Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

July 15, 2009 -

Yesterday's edition of the Houston Chronicle's Game Hack blog ponders whether racism is becoming a norm in video game design.

Blogger Willie Jefferson expresses concern over 2009 releases Resident Evil 5 and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (pic at left) as well as the in-development Left 4 Dead 2. RE5, of course, has already been the subject of much debate over its depiction of African villagers as zombies. Jefferson writes:

I am disturbed by the growing trend of racist undertones that are cropping up in video games.

One of the games that comes to mind is "Left 4 Dead 2." ...Set in New Orleans, players will have to fight their way through hordes of zombies - with several of them who appear to be African-Americans. When I saw the first trailer for the game, all I could think about was Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath...

The game that really inspired this blog entry was Ubisoft's "Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood." The game starts out with players assuming the role of Ray, a Confederate officer... the Confederacy, as far as I am concerned, wanted to keep their cheap slave labor and the like. I can not stand the Confederate flag... To me, the flag represents hate -- and offends me and many others to no end. [It] made me wonder how much research Ubisoft did for this game...

As a minority, had the South won, I wouldn't be in this position I am today...


Comments

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

African american zombies! Thats plain racist.

Shobidoo, the hardcore gamer

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

The current streak of controversy over racism in video games is really starting to annoy me.
It amazes me that every time a black guy get's killed people cry fowl, but it's somehow OK when it's white guys being shot. Equality means that you don't treat people differently based on some differential aspect.
RE5 had lot's of black guys being infected, sure, no one is denying that, but seen in the context of the other games in the series, it's no different from the Spanish people in RE4 or the citizens of Raccoon City in the previous games. It's a result of the location rather than a racist agenda by the developers.
The same goes for Left 4 Dead 2. When you set a zombie game in a location such as New Orleans, where a majority of the inhabitants are African-American, then of course a lot of the zombies will be of African-American origin as a result.
This is not being racist, but being true to the setting of the games. To be honest, I would have been more offended had the majority of the infected in RE5 been white, not because of there racial origin, but because it would have been a clear indication that the developers where trying to a peace people who are too easily offended.

And as for the issue about the protagonists of Call of Juarez being Confederates, I think it's important that we don't paint a picture of all confederates as evil, but rather as people following misguided ideals. And this goes for other "villans" with strong political motivations as well.

-- Blaidd drwg

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

It's clear by now that gamers are flat out refusing to see that people are not claiming that the enemy characters being black is racist.  They are attempting to change the discussion into those terms, but the issue has been the design of the characters since the beginning.  The infected in grass skirts, chucking spears?  Not one person has even remotely acknowledged that they exist...simply put, they refute the argument that it's just because they are black that people are upset.  In terms of RE5, of course.

On the L4D2 point, this guy is a reactionary idiot. 

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Why of corse the more sterotypes of all races and creeds are brought in the more insipied bigotry there is, its simple, keep it out as many races and creeds as you can!!

A no brainer!!

 

/B

 


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Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

I seriously doubt the developers of RE5 had any aspirations of racisism at all. It's a locale people. The indigenous poeple of Haiti (where RE% is set) are African American. So in this FANTASY world where people become ZOMBIE-LIKE the people of that locale turn in to ZOMBIES. Sounds simple enough.

Look I hate racisism in any form... but this is blatent PROJECTION of racisism where none was originally intended.

I believe it is overly POLITICALLY CORRECT people like some in this forum and the author of this Houston Chronicle article who are turning this issue in to racisism.

(Side Note: Being a Houstonian myself... I apologize for this idiot author from my city. We are not all idiots down here in Houston.)

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

"So in this FANTASY world where people become ZOMBIE-LIKE the people of that locale turn in to ZOMBIES. Sounds simple enough."

Would have been simple enough were it not for the tribal garb and grass skirts to match the spear chucking...did you even play RE5?  The issue is not that the players are black, or that the enemies are black, it's that the infected are walking around in the most offensive of African stereotypes, the secondary character has an outfit that literally has her walking around in an animal bikini with a bone necklace, and the story is an allegory for the European domination of Africa.  It's the overly simplistic amongst gamers that devolved it into the most simple terms, ie Black zombies = racist.  That is the only way that the people en masse can argue that the game does not draw on racially insensitive stereotypes and imagery.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

When I read the title I thought the guy was talking about how black people are portrayed in games.  Like the sterotypical way they talk and act, and I was like, "Yeah, I agree 100%." 

Then I read the article and realized he was a typical reactionist douche.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Come to think of it, how did Eulogy Jones (a black man) running a slave camp in Paradise Falls in Fallout 3 manage to fly under the radar?  I guess since it was a black man enslaving white people it was okay.  The message from the black community being slavery is okay as long as it isn't black people who are the slaves.  I have no doubt if Paradise Falls was run by a white guy who had black slaves they would have been outraged.           

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

For RE5, it was more racist to change the game after-the-fact and include white people in the enemy roster, because it does so in with the idea of racism in mind. If they were left as all black, then it would be a geographically and culturalistically correct game with no burden of thought about racism being viable.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

I'm more concerned about the blatant racism against Elves depicted in the upcoming Dragon Age game.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Blade on PS2: Run around as a black guy killing mostly white undead = no complaints over Racism

L4D2: Run around as a black or white guy killing both black and white undead = RACISM!!!!

welcome to Bizarro world folks

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Moron gets access to a computer, said moron makes a post on the internet that is mornic. People laugh at the moron. 

Case closed.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

No, but it is becoming the norm in mainstream blogging. I can understand why someone would be offended by it, but what I can't understand is why they wouldn't silently put it away and stop playing it, or maybe even go back and get a refund, if the author of that article even bought said games in the first place and isn't simply reacting to what he's read.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Ugh. I just finished up a gory forum battle with a black guy who kept perceiving racism in everything. There's a sociological mental disorder festering in America and I'm not talking about Republicanism. It seems like all the people who demanded others get past racism are stuck on it themselves. What absolute hypocrites.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

If black people can't handle being the villians then what it really displays is the lack of their own willingness to intergrate and be apart of society as 'one' rather than a 'color'.

People really are just making something out of nothing. Oh look there are black people in the game, RACIST! Oh look there are no black people in the game, RACIST! 

Killing or playing only as white people is what's racist. Blacks complain about how they're being segregated yet who are the ones that invented black colleges, black this and black that? The blacks. If they don't want to be segregated then why are they bringing it upon themselves? Make an effort and get rid of these 'black only' organizations. Stop referring to caucasians as 'whites' if you don't want to be referred to as 'black'. It's rather simple.

I mean seriously, this is 2009, nobody gives a flying fuck what the color of your skin is. You're being delusional and stirring shit for the sake of it.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Wow.  I know you didn't go there with the black colleges comment.

Take two seconds and educate yourself.  Black colleges came about because blacks were not allowed into white colleges (like every school in the country basically).  This is the same thing that the Irish did (ever hear of Notre Dame), that the Catholics did, and it's essentially the first step towards achieving some kind of equal status in society.  Remember that America treated every new group of immigrants as a distinct race for a while, and they were all pretty much discriminated against.  Just so happened that blacks were (and still are, which is something people seem to ignore) the bottom rung of that ladder in terms of treatment.

Also, if you would take a step off of your high horse for a second, I'd like you realize that it might not be the viewpoint of every black that they are being segregated.  Also consider this: if you are white, you oftentimes can, if you so choose, to lead a life where you do not interact with a single minority.  That's becoming less and less possible, but it still is possible.  Essentially, there are hundreds of thousands of "whites" that go their entire lives without interacting with a single person of color...kind of what you're impugning blacks for here.  You could probably do better than unleashing your rage at "wrongs" you feel that blacks have done that you disagree with.  That's something that I've seen at every juncture when it comes to race and racial discussion.  There's this huge undercurrent of white rage that comes along with finding out that in most cases, there are a ton of advantages that they can be assured of without even knowing.  There's a guilt trip involved in finding out that just being themselves has entitled them to something, and even more upsetting, to find out that it creates resentment among those who don't have the advantage at all.  For a white male to preach about equality in the manner that you have in your post is about as close as the pot calling the kettle black as we can get.

And no one cares about the color of one's skin...until it starts to erode some of the perks that you didn't know you had.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

My county has a "black chamber of commerce."

I have no earthly idea why.
---
I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.


---
I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

I think the author is too much of an idiot to understand more than a word or two of what you wrote. Logic is an incredibly difficult thing for a bigot to understand.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Who else here appreciated the irony of his complaining about racism while simulaneously implying anyone who was part of the confeteracy was a hateful rasict and a slave owner?

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

"[It] made me wonder how much research Ubisoft did for this game..."

Much like how that quote makes me wonder whether Mr. Jefferson actually played the game. Research, eh? Too bad you don't take your own advice.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

"The game starts out with players assuming the role of Ray, a Confederate officer... the Confederacy, as far as I am concerned, wanted to keep their cheap slave labor and the like. I can not stand the Confederate flag... To me, the flag represents hate -- and offends me and many others to no end. [It] made me wonder how much research Ubisoft did for this game..."

So because they gave confederate soliders in the civil war the confederate flag they didn't do enough research.

The stupid, it burns.

----------------------------------------------------

Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Oh for gods sake, souds like some attention-seeker who was too late to jump on the RE5 bandwagon.

--------------------------------------------------

I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

I doubt he saw the Bandwagon in the first place.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Ok, since I think the fact that this guy is stupid and doesn't know what racism is has been covered enough I want to open up another topic for discussion.

with several of them who appear to be African-Americans

Does anybody else think this is one of the more stupid terms to appear? Motherfucker, they are not 'African-American', they are black alright? I'm betting a miniscule amount of black people in north america have ever been to Africa, it's just stupid. Am I supposed to demand that people call me European-American? Also, how moronic is it to use the names of continents to describe someone's skin color? Guess what, not everybody in Africa is black, and not everybody in Europe is white!

To me, an African-American is someone who has citizenship in both Africa and the USA. And that's all it should ever mean.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Describing someone as black can be seen as racist....and how I wish that was a joke.

---

I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Ahh but an african-american/black person can call themselves that.

Lets call a spade(shovel) a spade (shovel), I'm a bloody MUTT, heinz 57, metis, mongrel, mixed up cake mix, I AM HUMAN!

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Last I checked, no one likes to be called something by anyone else.  It's much more acceptable to name yourself versus having someone else name you.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Very well. Should I ever make a video game, I will be sure that every character is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white person.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

About the Confederate thing

 

Sometimes gamers want to play the bad guy not jsut the hero

 

The person who wore the article is retarded

Never underestimate the power of idiots in large amounts.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

As previously noted by another poster, the American Civil war was more about the possible succession of the south than it was about slavery.  And it's inane to think that every young lad that went off to war was a land and slave owner.  I'd be pretty confident that some people north of the line would have owned slaves just as surely as some people south of it would abhor slavery...
 

Which is all besides the point, the Civil war occurred and setting a game in it (as a historical event) is not racist unless you deliberately looking for racism in everything you see.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

I'd be pretty confident that some people north of the line would have owned slaves

Pretty confident? The North had several slave states that elected to remain with the Union.

-Gray17

-Gray17

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Ohmigawd! this guy is right! And you know what else is racist?

 

Nintendo. Think about it. How many black people are in their games? I can think of one, and it's Ganondorf. Coincidence? I think not!

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Ganondorf is black? He always looked kinda olive green to me; like an ork.

But the only actually black character I can think of is Coach Louis from Punch Out. Typical casting black people as athletically inclined. RACISM!! Where are the black protagonists in the couch-ridden cheetos and diabetes sims?

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Punch-Out's coach is a pretty stereotype laden character too.

Big, bugged out eyes

Dark skin

Big pink/red lips

Stereotypical recording lines

Not exactly a good example to choose.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

To quote Jim Carrey's portrayal of the Grinch, "It's because I'm GREEN, isn't it?!"
---
I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.


---
I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

/facepalm

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

The "journalist" that wrote this article is racist against everybody who isn't black apparently.  He sees no problem killing countless Japanese in CODWAW, or Germans in Medal of Honor, and Middle-Eastern Muslims in 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.  I'm pretty sure that if it was in an African-Muslim nation he would bitch about it and yet he wants developers to give gamers the option to choose their side?!  You and others like you would condemn a game that give people a choice to gas Jews or save them. 

He calls Left 4 Dead 2 racist because there are black zombies in the game.  Well, where are the feminist groups complaining that there are female zombies?  Oh yeah, most people aren't as stupid as this "journalist."  Not to mention that 67% of New Orleans is made up of black citizens.  They are not a minority there.

He calls Call of Juarez racist.  Is a film racist when it realistically portrays what happened during the Civil War?  Does this "journalist" think that Danny Glover really beat Whoopi Goldberg when he watched the Color Purple?  Does he think that Edward Norton really was a skin head?  They portrayed people who were terrible to the black men, doesn't that make them racist in this man's eyes?  I mean, what fictional world does this "journalist" live in?

What hasn't been said about Resident Evil 5?  You go to Africa and guess what!?  There are Africans that you must kill in order to survive.  Remember, just because you are a minority here, you are not a minority elsewhere.

Oh and forgetting and avoiding your history means that you refuse to learn from your mistakes and that is a dangerous way of thinking.  If you try to forget the past, you are doomed to repeat it.

One more thing, play the game before you condemn it.  It sounds like you didn't get far in Call of Juarez due to your own ignorance.  If you did, then you would know that the character leaves the Confederacy early on in the game and you kill the people that are sent after you for leaving.

Integrity is something that is supposed to be a cabiot of Journalism, apparently The Houston Chronicle disagrees.

http://www.deathvanquished.com

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

it's only racist if you play stereotypes as well, e.g. successfully using stuff like fried chicken and rap CDs to lure the black zombies away from you

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Speaking of which, I found the Transformers robots to be much more offensive than any videogame character... and they were fucking METAL.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

I watched a movie the other day, set in the Bronx, it was about Gangs.

It was terrible, all but two members of this gang were black!

Of course, this had nothing to do with the fact that 'minorities' statistically get the short end of the stick when it comes to finding employment, and everything to do with the fact the program was racist...

Whoever wrote this has really had to reach to find racism, and that annoys me, because, as some people have pointed out, molehill mountaineers such as this distract from real problems that crop up from time to time with race-presentation. We all have to look out for stereotypes, but this is more like treating someone as though simply 'being non-white' in a computer game is somehow racist.

 

Edit: To put it bluntly, if you have to ask yourself 'Is this racist?', then the chances are extremely high that it isn't.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

"Molehill mountaineers?"

I like that. I think I'll steal it.
---
I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.


---
I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Ahhh the Warriors, great movie!

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Guys, guys.  Don't you all realize?  These days, only white people can be racist.  Otherwise, we'd have to admit that people like Sotomayor, Jackson, Sharpton, the jackass that wrote this article, and many, many comedians are terrible racists. 

Seriously though.  Why is it okay for a black comedian to craft an entire set about white jokes (complete with racism and stereotypes), but when Michael Richards snaps and shouts a racist slur a few times, it's the worst thing anyone could do?  I'm not saying what he did was right, but what the hell guys? 
 

Personally, I think we need to remember MLK a bit more, and what he stood for; he didn't stand for reparations, he didn't stand for affirmative action, he stood for EQUALITY.  In all ways.

 

EDIT***
Oh, and one more thing.  Shut the fuck up about the confederate flag.  If you don't like it, then don't fly it outside your house.  Don't put a confederate flag bumper sticker on your car.  But don't bitch when others do.  I'm from an Irish family that suffered atrocities far worse than most slaves at the hand of the British, but I don't get pissy when I see someone with a british flag on their car.  Why?  Because it's not a big deal.  It's a piece of fucking history for people, so grow up and stop demanding everyone conform so you don't feel bad.

God, these people need to have someone follow them around all day and just shine the world's biggest spotlight on their insecurities until they decide to live the life of a hermit.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

You had a good one, right up until you made your "British Flag" rant.  Firstly, under what authority are you speaking to all blacks/people who find the Confederate flag offensive?  Secondly, has the British flag been adopted as the symbol for any type of hate group in the United States?  The Confederate flag has.

And to answer your question about black comedians, the answer is like this: if someone is performing and you don't like the performance, you leave.  Same thing that people are saying about games, don't play them if they offend you.  Now, I will say that it's rich for people to complain about blacks making jokes about anyone considering for the last 150 years up to and including these days, blacks have been painted as sub-human, less intelligent, less compassionate, more likely to commit crime, etc etc.  Not to mention facial structure has been mocked, the entire ethnic group has been told that they are closer to apes than men, horrible things have been said or done in this decade that should make it obvious that racism has not died down, and we are still a long way from equality.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

I already did my "All People Do Is Bitch" Speech already this week.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Sucks when you use all your ammo too early then something that deserves it more comes up doesn't it.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Yes.. we can't have any black zombies in a city where the black community is the majority now can we?

US Census date from 2007 puts the Black pouplation in Orleans Parish at 61.3%.

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22/22071.html

http://w00tstudios.net/

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

See, if I were making this game (and for all I know, this is what Valve did), I'd look at the recent Census data and use that when populating the game.  So if it's 61.3%, then that's the percentage of the zombies that would be black.  And if anyone said it was racism, I could reply "No, that's realism!"

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Wouldn't be surprised if exactly that happened. I mean some games have details down to the accurate phase of the moon on a specific date.

Re: Houston Chronicle: Is Racism Becoming a Norm in Gaming?

Left 4 Dead's zombies are all randomly generated based on statistics of who is likely to be in the area of the stage. There are black zombies in L4D1, they are just a little harder to spot than in the designs and setting for L4D2. If all of the zombies were white, the complaint would be "why aren't black people represented in the game?".

As for Resident Evil 5 and Call of Juarez, I have played neither so I can't comment.

 
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MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
 

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