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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's back. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare for the second annual CBlog week dedicated to our fantastic Director of Communications, Hamza Aziz. It's time for the Revenge of Cybershark Week: This time it's personal!
In correspondence to the Discovery Channel's dull Shark Week, we will do something each day in dedication to our very own cybershark. This year things will be a tad different because now we have prizes. Monday through Friday I will be giving away two codes for the Shark Attack Pack for Saints Row: The Third on Steam. These will be given out with warning on my Twitter so be sure to follow @zomg_its_steph.
The way it will work is that I will post the following phase: "It's a shark attack!"
On top of that, we have daily activities. Below you will you find our schedule for the daily contests and rules (located at the bottom).
Sunday: Change all your profile pictures to something shark related. Facebook profiles, Steam avatars, Twitter profiles, etc... Show your support and wear it with pride.
Monday: Using the tune from the Jaws theme song, write a little jingle in honor of Hamza. You can write it out but will get bonus points if you record yourself! (But that will not automatically make you a winner.)
Tuesday: Write an origin story for the cyberhark. It needs to be less than 500 words and build up to the glorious creation of the cybernetic beast. It can be sad, comical, a horror story...Whatever you'd like.
Wednesday: Find a shark-based video game and review it. Make sure to include how awesome it is because it features a shark.
You do not need to program the game, of course, but include a nice detailed summary of the plot, explain the gameplay, come up with a title, include an ending.
Thursday: Artists! And non-artists...Show us your skills! Make a piece of art with anything you have and submit it. It can be a drawing, macaroni picture, sculpture, or anything you want to use.
Friday: Come up with a concept for a video game. Hamza needs to be the protagonist but here is the kicker... Jim Sterling needs to be the villain and Jonathan Holmes is the damsel in distress.
Saturday: Community pick. We have till Saturday to think of something badass.
Rules: All entries for the daily contests need to be submitted before 12pm PST the day of. (Meaning Monday's entries will need to be posted here in the blog before noon on Monday.) Voting will then take place between noon until 11:59pm. The top three will get e-fame and a custom made gold, silver, or bronze badge that can be displayed in their CBlog profile to show off. Whoever manages to gain the most badges by the end of the week will get something special...Something that if I told you would not make it a surprise.
All winners will be announced in the blog but will also be notified via a message.
Aging slowly, the current generation of consoles is finding itself wandering crippled through the hallways of its home. A Life Alert pager dangles from its neck and is clenched within its trembling hand; soon the poor thing will need to be shipped off to a retirement home where we will forget to call it and only visit at Christmas. While it drifts off to sleep in its rocker, the rumors of the next generation begin to bustle among the community. The current generation still has some life to it but the temptation of a younger, sexier system is too much to ignore.
However, just like any generation, the new can learn a thing or two from the passing one. The game industry might be one of the most profitable entertainment industries of our time but many of us have admitted that the satisfaction from it has decreased over time. Many of us have grown frustrated with the bullshit we are forced to endure regarding hardware purchases like facing the Red Rings of Death; or have grown bitter at game developers incompetent decisions like cancelling Megaman Legends or refusing to localize beloved franchises. Interest is deteriorating. Doubts are filling us.
So even as we throw our money at companies, most of us do not feel very fulfilled at the end of the day with repercussions of our mistreatment starting to show. Earlier in the year Sony reported a net loss of $1.09 billion last quarter from their PlayStation department due to a decline in handheld sales, thus effecting the whole division. (IGN). Microsoft saw a loss of $229 million entering 2012 after XBox360 sales decreased by nearly 50% (Edge). Wii and 3DS price cuts on top of a slow-selling holiday left Nintendo with a $461.2 million profit loss (Joystiq). With such a decrease in sales, it is reasonable to assume that the first wave of the next-generation will be crucial to all three companies' foundation for the future. Though rumors like blocking the ability to not play used games are beginning to make consumers turn their backs.
What can be done to save the next generation? How can hardware developers regain our bruised trust and get back into our wallets? I mean...Our hearts.
1. Simple Design XBox360, XBox360 Elite, XBox360 Slim 4Gig model, XBox360 Slim 250Gig model, PS3 20-80Gig models with backwards compatibility, PS3 20-80Gig models without backwards compatibility, PS3 Slim, Wii, Wii with Motion Plus, Wii with Motion Plus but without backwards compatibility, DSi, DSi XL, 3DS...
There are a lot of different models and it does not stop there. The 3DS XL is just around the corner. Rumors from Comic-con have sprouted up regarding yet another PS3 model that is now "officially" the slim model. While having options are great, it confuses the hell out of people and clutters store shelves. It is understandable with this passing generation that we have a few different models. Microsoft desperately needed to clean up the Red Ring of Death epidemic, Sony needed to drop production prices of the PlayStation 3 to drop it to more reasonable price range, and Nintendo realized more needed to be included with their system.
Redesigns of systems might be necessary to fix flaws, but there is also an underline business scheme of making profit off of people rebuying a system in order to get an improved model. I support the need to fix a system if it truly needs an improvement. Though I am not sold on the mechanic of changing a look or adding a few bells and whistles to make me want to spend money on a product I already purchased. With the coming generation, each company has had plenty of time to test the water. Nintendo maybe the grandfather of the three, but each have a minimum of ten years experience with consoles. Therefore, we should only see a new model if it truly is necessary to prevent failure of the system. This generation alone has given each developer a chance to see what consumers want; they should know by now:
* Built-in wifi: there should be no reason as to why this is not included in every system from where on in
* Option to expand memory with the addition of larger harddrives: (I am looking at you PS3 where if people wanted more space, they had to pretty much buy a new system.) While Cloud saving is nice, you cannot store a whole installed game onto it. Sure, you can always delete it and redownload or reinstall it later, but in the perfect world this would not be an option.
* Include everything: Like Nintendo eventually did with the Wii by including the Motion Plus with a new system, there is no real reason as to why consumers cannot have everything right out of the box. I understand the premise of gaining a few dollars from us needing to buy an accessory when we pick up our new system. While something like a Play-and-Charge kit might not be a true necessity, the gesture would easily win points in the systems favors in the eyes of the buyer.
* Please no cosmetic redesigns: We would like a sleek looking system that takes up as minimal space as possible to set on our modern, cluttered entertainment centers. The current design for the XBox360, PS3, and Wii work fantastically; so do not stray far from that.
2. Keep Backwards Compatibility When it came to cutting back costs on production, all the systems sacrificed the ability to play games from yesteryear. Microsoft did not include full backwards compatibility and eventually abandoned it in order to maintain the XBox360's $200-$300 price range. Sony dropped it not long after the PlayStation 3 was first released in order to dip down from a $600 price tag to a more competitive price. Within the last year, Nintendo removed the Wii's ability to play GameCube games in order to lower the production cost to make up from their profit loss. Luckily, they are already making the right moves with the WiiU by allowing the system to support both Wii games and accessories. This is a trend that both Sony and Microsoft need to follow.
The importance of backwards compatibility is something that I do not believe has fully been realized; or at least, the benefits of it have been ignored. By allowing gamers access to their older games on a new system, it makes them feel like they are getting more of their money compared to purchasing a new system that will only play newer games. Instead of only being limited to a single library of games, they are opened to two or more libraries. This also helps encourage consumers to purchase systems earlier in their lifespan because regardless of the launch titles, they will always have something to play.
On top of that...High definition remakes of older games are starting to get a tad out of hand. It is fantastic to go back and relive through a great moments in a higher resolution but I foresee it as being unneeded going into the new generation. The games of the current generation would not gain much of a noticeable difference if redone for the next. Some polishing maybe and new content but there would not be as big of a leap as going from standard to high definition.
3. Support Preowned
Online passes appeared within the pass two or so years. Much like serial numbers for PC games, online passes are a form of registration for a new products. However, unlike serial numbers, these passes limit the features of a game in order to sway the public opinion to favor the purchase of new games over used games. Despite the similarities, the gaming community has grown more tolerant of PC serial numbers for a few reasons. Most PC games keep their price tags below the $60 price tag when compared to their console counterparts butt importantly, PC titles try to not set limitations regarding personal distribution at home.
Digital rights management (DRM) was introduced to PC gaming within the last four years, not too long before online passes. DRM's purpose was limit the number of times a single game could be installed either one the same computer or other computers at once in attempts to combat piracy. This meant that owners with more than one computer or laptop were restricted to a single device. Protests quickly followed from the unethical concept behind being limited on the usage of a product they purchased. As a result, having DRM can make or break sales for PC developers and have caused most to avoid its usage, ultimately relying on their consumers to purchase their games over pirating them.
However, console developers still set on winning the war against used sales. Mike West of Lionhead Studios seems to feel that used sales cause more harm to developers than piracy (url=http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-05-17-lionhead-pre-owned-worse-than-pc-piracy]Eurogamer[/url]) since studios see no profit from the sale while the retailer gains 100%. As a result, some studios like EA, Activision, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Ubisoft have begun forcing the use of online passes for their games. A code is included when purchasing a new copy and those who do buy used can pay for a pass with the average cost being around $10. Without this code, users are prevented from using certain game features like the multiplayer or chunks of the single player. Though would what happen if more than just a handful of studios turned their backs to used games? What if the rumors end up being true?
We can expect the industry to collapse. Regardless of your stance on purchasing new over used, the limitation would not sit well with consumers. With no support of used games, game rentals would no longer be available since the game would be unusable after the first rental. This also means that people would not be able to share games with their friends or family. We would no longer be able to let others borrow games from us and vice versa due to the game being tied specifically to a single system. Then what happens if someone has to purchase another system due to their first breaking? Or what if families want more than one system in their home? Does this mean they would need to purchase another copy of the same game or pay an additional fee to get the right to play a game they had already purchased?
It is a ridiculous idea that spells suicide. People want to feel like they own what they buy and want to be able to do what they please. No one likes having their property controlled by other sources than themselves. The community has already shown their disapproval by stating they would not purchase the system. Without sales, the industry would start to crumble. Companies would see extremely decreases in profit which could ultimately lead closures.
4. Creativity and Customization What do people do when they first buy a new phone? Or a new computer? Or a tablet? They customize it. They make it fit their needs while adding a personal touch to their device.
At the moment, customization is limited for our current systems. We can chance individual idea pictures for our profiles and purchase themes that change the background of our systems. Though we can do nothing else. So what if we had more freedom with our systems?
Dashboards could be treated like cell phones, tablets, or the PlayStation Vita. People could pick and choose what applications they want available on their main menus (Netflix, music programs, installed games, etc...). Then drag and drop them to where they want them on the dashboard, thus adding a personal touch to their property. It also lets users clean up the clutter from their screens by removing features they may not use. While it would be a small addition to a system's feature, for a new generation that seems to be focusing on personalized experiences there is almost no reason to not include some ability to customization.
5. Break Free Regional locks has been the bane of gamers' existence for years. Constantly taunting players as they have a system that a game is designed for but cannot play it due to its coding being locked out from their part of the world. Even with some Japanese only games being recorded with full English voice acting or games being released in Europe, we still see some games never get approved for U.S release - including some series that have abandon in other countries. If region locks were lifted, it would allow players to follow their beloved series no matter where they live.
There are currently three pillars that support the use of region lock. The first is to allow developers to maintain a set price for their games. Daily irregularities in currencies balances prove to make it difficult to keep a single price around the world. However, with the internet, people could order directly from the developer or select retailers where I universal price decided before the game's release.
Next is the desire to have staged launches or specific street dates for countries. By allowing restrictions on playability in each country, developers have some control over the game's release. The idea behind this is to prevent huge waves of demand from around the world on the title's release. It is easy to say that a developer just needs to produce enough copies to meet the demand and by having an online ordering system, they should hypothetically be able to track the demand before the game's release. Or even offer the game up as an available downloadable title to system owners in other parts of the world - an option that should greatly be considered, especially as the idea of digital distribution continues to be exploded.
Finally is the issue regarding the content of the game. Each culture has a very different views when it comes to controversial content such as violence, gore levels, and sexual content. Some countries may be a bit more sensitive than another particular how America tends to shy away from sexual tones but exploits violence while Germany shares an opposing view. Out of the three reasons, this will be the hardest to overcome mainly due to legal reasons. Even if a game developer was to refuse shipping to a country due to its rating, having it be more easily available would make it easier for people to possibly import illegal media to their country. The only solution that I can think of would be for developers to somehow release a patch that prevents a specific title from being playable on a system registered to a country that it is banned in instead of restricting all games. Even if people found a way around it, the effort would discourage the average consumer; those who would try to cheat the system probably do it already and probably would not stop either way.