continued on in the Marvel Vs. Capcom games, which still holds up over a decade on and is still part of Darkstalkers' charm. Iron Galaxy have taken due care upscaling the sprites, ensuring your character's attacks are a vibrant body horror, contorting limbs into blood gauging weapons and invoking supernatural powers for special and super moves.

While the subtitle "Resurrection" may suggest it's a HD remake of the original Darkstalkers game. Iron Galaxy, knowing the  ruck shop(5) fans well enough to have skipped the fun but flawed first game and instead  gone for it's two sequels, "Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge" and Darkstalkers 3/Vampire Saviour. The reason being that Iron Galaxy had trouble deciding which sequel fans of the series would want more, so they converted both to satisfy fans of both games. Say what you want about Capcom's reliance on outsourcing the updates to their back catalogue, but Iron Galaxy know the hardcore fisticuffer(6) audience well, understanding that's exactly who is going to play a re-released Darkstalkers game, hence why both the second and third game were sold as one downloadable title. So as not to split the fanbase.

 Darkstalkers 2 and 3 play somewhat differently. "Revenge" has the traditional Capcom blow-swapper (7)  of a, best two-out-of three rounds system, where you beat down your opponent's energy until they're knocked out on their monstrous arse. Then repeat a second time to advance to the next fight. In Darkstalkers 3, you fight in one continuous round, with two energy bars being used throughout. If you've played Killer Instinct or any of the Marvel versus games, then you'll know exactly how this variation makes Darkstalkers 3 stand out from part 2. This leads to fights in Darkstalkers 3 being somewhat more hectic as you strive to gain the advantage of knocking off your opponent's first energy bar while trying to keep as much of your own. Being a old stick in the mud and having a long term dislike of Killer Instinct, I prefer the classic separate round system. But it's a shrewd move of Iron Galaxy to include both, so fans of either style are catered for.

Iron Galaxy certainly knew who was going to download DR, the hardcore head-knocker(8) player. Even the tutorials get straight into teaching you each character's strike and special move combinations, working up to effective move exploits that expert twatting-givers(9) love to use online over and over again. But don't feel daunted, if you're even remotely familiar with any Street Fighter game, then you'll pick this up quickly. That's one great advantage to having a (for lack of a better term) gaming heritage. If you've ever played a Street Fighter game before, you'll probably discover most, if not all, special movies just by go through the d-pad motions you would normally perform smacking E. Honda in the nuts.  And even if you're not, the single player experience isn't daunting and the cast in either game are varied enough that you'll find a character that you'll enjoy playing with in either DR title, even with just punches and kicks. And there's player assists for the truly hopeless on both games.

As is the case in any bollock-stomper(10) the real appeal is in the multiplayer. So long as you have a friend, and I do mean friend, online or sat next to you on the sofa, you'll be able to enjoy freakish combat to your hearts content. However, if you're reduced finding matches online then technically you're gonna have a couple of issues. Not with the servers (run on the tried and tested GGPO server) no, so long as you have a  decent internet connection and so does your opponent, then you won't experience any match-ruining lag. But if you're not the kind of person who spends hours pouring over frame data, tweaking the dip switches on your arcade stick and being a general sex pest, then you're in the minority of players online. You see, by the time of writing (some time after release) the DR servers will be mostly populated by the kind of joyless, knuckle-dragging scum bags, that comprise the "fighting game community" who are only a neck tattoo away from resembling a building site.  And this review being for the Xbox version, then there's the obvious handicap of the inadequate d-pad on the Xbox controller. So if you really have your heart set on being matched up against the same sex offender in training, that pounds you into a corner ad-infinitum, then at least invest in one of those fightpads   and, of course, don't put your headset on or read any messages.

Go make me a sandwich, because my mum took a restraining order out on me

If there's anything negative, it's that I wished there was a all-in versus option, where you had the option to pick a character from either Darkstalkers game in the round style of your choice. So you could play in the classic, best two out of three rounds, Night Warriors style, playing as Jedah. Because I'm old and set in my ways -going way back to stealing money from my mother's purse to play Street Fighter 2 on the arcade- and I slightly resent having to play the Vampire Saviour style to play as Jedah, who is an awesome cross of Go Nagai's Devilman and Resident Evil's Albert Wesker and is by far the coolest boss from any Capcom fist-lover(11) by far. Say what you want about M.Bison's nifty hat and Sagat's cool scar, but that pales in comparison to a dapper, smirking reaper who's stage is set in front of a giant devil-foetus  and his basic attacks involve thrusting his talons through the bursting flesh in his arms.

 fighting inside the womb of a  giant demon, next tuesday

Apart from that minor niggle, there's not a thing I can find wrong with DR. It's a faithful update of two lost gems of the arse-buster(12) genre with tight concise controls and the only DLC is to add character specific art on a virtual arcade cabinet, so you won't have to spend another penny on anything game-related. Which makes a nice change for a Capcom title. The price tag of 1200 microsoft points may seem hefty for what most see as a retro game, even for two. But if you're looking for a knuckle-digger(13) that has perhaps the most varied roster of fighters, is bags of fun and isn't totally designed to scare newbies away then give Darkstalkers Resurrection a chance. Enjoy the monster-bashing fun with your friends, but if you find yourself with the sudden urge to bully someone for their gender, race or sexuality, then take a little break and make your own fucking sandwich.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Sony are our friends again, right?

Now the dust has settled a little over one of the more eventful E3s, and everyone pretty much all agreed that out of the three console manufacturers showing their wares, Sony's Playstation 4 beat Microsoft's Xbox One hands down. After Microsoft decided the future of console gaming was make people check in to Microsoft's servers once a day and not being allowed to borrow your games to other Xbox One owners and only being able to buy pre-owned games after paying the original value of the game and sacrificing your first born to mighty Aeries, all eyes were on what Sony would do. To the relief of many, Sony allayed the fears of DRM on consoles becoming the norm when they announced the PS4 will not require a internet connection to play games, will be region free and won't restrict pre-owned games. Add to that indie publishers being allowed to self publish and a Mad Max game. So that means we all love Sony again because they've done good by gamers, right?

There's no denying that compared to Microsoft's E3 presentation of PR spin, sequels to the usual Xbox games, a God of War clone and a rape joke to herald the return of Killer Instinct, the PS4 is clearly the better option, even if the Dark Sorcerer isn't actually a game, but should be, I'm far more convinced to give Sony my money than Microsoft, and not just because it's cheaper than Xbox One and Mad Max. OK, mostly that, but during all the whooping and cheering, while Jack Tretton had that, "fuck you Microsoft" grin on his face (which was actually funny) I couldn't help but think, why are we lining up to love Sony, like the PS4 had a free oral sex mode included, when all Sony did was not be the kind of money grabbing, psycho boyfriend Microsoft has turned into. You know, like they're supposed to?

In totally unrelated news, I really am pleased with the plumber I just hired. He's fantastic, not once has he tried to steal my money, set my mother on fire or have sex with my cat. Don't get me wrong, I'm relieved Sony has become a second option for what my next game console might be (clue: NOT the Xbox One), but it speaks for the state of gaming when Sony, just by acknowledging your consumer rights -as most governments would eventually take them to task over- become the greatest thing since the two-faced kitten.
being adorable is always on

Maybe Sony really have learned  from their almighty cock ups that was the PS3 launch, the cumbersome, unsupported mess that the PS Vita was, the Playstation network being hacked and everything about the PSP Go? If so, that's commendable that they eventually realised why they were playing catch up to Microsoft and Nintendo and have taken steps to gain back their lost audience. And if they're genuine about how no pre-owned game the PS4 can be blocked, despite some uncertainty about third party publishers and how the online pass system might creep in, then fair play to them. But that doesn't make Sony the patron saint of game consoles (because Gunpei Yokoi is in line for that gig) because they're the default good guy for not trying to fuck you over a digital barrel. Like they shouldn't be doing ever, even if Cliffy B thinks it's ok.

Sony are not your friends. No more than Microsoft or Nintendo are, and you're not obligated to buy anything they produce. It's a simple relationship, they make something you want to buy, you buy it. Good for Sony (and Nintendo) for respecting your consumers rights, but that should be a given. And we shouldn't be lining up to suck them off because they're not as stupid/crazy/greedy as Microsoft are being. And if it turns out Cliffy B is right (which is a terrifying concept) about Sony lying about their non-use of DRM then to hell with them too. If you  really want to play Mad Max and The Order 1886, then get a PS4. And will you do a celebratory dance and burn your old game consoles as thanks because the discs actually played the game too?

Monday, 10 June 2013

Jeff Bakalar knows what's best for gaming

On the eve of Microsoft's E3 presentation (at time of writing) CNET's video game editor, Jeff Bakalar wrote one of the biggest pieces of bare-faced hypocrisy with his piece on  the Xbox One's pre-owned game policy. And how gamers shouldn't worry their little heads about "next generation game licensing." Though Bakalar admits Xbox One's policy to used games essentially means the end of the pre-owned market, gamers shouldn't complain about losing ownership of the very media they paid for, because they should of never really have owned it in the first place. According to Bakalar, owning, trading, borrowing and selling our games wasn't the right of the consumer, it was a loophole,

"In reality, that's what the outrage is all about: the closing of that loophole. One we've taken for granted for 30 years. I can sympathize with that. We've had it pretty good up to this point. But believe me, if the technology existed in 1985, there is no way on Earth Nintendo would have allowed you to let a dozen of your friends borrow your copy of Super Mario Bros.
Why? Because each time you lend the game out to a friend, it's money lost for the publisher and more importantly, the developer. And ultimately, that's not good for the industry."

Oh, I get it Jeff. Owning the physical media on which the game I play is on, was  a privilege, not a right. Despite shelling out £45 for my games, what I was really doing was borrowing them from Nintendo, so I had no right to briefly swap F-Zero for Street Fighter 2 with the only other kid in my class who has a SNES. Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that if Nintendo could have developed a technology that blocked game rental and the used market during their glory days of the NES and SNES, they would have. Ninty was (and still can be) hugely dickish, as their iron-fisted control of the market and aggressive attempts to kill game rental in Japan would attest. But this whole mindset of, "every pre-owned/given away game is a lost sale." Like shit it is. First off, if a game is pre-owned, that means someone had to have bought it already, it represents a sale. If someone buys that game second hand or is given it as a gift or just loaned it, then maybe, just maybe, it's because that person couldn't afford to buy that game brand new or they didn't think the game was good enough to risk paying full price for? How is it a lost sale when they had no intention of buying it on the first place? If you remove the pre-owned market, then that person won't be forced into buying new, they just won't play it.  Maybe game publishers need to reassess their pricing policy? Nah, it's the gamer's fault with their decadent concepts of appreciating their consumer rights, the bastards! I bet they accept lifts in their friend's car as well, without a care of the lost sale to Nissan. While listening to the radio as well, not giving two shits of the lost sale to Todd Rungren. How do they sleep at night, eh Jeff? Inside a fucking house they bought off someone who owned it previously I bet!

Bakalar  points to the Xbox One's draconian game policy as simply progress. The huge popularity of MP3s and e-books as the main example of a digital product supplanting a physical one, which uses the same kind of licensing system, in that you don't own the files you download, just the right to listen to/read them.  Shitty long-term problem aside, the reason people jumped into downloading books and music with both feet is because the price of the digital product was significantly less than the physical, and the simplicity (most of the time) of purchasing said digital product. An ipod and kindle are small, lightweight items that store at least hundreds of songs and books from a massive library you can easily access.
The Xbox One is a big box that is shackled to your TV, needs to check onto the internet once every 24 hours,like it's under house arrest, won't allow the digital content you downloaded on the Xbox 360 to be transferred to it, and the price difference between  digital and physical games are zero, with digital titles having much slower depreciation than the irrelevant plastic discs that Jeff Bakalar says are so bad for us and the games industry. And he wonders why gamers are so vehemently against this new licensing policy.

Bakalar also brings up the popularity of Steam as a gaming platform that implements it's own DRM, much like the Xbox One will use (except no one at Microsoft wants to call it that)  but forgetting to look into really why Steam was popular in the first place. Convenience and common special offers. Something Microsoft isn't offering. Games aren't aren't going for rip of prices on Steam -and, at time of writing, Microsoft has yet to confirm any price difference for digital titles- with constant sales to encourage people to take a risk on games they might not normally play. Steam is on a open platform, (the PC) that can also access different game streaming sites. Xbox Live can only be access via that big, angular lump that only Microsoft sell. Steam has a far more welcoming platform for indie games, Microsoft will still require you to have released a physical game or use a established publisher, and Valve have said if Steam was to go tits up, they would deactivate the DRM, so you could still play your games long after Gabe Newell is pushing up daisies. From what we know of the Xbox One, all games are dependant on the 24 hour check-in. If the Xbox One fails, then when those servers are shut down, all the software you bought will be 100% obsolete, leaving you with a very expensive paperweight. Thing is, gamers tend to trust Valve based on their previous behaviour. Very few gamers trust Microsoft to properly handle the games they might buy on their unwieldy console, because they show so little regard for the 360 back catalogue and the very notion that people might want to still play them. Because I personally don't expect Microsoft to sensibly price digital games or take down the pay wall that is Xbox LIVE gold, that makes you pay extra for apps you can access for free on any other device, no matter how  optimistic Bakalar is that Microsoft can turn around the negative publicity.

But what really annoys -as it does when it comes to most game journalists- is the sheer hypocritical, corporate cocksucking that makes the journalist think they're some how better than the oiks who have to pay for their games. Granted, they may be better spoken or smarter (you only have to read most comments sections to prove that theory right) but the following really takes the cake,

"There's a stench of hypocrisy that emanates from a class of gamer who demands progress on every level from a new console, yet belligerently revolts at the discovery that won't be delivered on plastic discs any longer" 

For a writer who works for CNET, who built themselves upon using content that wasn't theirs to wag an accusatory finger at people who have serious reservations about losing what little consumers rights they have, which are surely to get the attention of the EU, like Steam recently did, is genuine hypocrisy. Or perhaps just stupidity? Or perhaps Bakalar secretly wants his next games console to be like a fascist state, where gamers are nothing more than a inconvenience between the publishers and the money they're so entitled to?

Monday, 27 May 2013

Anonymous guest spot: The GMAs are ruined!

What is becoming a bit of a tradition on this pitiful blog -well, something that's been going for more than two weeks- is the only input from people in professional games journalism and the games industry, under the proviso that they write under the protection of anonymity, for fear of losing their job or getting blanked by Sega at the Eurogamer expo. So, the name of the writer and their place of work have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Benny Piecroft has been lead writer for Massive Con Vlogs since 2005, using his time working for game publisher, Finger-Bit, to help turn the ailing fortunes of a gaming site with his concept of advertising disguised as news posts

The Games Media Awards are ruined!

In my line of work, the very last thing in the world you want to do is listen to the whining, fucking plebs. Especially the twats in the comments section. But if you've been browsing multiple gaming sites to steal their traffic, you couldn't help but notice one saying that's been spreading, industry crash.

With a global recession showing no sign of ending, AAA publishers suffering big losses, having to shut down dev-teams while the price of development increases more and more. The unanimously negative response to the Xbox One reveal furthered the talks of a industry crash, not unlike the console crash in the '80s. And from the way things look right now, I'm starting to agree. I've been involved in gaming since the start of the last decade and in all my time have I never seen the games industry in such a worrying state as it is now. Because the very worst thing that could ever happen. The single biggest sign that the games industry is on the verge of a crash, The Games Media Awards have been compromised!

Did you read what this blog posted previously? "The GMAs are saved." I wonder how long it took him to come up with that piece of weak, internet snark. It's really quite shit, isn't it? Thinking one of the worst things to happen to our great industry is fuel for insipid comedy, the cunt!
Ever since the first GMAs were hosted in some ropey strip club, it has been the epitome of excellence in UK games journalism. And because some fat bastard got on his high horse about a perfectly innocent competition where game journalists could win a PS3, causing our glorious industry watchdogs at Intent Media to change the rules to this years GMAs, so the competition to win a PS Vita, by adopting a baby and naming it Vita has been scrapped (so that's me with another mouth to feed) and all our brilliant friends in PR- who always provide such wonderful ad revenue and the occasional line of Bolivian happy dust- are no longer allowed to vote. If that doesn't say the games industry is screwed, I don't know what does.

The GMAs were always the highlight of the year if you were a games journalist. Free drinks, lukewarm beef burgers, karaoke, and a cool goodie bag with loads of cool shit, if you won a award were what awaited you. But now the GMAs have scrapped all of that and only the pissed up karaoke remains, because some fanboys got all pissy about about how we're so dependant on publishers buying ad space and high review scores are essentially for sale. What's wrong with that you pricks?

Why have you forsaken us Intent Media? Did we not appease you with our ritual sacrifice of Lauren Wainwright?  Did we not continue in the clandestine tradition of only ever nominating and voting for our friends in the games press? Did we not shout down that fucking Doritos crowd, with their calls of collusion loud enough? Why have you taken away our chance to win lot expensive prizes and letting the game publishers pimp our principles for the chance to win even more free shit?

The GMAs are our special night and now Intent Media have taken some of the sponsor money, that should be rightfully buying ipods for the winners, and are using it to build a  fucking school! And for what? To pay some new writer for some freelance work? WHAT THE CUNT FOR?!  You're not supposed to pay them, even for a competition. That's what makes the GMAs so special, the celebration of how we're all in the special club and no one else is allowed in. That's how games journalism works. But now, I just don't know any more.

As a child, I used to dream of getting t-shirts and video games for free. And when I became a games journalist, that dream came true. Since 2005, I have not paid for a single video game, hoodie top or whiskey sour. And I'm very proud of that I've been able to do that purely by regurgitating other people's news posts and using Metacritic as proof of whether a game has been a success or not. And the GMA was the one big night of the year where other professional game journalists could get together, trade stories, laugh at the freelancers and amateurs and doing white lines with Mr Foxy's rolled up broadsheet newspaper. It was great, and now it's ruined. The entire collapse of the games industry can't be far behind. So thanks a bunch for that you twats!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The GMAs have been saved!

Is it really time for the Games Media Award nominations already? God, I didn't want to write about the GMAs again this year, I really didn't. And barring some hilariously embarrassing incident, like coked up footy hooligans sponsoring the event, or having a competition where game journalists tweet the name of a publishers to win a PS3, which sparked off the rabgate debacle last year, I wont be writing anything about the awards or whoever wins them later this year. Because outside of the corporate cocksuckers who win them, the GMAs are of zero interest to gamers.

However, I couldn't help but take notice of this years inevitable mess of self congratulation and borderline drug and alcohol addiction, no doubt presented by some cunt off BBC 3, when I read about the revised voting rules and supposedly pro new talent approach. As described in a circular email, sent out by the soulless drone in charge of GMA PR. For your benefit, I've cut out the poor attempt at (what I hope is) self-effacing humour to address last years obvious evidence of industry/journo collusion.,

"They will be 100% voted for by you. In the past we gave PRs about 10% of the vote
(not marketing, sales or management) because we figured they knew you well and read
your stuff. And it was a spread of PRs - not necessarily from the sponsors, all PRs. 

Well that's good to know, isn't it? So yes, PR people voted in the GMAs, but it was only a small amount of the vote. So people that have, or should have, nothing to do with the  writing part of video games media no longer vote for their favourite games journo. As if we should applaud Intent Media -the company behind the GMAs and -hypocritical advertising posing as a -news site, MCV-  for getting accused for making their awards show  nothing but a booze-laden cementing of the suspicions of the insidious relationship between games journalism and games publishers. So to alleviate those suspicions, Intent  end up confirming them but promise never to do it again. So now it's a totally legitimate award to win because the voting is entirely done by other game  journos.  Who we all know are incorruptible pillars of society and in no way would vote for their mates or for current/potential employers. How  attendees of the GMAs will feel about other amendments, like  no more promotional competitions, where hacks at the event were free to prostitute whatever scant credibility they had. And gone are the fancy goodie bags that came with winning a GMA. But if you have no soul, and pretended to be Michael French's mate enough to get nominated, don't be totally disheartened. There will still be free alcohol, all paid for by the publishers that sponsor the event, so it won't be a totally wasted trip.

What's also interesting is the new addition to the GMAs, the confusingly named, Games Media Academy. Which is, as the name might suggest, not a venue or even a course of higher learning or key skills, but is a competition for any writers not being paid for their writing. So if you're just starting out or still looking for your break to finally get some paid work, this is worth looking at. The winner gets over a thousand pounds worth of paid freelance work their way and, according to the superior John Walker, expert mentoring! All you have to do is write a 400-word article, be it a preview, review, interview, opinion piece or analytical feature. So long as it's about video games, and you send it to the email in the GMA academy page before October 10th and hope you get the work. You know, just as if you were normally applying for freelance work at a website or magazine. Except in this case Future, Gamespot, IGN, Network-N and MCV/Develop are using, what is supposed to be, common business practice to pat themselves on the back because they saw it in their hearts to assess one person's writing, like it, offer them work and pay them for it. Wow! what a amazing concept eh? Doing work for money. Funny, I thought Future publishing did the opposite with new writers?

But if it's really your heart's desire to finally get your foot in the door in the world of freelance games journalism, and somehow think writing should be a competition and don't mind  getting totally wankered  on brain-breaking cocktails while the moral and talent void that comprise most of UK games journalism sink further into a mire of pathetic hypocrisy and karaoke, in the vein hope it will kickstart your career. Be my guest...Just stay away from the toilets, alright?