Let’s take a looking at a week in gaming from 8/5/13 to 8/9/13
AAA “Stifling” Creativity (8/5)
It’s been an increasing concern this generation when it comes to creative freedom in AAA development under big budget studios. From franchises with several and even annual installments, to dissolving of middle grade developers and publishers, to the rise of the indie scene and alternate avenues of funding such as Kickstarter and Indie Gogo. This weak, Ubisoft Toronto Jade Raymond expressed her concerns on how big budget costs could “stifle innovation” in game development.
Her point is simple, as the cost of development rises and with the expected significant increase this upcoming generation, publishers are becoming more and more rigid in which games they’re willing to invest in. Raymond notes a few examples from her company as exceptions, being Watch Dogs and The Division, two new IPs with a new –yet contemporary appealing – approach to their targeted genres.
She continues in suggesting alternate models that have become quite popular this generation, them being episodic content, free-to-play models, and micro transactions. But she suggests them with caution, stating the episodic format typically only works well with games such as The Walking Dead, and free-to-play as well as micro-transactions should avoid pay to win traps.
It’s both interesting and refreshing that an executive withholds this perspective from within a publisher that blatantly only invests in franchises as seen with annualized Assassin’s Creed games and the short lived IP ZombiU.
These three alternate models can be forecasted as seen more frequently in the next generation. Free-to-play has quickly become more popular, starting on the PC, making their way on current gen systems, and confirmed as being more present on next gen platforms. The current standardized format of DLC releases can give way to having episodic format more common place, and while micro-transactions have yet to find its footing on home consoles, publishers have taken risks such as EA with Dead Space 3.
The $50-60 package of bulky content is quickly becoming old fashioned with the accelerating indie scene and the monetary advantages of alternate models such as free-to-play. Moving forward from next year and beyond, we may see a drastic change in the way we consumer our games.
Source: Digital Spy
Since When Was The Last of Us Sexist? (8/7)
Skip reading if you haven’t beaten The Last of Us. Spoilers.
There are plenty of games that can be labeled as sexist. Look no further than the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series I reported on last week. Misogyny, chauvinism, intended and unintended, video games is a growing medium with much work needed in these areas. But Naughty Dog’s masterpiece The Last of Us isn’t necessarily the last game you can accuse as being sexist, but it does a damn good job of respecting women to avoid that label.
Creative director Neil Druckman and the rest of his team did a damn good job casting actresses for the roles of Tess, Marlene, and of course, Ellie. Ellie played by Ashley Johnson spoke high praises about the role she took as a strong female lead character as a gamer herself. The team also fought to keep women in focus testing to ensure that the game appealed to female gamers as well. So when Druckman and game director Bruce Starley heard the accusations of sexism thrown towards it, you bet they were quite surprised.
Despite being a huge fan of The Last of Us, calling it “the best game I’ve ever played” I can see a few points critics have made. Tommy’s wife could have been more than capable in defending their camp, especially as the leader managing it instead of hiding and leaving it to the men; Marlene could have put up a bit of a fight before Joel gunned her down.
But after reading a feminist point of view, it appears that naysayers are critical of superficial elements such as Joel being a male lead, his daughter Sarah incapable of defending herself, and two of the strong female characters dying throughout the game. Their preferences almost defeat the theme of the overall game and criticize the story for what it is, demanding an overwhelming female representation. There’s nothing wrong with female dominant cast, but there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with the way The Last of Us exists in and of itself either.
Tess, though later dies in the game, is a fearless and very dominant character. She dies in a guns-a-blazing fashion, something hardly seen from women in any medium. And Ellie was arguably the star of The Last of Us, easily the center of the game’s highest gameplay and narrative moments. Sure Ellie needed to be looked after by Joel, but Ellie’s a fourteen your old child, and Joel is her father figure.
Criticizing games’ gender, race, and cultural representation is a healthy practice needed within the industry. It challenges developers approach with social sensitivity and allows them to engage gamers on an identifiable level. But targeting specific games while failing to recognize its thematic achievements does nothing for the industry and devolves into little more than white noise.
VIA: The Escapist
Nintendo Games Will Stay On Nintendo Platforms (8/8)
With struggling systems sales and a starving library of games, one time or another many of us had the thought, “Maybe Nintendo should just become a third party so that everyone can play their amazing games.
Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has heard your thoughts loud and clear, “If I was to take responsibility for the company for just the next one or two years, and if I was not concerned about the long-term future of Nintendo at all, it might make sense for us to provide our important franchises for other platforms, and then we might be able to gain some short-term profit.”
But given Nintendo has a strong and unique philosophy as a producer of software and hardware, he kills this idea, “I'm really responsible for the long-term future of Nintendo as well, so I would never think about providing our precious resources for other platforms at all.“
Nintendo has gone from the leader of the video game industry to the embodiment of the unconventional. Nintendo ignores what the industry expects. When Sony and Microsoft are building entertainment hub spaces on top of online infrastructures, Nintendo responds with Miiverse. As Sony refines the Dual-Shock controller and Microsoft is upgrading the Kinect camera, Nintendo is searching for new ways to use its tablet controller. The Xbox and Playstation brand presses fourth to the center of your living room, Nintendo’s consoles are alternate games machines built for Nintendo’s game ideas.
No one can deny Nintendo’s glaring misfires, the grossly underpowered hardware, their failure for reigning in third party support. But for Nintendo to give up their creative freedom to develop strictly software for other home consoles is almost nightmarish. For every Call of Duty Watch Dogs, and Destiny, we need Pikmin, Super Smash Bros., and Super Marios. Nintendo might empty space where other games on their home console should be, but there’s always room for Nintendo to operate at their fullest in our gaming lives.
Gamestop Still Getting Sued for Online Passes (8/9)
We’re all too familiar with pesky online passes. We go out of our way to pick up new copies of games instead of used ones, and get fed up with having to punch in those codes slipped on the inside of the CD case.
We have become fluent in the language of online passes, but it turns out that there have still been some that Gamestop took advantage of. Earlier this week, a federal judge in New Jersey has authorized the right for three consumers to file a class action lawsuit against Gamestop.
All three plaintiffs bought EA titles, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, Madden and FIFA 2010. All three were failed to be notified that their used copies didn’t allow access to online content without the extra fee of $10-15 which ultimately set the price of each game over their standard MSRP. This is yet another lawsuit after Gamestop was successfully sued on California for the same failure to notice.
Gamestop has notoriously taken sometimes unethical strides to push the sales of their used games. Anyone who’s shopped at Gamestop knows exactly what I’m referring to. Empower yourself as a consumer, and make the best purchase decisions that best benefit you, though I encourage gamers to support their developers and publishers.
Source: The Philadelphia Enquirer
A Week in Gaming Special Feature:
Who's Responsible for Video Game Addiction?
The idea of personal responsibility is very divisive. Gun advocates abide by this principle – along with self-defense and the right to bear arms – while countless deaths occur every year due to gun violence, even as late as this past week. In the medical and mental health field, we emphasize to patients and clients to take personal responsibility for their medication, monitoring side effects and making a point to notify prescribers if they have an addiction history while state and federal laws monitor individuals purchasing of amphetamines and opiates. Gambling addiction is recognized to many as an illness, which can cause an immeasurable amount of damage from property loss to suicide, yet states capitalize on their huge amounts of cash revenue.
Arguing personal responsibility doesn’t always work. And with that, we can talk about video games.
We swear by this a lot as proclaimed game advocates. Mature games cause violent behavior in impressionable children. To that we say, “Where are the parents who should be taking full responsibility to what their own children consume?” We can just as easily say that in response to instances where long sessions of gaming lead to child neglect or even death.
Though this hasn’t reached western federal minds yet, researchers from U.K. universities in Cardiff, Derby, and Nottingham warn that if game companies don’t take measures to make their games -- specifically MMOs -- less addictive, that Western governments might looking to inflict limits similar to those seen in Asia.
Dire predictions on Western fates from a European perspective typically would be something to sneeze at, but with Joe Biden’s statements that there would be “no legal reason” why taxing video games would be an issue, and constant attacks from political officials on video games, such fates aren’t too farfetched.
So where does personal responsibility play here?
Well, it’s easy for us to simply say that gamers should take responsibility and monitor their game time to a healthy degree. And in the grand scheme of things, that would be most appropriate. Video game addiction hasn’t (yet) been recognized as a diagnosed addiction, and there are no reports of an epidemic of gaming addiction. We cannot, however, ignore the effects of addictive behavior enabled by video games.
Gamers who have an addictive relationship to video games need help. We don’t see federal involvement in making merchandise less attractive for kleptomaniacs, so why should we make games less fun for gamers? As the one who succumbs to these impulses, they lose their ability to practice personal responsibility. Instead the responsibility relies on their family and or anyone else in their immediate support system. Counseling services coaching warning signs, coping skills, and alternative activities (in addition to, not replacing) for gaming to both the person and their support members would help wean these individuals off their addiction.
Government shouldn’t intrude on video game development. It’s a violation of constitutional rights in more ways than any game regulation proposed. But this doesn’t mean that we should ignore the warning signs of video game addiction. A clinician once told me, an addiction involves persistent behavior that an individual engages in at the risk of abandoning physical and social needs. If we see someone that might be succumbing to video game addiction, it then becomes our responsibility to help.
VIA: The Escapist