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2:04 PM on 02.08.2011

Saving the World from Bulletstorm, Fox News

The original article here depicts an anti-Bulletstorm report that is almost clichťd at this point.

When will this nonsense end? We have all heard the anti mature rated game party rally and attack literally everything that involved showing blood to half a nipple. These arguments are yet again uneducated accusations that involved no research to speak of. Lets go through some key points.

1. Assuming nine year olds are the core target audience for the game

This game obviously has been rated accordingly at M for mature meaning intended for 17 years or older. Whether or not a parent purchases the game for anyone younger than that is completely up to them.

2. Assuming without statistics that rape is caused in large part due to sexual scenes in video games.

No really they did.

Carol Lieberman, a psychologist and book author, told that sexual situations and acts in video games -- highlighted so well in Bulletstorm -- have led to real-world sexual violence.

ďThe increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games,Ē she said.

In the article they literally blame rape on sex scenes in video games. These are actual human beings in control of a news network. They provide no statistics, no data, no research. She just says it and she has a degree and wrote a book so she can't be wrong.

3. Assuming that Ratings set for games aren't enforced at the register

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), rates all video games as a guide for parents; each game carries a letter-label at retail (T for Teen, M for Mature) and an online-only summary. Lieberman and others say it's useless, because it isn't enforced at retail.

I worked at Gamestop for 3 years and for that time period if I sold a Mature game to a minor I was guaranteed to be fired by a piece of paper I was required to sign at my time of employment. AND We were required to tell parents about the ratings if they were purchasing the game for a child.

4. Pushing restrictions on Video Games that aren't otherwise enforced on movies

Of course in the end Fox News it pushing for support for a Supreme Court case that's coming up and wants your support to fine video game developers as a whole for putting any violence in games they see wrong. Something along the lines of blocking content on television. What they never bring up is movies don't have these restrictions.

elanie Killen, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Maryland who has pushed for laws that govern the sale of video games, disagrees that the ESRB rating system is working. She says 9-year-olds are playing games like Bulletstorm and that there is no real enforcement. The FCC monitors all TV broadcasts and stiffly fines broadcasters for violating decency rules, yet there are no penalties in place for retailers who sell violent games to kids.

They compare this solely with Public Television which can be viewed by anyone for free in your home instead of other paid media like movies or music. Awful, terrible agenda pushing reporting.

In the end the article is essentially a zero research, rubbish report that I could do with literally any subject. Bulletstorm is a violent game, but it's no more violent than any other M rated game. Just because something encourages creativity in killing doesn't mean we should burn it. Bioshock's main claim to fame was the multiple ways you could use your powers creatively to stop and slay enemies. Just because they didn't swear a lot and use slightly offensive names for different moves they didn't get a glare from Fox News but it's essentially the same premise.

Is Bulletstorm appropriately rated? Or should we fear for children shooting us in the buttocks for extra points?   read

11:56 AM on 12.14.2010

I Miss Playing TF2

Team Fortress 2. No game have I ever been more eager to rip the packaging off and play. Or in this case purchase and wait to download. I played the beta, got the orange box and hammered away at this amazing title.

Why was Team Fortress 2 so amazing? It has been said about a million times since it's creation the plethora of correct design choices that were made to create this wondrous shooter. An amazingly stylized approach, incredibly well balanced classes, innovative teamwork centered game play. From removing grenades to it's non-realistic feel, every aspect about this game was well planned, considered and re-considered until it was perfect.

What happened to this flawless pedestal of a game that every developer should look up to as the baseline for polish in their games? It was slowly tainted by a need for more.

No one wants the same thing forever. So the first updates started rolling through. I will always accept these as necessary since the game was losing a bit of steam after the first few months of constant play. Updating each class with a few new weapons that were unlockable after getting the necessary number of achievements was genius and didn't weigh the game down all that much. TF2 was a fairly bare bones game and this added a small amount of flair that the game otherwise lacked.

Then the hats came.

Everything unlocked new hats. Buying "X' game on steam for 2 more hats, playing for "X" hours and you just start getting items weekly and they could be hats. Better hop on a MAC for a few hours so i can get the ear buds.

The hats themselves aren't bad, it just ruined the flow of the game. The actual appearance of this masterpiece had some child scribbling on it. What once was a strategic marvel based on adhering to a well-founded list of design rules became a demoman with an afro wielding a sword and shield. Whaaaaa?

Now we are well past the climax of TF2. With the new system that allows you to purchase any bloody hat or gun from the hundreds that have been created the game will slowly fade into the wind. They even have armor sets with bonuses now! /wrist

I can't even get on the game anymore because of just how busy it has become. I went from turning the game on and just finding a server to playing dress-up for half an hour on characters I MIGHT play that night.

A loving hint to game developers out there,

Just Keep it Simple.   read

10:16 AM on 12.13.2010

It's Time to Put This One Down.

Here I am, on an average Monday before the winter holidays looking over the latest Newegg holiday deals. Unrestrained drooling usually commences as I add 2-3 video cards to my shopping cart and pile on RAM like turkey on my plate at Christmas dinner. A modest setup of high- to mid-range video cards, RAM, and processors is barely over $1000 anymore. Weíre talking about a machine so powerful it makes my PC of five years ago look like a digital clock.

And yet here we are, stacking a new peripheral onto a five year old console that companies swear is still bleeding edge technology.

Five years ago, I laughed at the Xbox 360. Its graphics engine looked like some weekend hack job compared to the PC gaming to which I was so accustomed. The world praised the success of the Xbox 360, but the system never could compare to the experience that I could get on a PC.

A few years went past and the systemís engine finally shone through and I could resist no longer. Games like Halo 3, Fable 2, and Gears of War proved that the system could create incredibly vivid environments and an enjoyable online experience as well.

But what were the draw backs to these games?

For starters, a four to five-hour long story mode, a forced emphasis on multiplayer to achieve a full experienced game time in excess of 20 hours, lack luster plot lines ripped from B movie scripts, or endless NPC dialog no one can stand.

And itís going to continue. Gears of War 3 comes out in early 2011 on the exact same console. The 360 could barely save replays on endurance tracks in Forza 3, yet weíre anticipating the release of Forza 4 sometime next winter, with no significant difference in the console. Activision has been throwing out Call of Duty into the market with the exact same engine for the past five years and is expected to release its sixth title on the 360 by the end of 2011.

I can't blame the developers. The console market is a monster. We dive head first into last years hit title regardless of the fact it would have barely been considered an expansion pack 10 years ago. Once upon a time games didn't declare sequel status until the engine was completely overhauled. Today, developers can launch DLC a week after launch and actually charge us for it and we still pay for it.

The PC market is barely stable, the core group being unwilling to change in order to broaden its demographic and clinging hopelessly to dedicated servers and dust-covered LAN support. This is a group that explodes into a violent tantrum when new DRM is announced and resorts to rampaging thievery as a result. Itís almost impossible to be marginally successful in the PC world and create competent, innovative technology that utilizes half of the graphics and processing power that a new PC is capable of today.

The worst part is the people we depend on for insight into each game prior to release fell into the same cycle. They are either taking hand outs or getting wrapped up in the hype, because these titles miraculously churn out 9's and 10's every year without stopping. Did Black Ops really deserve an 8 if the multiplayer wasn't bugged? Did Fable 3 even live up to a 5.5? You are supposed to use the entire 10 points of a rating system, you know. IGN and Gamespot are even worse, dishing out 8-10s for participation across the board.

Are we blind? Or are we willingly ignorant? We cling desperately to our system of choice and puke bias the moment our love is threatened. We hush innovation out of our mind like some radical church fearing a scientific explanation. I may be ripping on the Xbox 360 in this post, but the Wii and PS3 are doing the same exact thing. Re-release, old school remakes, last yearís holiday blockbuster making a sequel by this Christmas. Every. Single. Year.

In this last decade I canít point to any real gaming experience that defined the time frame. By the end of the decade, the gaming market has become so stagnant with sequels, re-releases, and remakes I canít even see through it.

In 2011, letís be a better community. Letís tell developers what we really want. Innovation in this market is evaporating and we as consumers are to blame. I want a new console announced in 2011 that pushes the boundaries of what a console can do and I need the communityís help in convincing Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony that we arenít a mindless mass of cash-filled wallets begging for the same crappy soup.   read

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