A WEEK IN GAMING 9/30/13 TO 10/4/13. UPDATED

Sunday, October 6, 2013

By Jamaal Ryan

Let’s take a looking at a week in gaming from 9/30/13 to 10/4/13. 

A game about slavery? Check. The Holocaust? Check. 9/30

Last week, I wrote about Thralled, an iOS side scroller puzzler game set to release that started out as a University of Southern California’s Interactive Media & Games Division project. It centers on a mother who’s a runaway slave carrying her infant in her arms along the escape.
Moving over to another one of the world’s historical genocidal atrocities, the appropriately titled Anne Frank captures a day in the life of one of the Holocaust’s most seminal victims. Currently being developed by Kira Resari as his bachelor's thesis at the Macromedia College in Munich, Anne Frank isn’t translated into a traditional game genre, but rather an interactive experience.
On October 20th 1942, players will explore the Frank hideout as Anne, interacting with members of the Frank family. Though players will be able to make decisions, their outcomes are minor; the only purpose is to set the mood for what the Frank family was enduring in hiding. Would Anne rather go get a bag of potatoes as her mother requested and possibly stumble, making noise because she’s so tired and weak? Or should she refuse and risk upsetting her mother?
As intriguing as this project is, Resari currently has no intentions in marketing this title, and instead, “perceives his historic gaming project as a cultural asset.” But if you ask me, following his wishes for the next generation to consume history through different means, it may not be a disservice to make Anne Frank available to consumers.
Source: Deutsche Welle
VIA: Polygon
Trying not to care about Half-Life 3 (10/1) UPDATE
It’s arguably the most anticipated game of all time, following a gut wrenching cliff hanger that has had us hopeful for almost 6 years after The Orange Box’s Half-Life 2 Episode 2. The idea of Half-Life 3 sits on the pedigree of Valve, who has virtually never made a bad game, and a franchise that holds presumably the best shooter of all time.
I’ve created my own defense mechanism around the just recently since fabled Half-Life 3. If anyone spoke of it, I would visualize anti-aircraft missiles shooting down the words “Half-Life 3” in a thought stopping method (a mental health coping mechanism) to avoid the aching wait of the game that never came.
Late last month, a NeoGAF post revealed that Valve has filed the trademark for Half-Life 3 on 9/29 in Europe which is the first we’ve heard of anything official about the game in years, perhaps ever. Around the world, millions of fans leaned forward to their monitors or pulled their phones in close, is this really happening?
The timing is too perfect, following the series of Valve announcements last week even though this registration wasn’t apart of Valve’s reveals. Speculators are predicting Steam Box exclusive, or at least Steam platform exclusive which wouldn’t be surprising given the history of Half-Life 2.
Half-Life 2 Episode 2 was a significant game for me. Not only was it one of the most versatile shooters that I’ve ever played, it had my single favorite moment in any FPS. The final stand-off against the army of Striders as you're defending the facility before the launch stands, to me, as the pinnacle of shooter design encounters.
And yet I don’t want to believe this news, I don’t want to get excited for Half-Life 3, I don’t want to raise my hopes only for them to be crushed again. On the same token, I can’t help but ask several questions. What does registration mean in game development? Is it in pre-production or is it much further in development? After all this time, will Half-Life 3 disappoint? Historically time has not been kind to game development, though there are exceptions such as Sleeping Dogs and Pikmin 3.
Half-Life 3’s registration is certainly compelling news, but I will continue to deny its existence, shooting more missiles at the thought to relinquish the stress of anticipation.

Writer's Note: As I've recently been made aware, the Half-Life 3 trademark registration has been pulled down, and a state by ValveTime indicated that this was a fake: 

"We can now confirm that the "Half-Life 3" trademark has been removed from the Trademarks and Design Registration Office of the European Union (OHIM) website. The entrant appears to have disappeared entirely after only being listed on the website database for little over a week, allowing us to identify that the trademark's listing was more than likely a hoax intended to generate fake buzz for a game which is unlikely to appear for several years. Returning readers may remember when we had discussed how the "Half-Life 3" listing was previously never officially checked or authenticated before its removal."

The lesson here, I as one who dedicates himself to writing about games on a weekly basis should be more aware of changes such as this, and we as Half-Life fans shouldn't get our hopes up for Half-Life 3 anytime until an official statement directly from Valve has been released.

Source: IGN
Training Future Soldiers with Video Games (10/2)
The terms “train” and “video games have been used all too often in a negative connotation when associated with one another. But what if it was used in context to preserve and save lives?
Developer Bohemia Interactive, one of the most respected military simulator developers responsible for the ARMA and Operation Flashpoint series, has been approached by the International Council of the Red Cross (ICRC) to weigh in on morality consultation for future soldiers.
Together with Red Crescent Movement, ICRC sees the value of military simulators, including their usage in NATO Nations, and how that can broaden their depiction of conflict. ARMA III teaches players coordination, tactical approach, and precision in an almost unforgiving yet valuable manner in ways that commercialized shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield’s run & gun, regenerative health mechanics never could. But together with this simulating environment, these human rights organizations are encouraging systems that incorporate real-time consequences for war crimes such as “scenes of torture, attacks on civilians, the killing of prisoners and the wound, attacks on medical personnel”.
Morality systems and in game punishments already exist in video games. Games like “pick your choice of decision and consequence game here” respond with the opening or closing of available in-game content, and other modern day shooters typically reprimand the player or restart missions if friendly or civilian fire is committed. But the ideas that Bohemia Interactive have implemented within this context was to integrate ways to make the player feels as if they’re truly done something wrong by the way that the game reacts.
It’s remains without saying that video games aren’t an effective way of teaching players how to pick up a gun and fight, but perhaps with reactionary systems that train the combat mind on how to strategize and maintain combat ethics, then this sentiment provides and unarguable positive influence of military simulators.
Source: Kotaku
Consumed by Deus Ex (10/3)
Looking at Eidos’s announcement of Deus Ex Universe which is set to span PC/next gen hardware, touch devices and graphic novels, and the nature of the franchise, it’s easy to see how this Cyber Renaissance series can fill these various mediums and platforms.
Deus Ex succeeded with the long awaited Human Revolution marrying the depiction of a multilayered socioeconomical universe with multidimensional gameplay. Eidos even accomplished translating that experience to iOS with Deus Ex: The Fall. As far as offering a definitive Deus Ex experience regardless the hardware, Eidos has proven themselves with two very strong titles. In addition, with the alarmingly accelerated rise in companion apps for mobile devises, I would be surprised if a networked link wasn’t planned for both stationary and mobile versions of Deus Ex.
Both Human Revolution and The Fall have evolved Deus Ex’s lore of the transhumanistic and naturalistic ethical clash and social/political standing of private corporations and less fortunate citizens. Everything from NPC interactions to diaries and newspapers to the look and feel of these alternate versions of today’s cities, Deus Ex has almost too much content, certainly more than enough to bleed over into other mediums such as graphic novels.
The assumption of MMOs is possible, but difficult to picture. Players can certainly be representative of the opposing ideals in the world of Deus Ex, perhaps in a similar manner in which some MMOs bring together warring factions. And even of these ideas weren’t gamified, the biggest gameplay appeal of Deus Ex is the augmentive choice of tactical engagement. A class system could work, but the richness comes from a single player experience designed around Duex Ex's sometimes intimate encounters. Perhaps this “connected game world” would entail single player missions that effect community game world of some kind.
I’m not a graphic novel guy, but I can certainly appreciate and see the potential of a more passive and in-depth method of telling stories from the Deus Ex Universe. However a next gen installment with possible communication with a mobile version and whatever this “connected” experience may be can certainly work if given the proper treatment to the societal strengths of the Deus Ex franchise.
The Death of Two 5 Year Olds After Gaming (10/4)
The last words little Koushi heard was, “Which is more important: Your game machine or breathing?"
After getting his Nintendo DS thrown away by his mother Shizu Shigeta as punishment for not cleaning, as any five year old would do, he asked for it back. She then coldly issued this very question to him. Five year olds aren’t expected to grasp the full concept for life and death, especially with in the context of that question. As expected, he answered “Game machine”. This then triggered the mother to tie up little Koushi in two plastic garbage bags where he suffocated to death.
Too tragic and heavy a story? Here’s a touching one…
On the tombstone of another 5 year old boy in Lund Sweden pictures him sitting nearly embraced by angels wings while he plays Pokemon on a Gameboy Advance SD. As you look closely, you can see an etched in picture of a Graveler on the screen. What a thoughtful and loving gesture to a child who loved video games.
Sources: Kotaku & Kotaku

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