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I'm 23, and have been playing games since I was about 2 or 3 with the super old computer my dad got to bring home from working with the government. I got my NES when I was 5.

I love old school SNES RPGs, and I play pretty much anything now except sports games. I'll play FPSs, but typically not on consoles.



I currently own:
A PC
DS Lite
Wii
360
PS3

I have previously owned:
PS2
PS1
SNES
NES
A Mac
Gameboy

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Following (58)  


So, this is something I think is quite cool.

As part of his thesis, a university student in Germany rigged up a Wiimote-style spraypaint controller he’s calling the “Wiispray”. His eventual plan is to create software that acts as a communal wall, where people can collaborate on graffiti or other art projects.



I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen more custom controllers for the Wii from game developers. I’m not talking about those stupid attachments like a baseball bat handle you can clip onto the Wiimote, but actual controllers. I feel like there’s a lot of potential there, and it doesn’t seem to be all that complicated to do (See Johnny Lee), yet all we really have is the Guitar Hero controller. Where are the high quality fishing rods, swords & shields (and other assorted weapons. Spear Hero would be epic.), awesome lightguns (Nintendo’s doesn’t count; it’s bulky and awkward), or other cool controller peripherals?

Do you think it’s too expensive for companies to make them to bundle with games, or is the problem the glut of 3rd party developers who are interested in making crap that they can easily market to kids? Or, do you think the standard Wiimote does enough, and there’s no need to make anything fancy or different? I know personally I would love to see more unique controllers and games specifically designed to take advantage of them.

[Via Slashgear. If you speak German, visit the project website at http://www.wiispray.com/]
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Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, made some very interesting claims yesterday when he was speaking at the Wedbush Morgan Securities annual conference. During his talk, he stated that, right this very moment, a stealth encryption chip called the TPM is being put on the motherboards of almost every PC that's currently being made.

What does this chip do?

Apparently this chip contains rock-solid encryption software with a verifiable private key. I don't claim to know a whole ton about encryption and password hacking and public and private keys, but from what I understand, they’re incredibly difficult to crack.

While I doubt that this will be 100% hacker-proof, it seems like it might put a pretty big dent into online piracy, or at least increase the amount of time that it takes for big name releases to hit the internet, which will likely cause an increase in sales.



I've pirated my own share of things I probably should have purchased, but I view this as a blessing and a curse. A curse because I can't get things for free anymore, but a blessing in that we might see the revitalization of genres that have all but disappeared from the PC. In an attempt to thwart piracy, pure single player games have virtually disappeared from PCs. Most companies include a significant multiplayer component, which is often given more emphasis than the single player game, and then require all players to log into company run servers, making it difficult for piracy to succeed. Even for Diablo II, which is about 10 years old now, it is incredibly difficult to get on Battle.net if you don’t have a legit copy of the game.

Single player games fell by the wayside, in part because it was so easy to pirate them. Companies found they made more money making games like TF2, where you have to be online to enjoy it, far more profitable because they lost less money to internet thieves. If piracy is slowed, perhaps we'll see a resurgence of adventure games and more story-driven single player games on the PC.

For people who know about encryption, do you think this will have any noticeable effect on piracy, or is it just another pathetic attempt to try and stop something that's uncontrollable. For PC gamers, do you think that, if piracy is actually reduced, it will change the landscape of PC gaming? Or are MMOs and online shooters so entrenched that it really won't make a difference?
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Here's another interesting article I came across today, this one from Ars Technica. You can read the article here.

For those who don't want to read it (although I encourage you to), the crux of the article's argument is that game developers and designers who are huge gamers have difficulty thinking outside of the box. Having played games for so long, what currently exists in the industry is all these designers know, and as a result they just keep rehashing the same ideas over and over again and stifle progress overall in the industry. Oddly, about halfway through the article they shift to a discussion of some issues with developer quality of life and the ridiculous hours devs have to put in, and I do believe that IS a valid argument. What I'm writing about now isn't in regards to that claim. The argument they start with and the argument that is the main theme of the article, that more time gaming = less time having "life experiences" = less creativity, is what I'm going to be discussing, and it's an opinion I strongly disagree with.



Sure, there are some game designers out there who just try to remake older games, change the title and the characters, and pass them off as new, but I believe that's more the fault of the companies they work for. I don't think any game designers sit down and dream of making a generic platformer that's just like all of the other platformers released in the last 3 years. I'm sure most of them have all sorts of great ideas for games that they're not allowed/unable to pursue. Being gamers themselves, I believe that, in an ideal world, they would be able to create awesome, original, and unique games all the time. However, they typically can't, and I don't believe it's usually their fault.

As more and more industry mergers happen and game companies get larger and larger, we're going to see even less creativity and innovation. It's not because all the people making games are gamers and can't think of anything original, it's because these huge studios are all about making money and aren't willing to make risky moves with original games. I'm willing to bet good money that, if many of the big names in game innovation today (Shiggy, Kojima, etc.) were just now starting out in the industry, they would never be allowed to create the games that made them famous. They wouldn't be big names, it would be seen as too risky, and whatever company they pitched too would be more comfortable creating Spongebob Squarepants 4 DS since they know that's where the money is.



I also take offense at this notion that being a hardcore gamer means that you're missing out on all sorts of life experiences and that you're uncultured as a result of your playing games. The argument they make later about the industry requiring ridiculous hours holds water, but CliffyB's inane comment about him having all these fantastic experiences that he was able to draw on for GoW because he games less is just dumb. I'm pretty sure him cavorting around London had a lot more to do with the fact that he had a bunch of money than the fact that he plays video games less. What it boils down to now is that the industry has become so corporate that only designers who are already established are being allowed to be fully creative. If you're not a big name, you're not trusted with large sums of money and instead have to fall in line with the generic copy/pasta that the corporations want you to make.

Overall, I think it's vital that the people who are creating our games be gamers themselves. They know what gamers want in a game, and I believe they try their best to deliver. Sure, there are some hardcore gamers who produce crappy games, and there are some people who've never touched a game in their lives who could probably make fantastic games, but I believe those are the outliers and not the norm. Rather than blame the designers, who are often restricted by the whims and wants of the megacorporations they work for, we should be blaming the companies themselves. Take some more risks, let designers run with some crazy ideas, and you might find that what they're pitching will end up making you more money than the 19th iteration of your Madden game.



Most of the big names today got their start long ago, back when the industry was relatively young and they could do what they wanted. (CliffyB actually first got famous off of Jazz Jackrabbit, a game I'm sure many of you are familiar with.) I'm betting there's a number of CliffyBs, Miyamotos, Kojimas, and Garriots out there in the industry today. They'll just never be given the chance to prove themselves.

What's your opinion? Do you think that this article is right and that game designers who are gamers keep rehashing the same games and stories over and over again? Or do you think that being a gamer gives designers a better insight into what's already been done and what gamers want, and that it's the game companies that are holding them back?

[Via Ars Technica








Some interesting news I came across this morning. SEGA has posted a massive loss for this quarter: a whopping $56.4 million. What I found most interesting about this is that the head of SEGA's PR department laid the blame on two things: slow video game sales in Japan, and the company's decision to sell more PS3 games than Wii games.



I should say, I currently don't own a PS3, but I'm planning on getting one soon -- probably when MGS4 comes out. This post also isn't meant as fanboy bait, since bickering over which console is better is fairly stupid, and the industry as a whole is far better off with all three consoles making great games. Hoping that one console fails because you don't like it is retarded.

There are a couple ways to interpret this news. One could say that this is a sign that "casual gaming" (a label I absolutely despise, but that's probably a topic for another blog) is going to reign supreme over this console cycle, and that this is awful news for gamers. The fear would be that SEGA (and other companies) will see that the Wii is where all the money is at, and only make "casual games" for that console and neglect the others. It doesn't matter what SEGA made for the PS3 or how good it was, because they're going to make more money on the Wii peroid.

Another way to look at it is simply that SEGA's entire lineup was pretty pathetic, and the reason the PS3 games didn't sell that well is because they sucked. Virtua Tennis 3, Virtual Snooker Championship 2007, and Full Auto 2: Battlelines aren't really inspiring titles, and I doubt the majority of PS3 owners are really interested in games like that, especially since the 360 and the PS3 are, more and more, being seen as a haven from the sports games and quirky games that seem to have found a home on the Wii. Sure, SEGA had Virtua Fighter 5 and a Sonic game, but VF5 appeals to a pretty niche market, and the Sonic game was supposed to be abysmal.

In my opinion, SEGA doesn't have to give up on the PS3, but they do need to understand the audience they're marketing to on that console. They didn't suffer a huge loss because they developed for the PS3, they suffered a huge loss because they developed crappy games for the PS3 that don't fit its market.

What do you think? Is my analysis correct, or is this happening because casual gaming is destroying the industry?

[Via Spong]
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As some of you guys might know, I have a degree in psychology (and a legitimate job related to it, thank you very much), so I always get excited/interested whenever people do studies on video games and how they affect people.

It was announced today that Sunderland University, a school in the UK, just awarded it's 2008 prize in psychology to a senior named Chris Whitehead. Chris did his thesis on video games, and through his research claimed that various violent video games, rather than teaching people to commit crimes, drive drunk, and behave like a shithead, actually teach people skills they need to successfully function in the real world.

Chris argued that games like GTA, Halo, and CoD not only help to improve visuospatial skills and hand-eye coordination (two things that are generally accepted by the scientific community), but also improve your leadership, communication, and teamwork skills, particularly in multiplayer modes. He also goes on to say that most of the problems that are attributed to gaming are really a result of back parenting and a lack of monitoring of children.

Of course, the article ends by listing all the various ways you can murder people in GTA and all the crimes you can commit, but the fact that this kid's thesis won a research award is promising and shows that academia isn't blinded by all of the "OMG VIDEO GAMES WILL MAKE YOU KILL PEOPLE HYPE." (As a sidenote, violent video games do affect us, but for most of us that effect is moderated by something else, like good parenting, or the effect is small enough that it's not a huge deal.)

While he's not saying anything particularly new or innovative, it's nice to see that attitudes and opinions like his are being rewarded instead of being punished or ignored. To be honest, from the UK I would have expected his research to get the smackdown from his school or advisers. It would have been nice to have seen the actual study, but unfortunately they didn't give it, so it's hard to tell if he had any evidence to actually back this up, or if he was just making claims and generalizations.

Do you think this guy has a legitimate point? Can you actually point to any concrete examples of where playing video games made you a better leader or communicator? The teamwork and leadership skill argument I can understand, but I'm a bit wary of the communication claim since most games I play with random people are just kids screaming racial slurs into the microphone and calling everyone fags.

[Via some press website]
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