A Week In Comments

Left 4 Dead's Survivor Party Isn't Going So Well
Comment by: Mastrix
Nominated by: BryanH

Lets compare this to the MW2 Stimulus Package, shall we?

Xbox 360:

The Passing - 560 MS points ($7 USD) for: 3 maps (the campaign is in 3 parts), with all available modes. Introduction of Mutations for all existing maps, providing new, weekly challenges. 2 new weapons (M60, golf club) and a new enemy (fallen survivor).

Stimulus Package - 1200 MS points ($15 USD) for 5 maps (2 of which are from MW1).

PC:

The Passing - Free post-release DLC: 3 maps (the campaign is in 3 parts), with all available modes. Introduction of Mutations for all existing maps, providing new, weekly challenges. 2 new weapons (M60, golf club) and a new enemy (fallen survivor).

Stimulus Package - $15 USD for 5 maps (2 of which are from MW1).

Something seems wrong...

My Response To Roger Ebert, Video Game Skeptic
Comment by: RollRoll
Nominated by: JABB

I think the latent difficulty with games as an artistic medium is that games are built upon the player being the solitary author. Since an artistic medium requires the capacity to communicate the author's full central vision, the inherent fluidity of games run against deeming them capable of maturing into an artistic medium.

That's why I point to the core gameplay of Ico. It's because even in the musical - also a hybrid form - each individual component carries the story somehow. In the videogame - as no doubt the creators discovered - the more interactivity you grant to the player, the less central authorial control you can exert.

Essentially then, this is why Ebert argues that games cannot become art. He's using the exclusive definition of art that predicates it upon statements of larger relevance to humanity and excludes craftsmanship. But in essence, the core mechanics of gameplay cannot hold a single artistic opinion and this is because they still grant the player-actor the majority of the authorial control. Accordingly, games are a poor artistic medium. If your definition of art is predicated on art being a means through which a philosophical statement of significant worth is communicated.

Japan's Console War Still Even Steven
Comment by: BryanH
Nominated by: puresewas1de

For some reason I picture Japan as a giant beach, and all the consoles on the beach. Everyone use to pick on poor Xbox 360 and kick sand on him. He had no one to play with! "You're a faulty american-made console!", they'd cry, kicking sand on his face and calling him names when he got red eye.

Then along came the little PSPgo, and suddenly there was a person to pick on. the DS's and PS3's all took turns shoving him in the dirt.

But the little 360, he knew what that was like! He got between the kicks of sand and the little portable with his concave body. Eventually they left, to go give swirlies to a group of N-Gage's out on a field trip.

The 360 and the PSPgo? They strolled hand in hand down the beach, until they found a cave along the shoreline of the beach. There they lived on fish and seaweed jelly until their dying days, free of persecution and jokes.

That's how I think of the console wars in Japan.

Five More Out At Modern Warfare Studio Infinity Ward
Comment by: spikespeigel
Nominated by: zackfair

Hironobu Sakaguchi got tossed from Final Fantasy, and that franchise still makes money for Square-Enix. Just like Modern Warfare will still make money for Activision. The casual gamer just doesn't care. Which kinda speaks for the state of gaming.

What's So Fun About Games, Anyway?
Comment by: Sir (Starman), Former Brigadier of U.N.I.T., Current Position of Colonel of the FireWire Battalion
Nominated by: cokefan999

So, let's dissect this question, of why games are fun in the first place. (But first, you must pretend that I am John Cleese, and am saying this very humorously and tongue-in-cheek.)

There are about 5 things that the enduser desires in a game, in no specific order:

Adventure
Role-play
Interactivity/user control
Sense of accomplishment and satisfaction
(I forgot number 5)

Now, the first two options constitutes a concept being fulfilled, and that is the concept of escapism. The player wants to be sent into another world, and wants to explore and be captivated through his imagination. The environment and setting of the game itself satisfies part of the equation, but it is up to the player to fill in the blanks for herself and immerse herself into the environment. Filling in the other half, however, is role-play, and controlling the character in the game environment makes the player FEEL that she actually has control over the game's progression, and isn't just some helpless old twig in the mud, forced to watch the moon fly by every night, without any hope of affecting its lunar cycles, not even through the possibility of the butterfly effect or any of that nonsense.

This is where number 3 comes into play, and helps that player realize her yearning for control, because now she gets to actually affect the course of the story, and of the gameplay itself, rather than being subject to just watch the Shakespearean murder happen like in those dreck plays and books and " feely cinematic experiences."

Number 4 is one that can be said to affect all players, just like the last 3 options! Getting those extra last bit of points, treasure item, or special weapon can really boost one's morale, but also makes the player feel GOOD!, in the sense that she is actually accomplishing something, and is getting stuff done, and that her time was not for waste, and instead actually got her something in the end, even though the item may as well consist of a cheap virtual trinket or numeric value that will hardly ever have any effect in the player's life, except in showboating and all that nonsense.

Finally, the question of number 5. It is rumored to be the unifying idea and philosophical concept tying everything in this list together, the essence of video game enjoyment, if you will. Alas, the scientist behind this research, working at the Video Gaming Laboratories in Geneva, died from a schnitzel-related seizure, and his paperwork got burned by a spilt-over Flaming Moe's the previous night. The fire could have played a part in the schnitzel-related death, but no morgue specialist or death experts have come to this conclusion as of now.

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Game Ratings Law
Comment by: ThursdayNext
Nominated by: Deanb

While I understand the passionate defence that is raised whenever a perceived erosion of the First Amendment is attempted, I feel that this law is perhaps misunderstood.

The law does not seek to limit the freedom of expression of videogame makers. It seeks only to restrict the supply of certain games to minors.

Video game makers will still be allowed to make whatever games they like, and children will still be allowed to play whatever games they are able to (legally) get their hands on.

This law means that game retailers will no longer be allowed to directly supply certain games to minors.

The only reason that game retailers and publishers don't like this is because it reduces their target audience from "everyone" to "everyone except minors". It doesn't stifle their creativity, it just affects who they can sell directly to.

The UK has had very similar laws in place for over two decades (the Video Recording Act 1984) that restrict the sale of certain media content to minors. Has this stifled creativity in the British film, television, music or videogame industry? I think not.

Rockstar North operates within the UK, yet GTA games are available in all their hooker murdering glory both in the UK and abroad.

All that this law does is give parents direct control over what their children have access to.

Children will no longer be able to walk in to a Gamestop that is running behind its projections for the quarter and has decided to sell Madworld or Red Steel Two to kids because there is no law against it.

This law takes the decision as to whether or not your child should own Manhunt out of the hands of your child, out of the hands of Gamestop and makes the parent the sole gatekeeper of mature rated content.

I don't see this as eroding the First Amendment, I see it as empowering parents to make the decision as to how their child is raised, rather than leaving it to retailers and publishers who have a vested interest in selling products to the widest demographic possible.

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