Quantcast
Community Discussion: Blog by Stephanie K | Stephanie K's ProfileDestructoid
Stephanie K's Profile - Destructoid

DestructoidJapanatorTomopopFlixist





click to hide banner header
About

Twitter
Boondoggle - Personal Blog

Sites I Contribute To:
Project GForum
Royal Flush Magazine

C-Blog Interview

Promoted Articles

Aaamaazzing: It Hurts
E for Effort: Resident Evil 4
Have a Nice Day
My Expertise - Resident Evil


Name: Stephanie (Steph)
Birthday: Oct. 16, 1989

Retail assistant manager by day.
Internet-suave superhero by night.
Player Profile
Xbox LIVE:Trapped Artist
PSN ID:Trapped_Artist
Steam ID:Kumko122
BattleNET:Trilby_
Follow me:
Stephanie K's sites
Badges
Following (11)  




(Disclaimer: This article is written solely on personal opinion and experiences. I do not claim to be an expert or have full understanding of how the game industry and media work. I also understand that this topic could be a conflict in interest here on Destructoid. If the topic is deemed to be inappropriate  for such reasons, I would be happy to remove it. I do want to point out that in no way, shape, or form am I asking for a journalist's comment on the subject out of respect of the business and any possible agreements between companies. I simply feel this is an interesting topic that I wish to bring up for general public discussion.

Readers, please respect my wishes and do not bombard Twitter accounts or emails asking for clarification on the subject.)

I am not sure how many of you have been made aware, but something serious started getting hinted late Saturday night/early Sunday morning that may or may not impact us as consumers. Around 1:17am Eastern time, Adam Sessler started posting ominous tweets regarding a future direction for gaming industry and his role within it:



A lot of theories have been swirling around the internet since then stating that the sudden panic attack is tied to the PlayStation 4, especially when Sessler later replied for a few tweets confirming that it had nothing to do with the XBox.
Everything ranging from the rumors of Sony tightening up the ability to edit recorded video of PlayStation 4 games to possible new copyright restrictions to Sony wanting to do limited review sessions over giving out early copies of games have been guessed. However, none of this has been confirmed and it seems that the most web sites are being very quiet. Very few journalists have been expressing verbal concern while everyone else doesn't seem to be saying anything. You would think that with one of the most ironic leaders in video game journalism starts to have a public breakdown, there would be a bit more information shredding some light on its source.

Yesterday, Sessler came out with a new video centered around explaining how Rev3Games would be reviewing the next-generation consoles. He remains cryptic about his Twitter explosion but while not providing direct confirmation, his statements  feed curiosity. It seems very believable that reviewers would be overwhelmed with the massive amount of content that will be needed as both systems are launched. Sessler states that they will be working viciously hard to get their reviews and opinions up as quickly as possible, but one thing is said that may confirm that source of the issue he began hinting at over the weekend. He says that in order for these reviews to be done it does require having the system and the games available for them to review. Upon which he then adds that they are working and hoping and settle any complications that exist at the moment. It certainly does raise an eyebrow, but he quickly moves away from the topic yet that still leaves us guessing a bit, doesn't it?

Since the video was posted, I have seen a few people nearly bashing it. I have essentially seen people complain that Sessler is "whining" (for the lack of a better word) about the possibility that he and other journalists may now need to purchase their review products out of pocket. There has also been some aggression towards Sessler since he is mostly remaining quiet about the situation. So I would really like to take a moment to tackle just a couple of the complaints that I have seen from others while opening the discussion open because frankly, I find it surprising that no one is really talking about this.

1. Transparency

I noticed there has been some complaints that Sessler is not being direct with his response. You think you need to remember - and as he pointed out in his Twitter - feeds and videos are monitored. Even if it is a personal, yet publicly displayed account, you need to have some form of professionalism and respect for your employer and employer's partners. That is business integrity 101. He probably does not want to risk bringing too much negative publicity to the situation since it seems like they are still working with the company to fix the problem at hand.  Even though we are aware indirectly that the other party is Sony, he still is respecting the company by not pointing them out and putting them in negative light to the public.

However, as a media source and having an audience rely on him, he (and other journalists) still have a sense of duty to set up proper expectations for their viewers. I am sure he still wants to put his viewers in a position to notice that there is a possibility that they may not be able to provide the latest, update reviews to their viewers just in case there are people waiting for their reviews to decide what to purchase.

We also need to keep in mind that an embargo or restrictions could exist for certain information regarding the system. If a contract has been signed or an agreement has been made between the media outlet and Sony stating that they would not discuss certain things, it is up to the party to follow that rule. Very much like how many employers warn employees to not bash the company or release confidential information on social media networks. Same principle is being applied here.

2. No Early Access/Free Product

As someone with some experience in the media field and having worked alongside public relations from gaming companies before, I am a bit torn on this. I understand that not all reviewers are not entitled to free and/or early products - especially with how there are literally thousands of game "review" web sites and YouTube channels. Pretty much anyone with a cheap video camera or HTML skills can claim themselves as video game journalists nowadays it seems; it can be overbearing for a public relation or media relation representative to filter out the smaller, "independent" outlets over media outlets that actually have some sway in consumer decisions. So I can see where it might be easier for a large company to deny access to their products to avoid needing to deal with people begging for free games.

I have heard of an argument stating that businesses do pay for their supplies meaning that games would equal the needed supplies in this case. However, businesses can also run off of partnerships as well. This is how game journalism works at least from my personal experience and having had a chance to mingle with multiple journalist over the years. Partnerships are formed between the developer and the media outlet where the outlet is granted a privileged in order to better drive a product's profit by ultimately advertising that product.

In other words, you need to prove that you are a profitable source for the developer to want to invest in you; and I doubt that sites such as IGN, Kotaku, Joystiq, Destructoid, etc... provide such little profit that a company like Sony would want to completely cut off their resources. Especially when some developers advertise directly on those sites with paid ads which brings me to the next point...

3. Profit and Paying Bills

What is interesting about this whole situation is that I have not seen many other gaming journalists come out expressing concerns or fears regarding this situation. Neither on the possibly of not getting early Sony products nor even on the rumored restrictions for video uploading and sharing. I know Sessler's tweets specified that only people "who practice a particular form of coverage" would be effected. This makes me believe that the source of Adam's panic comes from a more isolated incident. Perhaps maybe Rev3Games is having issues obtaining an early system or games. Right now the guess is still in the air...

Regardless, if you know anything about what he now does, he mostly does videos and a very good point was brought up in this video. As Editor-in-Chief and Executive Producer, Sessler has a lot invested in Rev3Games not only for himself but also for his staff. I highly recommend listening to the brief 7-8 minute video because the presenter does a very good job at breaking down how ad revenue works and allows internet-only companies to sustain themselves.

It does not matter if Sony puts up video capturing restrictions, creates a new policy that would make any YouTube video infringe on copyright, or cuts off early affordable access to their products. No matter what route they take or what combination of corporate decisions go into play, a company like Rev3Games is at risk at losing a lot of potential profit. Without the capability to provide the services their audience is wanting, they will lose viewers and readers. A lack of viewers and a lack of readers translates into a less money which translates to the potential layoffs.

I also find it incredibly interesting that retail managers are receiving free systems when there's a chance a media outlet may not. Granted there is no confirmed word on rather or not GameStop managers will be getting their systems before or after release, but I don't think the issue at hand steams from Sony cutting off early review copies of their products. They do not seem to be shy about handing thousands of systems over. Yet this farther strengths my first point because GameStop is the number one (if not only) video game retailer that also has a strong history of profitable success. In other words, GameStop is guaranteed to product customers for Sony and Microsoft from this generous offer.

Right now, gaming journalism doesn't know what it wants to be. It has tried TV and has failed. It has tried paper media and worked for a long time but is now fading into the digital world. A world that is becoming over saturated with video game journalists; people who think they can slap a web site together and automatically get free products. That just is not how the world works and the industry itself has become very greedy over the recent years. It is almost heartbreaking to see something like this forming, especially when Sessler is involved. He has been my inspiration to want to get into the game industry for a very long time and it has already proven to be an incredible struggle to get anywhere. Seeing how it may (or is) becoming harder for game journalists is only deteriorating my hopes of beginning able to follow my dream of being a journalist myself. I guess we will just need to wait and see what happens and hope for the best for those who will be impacted by whatever happens.
Photo Photo







Stephanie K
10:17 PM on 08.28.2013



Final Fantasy XIV has a bit of a bad reputation. When it was initially launched in 2010, it received heavy backlash from subscribers. Many players and media outlets that tested the game in beta pointed out a wide variety of critical bugs that could potentially ruin players' experience if it was released in its stage at the time. Square Enix gave it a shot and released the game on schedule over delaying it to work on the long list of tweaks suggested by beta testers. As a result, a lot of players complained that the game was not enjoyable. The PlayStation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIV was delayed "indefinitely"as the PC version went free-to-play in about two months of its launch due to the repulsive feedback the title was receiving. Perhaps some of you recall the shift in the development team that occurred at the time as Square Enix desperately tried to prevent the game from crashing and burning for good.

Almost immediately the company went to work on improving the game. An official forum went up to give players the ability to make complaints and suggestions for improvement. Updates started getting released that enhanced the game's mechanics alongside its visual appeal. With time, we began to see Final Fantasy XIV evolve into a more solid state - though rather you still enjoy the gameplay is purely up to personal opinion. The game was recently re-released on both PC and PlayStation 3 as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.  It also returned to a full subscription-based MMO but has given players incentives to keep their subscriptions going and to thank them for their dedication to the game. Every 30 days players are given some sort of in-game item. Though even with more positive reception than before, it seems like Final Fantasy XIV cannot get cut any slack.

Players might have recently found it to be extremely difficult to log on, in particular players on North American/European servers. The high volume of users has caused horrendous congestion making it nearly impossible for some players (such as myself) from being able to access their servers. Square Enix has placed restrictions on many servers.  New players are not granted admission to select servers including legacy servers (which makes sense since it was intended for legacy servers to be available to 1.0 players only). Yet even if you have a character made on one of these restricted servers, you are unable to create additional characters despite the game allowing you to have up to eight characters. Square Enix has claimed in their launcher updates that these limitations are set to scatter users so that servers do not experience too much overcapacity particularly in stating areas. By corralling new users towards less populated servers, they hope to cut back on the log in time on the higher volume ones. The idea makes sense on paper but in practice, it causes a lot of frustration.



The main issue that is arising right now is that paid subscribers are almost being denied the ability to play the game they paid for. It is also incredibly frustrating to try to invite new players to play with you because you might be on a restricted server. This means that if a friend did not take advantage of the beta and make a character on your permanent server they might not be able to play with you, especially if you were already on a legacy server. I hate to use the term entitlement but in this scenario the term is rather fitting. Those who have paid for the game and are considering long term paid investments to play it, we are entitled to being able to use the product we paid for. This is not an instance where a part of the game is purposely cut out for the sake of the developer profiting off of it by releasing it as downloadable content; this is an instance where subscribers do not have any access to their product without sacrifice.

Your options right now are to either wait out the long queues or get lucky to be able to play during down time, or constantly create a new character on one of the few available servers every time you want to play. The greatest work around people have found is to just play on a Japanese server since their traffic is a lot less.  However, if you already have hours invested into a character, you should not be forced to start all over just because you want to use a product you spent money on

Neither of these resolutions really aid in fixing the issue at hand. By creating a new character every time, you are only increasing the amount of low level characters in high concentrated starting areas. The migration of North American and European players to Japanese servers are adding to the head count on formerly medium to low populated worlds. More worlds are finding themselves falling victim to restrictions because of current users just trying to feel like they are somewhat getting their money's worth.

Even worse, Square Enix has suspended the ability for people to purchase digital versions of the game. They ensure that this suspension is only temporary until they can get better control of the unexpected, massive amount of users. They say that they wanted to "prioritize the quality of service"current subscribers. A bold yet foolish statement because you know shit is broken pretty badly when you will not even let people buy it. They have promise that they are working on  improving the log in process two ways. The first way is by introducing new worlds (or servers) for users to access. The second simply states that they will "enhance performance" for log in and matchmaking methods for both regions. They have not revealed how they will be doing this. I can only hope to see the addition of an instant queue that will allow me to wait and automatically be logged in once a spot opens; even if there's a few hundred people ahead of me. (Constantly playing the guessing game or mashing Num0 has gotten old very fast.) Square Enix  states that all of these changes should be in effect by the early part of next week.


I think it is safe to say that the biggest mistake Square Enix made was combing North America and Europe into one group of servers. Square Enix has a total of twenty-five servers per region. So at the moment with only the Japanese and North American/European categories, we have a total of fifty servers for players to be able to access. If North America and Europe were separated, we might have seen less traffic since the player would have been a bit more dispersed on an additional twenty-five servers hypothetically.  Instead, we have to now wait for Square to now give us those additional servers and hope this solves the problem. I personally remain a bit skeptically only because so many people already have characters on existing servers but I guess we shall find out what happens after the new changes are implemented.

So what should we expect from all of this? It is hard to say since Square Enix is keeping their bad news very short. Nothing currently points to any additional benefits or "we're sorry" gifts for those who have experienced inconvenience when attempting to play. World Transfers will be an optional service available at some point. According to A Realm Reborn's web site, this server should go live sometime near the middle part of September but restrictions may still apply. A price point has not yet been placed on this service though if you ask me the first transfer should be free in order to let people move their whole Free Company to a less populated server once all the log in issues are resolved.

Needless to say, the current status is not a good way to start off a re-release of a game that already has put a bad taste in some people's mouths.  A fee of $14.99 is quite a lot to spend on a log in gamble. It is understandable that Square Enix might have underestimated the amount of active players, but at this point, it seems almost like an excuse for not being properly prepared. After all, this is the second time some subscribers played this game.

Update: The links to some of the images are coming up as a "404 Not Found" file. All the images are located in the blog's gallery in case you have trouble viewing them.
Photo Photo Photo









Time for some Self Reflecting

Violence and entertainment go hand in hand, regardless of the form of media. Rather it is video games, film, or even novels, the theory that what we play, watch, and read ultimately shapes our capability to comprehend situations in reality has existed for years. Book banning spans back to as early as 428 B.C. with the philosophers finding their works burned and themselves exiled or executed for questioning religious beliefs. As society progressed, acts of violence and sexual themes replaced spiritual viewpoints. The banning of films for extreme gore, violence, and sexual content is far from anything new. Video games have been treated no differently.

Desire to prevent children from purchasing mature rated games seemed like a noble, agreeable cause, but the unjustified allegations of how violence in games were linked to vicious acts in reality became offensive towards the general public. Statements from political representatives and supporters essential stated that all people who enjoyed video games lusted for bloodshed. However, that is not always the case.

Evidence entertains ideas on both sides. Research both supports and disproves the connection between how media can alter our judgment over time or effect our mannerisms. Armies rush to the digital battlefield to siege our freedom of expression and clash with the cyber soldiers prepared to defend our rights. Though both parties only find a rotten horse carcass. Everyone - professionally and publically - is not afraid to express their opinions on video game violence, but we hear so much about the physical violence video games supposedly make us do; or talk about the mental distortion they cause. What about violence outside of the game and the consoling solitude that they provide?

When we hear the word "violence", we generally think of an aggressive physical act against another being. Hostility can come in more forms than just physical attacks. Arguably, emotional scars run deeper than physical ones. The events that we live through shape ultimately shape our personalities and perspectives on the world. A world we cannot always escape from without a bit of help from a television and a gaming system.

I had a fairly normal urban lifestyle while growing up. Our duplex was located in a slightly rough part of town. Not enough to deem it unlivable for safety reasons, but it was surely a place where I could not wander outside by myself. There were not many other children my age that lived around me. Occasionally, I would get invited to play in the backyard of the girl who lived next yard but I cannot recall the reasons why she was not always there. My parents lived on alternating schedules. My mom worked days while my dad worked nights. I would see them throughout the day but for the most part, I was left to amuse myself since during the day my dad was asleep and in the evenings, my mom did her own thing.

Though as a young kid with limited social interaction, this did not seem to bother me. My room felt like a personalized paradise filled with stacks of comic books and toys, and got even better when I was allowed to have a colored television in my room for the PlaySation. I was generally left to myself for most of the day, but the bright fantasy worlds I explored with my virtual friends like my Pokemon or Spyro kept me company. I never felt alone but little did I know that my "prefect" life was a recipe to set me up to become the stereotypical nerd.


Myself

During the earliest years of school, it seemed like what I like did not matter. It did not matter if I liked playing with Legos over playing with dolls or that I preferred sitting alone with a GameBoy instead of playing sports with the other kids. Tolls started to take though as I got older. Going into second grade, that magical moment of mental awakening happened. Our childish minds that were once centered around just having fun became more aware of society standards. Gender roles began to emerge and suddenly my once acceptable behavior turned me into a social outcast. Boys did not wanted to play with me because I was an icky girl; girls did not want me around them because I was weird for liking boy things.
I was automatically labeled different.

Throughout grade school and middle school, the classroom was pretty much ran by two groups of girls: the best friends that had grown up with each other and the token popular girls. Both groups I did not fit into since I was not the prettiest girl or the most athletic, but I was among - if not - was the smartest. Just another thing that set me side from the rest of them. I had friends, but when peer pressure is constantly on you, you do not always rise to stand at a friend's side. So most of my battles were fought alone and I was greatly outnumbered.
I suffered silently from daily harassment and bulling, like most geeks did during the mid-90s.

Since I did not wear name brand clothes or have my hair in fancy hairstyles, I was often told how unattractive I was. I was made fun for the way I looked and the clothes I wore. I was constantly put down to the point to where I began withdrawing myself from them because I became self-conscious of how I looked. I started wearing baggy clothing to hide my body in hopes that it would deteriorate their desire to want to point out my flaws. However, the awkwardness of my scrawny frame in the oversized shirts and jeans only gave them more of a reason verbally attack me.

The late-90s into the early 2000s can be argued to be the greatest years in gaming. Some of the greatest games of our time started came out and it began to highlight my hobbies. While these other girls were going out to the mall to shop, I stayed home to play video games. I isolated myself over socializing which singled me out. I freely chose to play games over going out because I found them to be fun and wanted to enjoy them; though it seemed to have given all the others the wrong impression. To them, it showed that I was alone. It made me come off as being weak which gave them a reason gang up on me. I would get surrounded by two or three at a time and be overpowered by hateful comments. I would be put down or shunned for even the smallest of reasons like walking too close to them in the hall or sitting in the seat one of them wanted on the ride home. Whatever reason they saw fit, they would explode it no matter what.

Daily, I was humiliated in front of our peers which was embarrassing and my presence then turned into a disease. Soon everyone saw me as an anti-social leaper. Since I was labeled unacceptable by the two popular groups, it would tarnish their view of you if you were caught around me thus causing most people to migrate away from me. I have no doubts that there was not some sense of satisfaction that came from knowing they had the power to manipulate people's opinions about me before someone would even get to know me.

Eventually, the bullying settled over time but only through the naturally progression through school. It finally ended the day those two groups and I went our separate ways in high school. For almost a decade, I was trapped in a classroom where I was constantly tormented. The worst part about it is verbal abuse and consistent put downs do not leave scars. No one saw the aftermath of the psychological beatings I endured since there was no evidence to prove it even happened other than my pleas to certain teachers and adults to make it stop, but for all of us who have been in a bullying situation, we know how that goes. We are simply told that kids are just being kids; that their violent outbursts are caused from simple social and mental ignorance because they do not know any better. We are told that the pain will come to an end when they (the offenders) grows out of it leaving the rest of us (the victims) to silently accept it.


Resident Evil 2 - A Game from my Childhood

Current news and some political movements want us to believe physical violent acts like murders or shootings are caused by ideas inspired from video games since they glorify death and gore. Yet, school councils, parents, teachers, and even law enforcement willing accept non-physical violence as a natural growing stage for children. In other words, every human being is allowed to be mentally disturbed to a degree as long as their hateful verbal and emotionally ruining acts do not turn into physical attacks. When these acts do turn physical, then everything else is blamed for causing the person to be violent other than the person's own will.

What people do not realize is that those years of verbal abuse have shaped my personality far more than the video games I played during those same years. Both violent ones and non-violent ones.

I will be turning twenty-four this October; I still have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror without picking out every flaw in my appearance that was pointed out to me nearly 14-16 years ago. I have managed to escape my shy shell a bit, but I still favor quiet nights in over parties with a small group of close friends because I still feel so withdrawn from the world. When it comes to meeting new people, I do not have issues with listening to them or communicating about common interests but I have little to nothing to say about myself since I find myself to be dull and uninteresting. Why? Because of years of being told that the things I liked were "stupid" or I was wrong for liking them in the first place. I think my blog on here is only a handful of sentences because I truly do not know what to say without having sense of fear of being judged.

For those who read my Blossoming into Womanhood, you know that part of the reason I personally am not offended by must sex appeal of female characters is because I liked feeling like an attractive woman. After all, I was told that I was not for over half my life so the ability to be one in a game allowed me to cope a bit. Being a desirable damsel made up for the fact that I was generally overlooked by my male peers in school. The loneliness I felt in school was batted away by the dozens of friends waiting for me at home and came to me the moment I turned on my gaming system. Whimsical stories and vibrant worlds to explore occupied my mind, thus giving me brief moments of solace from the horrible thoughts that plagued my mind.

We are so quick to jump to conclusions and connect media influences to behavior that we ignore the fact there are far deeper, psychological factors that come into play regarding violence. At times, society seems to not even recognize non-physical violence or fails acknowledge it as being as severe as physical violence. Those girls that picked on me growing up never really played games and their behavior was normal in the eyes of society. I was told that they just did not know any better even though they would tear me down to the point of tears. Even the most ignorant of minds should have noticed that something about that was not right.

Yet, my enjoyment of games makes me the bad guy due to a few horrid acts caused by some very mentally disturbed, psychotic individuals. Me choosing to play and liking something like Bioshock, Resident Evil, Call of Duty, or any game with violence in the privacy of my own home is corrupting society. The thousands of bullies that roam the playgrounds and pick on other kids for fun are not. Something about that concept does not sit right with me, especially when those very games I am scolded for liking are what allowed me to escape the emotional torment I endured so no one else was there to save me but myself and my games.
Photo Photo Photo










Want to be apart of gaming history?
Want to be an early tester for four future Double Fine titles?
Want to vote on what those future titles will be?
Want to own six limited release prototypes for Double Fine games?

Now is your chance!

An annual ritual at Double Fine is upon us and this year Tim Schafer wants to share it with you. Amnesia Fortnight was created back in 2007/2008 as a way to boost employee morale after the company was dropped by Activision and signed with EA during Brutal Legends‘ development. For two weeks the Double Fine staff is split into four teams. Each team then “forgets their current project” (hence the name ‘Amnesia Fortnight’) and becomes focused on a prototype for future games. Schafer saw it as away to expand the company’s revenue by ultimate making the four prototypes into complete downloadable arcade or PC games. A task that has proven to be successful.

The past Amnesia Fortnights have lead to the creation of some of Double Fine’s current quirky little games including Costume Quest, Iron Brigade, and helped form the basis for Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. While in the past Schafer has normally name picked the winners, he wants to do something different this year by including you in the process.

Double Fine has partnered up with the Humble Indie Bundle to create the first public Amnesia Fortnight. For a simple donation of $1, donors can be active participants of the whole experience. The first week (which is currently going on) grants you access to the voting process. A total of twenty-three game ideas have been presented to the public; each one thought up and presented by a Double Fine employee. Small descriptions as well as a video pitch are available for the public to see regardless if you are a donor or not.

After the week is up, the top four games with the most votes will move on to phase two. The Double Fine staff will split up into four teams like they do every year and will begin the prototype process. 2-Player Productions will be filming the whole 2 to 3 week process which will also include a live stream in order to keep the gaming community involved with the games’ production.

I have yet to see a post from Double Fine explaining whether or not the video aspects of the project will be for donors-only or be open to everyone. They have, however, expressed that those who do donate will get the prototypes for Windows with Steam keys – meaning that you have an opportunity to be apart of the early production of a future great game or be able to brag that you own a extremely rare, limited release of a game that will never be completely developed.

On top of the four prototypes, donors will also be given prototype copes of Happy Song and Costume Quest to catch them up on a bit of Amnesia Fortnight history that they can mess around with now. It doe seem that a second Humble Indie Bundle will be released once the prototypes are released giving the general public a second chance to jump into gaming history.

Double Fine is greatly encouraging player feedback to farther help these titles in the future. So why miss out especially when its only a $1?

And, of course, like every Humble Indie Bundle, donors can choose how much is given to the developers, Humble Indie Inc., or charity. On Double Fine’s official post about the project, they made sure to highlight the “donating to charity” option, somewhat encouraging donors to favor Child’s Play over them.

(Also on Royalflushmagazine.com)
Photo










Does anyone remember Life After People? It was a documentary that aired on the History Channel a few years ago that explained how the planet would naturally alter itself if humanity instantly vanished. Over the course of two hours, the documentary explained how vegetation would break through cement, climates would change, and animals would inherit the earth once again. Instinctive behaviors would be triggered in house pets as they readjust to the wild. Cute, cuddly dogs are forced to brave the concrete jungle in search of helpless rabbits for survival...before a Dilophosaurus eats them.

Tokyo Jungle is a quirky new game about the basics of survival in such an environment. Advertised as one of the few games in the "urban based animal survival genre", Tokyo Jungle takes place in an undefined year where people have disappeared. The streets of Tokyo sit in ruins leaving pets abandoned and giving animals in captivity an opportunity to escape. Instead of lush green forests, animals wander crumbling buildings as the need for survival drives them forward. The Survival mode is the main focus of the game. Here players can pick from nearly 80 different types of animals and 50 breeds. You can be anything from dogs to cats to lions to horses, cows, wolves, kangaroos, giraffes, and even dinosaurs, though most are locked until you have completed challenges from the previous animal in the chain.

Once your furry creature has been selected, you will be thrown into the middle of the streets of Shibuya, a Japanese neighborhood. Your goal is to live for as long as possible. To do this, you will need to monitor your hunger levels that consistently decrease. It is vital to eat as much you can whenever you can; if you fail to satisfy your hunger, your health will begin to decrease until you perish from starvation. Carnivores will need to hunt while herbivores will need to graze and hide from predators. Both have the ability to go prone either for stalking or to sneak past enemies. Points are then earned based on what you consume allowing you progress through three rankings that increase your stats, which also improve every year you survive.



The second goal is the core drive of all living beings: the need to reproduce. Every animal has a life span of fifteen years before old age kills them. In order to replicate, you need to claim territories by marking four points in whatever area you want to take over. Once the territory is your's two mates will appear on the map for you to pick from. Desperate mates are easy to pick up but will produce a smaller litter and can pass on fleas to you that will slow you down. Average mates are among the most common. They require a bit more convincing via a higher rank but will birth up to four offspring. Prime mates are harder to find and require an extensive amount of points at max level to mate with. However, they will produce the most offspring giving you up to six members of a pack to use. Your newly formed pack essentially double as extra lives. If you die you will jump to one of your siblings to continue your game where the cycle will repeat until you finally fail at life and die.

Random challenges will appear throughout your playthrough adding a bit of variety each time. You may be asked to take down a specific animal or reclaim a territory. By completing these challenges you unlock other animals to use in future Survival mode games. Items also drop at random that can provide back up when situations become tough. Clothing items and accessories boost stats as long as they are worn but deteriorate over time. Newspaper clippings can be collected that unlock chapters to the Story mode.

Story mode is a more objective version of the Survival mode where players will need to complete a single mission. Eight animals are available to play and each has a small plot to them. (You might be a Pomeranian needing to evolve from a simple pet to an adjusted killer. Or you might be a sika fawn searching for his mother. Or maybe you are a lion trying to regain lost territory from rival males.) Combined with the archived articles you gained from the Survival mode, the truth behind humanity's disappearance is slowly pieced together. The plot is a fairly generic post-apocalyptic tale but the presentation of facts creates a surprisingly elaborate silent narrative.



Despite its pure fun, Tokyo Jungle is not without flaws. Variety comes from different strategies that are necessary for survival for each animal but the core gameplay is the same. Things can get repetitive fast as you end up following the similar pattern every playthrough. Animal placements and challenges are randomly generated turning the mechanic into a double edged sword. It adds a bit of irregularity to the otherwise repeating gameplay style, but there are periods where no objectives are given thus leaving you with no optional tasks. You will find yourself running around in circles waiting desperately for an event to happen to give you something else to do.

At the same time, the random predator spawns can feed into the unpredictable difficulty spikes. Tokyo Jungle has a habit of becoming ridiculously challenging without any warning. Hazards such as pollution, acid rain, and droughts can occur at any given time and can span multiple areas. Toxic foods poison you when digested and can kill you if not diluted before fully entering your bloodstream - forcing you to take deadly risks if you find yourself surrounded by poisonous air with little hope of escaping.

Regardless of the high stress and frustration that Tokyo Jungle might fuel, the game's outrageous charm makes up for its mistakes. It's one of those unique gems that are worth having if only for the novelty it possesses. Fans of Darwinism will love this game and as someone who harvested all the Little Sisters in Bioshock because I was the superior being, I have found Tokyo Jungle to be one of the most enjoyable experiences this year. With a leaderboard, local co-op, an extensive selection of animals - including extra downloadable ones - and plenty of hidden collectables, it is a hefty PSN title. For $14.99, there is no excuse to not pick up this incredible piece of entertainment.
Photo Photo Photo









Sarkeesian and her research material

Feminist Frequency has been an ongoing web series for nearly three years. Consisting of nearly thirty-two videos, the series explores sexist, racist, and religious representations in fictional media and advertisements. Though Anita Sarkeesian's claim to fame has spawned from her recent Kickstarter to gain support for her mini documentary series, Tropes vs Women in Video Games. The project's page provides a rough outline of the twelve videos that will make up the documentary series as well as rough information regarding their contents. The description states that each video will be anywhere from ten to twenty minutes long and will be available to the general public for free. It also states that "a lot of time and money" will be needed for the production; Sarkeesian states that she will personally be "researching and playing hundreds of titles" and ensures that all pledges would be used to cover the cost of equipment, production, and research material (games and downloadable content).

The Kickstarted launched on May 17th of this year. In less than twenty-four hours, it reached its $6,000 pledge goal. Backers continued to grow over the month resulting in Sarkeesian raising nearly $160,000 for the project by June 16th. From there, all updates were promised to be available only to those who backed the project; she went on to publicly display her research materials, over 300+ games, and provided an official update expressing her excitement. "I can now commit full-time to Feminist Frequency and to this video series which is truly a dream come true for me", she writes. "I can now also hire my producer full-time for this project. Plus we are in the process of bringing another writer/researcher on board part-time." With such passion and staffing, one would think that Feminist Frequency crew would be ready to tackle their production with full force.

Then there was silence...And then there was insubordination.

Nearly a month followed where no updates were given. Backers began posting comments on the Kickstarters' page and reaching out to her Twitter account asking for some confirmation that the project was at least underway. Most questions, however, went unanswered. One backer mentions in the comments that he captured a screenshot stating an estimated date on one of the Kickstaters' goals and Tweeted it to Sarkeesian asking for some explanation as to why the paid backers were being kept in the dark. The backer was then blocked from her Twitter and was ignored as a result. "I would be absolutely fine if she just responded to my tweet with a simple 'Still working and capturing footage'," wrote "Mike".


"Mike"'s sceencap of his banishment

The screencap had then been leaked, and rumors began to spread that the Kickstarter was a scam with no real intention of ever being completed. Only then did Sarkeesian take the time to respond.

Four days ago she took the time to clear up the rumors and tried to rebuild the trust that she was beginning to lose amongst her supporters. She debunks the claims that her research was being taken from backer surveys instead of independent investigations, while also tackling other accusations. I can understand the frustration and anger that arises from backer's leaking information, but in their defense, neutral inquiries were being ignored. An unintentional drastic measure had to be taken in order to receive any form of response which leads me to ask: Why has it taken this long to shed some light on the situation?

After discovering the weeks of silence and apathetic responses, I did some research on the progression of her full-time commitment. Her web site has sat untouched since her last Tropes vs Women update on August 1st. At the time of writing this article, her YouTube channel had not been touched since August 12th with no new videos being uploaded since the initial promotional video for the Kickstarter. Up until a week ago, there had been no updates since the pledges were closed. However, she - or at least Feminist Frequency staff members - frequented Twitter (@femfreq), Facebook, and Tumblr regularly. While there is no doubt that such a project is difficult and time consuming to produce, she still had plenty of time to discuss Doctor Who with fans, promote other feminist blogs, and post pictures of herself with gaming memorabilia. Despite all of this activity, she was unable to provide any sort of update regarding the Tropes vs Women production.

"If she can't take 10 minutes a fortnight (seeing as how it has been 19 days since the last update) to update her backers, then wtf," commented backer "Bryan" on the Kickstarter comment page A statement that I can agree with even when being an outside viewer of the documentary.

Leaking information is not appropriate behavior - especially when the benefit to being a backer is that you gain access to these restricted updates. After the discoveries regarding failure to provide adequate updates, I cannot help but feel that the actions are justified to an extent. Supporters are entitled to the details that are being withheld from them even while reaching out to the producer. I am not encouraging future leaks but nonetheless, the backers have right to have become suspicious. After all, if Sarkeesian was capable of going into detailed arguments against negativity and harassment against her...Why has it been so difficult to share some insight on the documentary's progression?


Sarkeesian's Tumblr photo

Backers are obviously not looking for full outlines on Tropes vs Women's production, but just want some acknowledgement to calm their fears that their donations might be wasted. She claimed and promised that these games were going to be personally played for research, right? If so, then why could she have not taken thirty seconds to Tweet, "Playing <insert game> for TvW!" or "Filming has begun"?

Perhaps this outburst and backlash will be an eye opener on how the production team needs to handle their project. It is their responsibility to keep their backers informed. I give them credit for engaging their followers and allowing them a chance to personalize their experience by sharing their own opinions. I forewarn that if they continue to shun the backers, these generous efforts will mean nothing to them and ultimate lead to a continuation of disapproval from the gaming community. If disorganization is making it difficult to even give small updates, how can these supporters have faith that their funds are being used effectively?

After all, if Sarkeesian wants to keep this project in positive light, then a certain degree of professionalism needs to be constantly demonstrated, certainly more than is currently being shown.
Photo Photo Photo