The Verge’s Vox Games is Open for Business

February 21, 2012 -

Vox Games has launched over at The Verge, offering what can best be described as well-crafted and thoughtful long-form journalism. The gaming hub features top talent from such publications as Joystiq, Kotaku, The Escapist, and more.

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Blogger Hates Violence, Yet is Against California Law

November 11, 2010 -

A discussion between two writers on the Perpetual Post website caught our eye because one of the scribes, even while expressing an aversion to violent videogames, doesn’t think the government should be in the business of limiting a child’s access to them.

In her part of the article, Molly Schoemann says that she “can’t really stomach violence of any kind—even videogame violence,” and recounted a previous experience playing Army of Two in which she was reduced to being “huddled in a pile of rubble,” where she “refused to shoot anyone.”

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Positech's Cliff Harris: 'Mark Rein is a Jerk'

July 16, 2010 -

UK indie developer Cliff Harris is pissed. Harris is the one man team that makes up Positech Games, a prolific developer that has created such indie hits as the Kudos series, the Democracy series, Gratuitous Space Battles and a handful of other games.

Harris got angry at Epic's Mark Rein, who he claims heckled him and a panel of other indie developers discussing the future of micro-studios. That panel, which feature UK developer Introversion and several other indie developers put forth the notion that smaller studios have an advantage over bigger studios because they create personal relationships with their customers through direct contact.

This didn't sit well with Mark Rein, who allegedly heckled the panel and argued with those around him. Harris was not pleased, and a day later, took to his blog to wage verbal war against Rein. You can read some colorful excerpts below:

5 comments | Read more

Evony Drops Libel Suit Against Blogger

March 31, 2010 -

A libel suit filed by Evony, LLC last year against a UK-based blogger has been dropped.

Evony is, of course, the company behind the game of the same name, the one which litters seemingly every last corner of the Internet with ads usually accompanied by ample female cleavage. Ex-Imagine and Codemaster marketer Bruce Everiss (pictured) has been taking the company to task on his blog for quite some time now, detailing some of the sketchy practices used by the game’s creator.

Evony filed its lawsuit in Australia, a move that Everiss called “libel tourism,” and dropped the case just two days into hearings, reports the Guardian. A Vice Development Director for Evony said in a statement that the case was dropped in deference to criticism from players of the game themselves. “A lot of our players expressed opinions about the lawsuit, and we reacted to that,” said Benjamin Gifford.

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Doctor Asked About COD’s Influence on Teen Boys

January 14, 2010 -

Dr. Michael Rich, Director (and self-described “Mediatrician”) of the Center on Media and Child Health for Children’s Hospital Boston  recently fielded a question on the hospital’s blog from a parent asking about the impact Call of Duty might have on teenage boys.

Dr. Rich’s first attempt at answering the question resulted in a bit of a misstep, in that he misrepresented the Modern Warfare 2’s controversial “No Russian” scene, referring to it as the game’s opening scene and then falsely wrote that the player earns points by gunning down civilians in the airport.

The doctor’s recommendation? “Given all the evidence, I personally would never recommend that a parent give this game to a child or teen.”

Following a handful of comments on the original post which pointed out his errors in describing the game, the good doctor scripted a second blog in which he apologized, writing, “… even though I play video games, I have neither the skills nor the practice time to be a great gamer, so Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was demonstrated to me—I have not played it.”

He then went on to explain his interpretation of how violent games affect younger gamers:

…many research studies have shown that the majority of violent video game players do not go out and start shooting people—but they do show that those who view violent movies or play violent video games experience a consistent, measurable shift in their attitudes and behaviors toward greater fear and anxiety (especially in children), desensitization to suffering, and, in some, increases in aggression.

Therefore, as a pediatrician, I would steer parents and kids toward video games that are sports-, logic-, or strategy-based, instead of those that center on violence.

GP: A relatively even keel, non knee-jerk recommendations from the doctor in that at least he didn’t claim that all studies suggest violent games have a negative impact on youth. Or maybe we’re just learning to expect less from non-gaming experts that judge games. What do you think?

16 comments

Out of Touch Mom Apologizes (Sort of)

January 7, 2010 -

Orange County Register columnist Marla Jo Fisher took to her blog to issue an apology of sorts for writing that videogames were created by Satan.

Noting that her blog was inundated with comments from outraged gamers, Fisher entitles her post My Bad: Video Games Are Not From Satan, and proceeds to substitute Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort for Satan as the specter behind evil videogames.

Fisher then resumed her rant against games and gamers, stereotyping videogame addicts as having a “deathly pallor,” who have “forgotten what daylight looks like.”

What does she think about videogamers that, inspired by their love of the medium, eventually became developers?

Also, I’m not too convinced by people who were such ardent gamers they became video game creators. That’s like saying, “Gee, I loved crack so much, I went to Colombia and started my own business and now I’m rich.”

How about the educational merits of videogames?

Video games are educational? Sorry, people, I do not believe for one second you are learning quantum physics while you are shooting down zombies. Or that you got your scholarship to MIT by using the skills you learned shooting guerrillas.

About the only insult missing from Fisher’s column is a quip about gamers living in their parent’s darkened basement—something to look forward to in her next blog perhaps.

118 comments

Blogger: Daily Mail Fails at Videogames

January 6, 2010 -

Opening with the salvo “It is well established that the Daily Mail does not understand videogames,” blogger and game marketer Bruce Everiss lays into the UK tabloid’s constant attack on games.

The latest article to draw Everiss’ ire was a piece written by Andrew Alexander on politicians Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. At the end of the story, Alexander takes a shot at Shadow Minister Ed Vaizey’s plan to boost the UK games industry:

'Culture' also has a minister of its own operating under the grand panjandrum of the Secretary of State. The Shadow Minister, Ed Vaizey, provides a foretaste of nonsense to come with his declaration that the video games industry - there's culture for you - has been let down by the Government. It has not grown fast enough.

He proposes a Video Games Council.

Why there should be a government role in this field may well defeat you. It is at least as silly as the role of Hereditary Butler to the Crown etc and no doubt more expensive.

Everiss answers:

I have some news for Mr Alexander, by any and all definitions video games are culture. They entertain, have creativity, genre, subtlety, a history, engender emotion and have everything else that ballet or the opera have. Except that video games are massively more popular.


In fact Mr Alexander actually provides compelling evidence for the need for a Video Games Council, because if we had one we would not have to suffer so much ignorance from journalists (and politicians).

Everiss details other accounts of the Mail’s anti-game stance and also laments the lack of tax incentives for game developers, which he blames partly for the UK’s slip to a world rank of sixth place when it comes to producing videogames.

13 comments

Out of Touch Mom: Videogames Created by Satan

January 6, 2010 -

A staff writer for the Orange County Register took to her blog for a long-winded diatribe against videogames, even going so far as to say she believes that games were invented by Satan.

While scribe Marla Jo Fisher may be trying to write down to her “Frumpy Middle-aged Mom” tag, and possibly attempting to inject some humor into the article, her anti-game prejudice is no laughing matter.

A parent, she notes that her house is the only one on the block with no videogames at all and claims to have had her anti-game attitude reinforced even more after reading the recent story of a mom calling 911 to get her kid to stop playing games. Most horrifying however, in an event that scarred her for life, Fisher once saw a kid walking out of a library playing a Nintendo DS.

Fisher wonders how the current crop of game-obsessed children will ever learn or accomplish anything:

Here’s my question: When do kids ever think these days? When do they ever have brains free from electronics long enough to ponder the universe? To think of things that might someday lead them to a cure for cancer?

If Sir Isaac Newton had been playing a DS, I’m sure he never would have noticed the apple falling from the tree, so he never would have formulated the theory of gravity.

Of course she finishes with a shot at the Grand Theft Auto series, asking if her kids would be able to learn how to be carjackers or how to outrun the police by playing the game, adding “Those are skills I really want my children to acquire.”

Thanks Andrew

106 comments

Developers & Fans Still in Copyright Cat and Mouse Game

December 1, 2009 -

Using Lawrence Lessig’s book Free Culture as quasi- guide, the blog Press Start to Drink takes a look at the current state of copyright law and enforcement within the game community.

Cease and Desist: Games Culture and Copyright Laws begins with Lessig’s assertion that current copyright laws are nothing more than “protectionism to protect certain forms of business.”  This, the author writes, is what has led to, in some cases, “an immense tension between IP holders in the games industry and the IP fans who consider some games part of their personal culture.”

The author details a pair of incidents where game development companies stopped fans from infringing on their copyright: a Gears of War fan that modified a toy to resemble a character from the game and the quashing—by Square Enix—of a community-made Chrono Trigger add-on.

On the other side of the fence, one company (at least) appears to be demonstrating Lessig’s “free culture” ideal: Valve Software. Valve exercised restraint when a group of community members undertook Black Mesa: Source, a project that uses Half Life 2’s source code to reconstruct the original Half Life game.

While Valve did not “openly encouraged the mods development, they have not taken any legal action to stop it.”

Also touched on in the article is the more radical example of when a developer lifts content from a fan-developed project. The author cites the book Play Between Worlds, by T.L. Taylor, who wrote, “several astute MUD developers noticed early on that EQ (EverQuest) appeared strikingly similar to a type of MUD called DIKU.”

The blogger notes that, “…ironically, in the Everquest case, the DIKU developers thought of the situation as a compliment, not a copyright infringement.”

Closing with a quote from Lessig, “The opportunity to create and transform becomes weakened in a world in which creation requires permission and creativity must check with a lawyer,” the blogger adds:

…the more developers and publishers that take up Valve’s position, the more creativity and innovation will emerge out of video game fan communities, already known for their intense fandom and desire to add to, alter, and reimagine their favorite gaming universes.

20 comments

Yes Virginia, Videogames are Political

October 6, 2009 -

Responding to a recent Bitmob piece which asked whether games can deliver a political message, a blogger has penned a resounding answer.

Yes, Video Games Are Political, written by Lee Bradley, begins by noting that independent games such as Cutthroat Capitalism, Kabul Kaboom! and Super Columbine Massacre RPG! all delivered hearty political statements, regardless of their reach or palatability.

Bradley then meanders through history, using Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Gordon Gekko in an attempt to illustrate that videogames of the 80’s reflected current politics, much as games today do.

Videogames, as cultural artifacts, are unescapably political. Even the most vacuous of games, despite their ostensible mindlessness, cannot fail to reflect the politics of the culture in which they were produced.

If the 80’s equaled “greed and me,” and resulted in a slew of games featuring lone heroes, then, Bradley argues, today’s political “notions of society and community are once again on the agenda” and are reflected in current titles like Left 4 Dead:

Even in games where the co-operative element of co-op is less pronounced, the ideology is the same; you are not on your own anymore, you are part of a team. What’s more that team is more than likely multi-cultural and/or multi-gender.

10 comments

Blogger Challenges Aussie AG to Debate

October 2, 2009 -

Using his Edge-Online blog, Alex Walker has penned an open letter to South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson about the lack of an R18+ rating classification in that country.

Walker notes that “the Classification Board has refused classification to twice as many games as the British Board of Film Classification has in the 23 years since it first rated a video game.” He calls out Atkinson on some of his recent statements and uses comments from David Cook, Director of the British Board of Film Classification to aid his case.

Walker finishes with a challenge:

I’m not sure how, given the weight of evidence, you can stand by the inconsistencies in the Australian approach to classifying film and video games. I call on you to stand aside, and allow for a debate on the classification system, a debate which you have so far stifled.

Walker adds that he did email a copy of the letter to Atkinson, but he does not expect a response.

14 comments

Evony Files Libel Suit Against Blogger

September 15, 2009 -

Evony, LLC, an Australia-based game developer, perhaps best-known for its seemingly-ubiquitous online ads featuring scantily-clad women designed to tout its game Evony, has filed suit against a blogger for "multiple violations of international libel standards" and is seeking damages for “gross disregard for the truth.”

The blogger in question is Bruce Everiss, a former Imagine and Codemasters marketer. Everiss has taken Evony to task in multiple posts, including questioning (based upon reader and Evony player comments) whether the game might contain malware, pondering if the purchase of Evony cents is illegal in the USA and flat out telling his readers to not play Evony.

Benjamin Gifford, Vice Development Director for the Legal IP Strategic Division Evony, stated:

In the digital age in which we now live, online journalists and bloggers – and the traditional media outlets that may rely upon them as sources – must strive for a higher standard of integrity and accuracy. Mr. Everiss’ complete disregard for even the most basic tenets of journalistic responsibility have left our company no alternative but to take these legal actions.


Everiss, in a comment on his blog, replied to the lawsuit:

Why are Evony acting for a Chinese game against a UK blogger in an Australian court? To make it as difficult as possible for me to defend myself as possible. They are using money and power to censor the truth from the internet because it inconveniences them.
 

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36 comments

Blogger: Why Gamers Should Back Obama

October 13, 2008 -

Well-known Second Life blogger Rik Panganiban has unabashedly come out for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

In a post titled Barack FTW 11/4! -- Why Gamers Should Back Obama, Panganiban writes:

I think it's high time that people get past this notion of gamers as passive couch potatoes divorced from the world around them. I've seen gamers raise thousands of dollars for worthwhile causes like Penny Arcade's "Child's Play" charity and games for US troops overseas. 

 

Gamers can be ardent defenders of Net Freedom or even protestors for Chinese nationalism.  Heck, they have their own blog devoted to politics.

Among Panganiban's reasons for backing the Obama ticket (these are his words):

  • Obama Groks the Power of the Internet: ...No, [Obama] didn't invent the Blackberry, but he does understand that the Gamer Generation connects with each other in substantially different ways than generations before.
  • Obama Defends Net Freedom: ...The ability of next-gen game developers to create online games depends on a vibrant and open internet environment, unfettered by artificially throttled and filtered access.
  • Obama Knows We Need Broadband: ...you know how sucky it is to play Halo over a sketchy internet connection... 
  • Obama Supports Stronger Math & Science in Schools: America lags way behind the rest of the industrialized world in math and science aptitude in its high schools...
  • Obama Totally Pwns in Unreal Tournament:  He's the only player I know who can go head to head in a Scavenger against a Fury equipped with Berserk and come out ahead.  Talk about presidential.  (Ok, maybe I made that up. But I hear his Wii Bowling score is 278.)

Rik is having some fun with that last bit. Actually, as GamePolitics has reported, Obama remarked publicly that the last game he played was Pong.

GP: If an established game blog presents a case for the McCain ticket, we'll gladly publish that as well.

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ConsterSleaker: if you think there's only been "a handful of" incidents, you have your head stuck *somewhere* - I'm assuming it's sand.09/20/2014 - 5:38am
prh99Most of it's agitprop clickbait anyway.09/20/2014 - 5:27am
prh99A good reason to stop reading reguardless of view pointhttp://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/apr/12/news-is-bad-rolf-dobelli.09/20/2014 - 5:22am
Andrew EisenWell this is unique! A musical critique of the Factual Feminist's "Are Video Games Sexist?" video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K4s7cV4Us409/20/2014 - 2:41am
Andrew EisenSome locked threads. Some let them be. So, no, I'm not seeing a problem here. No corruption. No collusion. No ethical problem with privately discussing ethics.09/20/2014 - 12:48am
Andrew EisenAnd still, in the end, Tito made up his own mind on how to handle his site. All 150 or so members went off to handle their own sites in their own ways. Some talked about it. Some didn't. Some changed disclosure policies. Some didn't.09/20/2014 - 12:40am
Andrew EisenThere were two comments other than Kochera and Tito's. One pointed out the Escapist Code of Conduct, another comment was in support of Tito.09/20/2014 - 12:40am
Andrew EisenKochera privately expressed his disagreement on how Tito decided to do something. No, I don't consider that crossing a line nor do I consider the exchange an example of the group pressuring him.09/20/2014 - 12:36am
Kronotechnical reasons. Anyways, I need to get to sleep as well.09/20/2014 - 12:29am
KronoAnd he wasn't the only one pushing Tito to censor the thread. If Tito had bowed to peer pressure, we likely wouldn't have gotten this http://goo.gl/vKiYtR which grew out of that thread. Said thread also lasted until a new one needed to be made for09/20/2014 - 12:28am
Krono@Andrew So it's an example of Kuchera crossing the line from reporter to advocate. And an example of the group pressuring for censorship.09/20/2014 - 12:21am
E. Zachary KnightAnyway, I am off to bed. I will probably wake up to all of this being knocked off the shout box.09/20/2014 - 12:20am
E. Zachary KnightKrono, that is the type of reading too much into things that bugs me. Ben did no such thing. Greg had the last word in that part of the exchange. The rest was about how to approach the story and Quinn.09/20/2014 - 12:19am
Andrew EisenSo?09/20/2014 - 12:13am
KronoExcept that the forum thread wasn't harassment, and Kuchera continued to push for the thread's removal after Tito made it clear he didn't consider it harassment.09/20/2014 - 12:12am
Andrew EisenPersonally, I see nothing wrong with someone offering their opinion or the other person making up their own mind on how to run their site.09/20/2014 - 12:06am
E. Zachary KnightKrono, I read nothing of the sort in that email chain. I read Ben giving advice on what to do when a forum thread is used to harass someone and spread falshoods about them and others.09/20/2014 - 12:05am
KronoThat's exactly what Ben Kuchera was doing to Greg Tito.09/19/2014 - 11:58pm
Krono@EZK So you see nothing wrong with one journalist pressuring a journalist from a different organization to not only not run a story, but to censor a civil discussion already taking place?09/19/2014 - 11:56pm
E. Zachary KnightI write for a number of blogs and talk to people who write similar blogs all the time for tips and advice. I see nothing wrong with that.09/19/2014 - 11:50pm
 

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