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eSports tourney keeps women only event, opens men's division to all

Now women can play Hearthstone, too
Jul 03
// Steven Hansen
The International eSports Federation recently announced, in an "effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sport," its upcoming tournament would be segregated based on gender. Because, you know, that's what the real sports do...
eSports discrimination photo
eSports discrimination

Gender segregation in eSports tournament ignites controversy

International eSports Federation believes division will help legitimize pro gaming
Jul 02
// Kyle MacGregor
The International eSports Federation is in hot water today, following news of the organization's discriminatory plans for its upcoming World Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan. The tournament finalized its lineup last...
Crytek troubles photo
Crytek troubles

Crytek allegedly having trouble paying staff, cancels Ryse sequel

Thirty staff have left Crytek UK since 2011
Jun 25
// Steven Hansen
Crytek's various studios have been bleeding staff, cancelling games (including a sequel to Xbox One exclusive Ryse), and struggling to pay staff, according to sources speaking to Kotaku and Eurogamer.  Kotaku's ten ...

Watch Dogs PR stunt brings the bomb squad out

I like turtles
May 28
// Abel Girmay
Between sending brass knuckles for the Godfather II release, sending out $300 checks to represent greed for Dante's Inferno, and sending copies of Mass Effect 3 into space, you have to wonder how fun the world of games PR can...
CENSORSHIP!!!!!! photo

Russia brands Sims 4 18+ because of same-sex relationships

Putin the Sims in jail
May 10
// Steven Hansen
Look, The Sims can get villainous. You play god and can deprive a simulated individual of basic necessities or trap them in a swimming pool or whatever. But Adults Only? Due to a backwards 2012 law that restricts the promotio...
Nintendo photo

Nintendo issues statement on Tomodochi Life controversy

'We are committed to fun and entertainment for everyone'
May 09
// Brett Makedonski
In case you hadn't heard, Nintendo's been in hot water lately with a lot of people for failing to include same-sex relationships in Tomodochi Life. After the mainstream media picked the story up, Nintendo of America released ...

Oculus responds to ZeniMax intellectual property claims

'We are disapointed but not surprised by ZeniMax's actions'
May 05
// Dale North
For those just tuning in, ZeniMax Media sent a formal notice of rights to Oculus VR and new parent company Facebook over intellectual property claims. Long story short, ZeniMax feels that work that happened with them carried ...
Dumb photo

Massachusetts town overturns 32 year old ban on arcade games

...Better late than never?
May 02
// Steven Hansen
In 1982, the town of Marshfield, Massachusetts banned coin operated arcade games in public businesses (wow, more like Harshfield), fearing they were robbing children of their money and bringing in riff raff. Somehow, that ban...
Videogame violence photo
Videogame violence

Study ties game-related aggression to 'incompetence,' not violent content

Well, I am bald and important
Apr 08
// Steven Hansen
If you've played a videogame, chances are you've been angered by a videogame. I've also been upset by driving, sewing, spilling water on my suede shoes, missing a bus, rising income inequality, and comically ballooning rent p...
Oculus RIFT photo
Oculus RIFT

Facebook's Oculus acquisition has led to death threats

And John Carmack opens up on the purchase
Mar 31
// Steven Hansen
Don't make death threats. Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey said that employees and their families have gotten death threats since Facebook bought the company. Stop doing that, any terrible persons that might be reading this....
Ubisoft writer interview photo
Ubisoft writer interview

Ubisoft lead writer doesn't expect gay protagonists soon

Far Cry 3 & Deus Ex: HR writer says companies still worry it will impact sales
Feb 28
// Steven Hansen
Lucien Soulban, Lead Writer at Ubisoft Montreal, did an interview at the Ubisoft Blog, talking about transitioning from tabletop games to videogames, and then from foot-in-the-door licensed projects to full-fledged AAA develo...
Banner Saga drama photo
Banner Saga drama

Candy Crush dev now trying to block Banner Saga trademark

King Candy hindering Banner Saga sequel with opposition
Jan 22
// Steven Hansen
Candy Crush Saga developer King is playing hardball. Early this week we learned King successfully trademarked the word "Candy" in the US as it pertains to videogames (and clothing!). It already owns the "Candy" trademark in E...
LoL patch buggery photo
LoL patch buggery

UK anti-porn filters are cocking up League of Legends

*whispers* 'sex'
Jan 21
// Steven Hansen
The "for the children" UK internet restriction filters are going full bore this month. You remembered to opt out, right? If you didn't, not only are you going to be prevented from seeing my erotic Sonic fanfiction (which is u...
Microsoft secret ads photo
Microsoft secret ads

Microsoft secretly pays YouTubers to advertise Xbox One

'Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket'
Jan 20
// Steven Hansen
[Update: In a statement, Microsoft said it "was not aware of individual contracts Machinima had with their content providers as part of this promotion and we didn’t provide feedback on any of the videos. We have asked...

Apple paying $32.5M to consumers over in-app purchases

Due to the FTC complaint settlement
Jan 15
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Apple has agreed to provide full refunds to consumers in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. Apple is paying a minimum of $32.5 million over complaints from consumers that incurred charges when kids would spend mo...
Podtoid photo
Excerpt from Podtoid #278
In case you missed yesterday's episode of Podtoid, or you're one of those people who won't do anything for more than ten minutes, here's a brief excerpt in which Jonathan Holmes shocks the rest of the cast with news of Nintendo's fascist removal of cartoon buttocks from Chibi-Robo!: Photo Finder.

Wii U development drama: Nintendo's box is a Nintendo-box

Jan 14 // Steven Hansen
This mob-anointed expose on the Wii U comes at a time where it fits the narrative neatly. The Wii U is doing badly, barring unreleased holiday numbers of peculiar goodness (Wind Waker HD drove sales up several hundred percent and the holidays were deemed "very strong" by Reggie). However, the Eurogamer-hosted piece is clearly covering pre-console-launch shenanigans and tribulations, which isn't necessarily indicative of how the company has handled itself since or how development woes are affecting the Wii U's prosperity.  What it is is an interesting snapshot in time by one of many people developing for the Wii U. Some of the recount can be telling. The apparent pitch for, "a console that was the same size as the Wii and wouldn't make much noise, so 'mum wouldn't mind having it in the living room,'" could hint at Nintendo's attempts to recapture the Wii's sales lightning in a Tesla-coiled bottle. It's certainly catchy, the notion that senior Nintendo officials feigned ignorance as to how Xbox Live or PSN worked. Still, the Wii U, including Nintendo's approach with it, has surely evolved from concept pitches and development unit issues. Just look at how hard Nintendo has campaigned the Wii U as an indie haven after launch, for example, trying to make it easier on developers to get games onto the system. Dan Adelman, who helped developed Xbox Live, is Nintendo's Business Development Manager. He has broken down age old barriers that made it difficult for small outfits to become registered Nintendo developers.  The responses in this "drama" are levelheaded and plain. Chris Arnold of Nami Tentou explained that points made in the Eurogamer article are based on "pre-retail release SDK problems" and that "the new post release SDK kits do not contain any of the listed problems." This all feels like a response to the hundreds of comments and arguments the topic has incited more than counters to the original article. The Eurogamer piece wasn't, "Wii U has no games right now because development is a nightmare." It's, "pre-console-launch development was a struggle and possibly because of this a lot of people with money hats put their bets on Sony/Microsoft." Of course, there will always be back and forth here. Apparently Darksiders II came along for the Wii U in those early days swimmingly -- though one of the anonymous developer's biggest hitches did seem to be on the online infrastructure end. 5th Cell was okay with the Wii U's power. Hideki Kamiya, curt as always, seemed okay developing The Wonderful 101. But, really, everyone is probably right. The anonymous developer had their trouble. Watsham and company seemed to have had an okay time on the Wii U. Arnold gave a plain reminder that these problems are no longer an issue currently impeding development, whatever their legacy may be. This just exposes the same nerve we've been rubbing up against since the N64. The Wii U is a Nintendo-Box. It is, first and foremost, the way to play Nintendo games that Nintendo makes for you, as most Nintendo consoles have been for some time. Barring the lunatic commenters who arbitrarily want to see a company (Nintendo) fail, all of these 600+ comment threads, all of this back and forth, stems from people wanting more games and concern over the release landscape. There are would-be Nintendo fans who want to invest in the system, there are Wii U owners uncomfortable with the checkered release calendar and inexplicably still uncomfortable with the idea of owning a system dedicated, primarily, to Nintendo games. I love the GameCube. A lack of third-party support is said to be what hurt the little lunchbox that could. My favorite GameCube games are third-party, but Nintendo has never and likely will never aggressively lobby third-parties. And maybe it doesn't need to. With the Wii U, Nintendo has, again, firmly entrenched itself aloof of where Sony and Microsoft are headed. It's unlikely for the company to pull a SEGA as so many would like. Nintendo doesn't like to sell systems at a loss. Nintendo's software pulls in mad cash for it. The 3DS is explosive -- its 2013 software sales shot up almost 50%. The Eurogamer piece, a singular snapshot into over a year ago, reads as doom and gloom because the Wii U reads as doom and gloom. Because the internet wants to argue about this and that (and, especially, tell Nintendo what it needs to do). And, hey, maybe Nintendo should farm out some IP to capable developers, like it did successfully with the amazing Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. The Wii U is, first and foremost, a box that lets you play Nintendo games. It's been the case for a while. Everything else is gravy. Nintendo would love Wii-caliber sales, but it seems to be doing okay with its current position, playing its own long game.  The Wii U is still sustainable. A pubescent, PS3-styled push isn't out of the question (see also: 3DS). Other games -- the weird and different and cool -- will trickle in. Nintendo games will do gangbusters. Being "hard to develop for" didn't sink the PS3 and there's no need to trip beyond mild interest over rocky pre-launch tech when development works now. GameCube wasn't terribly profitable hardware as Nintendo slashed prices to compete. Just look at the price of Nintendo games years after release. Nintendo doesn't like slashing prices. If the Wii U was counting on AAA support parity with PS4, Xbox One, and PC, Nintendo would've made a pricier, comparable box. STFUAJPG, I guess. Even on the Wii U, there are some good ones. And if you've played them all, buy a Vita and play those while you wait for Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros.
Wii U dev drama photo
Everyone is right. The Wii U still needs games.
There was a bit of gloom and Nintendoom over the weekend. An anonymous, chronological account of Wii U development hit Eurogamer. It begins as early as Nintendo touring studios for feedback on its next console venture and end...


eSports player owed thousands after team CEO disappears

CE-Oh no
Jan 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Simon Boudreault is the 23-year-old CEO of the Quantic Gaming eSports team, and he owes a lot of people some money The Daily Dot reports. For starters, pro StarCraft II player Ko Hyun has been owed $23,000 in salary and prize...

FireFall board votes out co-founder Mark Kern

The last of the four founders ousted from Red 5 Studios
Dec 20
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Co-founder and CEO of Red 5 Studios, Mark Kern, has been voted out of the company behind FireFall "effectively immediately." Mark was also removed from the board, and no longer has any authority with Red 5. The story comes vi...
Tropes vs Women in Games photo
Tropes vs Women in Games

Latest Tropes vs Women in Games is all very reasonable

Don't fly off the handle all at once now
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
"Ms. Male" is not a comfortable thing to say. Really, "Ms." isn't, either. I've just always pronounced it closer to "Miss." Stupid prefixes. Anyway, the newest Tropes vs Women in games -- it's been a while since the last one...
Xbox One spook tale photo
Xbox One spook tale

Ghosts tales: Ding, dong Xbox One DRM still very dead

Xbox One to work "exactly" like 360
Nov 11
// Steven Hansen
Andre "Swami" Weingarten got his Xbox One early due to a mistake by retailer Target. A whole lot came out of that -- an unboxing video, a temporary ban, and an upcoming trip to the Xbox One launch event. The early consoles ha...

Your privacy and what Xbox One Kinect really sees

Concerns addressed in Microsoft privacy statement
Nov 01
// Dale North
With the privacy concerns games raised recently, Microsoft found themselves needing to fully detail what the Xbox One Kinect sensor sees and sends. A new privacy statement page gets into what Kinect data is collected and how ...

What if the next Link was Blasian?

Oct 25 // Jonathan Holmes
The unveiling A trailer is shown at E3. It features a new Blasian Link (both young and adult) doing things that Links do. It ends with the words. "A Legend like you've never seen before". Nintendo wouldn't say a word about Link's new color. Instead, they focus on the new HD graphics and how they affect the experience, and whatever other little things they can smokescreen with. Maybe the game takes place in a more futuristic setting than prior Zelda titles. Maybe it will feature some new Wii U specific gameplay ideas like asymmetrical multi-player or items that use the Gamepad touch screen and camera. That's what Nintendo talks about. Not a word would be said about any new brown-ness.  When asked about the new Link's look, they stay on message with, "We worked hard to create the perfect version of Link for this new adventure. This iteration of the character is meant to evoke feelings of both familiarity and of freshness. We hope that both existing Zelda fans and those new to the series will enjoy exploring the world of Hyrule through his eyes." [Grape-y Link by International Texture Team] The first day reaction Almost immediately, people will accuse Nintendo of everything from being racist, to being unintentionally racist, to being racially insensitive, to pandering to progressives, to being genius. Racist jokes would flow like wine, as would accusations of "virtual blackface."  Self appointed experts on Japanese culture will announce, "This is suicide. No one in Japan will buy a game about a Black person!". Other self appointed experts on identifying the race of fiction characters will counter with "Just look at his eyes. He's not black. He's Blasian. The Japanese will love it." The easiest and most superficial comments like these always come first. They don't usually resonate in people's minds for very long. The easy and superficial images tend to make a bit more of an impact. Photoshops with the words "Familiarity and Freshness" featuring Link as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air will be generated in a matter of seconds. Footage from the announcement trailer will be edited to make Link look like he's twerking behind Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. Kanye West will make a statement about it. President Obama will say something about it. The Daily Show and Rush Limbaugh will make jokes about it. Videogames will bombard the headlines of mainstream media outlets for a reason other than "presumed links to mass killings" for the first time in years.  The feelings about Blasian link will be blasted out everywhere, even by those that don't care. They will tweet and Facebook and blog about how much they don't care, which will make other people feel they should care, which will make them care about defending how much they don't care. Emotions are contagious, especially on the the internet, where a feeling can be communicated to millions in an instant. Well articulated thoughts take a little longer. [Art by BallerMCG_Tru2U] The first week reaction Videogame critics and culture personalities begin working to cash in on the emotional currency carried by Blasian Link almost immediately, with shots fired on both sides in rapid succession. Dave Jaffe will be quick to point out that Blasian Link is stupid and distracting, as there is "no point to it."  Cliffy B will be just as quick to point out that there was "no point" in Link being Caucasian, but nobody complained about that.  Some of the Blasian Link Detractors will fire back by accusing their critics of being racist, as evidenced by their focus on race in general. "I don't care about race at all" they'll say "I just think it's stupid for Link to change colors just to drum up controversy for click bait". After which, they will click multiple times on the post where they made that comment to see if they get any responses. Many of those responders will accuse Blasian Link Detractors of being hypocrites, because loudly yelling that you don't care about race is just another way to care about race. Then everyone will call everyone a troll until they get so annoyed that they need to take a break from the topic for a few days, as they spend hours thinking of witty responses and harsh put downs for the people that don't feel the way they do about a videogame character who is now brown. [Art by Benny Disco] The second week A few days later, more long form essays will start to come together. One will focus on the fact that for years, Hollywood and videogames seemed to be working harder to diversify the casts of high fantasy stories, but that in recent years, most fantasy-based games and TV/movie franchises like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight, and Dr. Who have almost completely eliminated minorities from the equation. They talk about how the bigger the budget on a game, film, or TV show, the more likely that the the production companies need to assure that they appeal to the segment with the largest amount of disposable time and income. The article will read: "It's not about racism. It's playing it safe with your money. What they don't understand is, playing it safe only gets you so far. There comes a time when the consumer catches on to the fact that you're only interested in coercing them into handing over their cash, and not in providing them with any real value or inspiration." They'll go on to say that for better or worse, the concept of Blasian Link is a risk worth applauding. It sends the message that Nintendo wants to try to say something new with one of their most recognizable figureheads. Link is a purely visual and physical character, made to work as a stand-in for the player. To acknowledge that we no longer resort to the default cis gendered Caucasian male avatar in order to "link" a wide audience into a game is important. "It shouldn't be important," they'll implore. "Skin-deep changes to a character shouldn't matter, but in today's culture, they still do. Running away from that fact won't help change it." Some longtime Zelda fans will congregate and attack the article en masse, stating that Nintendo has betrayed the Zelda fan base by changing the appearance of a beloved character to the point where he is no longer recognizable, all in a cheap bid to look "progressive". "Why is he Blasian?" they'll say. "Wasn't just 'Black' enough for them? Two Virtual Underground Railroads for the price of one? Keep your civil rights bullshit out of my videogames." Other Zelda fans will fire back, stating that it's about the gameplay, not the color of a character's skin, and that they don't appreciate being lumped in with the veiled-racists who can't shut up about how mad they are that Link got a tan. Non-Zelda fans will pop up out of nowhere and squawk about how the Zelda series has been racist for a long time, with few non-Caucasians appearing in the series, most of which are villains like Demise or Ganondorf. Zelda fans will counter by saying that Tetra had brown skin and therefore Wind Waker is not racist. Someone else will say that doesn't count because she had blonde hair. Yet someone else will counter by saying that if Sisqo counts as Black, so does Tetra. Then a debate will rage about if Black blonde people are self loathing and need counseling. Way off on the side, someone will write an article about how if Nintendo wants to make everyone happy, they can make Link's appearance customizable, like in Pokemon X/Y, but with many more options. They can still make the "canon" Link Blasian if they want, just as the "canon" Shepard in Mass Effect is Caucasian, but by allowing players to link to the game world with an avatar that best represents them, everyone wins.  No one will pay attention to this article because its too well reasoned to elicit much emotion.  [Art by R-Legend] The continuing march towards launch These conflicts will continue to froth and expand. All the while, Nintendo will sit back and watch as the teaser trailer for the next Legend of Zelda accumulates 20 times more views than any other video they've yet released. By now, hundreds of thousands of Black people will have written personal testimonials about what Blasian Link means to them -- how by keeping people of color on the sidelines of the videogame world for years, they were led to feel that they weren't valued by videogame developers and publishers. With Blasian Link, they feel a new sense of inclusion that they never felt before. Hundreds of thousands of others will jump on this bandwagon just because it gives them a sense of pride to be on the "right side" of an argument. Hundreds of thousands more will become immediately irritated when they read the words "Blasian", "inclusion", or "race" on a videogame blog ever again, but still feel the need to click and comment on the blog so their irritation is known to everyone.  Those hundreds of thousands of Blasian Link Fans, Blasian Link Detractors, and millions of onlookers, attention seekers, would-be intellectuals, diehard Zelda fans, and everyone in between will all be waiting in earnest curiosity over the next trailer for new Legend of Zelda to see what Nintendo will do next. Where the last few Zelda releases have engaged the attention of just a subset of the videogame community, all eyes would be on this new title. No one would want to be left out of the culture wide dialogue. No one would want to miss out on the experience of praising, damning, or typing "WHO CARES" in all caps at the reveal that the new Zelda is overweight, or that the new Ganondorf turns out to be trans*.  The actual game The game sells more in the first week than Skyward Sword sold in its first month. Many who buy the game immediately announce that they hate it, but they'll play it until the end anyway. It'll be worth it to them, to be sure their hate of the game is well-informed and respectable. As they play, they will live tweet their feelings on how Link, Zelda, and Ganon's race and gender does or does not affect the quality of the game. They'll plan their essays on the implications of altering the race of a silent protagonist compared to a voiced character who can define themselves in ways other than physical. Then they'll beat a boss. Then they'll plan their next essay on the problematic undercurrent intrinsic to a game about a Blasian player character created by Japanese developers for a largely Caucasian audience. Eventually, they'll finish the game. In the end, maybe they'll have spent more time playing this new Zelda game than they did thinking about it, writing about it, video blogging about it, and tweeting about it. Maybe, just maybe, if the game is fun, they'll notice that it is fun. They won't write about that though. Writing about how videogames are fun is so ten years ago.
Blasian Link photo
What would the internet do?
[Art by Sarah Thomas] A while ago, Jim Sterling, Lindsay Collins and I floated around the idea of doing a "What if?" web comic about videogames. Sadly, the only ideas we could come up with was "What if Yorda from Ico was a gu...


The Stanley Parable dev to remove offensive images

Update incoming
Oct 25
// Dale North
I spent a fair bit of time with The Stanley Parable and didn't find anything offensive, but author Oliver Campbell and others did, and now developer Galactic Cafe plans to release an update to change out two images. Those tha...

Day One: Garry's Incident developers censoring criticism

Exploiting YouTube's copyright protection is kind of poopy, guys
Oct 21
// Jim Sterling
Wild Games Studio, the company behind Day One: Garry's Incident, is currently caught up in a controversy surrounding criticism of its game on YouTube. Immensely popular PC game critic John "TotalBiscuit" Bain has accused the ...

Jimquisition: Toxic

Oct 14 // Jim Sterling

There has been much talk about how the gaming world is too toxic, too negative, too full of anger and rage. Jimquisition argues there might be just the right amount of it. The issue is in how it's used.  Anger is a powerful weapon, but like all powerful things, it must be handled with care. Venom can be harnessed to our benefit, provided we be careful not to let it spill into our own faces.

Sakurai on remakes photo
Sakurai on remakes

Sakurai criticizes 'unnatural' amount of remakes, sequels

Not that Nintendo doesn't make new IP, or anything...
Oct 11
// Steven Hansen
Super Smash Brothers and Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai used his weekly Famitsu column, as translated by Polygon, to reflect on being a judge for the Game Designers' Award at this past Tokyo Game Show. Sony's Unfinished Swan ...

Report: Foxconn used forced student labor to build PS4s

Foxconn and Sony respond
Oct 10
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Hong Kong's Oriental Daily (by way of Games in Asia) ran a report detailing how thousands of students from an IT engineering program at the Xi'an Institute of Technology were being forced to work at Foxconn's Yantai plant to ...
Russia funding patriotism photo
Russia funding patriotism

Russia to fund games 'conducive to patriotic education'

They're Russian to ban certain foreign games, too
Oct 09
// Steven Hansen
The Russian government is taking videogames seriously. Russia's culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, who also heads The Russian Military History Society, is taking charge on the government's videogame project. The first produc...
Women for Warface photo
Women for Warface

Crytek's Warface is getting playable women soldiers

It's still a dumb name; also, the ladies are sexualised because of fan feedback
Oct 09
// Steven Hansen
Warface, which I still can't say with a straight face, is adding playable women avatars to the fray. According to executive producer Joshua Howard, speaking to Games Beat, the "female characters are a big hit" in Russia, wher...

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