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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...
Breaking Zelda photo
Breaking Zelda

Legend of Zelda producer wants to uproot series tradition

Someone at Nintendo speaking my language. Figuratively.
Oct 03
// Steven Hansen
Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma seems to have radical ideas. As radical as you might expect from Nintendo, anyway. In an interview with 4Gamer, translated by Siliconera, Aonuma explained the heavily reported mistranslati...
Videogame war crimes photo
Videogame war crimes

Red Cross wants war crimes in videogames to be punished

Crossing red lines
Oct 03
// Steven Hansen
On its website, the International Committee of the Red Cross posted a suggestion that videogames aiming to realistically recreate modem battlefields (and only those games) should include, "virtual [in-game] penalties for ser...
NBA Jam illuminati photo
NBA Jam illuminati

Conspiracy! NBA Jam designer nerfed Bulls late game shots

NBA damn!
Sep 30
// Steven Hansen
If you've ever had some bogus shenanigans go down in a sports game -- maybe Mark Sanchez threw a pass to the intended receiver instead of an opposing DB or Matt Cain missed his change-up location -- I'm here to tell you now a...

Here's one good and one sad GTA V related story

The sad story is REALLY sad
Sep 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
First the good news by way of Breakfast Television: Two teen brothers helped attempt to save the life of an elderly man trapped in his home due to a fire. 17-year-old Colten and 16-year-old Luke were on their way back home af...

Game Debate to the Death! Favorite GTA game?

Grab a cup of hot coffee and join the debate!
Sep 10
// Tom Fronczak
In the previous debate we matched the three current generation consoles against one another to see which would be the victor of this era of gaming. When the dust settled, the PS3 ran away with the crown, but who claimed secon...
Inafune on Japanese games photo
Inafune on Japanese games

Inafune: Japanese game industry has 'gotten worse'

Case closed: Inafune is NOT IMPRESSED
Sep 03
// Steven Hansen
It's been a few years since Mega Man creator and former Capcom honcho Kenji Inafune made waves by saying Japan makes awful games. He hasn't really stopped ringing the death knell since. Earlier this year he declared Japan's g...
Prey 2 photo
Prey 2

Arkane Studios' Prey 2 reboot confirmed via leaked e-mail

Pitched as a spiritual successor to System Shock
Aug 15
// Tim Sheehy
For months, rumors have been floating around the web regarding the status of Human Head's upcoming shooter, Prey 2. Despite a relatively strong showing at E3 2011, the title remained in development hell, plagued with del...
Xenoblade photo

GameStop taking heat amid Xenoblade controversy

Gamers accuse retailer of scamming customers
Aug 13
// Tim Sheehy
Over the past few days, GameStop has found itself in the midst of a controversy surrounding the used sales of Xenoblade Chronicles, a fan-favorite and a game which the retailer had negotiated an exclusive contract to distribu...

Jimquisition: Neutered

Aug 12 // Jim Sterling
Jimquisition photo
Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Why do gamers defend their favorite titles from criticism with such volatility? According to some, it's because they don't want to see their genitalia removed. Is inclusivity the enemy of creativity? Is restriction an inherent part of congeniality? The Jimquisition considers recent controversies against the fear of a game being "neutered" to "pander" to new audiences.


Rhymedown Spectacular: The Straw Beast

The brains behind Jimquisition and Zero Punctuation get lyrical
Aug 07
// Jim Sterling
This week, your good buddies Yahtzee n' Jim both take a turn for the horrific. There's a loving ode to Slender Man, coupled with the boasting of the nefarious Straw Beast. The eldritch terrors that lie within are not for the faint of heart.  You have been warned. Wooooaaaaahhhhhh!

Volition weren't fans of THQ's porn star marketing push

There will be over 100 tracks spanning seven radio stations too
Aug 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Volition's associate producer Kate Nelson spoke with Edge Online about all things Saints Row, and specifically brought up how the team weren't fans of THQ's marketing push using porn stars. “I did not always love how mu...
Company of Heroes 2 photo
Company of Heroes 2

Company of Heroes 2 removed from sale in Russia

Relic's WW2 RTS title also removed from other Eastern European countries
Aug 05
// Alasdair Duncan
Whilst our own Joshua Derocher loved Company of Heroes 2, it has not gone down too well in Russia and Eastern Europe. Polgyon reports that the game's publisher in those regions, 1C-SoftClub, has removed the game from sale, bo...
Tropes vs Women in Games photo
Tropes vs Women in Games

Tropes vs Women in Video Games: Damsel in Distress part 3

The dude abides
Aug 02
// Steven Hansen
In the third "Damsel in Distress" portion of Tropes vs Women in Video Games, Anita Sarkeesian looks at the "ironic sexism" that has accompanied retro sensibilities being in vogue and looks at the reversal of the "damsel" tro...

Jimquisition: Go Fish

Jul 30 // Jim Sterling
Having a crack at that whole Phil Fish thing
In this extra episode, Jimquisition lends a rambling mouth to the controversy surrounding Phil Fish and his dramatic exit from the videogame world.

Nintendo and Evo photo
Nintendo and Evo

Nintendo wanted to shut down Smash Bros at Evo entirely

You can't watch what doesn't happen!
Jul 12
// Steven Hansen
A couple days ago, Nintendo ruffled some tail feathers when it tried to ban Evo 2013, the world's largest fighting game tournament, from streaming its Super Smash Bros. Melee finals. This IP controlling move echoed Nintendo's...

Microsoft clarifies Xbox One's Killer Instinct situation

Not scripted, says Microsoft
Jun 10
// Jim Sterling
[Update: Microsoft has issued a response to the kerfuffle surrounding the incident this morning, which reads as such: "The comments in question during the Killer Instinct demo were not scripted. The demo was meant to include...
Dishwasher: Vampire Smile photo
Dishwasher: Vampire Smile

The Dishwasher: VS finally ported to PC, just not legally

'This is restoration of justice'
Jun 05
// Brett Makedonski
Ska Studios has a pretty well-documented allegiance to publishing its games through the Xbox Live Arcade platform. The company's 2011 hit The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile has been an exclusive to the Microsoft service until...

MMOs don't work in the US, Take-Two CEO says

But they do work in Asia
May 31
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Did you know Take-Two was investing in the MMO genre? They sure are, but don't be surprised by your lack of knowledge on their projects as these MMOs are targeted just for Asia. "We're actively investing in online MMOs, we're...

Take-Two: Delight consumers, don't punish them

CEO Strauss Zelnick talks used games
May 31
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick gave a talk at the Cowen Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, where he had a number of things to say about his company and the industry as a whole. Strauss brought up the used games fee that...

Tropes vs Women in Video Games: Damsel in Distress part 2

The Call of Sarkeesian rings out once more
May 29
// Jim Sterling
Tropes vs Women in Video Games, the series that is single-handedly destroying all of gaming because a woman said a thing on the Internet once, has launched its second episode. That'll explain why all babies cried out in the ...

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