A WEEK IN GAMING 7.8.13-7.12.13

Sunday, July 14, 2013

By: Jamaal Ryan

It’s been quite some time since there has been posted weekly updates, but let’s get back into the swing of things for the week for July 8th.

Call of Duty Powered by SmartGlass? (7/8)

Second screen gaming appears to be one of the new auxiliary features this console generation and the next. Despite the fact that the additive experience has dated as far back as the Gamecube era, Wii U brought it in full force with the Game Pad, Playstation has been building upon its PSP support with Vita functionality, and Microsoft has expanded outside of proprietary hardware with SmartGlass.
This year’s E3 has shown second screen gaming in full force with Project Spark, Watch Dogs, and The Division. But now Infinity Ward’s Mark Rubin told The Financial Post that the studio is looking into SSG along with companion app support for future Call of Duty titles.

This seems to be an odd fit at first having to think about dividing your attention between two screens while playing a fast paced shooter like Call of Duty. The current example of this lies within the Wii U version of Black Ops 2, which hardly pulls your eyes away from your television set, with only minor exceptions, neither interrupting your flow of play.

Rubin understands this, and while he gives no explicit examples, says that the team recognizes its inclusion as a challenge and adds that much of it will sit within multiplayer. We’ve seen companion apps before, more recently with Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s Gunsmith app, but integrating a second screen into the gameplay experience of online matches in COD sounds odd. Will we see a forced implementation with players controlling streak rewards with their touch device? Hopefully not. Will we see something similar to Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs and The Division where players miles away from their console can provide assistance? Possibly. It’s hard to even guess what this feature will bring to the franchise, so it seems that we’ll have to wait until 2015.

New Jersey Parents to be Informed of Video Game Violence Effects on Children (7/9)

New Jersey Senators are looking to pass the bill 2715 which will mandate the Board of Education in the state to “coach” parents on the effects of video game violence based on previous research that has been conducted.

This is vastly premature.

During last week, Polygon reported that the CDC is reviewing report and research questions by the Institute of Medicine. Once research on the effects of violent media on children – if any—ensue, the study will begin in the fiscal year of 2014 and take 3-5 years to conduct.

Reports from the CDC state:

In the absence of this research, policy makers will be left to debate controversial policies without scientifically sound evidence about their potential effects."

The National Coalition Against Censorship have petitioned against the bill, writing a letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie calling for a veto. The NCAC stated that the current studies to be supplied by the Board of Education might “cherry pick” those that have been deemed unreliable by the Supreme Court.

Author Karen Sternheimer discusses the skewed parameters of the studies conducted on the impressions of violent video games, and psychology and criminal justice professor Christopher Ferguson from Texas A&M University who has studied this particular subject himself, had cited a number of studies that have found no conclusive evidence that violent video games cause aggression.

I’m not going to sit here and try to convince parents that video games aren’t harmful to their children. With the image that the media has created around the matter, it’s no wonder parents are scared. But instead of having parents listen to a bunch of gamers or researchers conducting studied looking to substantiate their agenda, let’s leave it to the (hopeful) unbiased professionals at the Center of Disease Control.

Kenji Inafune Didn’t Care for E3 (7/10)

Megaman creator Kenji Inafune sat down with Famitsu discussing his feelings towards the games on the show floor at this year’s E3. And while he was positive on Sony’s indie lin-up along with a few other games, he was overall unimpressed with the games showcased.

Inafune felt that this year’s show was full of games that were sequels or games that were current gen titles on next gen hardware, but overall offering nothing new. I, for one, can’t see how he’s saying that with games like Titanfall, Destiny, The Division, Watch Dogs, Final Fantasy XV, Metal Gear Solid V, Quantum Break, Project Spark, or even Battlefield 4 populating the show floor.

Sure, Watch Dogs is an open city, GTA inspired game coning to next (and current) gen, but the networking interconnectivity brings the relationship between the player and his environment closer together. Battlefield 4 is a sequel to Battlefield 3, however ‘Levelation” can bring spontaneous dynamism to each of the game’s massive levels, everything from trapping tanks by creating holes in ceilings to taking down an entire skyscraper.

The amount of innovation scales from game to game; from new ways to deliver narrative in Quantum Break to new ways to create games in Project Spark. E3 2013 was one of the best E3 in years, and it was the very thing that Inafune criticized about it, novelty, that will make it stick in people’s memory.

Xbox One 360 (7/11)

Remember this guy?
Yeah… I love that guy. He was the enraged representative of our disdain toward Microsoft’s originally pitched DRM policies. He may have something to flip the fuck out about after he hears about the petition asking to bring back Xbox One’s original online features by David Fontenot. On change.org, Fontenot specifically petitioned for the return of the Xbox One’s original purchasing, selling, sharing and digital features of digital licenses.

I’m not so clear in what he means.

Originally, the Xbox One was only to allow us to sell games back to the retailer so long as they publishers allowed it. As for lending or trading games, originally a title can only be given once; and that was to someone who was on your friends list for 30 days. The only feature that’s missing that where we don’t have a practical alternative of is family sharing, where your game collection was available to 10 of your other friends and family, and only appears to be the only bullet point that hopeful adopters miss.

Let’s be clear that Fontenot seeks a compromise instead of a full re-reversal. And Microsoft still withholds the rights to change their policies whenever they seem fit. It is possible that we may see some of these features come up later in the next generation. But until that time, Dave’s just gonna have to put up with our “rudimentary” systems for now.

Stop Talking Shit (7/12)

Twitter, Facebook, IGN message boards, Xbox Live, THE INTERNET, shit talk and offensive language is everywhere. This pandemic has become such a problem because of the World Wide Web’s inadvertent veil of anonymity. Ever had someone call you a n**ger, f*g, cr**ker in person? Compare that to how many times you’ve been called that over the internet.
We cannot hide anymore. Our online identities have meshed with our flesh vessels.Justin CarterJosh Pillaut, and the poor kid Mark Bradford choked have learned this the hard way. And even if we manage to completely separate ourselves from our internet avatars, this isn’t the wild west of networked digital space anymore; now we see sites taking further measures to keep things in order.
Headed by Steve Butts, IGN is beginning to crack down on inflammatory language in the IGN community. He refuses to surrender in relinquishing responsibility of shit-talk control to someone else or surrendering to it all together. But why do we feel the need to weidl such damaging words in the first place?

The IGN Editor-in-Chief sees such impulses fueled by the age old reflex of gaining pleasure over someone else’s pain, the reinvigoration of next gen consoles, and how your words get divorced from who you are within a sea of thousands of commenters. Kotaku’s Patricia Hernandez highlights the brief moments competitors have judge each other which only allows appearances to form their opinion and load their ammunition for what they feel the need to say. But even if we only see the other player’s Gamertag, message board ID, or whatever, why do we dig for the most hurtful things? Do we even know what we’re saying?
We hear comedians say it all the time, “We all take things far too seriously.” We tip toe around words, particularly the ones that are taboo in public. We hold onto these phrases for so long, that once given the opportunity, it bursts like a boiling geyser. I heard a kid say once, “N**GER! N**GER! N**GER! N**GER! N**GER! N**GER! N**GER!” Sure, being that I’m Black, I was offended, but then I thought to myself, “Boy, that dumb kid sure couldn’t wait to say that.” It’s a mammal instinct that dictates our impulse of wanting to say and do whatever we want. But it’s our job as human beings to show a little self-control.
As funny as this is, it's very representative of our careless use of such terms.
At times when people use derogatory language, they resort to such labels because it's the most hurtful language they know. The word ‘f*g’ is used all too loosely to describe something that is lame or someone who is acting cowardly, not necessarily to label a homosexual. Even the N word carries a universal bad connotation, and sometimes is directed towards someone that one dislikes. In my first internship in grad school, I worked at a psychiatric hospital. Some of the more racist patients there threw around bigoted language like they were loose cigarettes (cigarettes in residentials hold their own economic trade). One patient called a nurse a white n**ger, another who was being restrained after defecating himself threw around the word k*ke and Jew. Not one of them was Jewish, but he knew it was offensive.
There is little justification for such behavior, because no matter how common it is, or how many of us have slipped in the past, it's never acceptable in a public domain. Do we really want to see a school full of children slaugtered? Not after Sandy Hook. Do we want to be labeled a hateful, generalized singling-out term based on our race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, country of lineage/origin, or religion? Never.
It may be difficult to imagine the consequences of going out of our way to offend others online. We may go to jail, we may be hunted down and choked out by some 49 year old man, we many have our accounts suspended or terminated by an online community. But try, just try, to not think of the consequences, but to think of others. Wouldn’t this world be a more comfortable place if we all contributed by not being dicks? Yes, I think so.

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